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Laura Hunt

An Intimate Wedding in San Francisco

Jennifer Novak

The Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco is an 1895 Arts and Crafts building. When Mason and I saw it for the first time, we both knew we wanted to be married there. In the historic Hotel Drisco, just a few blocks away, we found the perfect settings for the intimate family gathering we had envisioned, in elegant yet understated San Francisco style.

We made plans for a late September wedding because in September the fog gives way and our guests would be able to enjoy warm summer weather and clear views of San Francisco Bay. The choice of a hotel near the church made it easy for our out-of-town guests to walk to every event for the wedding weekend. Creating that kind of ease was important to us, since we wanted to make sure that our guests felt relaxed and at home.

Even Friday night’s rehearsal dinner was held in a neighborhood restaurant. After the church rehearsal, the wedding party simply walked a few blocks to Garibaldi’s to celebrate together. It was perfect; some members of our respective families were meeting for the first time at that dinner, and Garibaldi’s had just the right combination of celebratory yet inviting and relaxed ambiance.

On Saturday, we decided to blend group events with time set aside for us and for our guests to spend on their own exploring San Francisco. We had left gift baskets at the hotel, complete with maps of the city and lists of personal suggestions for everything from my favorite clothing store on Haight Street to tips for brunch orders at our favorite joint across town. That gave us some "alone" time – for me some prepping at the spa, and for Mason a walk through the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park. Saturday evening the "San Franciscans," hosted a large get-together at a Thai restaurant, giving everyone a chance to come back together and share stories from their day. Last thing Saturday night, Mason and I headed to get massages together at San Francisco’s Kabuki Hot Springs. I am so glad we made time to do that together; it was renewing and romantic.

The day of the wedding was beautiful and warm, just as we had hoped. First we headed over to the Hotel Drisco to join family and friends for an early brunch. Then we set out on a walking tour of the mansions of Pacific Heights. Some of our best photographs from the wedding are from that walk. People were just being themselves, and Joshua [Ets-Hokin], our photographer, has a way of capturing the essence of each person with his pictures. Each time we will see them, we will have such wonderful memories.

For the wedding itself, we turned to Cay Lemon of Zest Productions to help gather a team of San Francisco professionals to create a memorable event. Karen Axel of Tapestry helped to design lush, late summer arrangements of deep reds, coppers, and apricots that beautifully warmed the church and reception house for a late afternoon wedding. Karen and Laurence Whiting of Now We’re Cooking worked together to create beautiful buffet stations. The food was typically Californian, with lots of Asian and vegetarian influences. There was only one exception: a table dedicated to Jambalaya, fried catfish, and spicy corn bread. We had to add Southern food; it wouldn’t have been us if we hadn’t. There were other touches inspired by Mason’s Louisiana roots. At the ceremony we drank port from a two-sided silver chalice that Mason’s mother had used at her own wedding. (Southern tradition dictates that the spouse finishing first will rule the household). My necklace also was a French-Quarter treasure discovered during a trip to a friend’s wedding in New Orleans.

The most special memory of the day? We both agreed that it was in our choice of officiant, my uncle, Clarence, a chaplain who flew in from Hawaii for the wedding. He has a tremendous gift of spirit, and we are so grateful for his being the voice of our wedding. It was a surprise for us when Clarence ended the ceremony by singing a Hawaiian hymn. "Delight. Truly, the best things are never what you can plan."

Wedding Coordination:
Zest Production
Now We're Cooking
Ets-Hokin Studios

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