Beylah and Chris, lovers of the great outdoors, family and friends and anything that calls for creativity! When their family and friends from near and far gathered at the Ralston White Retreat for their wedding weekend, I think it’s easy to say how blown away everyone was. Not only by the location but all that they did to personalize it for their wedding as well. From the letterpress invitation that Beylah & Chris designed and printed themselves to the woodwork- signage, games and a chuppah! This crafty couple took the term DIY wedding to a whole new level and they did it with such skill and creativity, everything looked so beautiful. We all know DIY does not always end in something pretty!
Right at the start of the blog I’d like to give a big acknowledgment to Lindsay and her crew from 2 Friends Events. They did a wonderful job of making this wedding stay on track and they were so friendly as they did it! Organized and kind- love that!
Besides all of the DIY touches, one of the cool things about the wedding was that it was actually one big slumber party too! The 2nd and the 3rd floors of the house have many rooms for guests to stay in. Communal bathrooms and showers brought back memories of summer camp and dorm life!
With so many DIY touches I asked Beylah to help me out for the blog with describing them.
Welcome Easel: The easel welcoming our guests to our wedding was the very first woodworking project Chris took on! Inspired by his late father’s love of woodworking (and a desire to save money by taking on some DIY projects) Chris dove in and hand built this beautiful two-sided easel. I then decorated it with chalk to welcome our guests! Like many of our projects, it was a true team effort!
Beylah’s dress by Allure was stunning and this image of it in no way shows the beauty of it’s delicate lace and buttons! Only seeing it on Beylah really shows that. But I do like the sweetness of it here waiting for Beylah.The creative talent was not just limited to Beylah and Chris but family members as well. Chris’ Mom is a national needlepoint champion! She created this delicate ring pillow holding the wedding bands for the ceremony.
Beylah got dressed with the help of her mother and her sister.
Mom did every button up with love, that’s a lot of love!!
Supported by her sister, buttoned up by her mother- so much love in this image!
Chris’ Mom arrived and was all smiles at the sight of her beautiful soon-to-be daughter-in-law!As were her childhood best friends!Everyone then joined in to help with the finishing touches before the first look.Beylah presented the Moms with a beautiful custom handkerchief- almost too pretty to use!
While the ladies were busy with hair, makeup and doing up a long row of tiny buttons, the guys were doing what guys do best: using power tools, drinking beer, hanging out and eventually getting dressed!The unfair thing about guys is that within seconds they can get ready and look oh so handsome!I love the look of anticipation on Chris’ face!So much happiness!
Big smiles, crying eyes- I love the emotions of a first look!
Just out back of the retreat center are trails leading you into an amazing world of a redwood forest!There is nothing like walking amongst redwoods to remind you of the amazing grandness of nature.Beylah’s bouquet held a picture of her late grandmother, such a special way to have her near on the wedding day. All the beautiful florals were created by Nancy Ann Flowers.How awesome are these wedding shoes? Beylah was the smartest bride ever wearing sparkly flats!
When I get to a venue I try to scout locations to do pictures of the bride and groom. But sometimes I wander too far or climb over things without fully thinking how a bride might get there in a wedding dress…. and still keep that dress clean! And sometimes I just hope that the bride might not care and wants that picture as much as I do! That is what happened here.
We were a little short on time but I knew from my walk that morning that there was a pond on the property that was surrounded by beautiful trees and what seemed to be the leftovers of some manmade structures. The space was enchanting and I wanted so badly for Beylah and Chris to be photographed amongst it. When I suggested it, Chris eyes lit up and Beylah said, “of course” with a shrug of her shoulders! I love adventurous brides and grooms! Ahhh, this image above makes my photographer heart happy! I love when an idea comes to fruition, thank you Beylah and Chris for being up for it! (Oh and Beylah’s delicate dress stayed perfectly clean and intact!)
Heading on back to get married!Everything was all set for the ceremony, blue skies and all!
Chuppah: The chuppah was truly a labor of love to put together! Chris spent hours upon hours building, sanding (and then more sanding!), and staining the chuppah. On the day of the wedding he assembled it with the help from some handy friends, and as in Jewish tradition, we adorned it with a lace tablecloth that we will use in our future home!
A portrait of Chris’ late father was placed in the front row.
“Yay” Flags: In lieu of throwing rice, Chris and I thought it would be a fun idea to see all of our loved ones waving little celebratory flags when we walked back down the aisle after the ceremony. I wanted them to represent us, so we added in “Opa!” to represent Chris’s Greek roots, and “Mazel Tov” to represent my Jewish roots. It was a fun project to take on– I taught myself to screen print designs onto fabric, and then cut and sewed each flag onto wooden dowels. It was wonderful to learn a new skill and make something that truly represented both of us for the wedding!
With flags at the ready, it was time to start the wedding ceremony!
Beylah was walked down the aisle by her mother, as her father had been dealing with some serious health issues and was unable to attend. However, friends and family members really pitched in and used technology to allow her father to watch the wedding live.
