From first date to wedding: four couples share the story of their special day.
Cyndi Hicks + Adam Ramirez
The Fairmont, San Francisco, May 6, 2017
IT ALL STARTED off right for Cyndi and Adam — as in right swipe. Like so many present-day relationships, the San Francisco–based couple first connected on the popular dating app Tinder. “We had 45 friends in common and had no idea how we hadn’t known each other already,” Cyndi says. Shortly after their mobile match, they both realized they had met “the one.” While they were strolling along the water by the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Adam caught Cyndi off guard: he dropped to one knee and proposed. When it came time to select the wedding venue, neither had their heart set on a specific place until they saw the Fairmont. “The Fairmont is quintessential old San Francisco; when we walked into the Gold Room — modeled after Versailles — it took our breath away,” Cyndi says. The couple enlisted planner Duncan Reyes to help create the event, but also had other assistance. “We had an extreme amount of help from Cyndi’s mom and would have been so lost without that amazing woman,” says the groom. For the theme, they went classic but not stuffy. “While we wanted glamorous and traditional, we tried to incorporate fun aspects of ourselves like full champagne bottles in place of seating cards, an ice sculpture to pour drinks through and latenight It’s-It ice cream,” the bride says. The fete went off without a hitch, including the ceremony itself. “The most special moment for both of us was meeting at the altar,” Cyndi says.
In keeping with tradition, Cyndi and Adam opted against a “first look”: “The moment the church doors opened and we made eye contact was so emotional for both of us,” she says. Seeing her fairy-tale wedding come to life was a high point in itself: “We peeked into the ballroom before the reception started and it was amazing — the Gold Room looked even more magical than we imagined it would.” Anything they would have done differently? Says the groom: “We are happy to say there isn’t anything we would have changed! It was truly the best day of our lives.”
VENUE The Fairmont San Francisco
EVENT PLANNING AND DESIGN F. Duncan Reyes Events by Design
PHOTOGRAPHY Clane Gessel Photography, clanegessel.com
FLORAL Jeeryn Dang at Tanjeeryn Designs, tanjeeryn-designs.com
RENTALS Pleasanton Event Rentals, pleasantonrentals.com
DRESS Allure Bridals, allurebridals.com
GROOM’S SUIT Black Tie Tuxedos, blacktietuxedos.com
BRIDESMAID DRESSES Bill Levkoff, billlevkoff.com
HAIR AND MAKEUP Hair by Le Reve Salon, lerevesalon.com; makeup by My Beauty Innovations, mybeautyinnovations.com
MUSIC Pure Ecstasy Band, pure-ecstasy.com
INVITATIONS Paper Caper, papercaper.net
Kim Ford Kitz + Mark Wiegers
Dipsea Gardens, Stinson Beach, May 20, 2017
SOME PEOPLE GO looking for love in all the wrong places; others find it by coincidence. Another route is to simply pursue what you love. The latter path is how Kim found her future husband. A working artist and past Marin Magazine cover art contest finalist, she was the set designer for the San Anselmo Town Players’ production of Fiddler on the Roof in 2001 when she met Mark, who was acting in the play. But both were in other relationships at the time and remained off each other’s radar for years, until one night they serendipitously ran into each other in Fairfax — both single this time around. Sparks flew. A long courtship followed, and Mark finally popped the question unexpectedly after a day spent walking around Jack London State Park in Sonoma.
“We were sitting on a bench in the lovely cottage garden by the koi fishpond,” Kim says. “He said he was going to wait to propose on my birthday but the mood took him over.” At first the couple considered eloping, but reconsidered so friends and family could be involved. Being beach lovers, they returned to a familiar place filled with fond memories. “I hosted a small surprise birthday party for Mark at Dipsea Gardens [at Stinson] two years ago — we had such a great experience there, and we go to Stinson so often, that this spot was a perfect choice for us.” Fortunately, the weather obliged and they had a sun-drenched wedding. At the reception, the bride and groom’s talents were front and center: Kim came up with the “beachy bohemian” theme and made seven dream catchers that hung from the trees. She also created an oyster shell garland for the wedding venue tables and painted the artwork for the invitations and signage. Mark booked the musicians and even played his guitar and sang a couple songs. With emotions running high, the day passed quickly, but the couple agrees on the highlights: the love, the meaningful ceremony uniting their families, the sunshine, beautiful decor, smiling friends and family, great music and delicious tacos.
