Julia and Hieu were the exact opposite of what you'd expect a couple planning their wedding to be like, and it all started with the proposal. "It was very casual, just like us," says Julia. "Hieu was telling me about a dream he had in which he proposed, and the question just came out naturally." A week later, they planned a more traditional proposal for their parents, where their two families gathered together for blessings and the formal engagement.
Their wedding planning was equally casual. The couple was engaged for almost 18 months, but didn't start planning their September 4, 2012, wedding until 9 months before. "Our coordinators said we were the most relaxed, go-with-the-flow couple they'd ever worked with!" says the bride. They chose a venue with sprawling grounds–and lots of local art–where they could host their ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception in different areas. Their vintage, rustic wedding was full of DIY projects that helped keep them on-budget, bringing together their family and friends to help turn their wedding dream into a reality.
Julia knew exactly what she wanted for her wedding dress, and found herself at an impasse when she was in love with different aspects of three different dresses. "I knew I wanted an intricate back, balanced by a more simple front. And I wanted to showcase my frame with a feel that wasn't too heavy, but didn't appear flat or dull," she says. She came upon this Tadashi Shoji gown, inspired by vintage lace. She took a chance and ordered the dress online, and it was just as wonderful in person as she'd imagined.
Julia and her bridesmaids wore personalized rings featuring their names.
The bride ordered her headpiece with a slight birdcage veil from a designer in Copenhagen. It arrived fastened to a headband, but her hairstylist reattached it to a clip in order to style it into her hair.
The couple sourced their flowers from the San Francisco Flower Market. Julia carried a bouquet of craspedia, while her bridesmaids carried simple bunches of baby's breath.
The bridesmaids wore neutral-hued knee-length dresses with vintage details, allowing them to pick something original that would complement Julia's gown. Hieu and his groomsmen wore matching gray suits, with the groomsmen wearing different colored ties.
One of the reasons Hieu and Julia picked Cornerstone Sonoma as their venue was the plethora of options for photographs. "It also helped keep our guests entertained and occupied in between events," she says.
The outdoor ceremony was incredibly simple. Julia saw an altar she loved on Pinterest, and her aunt recreated it for the wedding with tulle and jars of flowers. The couple worked with the officiant to personalize their vows.
At the end of the aisle was a set of freestanding doors that Julia and Hieu had built. The doors were opened for Hieu and the wedding party's processional, then closed again before being reopened for Julia and her father.
Warm weather and a late sunset meant the couple and their guests could celebrate outdoors. Tables were arranged under an open-sided tent.
Escort cards were playfully displayed on a miniature clothesline strung between wine bottles. Collected jars overflowed with craspedia and baby's breath, while tea-stained table numbers told guests where to sit.
The couple's seats at the sweetheart table were adorned with handmade chalkboard-style Mr. & Mrs. Signs.
The wedding cake and dessert bar were a real labor of love. The maid of honor prepared all of the sweets, then she and the bridesmaids held layers of cake in their laps as they drove from the hotel to the venue. "We'd underestimated cooler space!" says Julia. After the ceremony, the maid of honor stepped out to assemble and decorate the cake during cocktail hour.
Though there were a few bumps in the road, there were lots of helping hands to make sure the wedding was a success. Says Julia, "Everything came together in the end!"
This calm, cool, and collected couple is excited to buy their first house, but "we're surprisingly still very casual about the whole 'married' thing," says Julia, "but then again, that's just the type of people we are."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Cornerstone Sonoma || Day-of Coordinator: Romielyn of Very Merry Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Tadashi Shoji || Shoes: Valentino || Hair: Ivadell Vida || Makeup: Mary Craig || Wedding Bands: Willow Glen Diamond Company || Invitations & Paper Goods: DIY || Music: DJ Teddy Rockspin || Catering & Rentals: Alex's Catering || Cake: Made by the Maid of Honor || Photography: Sun and Life Photography