Beylah and Chris’ close friend, Jake officiated the wedding ceremony. He did such an amazing job and really made the ceremony so special for everyone. Beylah’s sister did the first reading.Beylah’s aunt did the 2nd reading. Loved how the Ralston Retreat Center has a hill that goes up beyond the ceremony site allowing for views down onto the ceremony.Beylah and Chris created their own vows to each other. It was beautiful, funny and had everyone laughing with welled up eyes! Nothing like a good belly laugh!The balcony from the house also made for a cool vantage point!Rings were exchanged…
And with a kiss it was official! Married!!!Mr & Mrs!Beylah and Chris’ wedding bands. Chris’ band was passed down to him from his late father.
Beylah and Chris thought of everything to give their guests an amazing experience! Extra blankets, lovely drinks (Does Beylah not have the prettiest handwriting!?) and even games!!!
Lawn Games: Having fun lawn games during our cocktail hour was something we were really excited to do, and Chris took on the major projects of building some of them himself! He built a giant Jenga, as well as the ladder golf. It was a lot of work with tons of sanding all of those pieces (as well as some fun test runs playing in my parents backyard), but it was so worth it to see our guests having fun on our wedding day!
Lifelong buddies and their partners- quite a crew of amazing people!Everyone was having so much fun playing!! Best cocktail party ever!The life-sized Jenga was a huge hit!Ummm, sorry Chris!Sandwich hug!The Ralston Retreat Center also has a resident doggy who roamed around giving love and helping with clean up 😉Greg, a die-hard Yankee fan had to really check his sports ego at the door to capture Chris wearing Boston Red Sox socks on his wedding day!!Inside the house, the dining room was beautifully decorated.
Wooden Escort Card Holders: For these, Chris and I scavenged for long fallen branches in Marin, and then took them home where Chris hand cut them into individual escort card holders! I designed the actual cards to fit in, another great team effort.
Table Numbers: Chris had lots of fun with these! Since we are lovers of the outdoors and nature, Chris designed each table “number” to be a native California tree (ones we had seen together during our first ten years of adventuring), and found fun tree facts to put on each card. Super dorky, but super us!
While everyone else was getting their seats for dinner, the now married Beylah and Chris got to relax on the steps for a moment and enjoy the scenery. Beylah and Chris welcomed their guests and poked fun at themselves for how long they waited to get married! I’m sure they were constantly asked (I know Greg and I were!) so why not have a little fun with it!Beylah’s Mom did a big HOORAY that Chris was now finally her son-in-law! Chris’ mom carried the running joke off without a hitch saying that she told Chris when he was younger that he wasn’t allow to get married til he was 30!
Next up was Chris’ best man who shared hysterical stories of their past together… basically involving video games!
Beylah’s sister her Matron of Honor then gave a toast recalling childhood stories and how much she admires Beylah!Next up was one of Beylah’s dearest friends who recalled the first movie they saw together at 10 and how she even still had the tickets from it!Last but not least, Beylah’s grandfather stood up and gave a grand welcome to Chris into their family!After toasts everyone enjoyed a delicious meal created by the talented A Fork Full of Earth!At the Ralston Retreat Center- the dancing happens in the adjacent room to the dining area. Everyone headed over for the first dance.Beylah and Chris, both a little shy of the limelight, did a short first dance before they asked their friends and family to join them on the dance floor!Top right and bottom right of this image- two of my past brides and grooms! Love seeing familiar faces at weddings!!!The Hora! Hands down, chairs up- one of my favorite parts of a Jewish wedding!
Beylah in this picture is trying to get Chris to grab the napkin! This nods to an old Jewish custom back from the days when the men and woman could not touch when dancing. The napkin allowed them to touch… without touching. They have strong friends- they were up there for a long time! No complaints from me! The guys got a little crazy! So much fun!With the first dance and the Hora done it was now time to dance the night away! Shaun of Toasts & Bells (a dynamic team) did a wonderful job of keeping the dance floor going! Rachelle also sang during the ceremony and the cocktail hour and had everyone in awe. Parents out dancing! With their little guy sleeping nearby in the other room they were able to take a few spins on the dance floor while also keeping any eye on the monitor!
Dancing at a wedding should only be interrupted by one thing…. sugar! Look at this display of yumminess!How adorable is this cake with the bears on top?! Delicious sweet treats created by Teeny Cakes.
Favors: Chris’s mom made dozens of delicious baklava (a Greek tradition of course!) using an old family recipe that we used as our favors.
Photo booth fun!
All sugared up, the dance floor was in full swing again! Can you name the song they are dancing to?!?!Awww, Chris and his Mom!
Such a great team! Appropriate that they love to high 5 each other!Last dance! So much fun to be surrounded and celebrated by your friends and family….…then smooshed!
Beylah & Chris, thank you so much for inviting us up to photograph your wedding! We were so inspired by your love for each other, your impressive craftiness and the beauty of Mill Valley!