VENUE Dipsea Gardens, dipseagardens.com; Stinson Beach Community Center, stinsonbeachcommunitycenter.org
EVENT PLANNING AND DESIGN Stacey & Company, staceyandcompany.com
PHOTOGRAPHY Susan Adler, susanadler.com
FLORAL Susan Barton Fantasy Florals, susansflowers.com
RENTALS La Tavola, latavolalinen.com; Standard PartyRentals, standardpartyrentals.com
SIGNAGE Stacey & Company
DRESS Jen’s Pirate Booty, jenspiratebooty.com
GROOM’S SUIT Tommy Bahama, tommybahama.com
BRIDESMAID DRESSES Free People, freepeople.com
MUSIC Todos Santos, todossantostheband.com
INVITATIONS Stacey & Company with Kim Ford Kitz artwork
REHEARSAL DINNER VENUE Siren Canteen, thesirencanteen.com
CATERING Tacolicious, tacolicious.com
OFFICIANT Katherine Revoir, richerliving.org
Megan Lima + Sean Schlesinger
White Orchid Beach House, Makena, Maui, September 16, 2016
SOMETIMES YOU JUST have to go with the flow. Even though Megan and Sean knew they wanted a seaside wedding, neither had thought of Hawaii until Nani, their planner from White Orchid Wedding, suggested the White Orchid House on Maui. With that thought, their wish for a coastal celebration transformed into more than imagined. “We celebrated under a full moon and palm trees on a private beachfront residence on Makena Beach on our beloved Maui,” says the bride. The couple both have a special connection to Hawaii; Sean’s great grandmother lived in Hawaii most of her life and he visited her often. Coincidentally, both Megan and Sean’s families took vacations at similar times on Maui (Makena Beach was a favorite for both) before they even knew each other. “Our location was great for a small group and it had the perfect feeling of being tucked away in our own private paradise,” Megan adds. “Nani made it happen without any of the drama or stress that I hear happening too much with wedding planning.”
Looking back today, the couple wouldn’t do anything different in the planning — except maybe to “confiscate people’s cellphones,” Sean says: “You can see many of our guests taking pictures or video of us in most of our professional ceremony shots.” Yet the guests may not have been all that easy to corral, because when the bride and her father walked down the aisle to the song “My Girl,” all 34 friends and family members unexpectedly sang along with the solo guitarist. “That was a pretty special memory,” Megan admits. Other highlights: a full oyster bar for the oyster-loving groom, who grew up in Marin, and a nontraditional cupcake bar that included the bride’s favorite: pineapple cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. The couple still jokes about the dreamlike tropical photos: “Sean always says it looks like we Photoshopped ourselves right in,” Megan says.
VENUE White Orchid Beach House, Makena, Maui, whiteorchidwedding.com
EVENT PLANNING AND DESIGN Nalani “Nani” St. Germain with White Orchid Wedding (WOW)
PHOTOGRAPHY Hula Girl Photography, hulagirlphotography.com
FLORAL Teresa Sena Designs, teresasena.com
HAIR AND MAKEUP Maui Makeup Artistry, mauimakeupartistry.com
MUSIC Maui DJ Services, mauidjservices.com
INVITATIONS Wedding Paper Divas, shutterfly.com/wedding-paper-divas
Marita Espinosa + Signo Uddenberg
Hacienda Cusin, Otavalo, Ecuador, July 1, 2017
SKEPTICS ABOUND ON the topic of fate, but it’s hard to argue against it when considering the story of Marita and Signo. Marita, a chef from Ecuador living in Paris, was visiting San Francisco for a three-month culinary course when she met Seattle native Signo at a friend’s barbecue just one week into her stay. The two connected instantly and quickly began exploring the city in search of the perfect meal and sailing around the bay in Signo’s boat, docked at the Sausalito harbor. “After our first date I knew I wanted someone like him in my life,” Marita says. For the groom it was mutual: “I remember she grabbed my hand and said, ‘I knew there were men like you that existed in this world.’ That’s when I knew.” Marita’s plans to return to France were put on hold, then canceled. Two years later, the couple tied the knot against the backdrop of the mountain Imbabura in Otavalo, Ecuador, a spot that held special meaning for the two avid climbers.
“We love mountains and wanted the energy of the mountain and nature around us for our wedding,” Marita says. For a celebration connected to her Ecuadorian roots, she and Signo chose the historic Hacienda Cusin as the wedding venue; a local 24-piece band played traditional Ecuadorian music while dancers performed in authentic and whimsical costumes. The event was an international celebration, with 125-plus guests from all over Ecuador as well as France and the United States. Her father’s speech was one of the bride’s favorite moments: “He made it in three languages. It was a bit long with all the translations, but so profound; it made me cry multiple times.” Another great memory: the custom-handcrafted castillo fireworks, with cutouts in the shape of a pineapple, a recurring symbol at the wedding. “We felt so much love from our friends and family, it made us feel like the two luckiest people on earth,” Marita says.
VENUE Hacienda Cusin, Otavalo, Ecuador, haciendacusin.com
EVENT PLANNING AND DESIGN Lorena Fialo, fialoeventi.com
PHOTOGRAPHY Samuel Léon, arietecomunicacion.com
FLORAL Lorena Fialo
RENTALS USFQ, usfq.edu.ec
SIGNAGE Lorena Fialo
DRESS Essense of Australia, essensedesigns.com
GROOM’S SUIT Paul Smith, paulsmith.com
BRIDESMAID DRESSES Essense of Australia
HAIR AND MAKEUP Karina Vicuña, karinanovias.com
MUSIC 24 de Mayo and DJ Ricky Serrano
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Taking The Plunge”.