Photographer’s Comments: “When Felicia and Sean set their date for June 21, 2020 last year, love and celebration were the only things on their minds–not a global pandemic. As their wedding day approached and COVID-19 surged around the world, states began shuttering businesses and public spaces, and many wedding venues canceled all upcoming events. Hosting an event in the time of COVID is fraught with difficulty and extra preparation, but not even a novel coronavirus could discourage these two from solidifying their bond and starting their next chapter. The couple weighed their options even before California went into lockdown, and with the health and safety of their loved ones in mind, they changed course. Felicia and her planner, Stephanie Morris of Stephanie Marie & Co., put their heads together to create this lovely opus to connection during a time when staying apart is essential. In the matter of just a few months, they threw out the original Sonoma wedding of 125 guests, and planned an intimate ceremony at Felicia’s childhood home, her parents’ lavender farm, in La Honda, CA. “Making the decision to keep our date and downsize was the hardest part,” writes Felicia. “The rest seemed to fall into place. We had already been planning our wedding for over a year, and could not imagine putting it off any longer. We are both in our 30s, and want to move on with our lives and start a family.” The guest list was short and sweet–only immediate family and the wedding party–and the details were thoughtfully planned to accommodate safety and keep the homegrown feeling of a backyard wedding without invoking the staleness of sterility. Social distancing was emphasized, but so was connection. Physical touch was limited, but touches of a different sort were abundant; Felicia and Sean made sure every guest felt valued, giving gifts and exchanging sentimental words of affection with their loved ones. Heirlooms–from Felicia’s mother’s veil to the sixpence in her shoe–were plentiful, and many happy tears were shed. Guests each grabbed their own glass of bubbly (poured just a few moments earlier) from a custom champagne shelf, crafted from a wooden pallet, and mingled outside the family’s cheerfully decorated barn while waiting for the ceremony to begin. Every guest holds a special place in Felicia and Sean’s hearts, so every guest was part of the ceremony, walking to the light melodies of a friend’s acoustic guitar during the processional into the lush field of lavender. Felicia’s brother officiated, while each couple sat on their own hay bale draped with a Mexican blanket and topped with a container of lavender to throw at the end of the ceremony. Hors d’oeuvres were served in their own individual boats during cocktail hour. At dinner time, rather than a few large tables seating many guests, each invited couple was greeted with their own table for two, six feet apart and complete with single-serve mini pies and masks. Tags on each mask read, “When it’s impossible to stay apart…”, words written by the thoughtful bride. Felicia’s family put in months of hard work getting the property ready for the wedding, and many details were dreamed up, created, and executed by the bride and her planner, from handprinted signs, to rock gardens bearing the couple’s initials, to the homemade lavender scented hand sanitizer prepared for the big day. Felicia and Sean’s wedding played with the phenomenon of scenting, which aims to create stronger memories through the intentional use of certain fragrances. Memory and scent are closely linked, so by holding a ceremony in a field of lavender, putting sprigs of rosemary in the napkin rings, putting fresh mint in Moscow mules, the couple hoped to vividly imprint their perfect day in the minds of all who enjoyed it. Aside from COVID-cognizant details, the couple chose a color palette, evocatively called “mountain sunset,” that was colorful and rich. A pair of adventurous souls with ties to Lake Tahoe, Felicia and Sean wanted to call to mind the feeling of one of their favorite places while providing a colorful, fun aesthetic to combat the dark reality of life in a pandemic. Adding color meant adding brightness and hope to their wedding, a bit of light in the darkness. Felicia notes that she is proud of how quickly they were to be able to pivot and plan an entirely new wedding in just three months. “I think sending out the ‘change of plans’ card was a turning point, and is an important part of the process for you and your guests; to give closure to your previous plans,” she says, noting that this pivot would have been impossible without Stephanie’s guidance. “It took the pressure off because of course, everybody was supportive and understanding. We know people were sad to miss our wedding, but also relieved to know they wouldn’t feel pressured to attend when it was unsafe. Plus, we have plans to have a big party some day in the future potentially years down the line, when it is safe, and we will invite all our extended family and friends who couldn’t be there on our actual wedding day.” “I hope our photos can tell a story about how events can continue in the age of COVID….to give hope and inspiration to others,” Felicia told me afterward. “We are so fortunate that everyone is safe and healthy after joining for our small wedding.”
