Real Wedding: Mary + Claudine

Categories   Real Weddings


Ready? This wedding is so good, with so many beautiful details, and such a simple heartfelt ceremony, you are going to die. And then there’s the dresses. Anyone considering wearing a non-white dress to their wedding will be sold after seeing what these two wore.

Mary & Claudine had wanted to marry for some time, but they were really hoping to do it legally. The day California overturned the band on same-sex marriage, they started planning. And in 6 weeks they were saying their vows. Their photos and details make you think twice about spending a whole year stressing about party favors, especially when you can put together such a perfect celebration in less than 2 months! Of course it helps that we’re talking about an art director and photographer couple, both with distinct creative vision and a natural sense of design.

From M + C:

“We wanted an intimate and relaxed wedding with close friends and family and we wanted to marry outside. We found the perfect venue in Berkeley: a beautiful house with a large tiled patio surrounded by lush greenery. It was like having a wedding in our own home (only bigger than our San Francisco apartment!)

Instead of a formal bridal party, we had two “best men” on either side of us during the ceremony to hand us our rings. Both men wore black tuxedos. We each wore a blue, floor length dress by the same designer, Carmen Marc Valvo. We asked our guests to stand around us as we took our vows. We picked a long love poem for the reading, and divided it into ten parts. We had ten friends and family members each read their part from wherever they were standing. It was so beautiful to hear each unique voice come from a different place behind us.

After our ceremony, guests gathered at the front of the house. The waiters gave out miniature champagne bottles so our guests could blow bubbles as we made our formal appearance as a married couple. The first bottle of champagne was opened with an antique saber. After toasting and greeting our guests, we all gathered in the house for hors d’oeuvres. We then had a candle light dinner in a room off of the terrace where we married. Our after dinner reception was dancing and cupcakes on the terrace.”


A few notes on their details and decor, which were so sweet and thoughtful and meaningful…

“It was important to us to reference our French and Italian heritage.

We placed antique locks along the outside gate in the front of the house as a homage to Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, where lovers put locks on the rails of the bridge and threw away the key to “lock in” their love. After the wedding, we gave them to close friends to remember our day.


An old French tradition is to saber open a bottle of Champagne after a victory. Mary’s brother used a saber to open the first bottle of champagne of the evening.

Instead of flower arrangements, we decided to use glass candlesticks of varying heights as the center piece for each table. This created a romantic mood for the evening, gave a graphic, yet soft look we wanted and saved time on floral arrangements for each table. Candlesticks from

We placed little tickets that said WISH inside of a glass vase and placed it on a side table that had little white cards, pens and envelopes for guests to write us wishes and leave in a glass jar.

Dresses: Carmen Marc Valvo / Officiant: Sheila Kappeler sheilakappeler {at} gmail {dot} com / Venue: beautiful rented house in Berkeley with a downstairs party room and large terrace surrounded by greenery. / Photography: Laura Morton / Diana camera and photo at the courthouse: Scott Clark / Catering: Catering was Chef Adair. Absolutely delicious. Because our wedding was only 36 people, we hired a private chef instead of a large catering company. / Dessert: Kara’s Cupcakes

Flowers: We made our own flower arrangements. We went to the San Francisco Flower market to see what was in season a week prior and placed our order. The day of the wedding, we created two large arrangements to frame the “altar” area. We made two medium sized arrangements on either side of the outdoor entry to the house and a few smaller arrangements to be placed around the house. We used green sprigs on the cupcake tiers. / Instead of traditional bouquets, we had pink cala lillies and pink roses that our sisters and best friends could each hand to us as we walked in.

Invitations: We created a monogram and typeset our invitations. We had them letter pressed in Berkeley by Richard Siebert. He’s a former chef from Chez Panisse turned master typesetter. It was a joy to visit his small press and see his work. We typeset our menus, vows, and readings and printed them on an inkjet with paper from the Paper Source.

**update: To see more of their wedding details, visit their website. (note: It is best viewed in Safari).


If you would like to help Mary and Claudine stay blissfully and legally married, go to and help overturn Prop 8.

