Real Weddings

Intimate Stern Grove Wedding in San Francisco

Quite often, we are elated to see a wedding that are just packed to the brim with the essence of the couple and the love and adoration they have for one another. This is only expounded upon when you add family and friends who are present and truly excited for this unwritten chapter that will be unfolding soon. Erin and Ben's photos from Zoe Larkin Photography aren't without a smile or laugh or cheeky grin in each photo with people in it. We know; we pored through each of them (twice). Their intimate Stern Grove wedding in San Francisco with only 24 guests was celebrated amidst the redwoods was simple and minimalist with “tradition thrown out the window”, according to Erin. It is what we all want a wedding to be ultimately: everyone having a great time because it is a party and big celebration after all. We cannot sum up this day better than the bride, who gave some truly great answers below.

How did you meet?

We met at a bar in downtown San Francisco, attending a mutual friend's show – we were both in the music scene at the time. He was out having a cigarette, my best friend and I went out to get some air. He approached us and asked us if we knew what the smell after it rains is called – smooth! Then he bought me a Miller High Life – the champagne of beers – which was served to us in champagne flutes – classy!

He actually got my friend's number first, then called her to get my number and info about me. Again, real smooth buddy. 😉

What is your proposal story?

We were visiting friends in Paso Robles just after Christmas, we stayed in a David Bowie themed airstream trailer on a glamping property. He cooked me dinner, we had a fire, looked at the stars, our dog was running around like crazy, loving it. We got back into the trailer and on the table was the ring box and a question mark, I turned around and he was down on one knee. Even after being together over 8 years, he was still so nervous and could barely get the words out. After saying, “really?” like, 5 times, I of course said yes. The next morning we celebrated with our friends at their winery. 

What was the most important to the two of you while planning? Was there anything that you chose to splurge on or skip?

We really wanted to make sure everyone had a really great time, and as mentioned, really celebrate all the things we love in SF. 

Mostly FOOD. We really didn't compromise on food. 

Our rehearsal dinner was catered by our favorite BBQ joint, as mentioned we had an incredible “classy pizza party,” (but it was an incredible five course meal with albacore and roast chicken and dessert and I'm drooling just thinking about it),  tacos from our favorite taco truck, even the snacks when we were getting ready included sandwiches from our neighborhood market with world famous sandwiches.

We didn't mull over decisions when it came to food, we didn't compare to try and see what would be more affordable, we just knew what we wanted to include and why we wanted it. 

But overall, we kind of skipped on the whole traditional wedding and reception part, and we really did it our own way.

We didn't have a traditional wedding party, just a Best Man / “Maid-Man” of Honor on each side. We had a reception at a 21+ night club. Our “first dance” was to The Vaccines – I Always Knew – not exactly a romantic slow song. 

We really just threw tradition out the window.  

What were your favorite parts of the day?

WOW so many! 

The ceremony itself was so lovely – there are no words really to describe.

After the ceremony we shot-gunned beers – a tradition that started at one of my bride squad girls Kaylyn's wedding that we were happy to carry on!

But most of all I think everyone had the most fun on the party bus. It was one of those things I had always wanted to do as I would see them rolling around the city all the time, and it just looked so fun! Our wedding was as good of time as any to finally do it! Our friend Hennessy made a killer playlist, we popped champagne, drank wine from the bottle, sang at the top of our lungs.

People would cheer and wave as we drove through Golden Gate park and we would holler back. We all went wild when we turned down our street, hollered at the cafe, drove past Arguello Super Market where the owner, Sal, saw us and waved (he knew what was going down and we had gotten sandwiches from him earlier that day for snacks) and we all started chanting his name. It was a party!

There were some casualties – a phone fell off the bus, a couple of folks had to excuse themselves before dinner to rest and sober up – but we all agreed that it was a sign of a good party! 

Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?

Do whatever you want to do (within your budgetary means and reason, of course). Elope, small ceremony, big ceremony, wear whatever colors you want – if someone doesn't understand or doesn't like your choices – f*ck 'em. It's about you and your partner's love, and it should be an incredible experience for the two of you through and through.

Also listen to the Secret Life of Weddings podcast- not only is it hilarious, but it can really give some great perspective and advice. 

Take the time to remember each other, there's a lot going on and lots of people to see and greet and thank, but take the time to cherish the moments with each other  – it (hopefully) only happens once!