Ultimate wedding & party destination since 2009

Real Wedding: Mary + Claudine

March 13, 2009

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 cb2.com

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. www.36domingo.com / 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 www.eqca.org and help overturn Prop 8.