It’s the kind of wedding you might need a secret code word to get in! When Sonia + Dan started planning their wedding day, they knew they wanted it to be moody, romantic, fun, vintage, and tiki-themed! They planned the ultimate soiree at the University Club of San Francisco, which, according to their photographer, is a historic social club whose previous members include John Muir and president Herbert Hoover!
S shared more with us about their unique inspiration:
One of our first post-college dates was at a small tiki bar in our own Alameda, CA. We fell in love with the idea of escapism in your own backyard immediately, and that was what we strived for. We love dressing up, and a big part of tiki culture is feeling like you’re participating in a secret society – like you stumble upon an unassuming hidden door that leads you to an impossible tropical wonderland. In that respect, a black-tie tiki wedding didn’t feel as bizarre in execution as it sounds.
Who wouldn’t want to attend a lavish, secret island party?! Lucky for us, Helena and Laurent Photography was there to capture it all!
Lotus and Ash designed these adorable invitations to look like old-fashioned records. So cool!!
Bride and Groom Style
Ok… this first look moment is precious!!!
S + D were having a total art deco moment with their wedding attire and we can’t get over it!! S chose a sleek Naeem Khan gown from Saks Bridal and paired it with Stuart Weitzman heels while D sported a green doubled-breasted P Johnson suit and Salvatore Ferragamo shoes. Fox and Doll got S all dolled up with glam hair and makeup!
All the moody drama and we are here for it!!
Tropical Ceremony Decor
Ampersand SF described this ceremony setup to S + D as a majestic palm frond moment and we’ve never seen anything more amazing! Seriously loving these tropical florals paired with the vintage decor of the venue!
Alcatraz Islanders wowed guests with live tiki music! Talk about setting the mood!
Processional: Como te Quiero by Khruangbin
Recessional: Wouldn’t it be Nice by The Beach Boys
First Dance: We didn’t do one; WE DID, however, have the world-famous Alcatraz Islanders performing mellow tiki vibraphone music during our cocktail hour which was deeply important to the evening.
The ceremony itself was the most memorable part of our wedding. We’d spent the year leading up to it meeting with our officiant, talking about our favorite poems, readings, and passages, and doing our best to ensure a sense of ownership for the wedding itself. Both of us wanted to feel grounded in tradition while honoring traditions of our own.
While the rest of the night feels like a tropical fever dream, the ceremony itself was very real and very grounded. It was a galvanizing moment for both of us, and after a day of herding family members and fielding questions and rushing around, it was where we both finally connected with each other.
Ready to celebrate!
Newly Wed in SF
S + D had a lot of fabulous insight to share with our couples who are currently on their wedding planning journey. We love their ideas for incorporating your loved ones into the experience:
Getting married, for us, was definitely about the two of us coming together, but people are not kidding when they say “it’s a merger of two families.” That was something that we had to address throughout the planning and execution of the whole shebang. Beyond whatever traditional duties you want to incorporate into your wedding, finding ways to meaningfully incorporate people we love into the ceremony was important to us. Dan’s sister did a beautiful reading; Sonia’s sister walked her down the aisle; two dear friends read poems we chose together; Dan’s mom made a list of songs she wanted to dance to, with his dad. Small things added up, plus, getting married is amazing!
Retro Tiki Reception
Since S + D are all about tiki culture, we asked them what their favorite tiki drinks are and here’s what they had to say:
This question is impossible but we tried. Dan: a fog cutter at trader Vic’s in Emeryville at sunset is second only to the monkeypod at Forbidden Island. Sonia: A Painkiller on a Sunday afternoon so you can feel like you’re on vacation.
If you’re loving the tiki vibes in this wedding, be sure to also check out these other fabulous tropical-inspired days.
Each guest was welcomed to their seat by their very own tiki mug! Talk about an amazing favor idea!
S and her sister also treated guests to handmade fortune cookies:
We made the day feel ‘like us’ in the details because on the surface weddings are all kind of the same. The most important example was the little fortune cookies we had at each place setting with different quotations from Sonia’s mom who passed away in 2016. Not having her there was heartbreaking, but we tried to capture her voice and spirit for our guests; having our friends and family open their cookies and share her words and laugh and remember her was really important for both of us.
Think about the feeling you want to have rather than the aesthetics at first. we knew what kind of party we wanted to show up to, and planned it backwards from there.
Find vendors and people to work with whom a) you like as people and; b) you trust as artists. By communicating with them beforehand and making sure we were all on the same page vision-wise, they were able to be creative and execute their own craft without our input. We basically said “do whatever you want, we hired you because we love your work and we trust your abilities,” and it panned out.
Eat food. Sit down, and eat the food you paid for. Sonia did not do this and she regretted it (she ate cold dinner rolls in the hotel at the end of the night it was shameful). Dan literally left the reception to go eat a plate of beef he stashed earlier.
Pretty Please Bakeshop created the perfect tropical confection to treat everyone’s sweet tooth! We’re loving the tropical sugar flower accents!
A vintage meets tiki extravaganza! Congratulations Sonia + Dan! The GWS team is wishing you both the very best!!
photography: Helena and Laurent // venue name: University Club of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA // florals: Ampersand SF // wedding dress: Naeem Khan // wedding dress boutique: Saks Bridal // bride's shoes: Stuart Weitzman // bride's ring: made by her sister // hair stylist: Fox and Doll // makeup artist: Fox and Doll // groom attire: P Johnson // groom's shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo // groom's ring: Rebecca Overmann // paper goods: Lotus and Ash // cake: Pretty Please Bakeshop // music: Dart Collective // officiant: Vanessa Rush Southern // tiki band: Alcatraz Islanders