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Social Love

Laura on Mar 13, 2009

That photo in front of the courthouse is particularly stunning. I love how well they match the black and gold of the entryway, right down to their hair! Those wish tickets are cute too. Anyone know how to find them? Am headed to right now.

christina on Mar 13, 2009

gorgeous. m + c's note brought me to tears, i especially loved the love poem divided into different parts...such a wonderful and meaningful example of a true community, family wedding. thanks so much for posting, it's so important to keep up the awareness of our struggle to stay legally married. thank you. xox

marcy on Mar 13, 2009

so elegant, but so sweet. would love to see more.

Rachel on Mar 13, 2009

How sweet. This looks like such an adorable and fun wedding to attend.

betsy on Mar 13, 2009

i don't think in all my time reading wedding blogs over the last few years, have I seen a same-sex post of any kind. good for you for doing so, not only was it lovely (I would love to see more pictures, though!) but a statement about what your blog is truly about. Love.

Kendra on Mar 13, 2009

This is one of the most personal and meaningful ceremonies I have ever been a part of. I say a part of because as Claudine said, every one who attended was a part of the ceremony. It was a great way to celebrate the love of two people you really care about. They thought about all the details that mattered. Thanks guys for letting us all be a part of your day :)

Louise on Mar 13, 2009

I am somewhat new to all these wedding blogs (but totally addicted, thanks!) but this is the first same sex tribute I've seen - and what a way to start! Beautiful, classic but current, gorgeous and a genuine sense of LOVE! Fabulous.

allison on Mar 14, 2009

i would really love to see more photos!

Erin on Mar 14, 2009

So lovely. Reminds me again how lucky I am to live in the beautiful Bay Area, from that gorgeous San Francisco City Hall door to the graceful way that the old craftsman houses nestle on the Berkeley hills and- most of all- the beautiful, open-hearted, loving, inspiring and creative people who choose to make this place their home.

Jillian on Mar 14, 2009

Hi Everyone, So glad you loved Claudine and Mary's wedding as much as I did. They're 2 of the most beautiful people I know. We may post more of their images but in the meantime you can go to their website: (best viewed in safari)

Colleen on Mar 14, 2009

Even though I'm a heterosexual marriage, I still believe in marriage equality for all. Living in Massachusetts and reading this post makes me well aware of how lucky I am to live in a state where all couples can legally marry. Thank you for posting this wedding, it was like every other wedding; meaningful, classic, heartfelt, and unique. I hope more wedding blogs take your lead in posting about same sex ceremonies, and the rest of this country understands the real meaning of freedom and liberty for all.

Tina on Mar 14, 2009

So lovely!

Dawn on Mar 16, 2009

Thanks so much for sharing their beautiful day and thanks for your support of marriage equality. You have a lovely blog and I'm really enjoying reading along every day.

alison on Mar 16, 2009

i am LOVING your blog - so beautiful and inspirational! i would love to exchange links...let me know. my blog is about luxury lingerie (great for brides!). xoxo

Miss B. on Mar 16, 2009

The details ARE amazing!!! Love the lock lore so sweet!

Kelly on Mar 17, 2009

Here here! I got married to my wife in September, not legally, but in the eyes of my Jewish faith. We are moving to CT soon and we can get legally married then, woohoo! Such a lovely wedding, those flowers are to die for.

Soo-Hyun on Mar 18, 2009

An amazing couple. An amazing wedding. You ladies are proof of that wonderful adage: love is all you need.

100layercake on Mar 19, 2009

Laura, the Wish tickets can be purchased here:

seesou on Mar 23, 2009

This is one of the loveliest weddings and wedding blogs I have ever seen. Yay!

marta on Mar 26, 2009

this is simply BEAUTIFUL. what a gorgeous wedding. i've been eyeing those WISH tickets and would love to know the source. if you ever find out, please pretty please let us know.

Skylar Hartman on Dec 24, 2009

I respectfully disagree with all of you. God has made us male and female, man for woman and woman for man.

Rachele May on Jan 7, 2010

I also disagree, this is not how God intended things to be.

Amanda on Jan 20, 2010

What a beautiful wedding. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the city hall shot, and their gowns! They looked so elegant and beautiful! Respectfully to Skylar and Rachele, what good is marriage if it does not represent LOVE, ETERNITY, and COMMITMENT for everyone? I can't wait for us younger generation kids to overturn the ban on same sex marriage. Love and equality and beautiful weddings for everyone!

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