Julie & Stephanie's San Francisco Zoo Wedding

By on Sep 8th

The Offbeat Bride: Julie, Account Executive

Her Offbeat Partner: Stephanie, Senior Boarding Manager at a Doggy Daycare

Location & date of wedding: San Francisco Zoo – San Francisco, CA — May 30, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: I guess the obvious answer here would be along the lines of two brides, zero white dresses, etc. — probably not so "offbeat" anymore, and certainly not in the Bay Area.

Outside of our pre-election, City Hall "quickie," this was the first gay or lesbian wedding that either of us had been to, so we really felt like we had an opportunity here to make this our own versus the cookie-cutter wedding that too many people have. We took a lot that was traditional, and threw in a lot that wasn't –- in the end, it all worked big time.

Coolest thing: Our ceremony was held on the African Savannah at the Zoo, and the grounds keepers threw a bunch of feed out so there were zebras, kudu, ostriches, etc out eating while we were exchanging our vows. After the ceremony, we combined our cocktail hour with a giraffe feeding, where all of our guests got to hand-feed the giraffes. From there, it was all just a really fun time. We also rented a photo booth for the reception, which was a total hit.

Our biggest challenge: Table Centerpieces. Several months prior to the wedding, we decided to make our own flower centerpieces for the reception. Three tall glass vases per table with riverstones in the bottom, filled with water. Then, a single stem would be submerged in each. Five months in advance, we went to the SF Flower Mart and selected our "trial" flowers: a beautiful brown orchid, a green/white orchid, a fern, etc (our colors were brown, green, ivory). Everything looked great, all systems were go. Fast forward to the day before the wedding, when we venture back to the flower mart only to discover that there were no brown orchids, white ones, etc. Basically, none of what we had tested and were counting on.

We had to improvise, and quickly, as the vendors pretty much start to shut down as soon as the mart opens to the public (grrr). We grabbed every/anything that looked good, and had to figure it out on the fly with the help of moms & sisters at the Zoo. The whole point was for them to be submerged but the huge poppy pods we got were floating. So Steph's sister got creative and we lowered the water level a little so they wouldn't all float up. A little stressful, but it all ended up looking great – and at the end of the day, guests all thought they looked fantastic.

My favorite moment: Julie: My favorite moment was during the ceremony, when my brother-in-law (our 'minister') read a poem that we chose — I Like You, by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. We already loved it and thought it totally captured who were were together, and it was cool to hear our guests laughing at a lot of the same parts we liked.

Steph: When we got to walk in and finally see all of our family and friends who were there! It was just really cool to see everyone all there together, smiling and happy to share this day with us.

My advice for other offbeat brides: We both agree on this… There are a lot of really cool DIY ideas for weddings and it's easy at first (months ahead) to think that you will have the time, energy, time, money or TIME to get all these things made. That may not always be the case when it comes down to the wire though.

The only DIY thing we really took on was the centerpieces, which sounded easy enough. But noooo… finding the vases in the right size/price combo was ridiculous. The flower mart didn't have what we were counting on, so we had to make last-minute substitutions. Flowers were floating when they were supposes to stay submerged.There were two moms, two dads, and two sisters who all wanted to give input (luckily, they ended up being a massive help here!). And all of this with three hours to get to a rehearsal dinner.

We still endorse DIY in a major way. We also endorse serious planning.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?: Our vendors rocked. Rocked.

  • Photographer: Lilia Photo Our amazing photographers, Lilia & Ray Ahner [as seen on OBB before!], continue to be amazing. Between the engagement photo session and the wedding pictures, our guests haven't stopped raving about their work. We can't say enough about them!
  • Flowers: Not Just Flowers Lisa at Not Just Flowers was super cool. Especially when we popped in 15 days before the wedding needing an arch decorated, two decent-sized side pieces, and eight corsages/boutonnieres! Very unique flowers, and she was totally able to work with our near-gone budget.
  • DJ: Denon & Doyle When the band we were looking to book decided to quote us as if they were U2, we found ourselves looking at DJ companies. Sue Doyle was awesome, really attentive and answered all my "yeah, but what if there isn't a groom?" questions. Our DJ, Binky (yes, Binky) was great — not cheesy, which was our biggest fear. Oh, we also rented a photo booth from them, which was super fun and everyone loved. Photo quality was great, and they handed us a flash drive at the end of the night with all of the photo booth pictures on it.
  • Cake: Montclair Baking They were the only bakery we wound up taking to, and we were very happy with the cake. Cheryl Lew, the owner, was able to replicate the design from the invitations onto the cake — very cool.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!:

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