Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Updated Mar 15 2021
Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding
Photos by Gaby Esensten Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Marion, Studio Manager

Her offbeat partner: Ash, Director of Marketing

Date and location of wedding: San Francisco City Hall and Apparel Arts in Oakland, CA — September 23, 2016

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

When we first began planning our wedding, our priorities were quickly revealed: we wanted to include everyone from our various communities, and we wanted the style to be far-removed from the typical marital aesthetic. For us, this meant ditching the formalities and relying on our most trusted resources, our friends and neighbors. Ultimately, we planned to get married at an intimate city hall ceremony, followed the next day by a 200-person, DIY day-party, coated in urban flavor and vintage frills.

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Ash and I wore bold outfits, Ash in a burnt orange Paul Smith suit and cufflinks, tuxedo shirt, and Fluevog metallic brogues. I donned a low-cut, tea-length dress from the Milly collection at Neiman Marcus, one that was sure to show-off the pieces from my tattoo collection, Prada block-heels, and a simple birdcage veil.

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

I created my bridal bouquet and Ash's boutonniere from flowers I purchased at the local Oakland flower market. One of our fondest memories of the day is our dear friend who doubled as my hair and makeup artist, Kia Fay Styles, whisking us away to the ceremony in "The Love Limo" (her decorated Prius), while Ash and I sat in the back seat passing a pre-ceremony bottle of champagne. We were so lucky that one of my oldest friends from college who is a wedding photographer, Gaby Esensten Photography, was able to capture both the ceremony and the reception. Having our close friends taking care of us on our wedding day made it so meaningful.

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Tell us about the ceremony:

We wanted to spend a lot of one-on-one time with family and friends that had come from far to attend, so we decided to have a ceremony the day before the reception. Since my family is from the East Coast, and Ash is from the Bay Area, it was the first time they were meeting. We thought it would be intimate to have the ceremony at San Francisco City Hall, a beautiful place where we could still be ourselves. The mellow vibe and the architecture complemented our urban, vintage aesthetic perfectly. The ceremony was short and poignant, quiet and emotional.

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Tell us about your reception:

If our reception were an idiom, it would be, "It takes a village." It was truly a team effort for us to put on the show. Every vendor we used was a friend who provided their service as a gift, from the eight cases of La Crema wine, to the cake and food platters, to the venue itself. The reception was held at Apparel Arts, a studio-space for pattern-making and fashion design. I work and attend school there, so planning began naturally.

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

In order to transform the bare bones of the space, I covered the large drafting tables with self-sewed linens I made from the school's free-cycle fabric. To make a bold statement in an otherwise simply dressed space, Ash and I worked for weeks in advance to create 75 giant card-stock paper flowers to serve as a whimsical centerpiece. And with a few fun touches like the gin bar, wall projections, and giant gold balloons spelling out our newly shared last name, we had a playful DIY reception before our eyes.

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Ash had fun creating an eclectic playlist of all our favorite songs, from The Doobie Brothers to Danny Brown, in genres from jazz to soul to trip hop. We were delighted to see just as an eclectic group of people come to celebrate — DJs, musicians, tattoo artists, business owners, dancers, designers, and old friends. Witnessing our community dancing to the songs we love most, exchanging stories and laughing as if they'd known each other all along was the greatest joy of the day.

What was your most important lesson learned?

Do it yourself (but not ALL by yourself!). Delegating tasks effectively was essential for us. Ash and I divided responsibilities according to our strengths, all the while keeping in very close cahoots with our ever-changing timeline and stress levels. We were constantly communicating with each other.

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

While keeping the style sophisticated and cohesive was my strength, Ash kept a close eye on our budget, coordinated food and wine deliveries, overlooked the set-up and breakdown of the venue, and recruited friends to help. Even still, we bit off a little more than we could chew. Most of it was failing to account for the little things that started to add up in the end. I also insisted on doing a lot of tasks myself.

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

Be blown away by this amazing DIY urban flavor and vintage frills wedding

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  1. This wedding is just my visual happy place. I just can't believe that dress wasn't bespoke. It just is SO perfect for her coloring and tattoos. OMG THE TATTOOS. Yeah, yeah, they love each other blah blah blah but I am freaking out over those tattoos. So gorgeous. So perfect. I love.

    • Thank you for the love, Maggie! I definitely made it a priority to showcase as much of my tattoo work as possible 🙂

  2. Would you consider making a tutorial on how you made those giant flowers? Theyre beautiful! So sculptural and fun!

    • Hi Michelle – I actually used this tutorial to get me started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rCXkv0V2r0

      Once you get the gist of how it's done, you can come up with your own ideas! For example, I freehanded the flower centers, and used a circular piece of cardboard to keep the flower sturdy enough to hang. I hope this helps!

  3. This is the coolest thing I've ever seen, full stop. Beautiful people, beautiful tattoos, beautiful color palette. I actually thought it was a styled shoot (not a real wedding) when I clicked on it! Love love love!

  4. I'll admit it, I'm not generally the biggest fan of chest tattoos on women. Just a personal preference. But, the simple geometry of that tattoo coupled with that particular dress is just visually stunning.

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