Bridal Q & A
Q1: Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any cultural or religious traditions in any part of your day? Most of my inspiration came from the dream of marrying Sean on a mountainside overlooking Lake Tahoe, and a simple image I found online of a couple renewing their vows under a ranch style wedding altar in a gorgeous high mountain prairie. This gave me a place to start, and with the help of our wedding planner and our individual tastes and backgrounds, our vision evolved into a color palette of moody mountain sunset, with elements of lake Tahoe weddings, and a bay area, coastal farm to table influence. Q2: Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY? We decorated each space to create a rustic, ranch-style wedding with many aspects handmade and built inhouse. To start, we built our own wedding arch out of young Douglas Fir trees we harvested from the family property. The design was inspired by the original image I found online of the couple renewing their vows at the high mountain ranch. I was inspired by my cousins wedding reception at the “Central Kitchen” in SF, where guests were greeted in the lobby with gorgeous pre-poured glasses of sparkling white and rose wine. To mimic this idea, we created our own champagne wall by sanding down and modifying an old wood pallet and staged this at the barn for a pre-ceremony meet and greet. We also build our own haybale thrown used during the pre-ceremony greet for seating and fun photo opportunities. Our friend hand-painted scrap wood to make signs such as “wedding Camp” and “F+S”. My mom makes her own lavender hand sanitizer from our lavender farm steam distilled essential oil. As a fun COVID project, I hand-embroidered “Felicia and Sean June 21, 2020” and used this as our ring bearer pillow. Q3: What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding? We chose to use floral hoops for the bridesmaids to free up their hands, give a unique boho flair, and make a special wall hanging keepsake. We worked with our florist to incorporate some silk flowers combined with real flowers that preserve well so the hoops would last for years. We incorporated sunflowers because our wedding was on the summer solstice, and many local California wildflowers and greenery like ferns and lupine for a natural and colorful coastal mountain vibe. Plus, we played with the scenting theme and incorporated fragrant flowers and greenery like rose geranium, eucalyptus, bay laurel, and lavender to boost my mood, provide aromatherapy, and leave a scent imprint. Q4: Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding? Many aspects of our wedding were personalized. To start, we wanted to get nice quality, thoughtful, and practical gifts for our wedding party and family. The groom ordered custom color and personalized Garber Knives for the fathers, best man, and officiator. The other groomsmen were gifted personalized flasks. I worked with an Etsy seller to create hand-engraved, personalized lipstick cases with monogram initials and the wedding date, wrapped and gifted to each bridesmaid and the two mothers, along with quality sheer lipsticks from the Beauty Counter. As a special gift to the fathers and groom, I worked with a company called “Kind Design” to create customized “Topographic Ties” of La Honda, California. Before the wedding, we offered a pre-ceremony meet and greet with a DIY champagne wall made from an old pallet, with pre-poured and chilled glasses of rose and champagne to wow our guests, take the edge off, and make them feel welcome. for seating, we built a large haybale thrown to be used for fun photo opportunities while our wedding party and guests enjoyed some fun before the ceremony began. for cocktail hour, we designed two specialty pre-batched cocktails (to increase safety and simplicity). They were served by a bartender inside our beautiful barn overlooking the lavender field. Each drink was served in a wide mouth mason jar with metal straws for a rustic feel. The first drink was an Ollalie Berry Mint “Myren Mule”. served in wide-mouth 16oz jars with metal straws. They were a beautiful pop of bright pink, made with freshly harvested local Ollalie Berries and mint from our Maid of Honors family farm, the famous Duartes Tavern, in Pescadero, California. Our second drink was a “Cadillac Felicia-Rita” made from a recipe from the local Alices Restaurant, where my brother Trevor Herron is the bartender. My good friend Becky Schultz, hand-painted beautiful wood signs that we staged across the property, including “Wedding Camp” and “F+S” and “And so