Brian and Ashley

My husband, Brian, and I were married on September 18 at an art gallery in San Francisco called Terra Venue:  Terra.  The whole day was such an emotional whirlwind for me.  I cried, we laughed, everyone clapped.  I don’t even think there are words to describe the roller coaster of emotions and adrenaline I felt that day – all I wanted to do when it was over was hug every single one of our guests (and I think I might have by the end of the night!)  But I think my favourite part of the night was watching all of our guests rock out at our reception while wearing the neon pink “visions of love” holographic glasses we had given them as favors – priceless!

I planned on spending the morning of my wedding day with my bridesmaids, having brunch, drinking champagne, and making our bouquets with the flowers I had bought at the SF Flower Mart the day before. However, when I woke up that morning I found that none of the flowers I had bought had opened over night as I had been told they would! Luckily, we had taken home a bunch of the centre pieces from the rehearsal dinner, and after a minor freak out, and some major improvisation, we had 6 ad hoc bridesmaid bouquets! Not quite the relaxing morning I had planned, but once we climbed into the limo and popped some champagne, we were back on track! We stopped at the Lyon Street Stairs to snap some pics before heading to the venue.

My dress was designed by Atelier Aimee and purchased at Glamour Closet in San Francisco. Bridesmaids’ dresses were from Lulus.

All of the decor was hand made by my mom, my bridesmaids, and myself. We tried to keep it simple and modern, and budget-friendly. For the ceremony, my mom and I arranged birch branches and orchid stems in large vases to flank the “altar” and we created a chandelier out of CB2 hanging glass balls.

Brian and I chose not to see each other before the ceremony, and my heart was beating so fast when the curtains parted and I saw Brian.  What I felt then was completely overwhelming, indescribable, and a feeling that I will cherish forever. Brian wore a suit from Theory.

I walked down the aisle to a Ryan Wiles’ piano version of Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” a song with special meaning for Brian and I.

Our ceremony was performed by one of our closest friends, and two of our other friends did readings for us.  One of the readings was from a book of love letters between John and Abigail Adams called “My Dearest Friend” which Brian had given me years before, and the other was a passage that our friend chose himself.

We wrote our vows to each other in the form of alternating promises, but as a nod to tradition, each promise centered around one of the traditional vows.

We struggled a lot with trying to structure a ceremony that reflected our love for each other and our personal vision of marriage, while still respecting our families’ traditions, and in the end, our ceremony was intensely personal and absolutely perfect.

After the ceremony, I felt like I was so filled with love for everyone around me that I wasn’t sure if I was crying or laughing! Our rings (with each other’s fingerprints in them) were from Fabuluster via Etsy.

Besides designing our ceremony, another of our priorities in planning the wedding was the food!  We chose (the fabulous) Back to Earth Catering.  Since Brian and I met while at school in the South, we served up a Southern meal of fried chicken, hush puppies, cheddar biscuits, mac n’ cheese with smoked ham and veggies with bourbon BBQ sauce, with a Bay Area organic twist.   Our menu choices may not have been traditional or expected for an art gallery venue, but really, is there ever a bad time for fried chicken?

We also really wanted to keep our reception fun, light-hearted, and goofy.  To this end, on each person’s plate setting, we placed a customized crossword puzzle that I made with questions about me and Brian for our guests to fill out, and a pair of “visions of love” glasses, which are holographic glasses that turn lights into hearts!

For the reception decor, my mom, my bridesmaids and I bought and arranged flowers for the centre pieces, and I spray painted wine bottles in metallic colours to use as vases. I interspersed moss balls and white ceramic bird vases to add a little interest. On our welcome table, we displayed pictures from our parents’ and grandparents’ weddings, and had a book of our engagement photos as the guest book.


Our first dance was to ‘Beyond the Sea’ by Frank Sinatra, and my father and I danced to the Viennese Waltz.  I thought I would feel self-conscious and awkward dancing in front of all those people, but in the moment, I felt like I was floating.

We had a small cake brought by one of our family friends, and a variety of mini desserts and a candy bar for our guests.  And Brian really did smear cake all over my face! A surprise for sure, but also hilarious (in hindsight at least)!

Our photographs were taken by Leonel Medrano and Iris Bai, family friends and photography students. We could not have been happier with their work!

As a word of advice to those still planning, I would say to focus on designing a day that is truly a reflection of your relationship and your values, rather than one that fits into a certain “color” or “theme.”  If your wedding rings true to who you are as a couple, it will not only be special to you, but also to all of your guests.  And try to look past all the technicalities in the planning process and embrace your wedding for what it really is – the one day you have a license to be openly, shamelessly in love for everyone to see, as cheesy as that may be.

Ms Polka Dot says: Wow – Ashley’s wedding dress, the bright pop of rich yellow of her bridesmaids’ dresses and the gallery venue that says this wedding is contemporary and so much a reflection of the bride and groom! Congratulations on your wedding Ashley and Brian and thank you for sharing your day with us.

Ashley says: I am a law student and newlywed living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I met my husband, Brian, while in college at Duke University in North Carolina, and after graduation, we moved back to our home state of California. In my free time, I am an amateur photographer, painter, decorator, and a lover of all things pretty.

Photography:  Leonel Medrano and Iris Bai