Miranda Walker had stepped inside a sound booth to hear her singer-songwriter boyfriend, Rodney Brillante, sing before, but the tune he performed this time was new. As she listened to the lyrics, she realized, "This song was about us!" As the final notes played, Rodney dropped to one knee and asked Miranda to marry him. "I was barely able to squeak out a 'yes,'" she recalls. Then, as if that wasn't overwhelming enough, the couple's families walked into the room. "They'd all been listening to the proposal on headphones!"
Just as their families had been included in their proposal, it was important that they took center stage at Miranda and Rodney's September 29, 2012, wedding at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California. "Each guest was invited because they loved and supported us as individuals and as a couple, and we wanted to honor the fact that they made up the community that would sustain our marriage," Miranda explains.
Miranda's bridesmaids and mother helped her slip into her Vera Wang ball gown, which featured a Watteau train and a blush ribbon wrapped around the waist.
"I fell in love with the intricate organza ribbon down the back of the skirt," says the bride. "It's so unique!"
Miranda splurged on a pair of low-heeled silver Christian Louboutin pumps. "I rationalized the purchase by seeing it as an investment. Since Rodney is shorter, fancy, low heels are something I'll use again and again!" she says.
Rodney wore a gray suit and black bow tie, along with a pair of colorful, striped socks. His cufflinks were typewriter keys with his initials. "We gave the groomsmen the same cufflinks with their own initials as a gift," the bride says. Rodney's boutonniere reflected the couple's color palette, with dark plum flowers and ivory ribbon.
Studio Choo made Miranda's lush bouquet from a collection of cream, rust, blush, and plum roses, dahlias, and astilbe, mixed with greenery and wrapped in gold-and-ivory ribbons.
"We were full of so much joy and wonder, having all the people we loved most in one place," says Miranda.
The groomsmen wore their own gray suits, accented with purple details. Miranda let her bridesmaids choose their own dresses, with one requirement: they had to be a neutral color. Her mom and sister snagged vintage lace ensembles, while others chose short styles that reflected their personalities. "They all looked great!" Miranda says.
Miranda and Rodney asked their 135 guests to participate in their ceremony with community "vows", a ring-warming ceremony, and special readings from their mothers and a close friend. "The most surreal and perfect moment was the raucous, sustained applause after our first kiss," Miranda says. "We both stood there, dazed, laughing and crying, and not sure what to do next! Though the reception was a blast, the ceremony was definitely the highlight of the day for me — the happiest and most fun moment of my life!"
The couple used their at-home letterpress to create signage for the menu, as well as the seating chart, which was displayed in an ornate gold frame. "We thought about making the invitations, but it proved to be a way bigger project than we'd anticipated," reveals Miranda.Headlands Center for the Arts mess hall. "The venue is so dramatic that it needed very little decoration," Miranda says. "We really let the flowers take center stage." Wild, organic arrangements of blush, cream and purple dahlias, roses, hydrangeas, and stock flowers ran the length of rectangular tables topped with tan tablecloths and eggplant napkins. "We also designed and applied personalized wine bottle labels with our initials and wedding date," says Miranda.
The bride and groom's seats were marked with frames holding their childhood photos.
A family-style menu of dishes made from all-local ingredients, including herb and garlic free-range chicken, a gorgeous spread of cheeses, and sliced heirloom tomatoes and green beans, were crowd favorites. "I drooled over the menu for weeks leading up to the wedding, but was too busy and antsy to actually eat the day-of!" sighs Miranda.
The couple cut a small, three-tier chocolate cake, but served guests slices of raspberry and chocolate sheet cakes from the kitchen. "Our cutting cake was teeny and delicious," says Miranda.
The couple's "guest book" featured cards for guests to leave a note, as well as a camera and instant film so they could snap a photo to share with the bride and groom. "We displayed family photos, including ones from our parents' and grandparents' weddings," explains the bride. Favors were bags of the couple's favorite coffee. "That was our 'signature drink!'"
Miranda and Rodney honeymooned in Hawaii, and are still basking in the afterglow of their wedding day. "I think that it's hard to anticipate the moments that will knock you off your feet on your wedding day! I never thought I would have such fun during the ceremony, but it was definitely the highlight of the day for me," says Miranda. "Don't neglect the ceremony in favor of the reception—it's really the main event!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Headlands Center for the Arts || Wedding Planner: Esla Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Vera Wang || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Hair: PDArtistry || Groom's Suit: Indochino || Wedding Bands: Brilliant Earth and Fabuluster || Florist: Studio Choo || Invitations & Paper Goods: The Aerialist Press || Music: Spencer Sutherland || Catering: Katie Powers Catering || Cake: La Farine || Rentals: La Tavola Fine Linen Rental || Favors: McLaughlin Coffee || Photography: Deborah Coleman Photography