our Adventure Begins”. I made 6 beaded mini cowbells adorned with rose quartz and Swarovski crystals that we hung from our wedding altar to give a country ranch touch. We also created a summer solstice flower essence by leaving a large bowl of water with flower petals, crystals, and a sign asking guests to drop in flowers/herbs and invoke the water with their love for the bride and groom. this potent summer solstice flower essence is now bottled up with a cute label and blessed by our guests. Our guestbook was a wood “M” monogram with a pen so guests could write directly on the letter itself. As wedding gifts, we ordered custom Garber knives with initials as wedding gifts for the dads, best man, and officiator, plus personalized flasks for the groomsmen. The mothers and bridesmaids got a personalized lipstick case with monograms and our wedding date with some nice lipstick. Q5: Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail. I chose an all lace strapless dress from BHLDN. It had a country-western feel and I chose neutral leather blocky peep-toe heels that matched my silk and rhinestone sache. I also worked with my dress tailor to repurpose material from my mother’s wedding veil into a long cathedral veil which I used for my wedding day. Our bridesmaids were mix and match Sedona sunset pink, with Bordeaux dresses from BHLDN, adorned with brown or metallic leather strappy shoes of their choice. We chose a striking navy blue suit with a custom topographic burgundy necktie and light brown leather shoes for my groom. We chose brown and blue to make it more country, less formal, but still smoking hot. Our groomsmen wore navy dress pants, white dress shirts, burgundy bowties, and tan leather suspenders and shoes. Q6: How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal. We met at a mutual friend’s graduation ceremony, and it was a memorable moment (like it was yesterday). The next day was mothers day and we walked around his neighborhood together in Montara picking a flower bouquet for my mom. Then we had our first date at Half Moon Bay Brewing company. It was clear from the moment we met that we were a perfect match, and within a couple of months, myself and our families knew we would eventually get married. 4 years later, Sean proposed to me at Glacier Point overlooking Half-Dome in Yosemite. He had my ring custom made with platinum and diamonds by a local jeweler, Half Moon Bay Goldworks, where he worked as a young boy in High School. He proposed on Fall Equinox, which helped us choose summer solstice as our wedding date. Q7: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day? The first look was definitely a memorable moment from our wedding day. We both had lots of nerves worked up from a long morning of “getting ready” and finally seeing each other was such huge comfort and got us both grounded again and on the same page. We just needed to see each other, and I’m so happy we decided to do a first look. Also memorable was that our friend surprised us by renting a Tesla SUV and giving us a ride to our hotel on the wedding night. Q8: Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day? We are so thankful to have booked a full-service wedding planner, and highly recommend others do the same. Even with a planner, it is still lots of work. A small wedding can still be expensive, our total spending including rings, the dress, and wedding gifts was $27,000, with only 24 guests. But a big wedding with the same vision would have been way more expensive. Our friends rented a nice car and drove us to the hotel on our wedding night . They decked out the car with lights and LED color changing roses, and created the most perfect honeymoon gift basket with sore muscle bath salts (we had a private jacuzzi in our hotel room and the bath salts were PERFECT), chocolates, cozy socks, facemasks, snacks, hand sanitizers, and more. I recommend anybody to have a friend do this for them, or surprise your newlywed friends with this idea. Sometimes, the parts that you don’t plan at all are the most special. so make sure to have others help you and add their own special touch.
Vendors in this Wedding
Linens and Coverings: Creative Coverings Floral Designer: Flora & Fauna Ceremony Location: LH2R/La Honda Lavender Hair Stylist: Aqua Beauty Lounge Cake Designer: Flour Girl Wedding Cakes Equipment Rentals: Abbey Party Rents SF Equipment Rentals: A Festive Affair Caterer: Culinary Eye Catering and Events Event Planner: Stephanie Marie & Co. Photographer: Jen Schmidt Photography
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