Monthly archives: June 2012

Joyce and Jake Wheatley

“I remember hearing my dad coach me right before walking and reminding me to breathe and that nothing could go wrong from here. Once I saw Jake at the altar after I walked out, I couldn’t wait to get up to the aisle. The walk was about two minutes long and it felt so surreal to see 120 of our closest friends and family supporting us. Once I got up to the altar, my nerves started to unwind throughout the ceremony but I had never felt safer in front of a large group of people.

Jake and I decided that we would try to infuse as much of our Cuban and Chinese cultures into our ceremony and reception as possible. One of the traditions we wanted to incorporate was the Chinese Tea Ceremony. Typically, this Tea Ceremony is done the morning of the wedding at the bride’s house. Tea is a symbolic drink in Chinese culture and the purpose of this ceremony is to pay respects to both the bride and groom’s parents. The bride and groom will typically wear traditional Chinese attire and kneel on the ground in front of their parents. The bride and groom will offer a cup of tea to each parent. As the couple offers the tea, they thank both their parents for raising them and taking care of them. This is a very symbolic gesture as this is one of the last moments before a bride leaves her family.  Since our ceremony was outdoors and since we didn’t want to see each other before the ceremony, we decided to share this tradition with our guests. Instead of kneeling, we bowed to our parents and had our best man help us pour the tea.

Our vision was Modern Coastal “Cubanese” Chic. The “Cubanese” came from the infusion of our Cuban and Chinese cultures. We wanted to incorporate meaningful elements of our respective cultures, our love for natural, modern design (think West Elm), our wine background and our love for the coast. That being said, we wanted to make sure that all of our décor matched the natural beauty of our reception without clutter and fuss. Our food was inspired by both Chinese/Asian and Cuban cuisine.  We served seafood and roasted pork that were inspired by Cuban flavors. We even served mini Cuban Sandwiches and Yucca fries at the end of the evening as our late night snack.  Typically, one would find lots of red at Chinese weddings however, we chose aubergine, champagne and ivory as our main color palette for the wedding. We felt they incorporated enough color to complement the natural lighting from the coastline while still feeling rich and elegant. We didn’t want wild pops of color that would interfere with the natural beauty of the venue.  The walls of our reception were decorated with art that was pained by my mother.


My mom teaches Chinese Brush Painting and as a wedding present, she painted a large Double Happiness sign and several Pink/Purple Peonies for us and framed them. Her paintings matched our color theme and the one paining above the fireplace above our heads has two little birds sitting in the peonies (symbolizing Jake and I). Jake planned a two and a half week Italian honeymoon for us. Jake loves planning surprises so he kept the destinations within Italy a secret over the next five months and sent me clues each month as to where we might be visiting.
We ended up travelling to Rome, Florence, Tuscany (Pievescola and Siena), Orbitello, Positano, Fiuggi and then back to Rome. As we left each city, Jake would reveal the next destination. It was great to keep the surprises coming!”


Venue::Half Moon Bay Golf Links
Photographer::Alison Yin Photography
Bride’s Fashion::Mira Bridal Couture
Bridal Party Fashion::J Crew
Men’ Fashion::Mira Bridal Couture
Cake::Frost Bakery
Florist::Infinite Creations
Entertainment::Sounds in Motion

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Overdue I Do…

The Unveiling of Obstacles to the Altar    

By Betty Mantel Lee

When the website for Wheeler & Williams photography first loads, the song that immediately engages the visitor is “Mango Tree” by Angus and Julia Stone. In some cultures, the mango is a symbol of attainment and its leaves and flowers are used in the celebration of weddings. It is poignant, then, that a wedding ceremony is proving unattainable (for now) for Lena Wheeler and Alicia Williams.

When the website for Wheeler & Williams photography first loads, the song that immediately engages the visitor is “Mango Tree” by Angus and Julia Stone. In some cultures, the mango is a symbol of attainment and its leaves and flowers are used in the celebration of weddings. It is poignant, then, that a wedding ceremony is proving unattainable (for now) for Lena Wheeler and Alicia Williams.


Lena and Alicia met in 2005 through mutual friends. “It took me awhile to wear her down and win her over,” laughs Lena. “But when I saw her walk down the stairs in the backyard where we met, my jaw dropped and my breath left me and my eyes locked onto her until I couldn’t see her anymore.” Winning Alicia over wouldn’t be easy. For one year Lena worked hard to earn Alicia’s friendship, and out of that came trust. With trust came attraction and out of that came love and, finally, a proposal.


“Lena had arranged for our friends Marci and Shelby to come over (in December of 2009) to take photos of us together in our first house by our first Christmas tree,” Alicia explains. What seemed like simple plans quickly turned complex when Lena sent Alicia to change into something ‘better’ for the shoot as she hid the engagement ring (tied with black and gold ribbon) on the branches of the tree. Instructed by Lena to find her favorite ornament from among those hanging, Alicia tried several times to find one for the photos before eventually stumbling onto the ring.


“I was stunned and dazed,” smiles Alicia. “Cameras were flashing and people were staring at me. I couldn’t get the ‘yes’ out of my mouth fast enough.”“I thought for a second that she was trying to figure out a way to say ‘no,’” Lena says.


