If you’re as big a fan of all things vintage and rustic as we are, you’re almost certainly going to fall in love with this California wedding from Tanja Lippert! Rushing waterfalls, peaceful ponds and acres of majestic redwoods gave Jennifer + Brian’s wedding a natural and effortless elegance that no amount of planning could ever recreate. After seeing the shot of the couple exchanging their handwritten vows in a secluded waterfront grove, we had to agree that Nestldown proved the ideal setting for such a personal and intimate affair. We love how the bride’s dreamy Marisa gown fits perfectly in such a natural setting and how the vibrant bouquets seem to be bursting with hand-picked wildflowers. Of course, it’s only appropriate that a couple holding a wedding amid such pristine surroundings should be environmentally conscious. (Notice there weren’t any programs or other paper goods at this eco-friendly wedding!) And for all you summer brides out there: opting for a gelato bar instead of a traditional cake like Jennifer + Brian did with their Dolce Spazio Gelato Cart just may be the perfect dessert choice for a warm weather wedding!
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Brian was a friend of one of my best friends and happened to move down the street from us in San Francisco. He regularly came over for dinner and TV and he and I quickly formed a friendship. One unusually gorgeous day in the city, I was looking for a buddy to join me at a Giants game and Brian was the only volunteer. We had a blast that night and even felt a few sparks. As neighbors, we continued to see each other frequently and built a strong friendship. One thing led to another and, after five years of dating, Brian proposed.
Describe the proposal: By the time we had been dating for four and a half years, Jennifer was none too shy about telling me she was expecting a proposal, but it was important to me that I still surprise her! I wanted her to know that proposing to her (and one day marrying her) were every bit as important to me as they were to her. Since Jennifer’s birthday is on New Year’s Eve, I planned a double-surprise: a short trip to Vancouver and a proposal to boot. Unfortunately, the jeweler was unable to complete the ring in time so the trip wound up being only a birthday present.
Fast forward a week: I had been working insane hours so we had seen each other very little over the holidays, with the exception of our trip to Canada. I told her I wanted us to have a picnic lunch to spend some time together and selected a public rose garden near my university. Pretending to be out running errands, I took my time away from the house to scope out the garden and everything looked beautiful! Three hours later, we went to the garden for our picnic and, to my surprise, every rose bush in the garden had been cut down! We walked to a sunny spot, laid down a blanket and sat together. I gave her a belated birthday gift and when she finished reading the card I started to tell her how important she was to me. As I was finishing my thoughts, she looked away and said, “It’s not all about me.” I pulled the ring slyly from my pocket, opened the box and replied, “Yes, it is.” When she looked back and saw the ring, she gasped. I asked her if she would be my wife and she started to cry and then hugged and kissed me. Sixty seconds later, I asked her if that meant yes and she finally said it: “Yes!”
She had no idea it was about to happen because, as she tells friends, “He didn’t act nervous at all!” I had no reason to be nervous: I knew exactly what I wanted and I got it on January 10th, 2008!
Why do you love your husband? I love my husband because he’s a big dreamer and now I’m part of those dreams! He doesn’t do things just because everyone else is doing them and he’s determined that we have the best and most amazing life possible.
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? We wanted our wedding to reflect our personalities and to be a very personal and intimate affair. Brian and I spent seven months travelling around the world together before we became engaged and wanted to incorporate our travels into our wedding. Luckily, my mother kept all the postcards we sent her from around the world and we found some great vintage travel poster stickers at Cost Plus. We started with those two things and built everything else around them. We used the postcards as signs for the tables during the reception and used the stickers on our DIY tin can vases for the table centerpieces. Being environmentally-friendly was also very important to us and inspired a lot of the decisions we made. The caterer used local, sustainable foods and we didn’t bother with programs or favors, as these things often find their way to the trash can. Finally, we picked our favorite colors, yellow and orange, to tie everything together.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Finding a dress was not a very fun experience for me. I didn’t want a typical poofy princess dress and wanted to find something that would stand out. Unfortunately, the gorgeous lace dresses from Monique Lhuillier were outside my budget. After trying on countless dresses with countless opinions from friends and family (my mom was pushing for a princess gown!), I finally decided on a Marisa dress because it was flattering and, truthfully, I was tired of looking. In the end, I loved the dress and thought it fit perfectly with our surroundings.
Describe your wedding flowers: We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on flowers and were looking for a relaxed, freshly picked-from-the-garden look. A friend’s mother arranged our personal flowers using orange and yellow ranunculus, freesia, roses and lisianthus and adding a lot of texture and movement to the arrangements. She kept bouquets small and hand-tied them with a white ribbon. I love how they turned out. For the table directions, we worked with a flower grower from our local farmers market. We drove out to her farm, picked out a random selection of yellow and orange flowers and simply cut them down to size and placed them in the adorable tin can vases I loved so much.
Describe your wedding cake: No cake for us! We opted for a gelato bar instead. It was delicious and the crowd loved it! Dinner ended with an incredible strawberry shortcake with Straus Creamery whipped cream and buttermilk biscuits. We definitely didn’t skimp on the sweets!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The venue. Nestldown is an incredibly beautiful place and really set the tone for our wedding all by itself. I can’t imagine getting married anywhere else. Our guests still rave about the location.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our vows. We wrote our own vows and surprised each other with them during the ceremony. We borrowed an idea we found on a blog and started each phrase of our vows with “I love you because…” After 4 or 5 phrases, we ended the vows with, “Because I love you, I promise…” There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience! We had so many people tell us how touched they were by our
Funniest moment? Having a glass of red win spilled on my dress. Twice!
The most unexpected event on our wedding day was: At the end of the night, the DJ announced that we were leaving and all our guests suddenly (and unexpectedly) formed a long tunnel with their arms and we rushed underneath to our waiting car. Totally unexpected, but fun!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Beautiful, intimate and genuine
What advice would you give to someone planning their wedding? Decide what your priorities are early on and put your time and money into those things. Don’t do something just for the sake of doing it. Save the dates, fancy invitations, programs, favors, a wedding cake were just not important to us and we didn’t want to spend money on them. Not a single person complained. In fact, we had several people tell us it was the best wedding they had ever attended! My second piece of advice would be to ask every single one of your vendors for a discount. You may not receive a smaller bill but they might include extras that save you money. For example, our caterer supplied all of our table settings as part of their price.
Who was your most honored guest at the wedding? Most of our immediate families were involved in one way or another with the wedding ceremony or reception. Brian felt very lucky to have all four of his grandparents present, but we also honored my mother who passed away a few years ago with a moment of silence during our ceremony.
What’s next for you as a couple? Combining my passion and work ethic with Brian’s entrepreneurism to build something together. We’re also very serious about travel and are looking for opportunities to see new places, meet interesting people and eat great food. With the wedding budget out of the way, Brian secretly hopes to return to racing sports cars again.
Any DIY items? Lots of them! Brian designed our invitations, which were electronic because we didn’t want to waste the paper on something that would end up in the trash and based on a vintage map of the world. For escort cards, we made cute luggage tags using some great printed paper in yellow and orange we found at a Michael’s craft store. We finished the tags off with a yellow ribbon threaded through the end. For table decorations, we used the postcards from our own trip, small vintage globes we bought from a local store and flowers in tin cans. We collected tons of tin cans, cleaned them up and painted them cream. We dry-brushed them with gold to give it a more vintage look and slapped the vintage travel stickers on them. Cheap, easy and they looked fantastic.
Congratulations on your new life together, Jennifer + Brian! We wish you great luck on starting your own business!