The couple immediately knew what they wanted their ceremony and reception to look like. They would marry in the backyard where they met, on the stairs where Alicia first caught Lena’s eye. The reception would be held at an adjacent backyard with amazing food, good wine and plenty of white lights strung throughout because Lena is, well, obsessed with the ethereal look of the white bulbs.
Though Alicia and Lena knew exactly what they wanted their day to look like, they didn’t know when to schedule it. Prop 8 had passed in the November 2008 election, but the Perry v. Schwarzenegger outcome in August of 2010 was making it look as though the ‘when’ may be imminent. On August 4, 2010, Chief Judge Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. Friends and family quickly set in motion to help Lena and Alicia finally have their wedding day.


“I could not believe how fast the wedding came together,” remembers Lena. Friends stepped forward with everything from decorations to photographer to amazing prices on food and drink. The couple was euphoric as they began to register at Macy’s, and due to time constraints began sending out save the date invitations on Facebook. Everyone was on call for August 21, 2010.

“I went down to the County Clerk’s office, but was told they couldn’t issue me a license until they had received official instructions from the state,” Lena explains. “They also reminded me to bring Alicia with me when I came back.” Lena soon learned, however, that the official word would not arrive at the Clerk’s office. On August 16, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the judgment stayed pending appeal.  “Those were awful days,” Alicia remembers. “Though our friends and family were so supportive, it was heartbreaking to have to notify everyone that plans were on hold, indefinitely.” They sent out the notice on Facebook and called Macy’s to cancel their registry. Gifts they had begun to receive were promptly returned.


“We were a mess for a while,” Lena shares, as she tears up at the memory. “We got so many calls from friends saying ‘Do (a ceremony) anyway, do it for you.’ It irritates me to admit that the piece of paper is important, but it is, and we knew beyond a doubt that we would postpone until we were given that basic right: the right to express and share our love for each other in an official ceremony and rite of passage.”


Despite the tumult of planning and then postponing their marriage, Alicia and Lena concur that they would do it again in a heartbeat. The passage of time hasn’t lessened their desire to marry. In fact, watching their window of opportunity shut faster than it opened only increased their hopes. “We have already gone through so much in our five years together,” explains Alicia. “Especially those devastating 72 hours.”


“Those 72 hours, though, solidified for me that this is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with,” says Lena. “Crying, wiping each other’s tears and emerging from the sadness together only validated for me that I Alicia is my best friend; she is the very best part of me and I want to spend the rest of my life with her.”


While the passage of time also hasn’t changed the design of their ceremony, they agree that when they are able to resume planning, it will be nice to send out real invites and to be able to have time to get out-of-state family flown in. There will be no cap on the excitement of preparing, because next time there won’t be a need to worry about losing the right just as it’s been granted. And perhaps the most emotional change for next time will be Alicia finally joining Lena to exchange vows and demonstrate their love and commitment on the stairs where they first met, now adorned in mango leaves and flowers for the occasion… with lots of white lights.

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Bridal Boudoir::Object of His Affection

Wrapped in white satin and bows. My cheeks flush. A choice you made; I chose the same. You gave me diamonds, and your name. Gentle urgency your lips are warm. My fingers

tremble just a little. Tomorrow we will wake together. Tonight, I’ll follow you trusting, open.

-Amanda Quraishi

Photography::Bella Boudoir Studio

Model::Melissa Soria

Location::The old egg house at Pageo Lavender Farm, Turlock.

Fashion::Mira Bridal Couture

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Carissa & Stanton Calloway

In the words of the Bride; “Stanton and I met in the 7th grade.  I was the new girl at a small country school and his first impression was that I was a little dorky, which I blame on my wearing glasses.  We became best friends in high school (yes, I got rid of the glasses) and his opinion of me changed drastically.

I was the only girl he ever loved, a fact he kept quiet for a few months (so as not to ruin our friendship) until I came around to the same idea about him.  Being of an impatient nature, I didn’t wait at all to share my feelings immediately after becoming aware of them.  We had been dating for three-and-a-half years, always knowing we would marry each other, when Stanton proposed while on a quad ride through Almond Orchards.

We were engaged for a year and in that time my wonderful fiancé gave my mom and I the freedom to plan our vintage country-garden wedding.  I love all things soft, vintage and romantic.  The colors we chose were ivory and gray with touches of peach that appeared mostly through our flowers.  I wasn’t able to find accessories or decorations I loved, so I came up with a lot of the ideas myself and had my sisters and cousin help me with my D.I.Y. projects.  Some of our favorite projects were the bridesmaids’ shoes and our reception centerpieces.  Everything came together beautifully.  There is nothing we would have changed.”

D.I.Y. Projects included the bridesmaids shoes, bridesmaids hairpieces, brides hairpiece and veil, invitations, aisle shepherds hooks, reception centerpiece jars, hanging jars above the bridal party table, candy bar, the shutters, doily covered Chinese lanterns and “Carissa and Stanton” flags.

Ceremony and Reception Location::Callaway Residence                         Photographer::GROVER Style Photography
Bride’s Fashion::Mira Bridal Couture
Bridal Party Fashion::J.Crew
Bridesmaids Shoes::Dessy
Groom’s Fashion::Men’s Wearhouse
Catering::Copper Spur
Cake::Tiers for Two
Flowers::Bella Fluer
Cinematography::Life Shine Films
Photo Booth::The Platinum Photo Booth
Hairstylist::Carissa Callaway and Shelby Irwin

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Unveiled 2012

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