Gina Barsanti, 37, and Chad Alves, 34, were destined to be together from the beginning. All four of their parents attended Santa Clara University, where their fathers were roommates and eventually the best men in one another's weddings. As the families grew, they continued to get together, crossing paths every few years at family gatherings. In 2005, Chad's mother passed away, and the two families became even closer as Gina's family became Chad's family's support system. "It was so bittersweet," says Gina, "but Chad and I are so happy that his mother's memory is what brought us together."
In 2007, Chad accompanied Gina to her annual family reunion in San Francisco. He surprised her with flowers, champagne, and a limo ride to Baker Beach, where he popped the question. But it took six years for the couple get from "Will you?" to "I do." "We started planning a huge wedding with more than 300 guests, but life got in the way," says Gina. "It was a blessing in disguise: We got to plan the intimate wedding we'd wanted all along, and have it when the time was really right."
So on November 29th, 2013, the couple exchanged vows in front of only 95 friends and family members at Hotel Vitale in San Francisco. "It was simple, elegant, and full of love," says the bride of the couple's wedding day, captured by Angie Silvy.
Gina wore a strapless mermaid gown by Monique Lhuillier. "I didn't have much time to shop for a dress once we set a date," says Gina, who pulled the wedding together in only four months. "Thankfully I fell in love with this one right away!" Eyelash lace edged the neckline, and the skirt had layers of tulle, horsehair, and lace.
Gina's bouquet was a combination of pink and white peonies, ranunculus, and roses, tied with white satin ribbon. She wore strappy gold Jimmy Choo sandals for a glam touch.
The bride accented her gown with a soft updo, side-swept bangs, and a white floral hairpiece.
The flower girls donned white dresses with navy grosgrain sashes and crowns of white and pink floral headbands.
The bridesmaids wore navy strapless dresses also by Monique Lhuillier. As a gift, Gina bought them matching J.Crew statement necklaces to dress up their look.
To complement Gina's bouquet and their dark dresses, bridesmaids carried soft peach, blush, and cream peony, rose, and ranunculus bouquets.
Chad chose a Versace suit for the intimate celebration.
The groom wore a blue and white patterned tie, a white ranunculus boutonniere, and a pink breast cancer awareness bracelet in honor of his late mother.
The ceremony took place on the hotel's fight floor balcony, with sweeping views of the Ferry Building and San Francisco Bay. The aisle was simply decorated with cream and white rose petals.
The ceremony was short and sweet. Chad's brother Ryan was the best man, and was also ordained to officiate the ceremony. The younger flower girl, Chad's niece Emma (also Ryan's daughter), garnered some laughs as she ran down the aisle prematurely, dodging bridesmaids and groomsmen to make her way to her father at the end of the aisle.
Gina's father walked her down the aisle to Vitamin String Quartet's version of "Make You Feel My Love" by Adele.
Chad and Gina wrote their own vows and had three readings, including one from the Dr. Seuss classic, Oh, The Places You'll Go!. "We lit a candle in Chad's mom's memory," says Gina. "It was a really special moment." The couple recessed to CeCe Peniston's "Finally."
After the ceremony, guests headed up to the rooftop for cocktails, then came downstairs to the hotel's patio for a tented reception. Place cards were tied with grosgrain ribbon and miniature skeleton keys. As favors, guests were treated to bags of a local favorite—Ghirardelli chocolates!
The clear-topped tent was decorated with lots of greenery, giving the reception a lush feel. Chandeliers and garlands hung from the ceiling. Tables were topped with blush and cream arrangements of roses, peonies, and hydrangeas in square vases. The couple couldn't light candles in the tent, so they placed battery-operated votives in mercury candle holders to add to the glow.
The family-style dinner included wild mushroom orecchiette and chicken breast with salsa verde. Instead of serving cake, Gina and Chad served their guests an assortment of tartlets and chocolate-dipped macaroons. The couple gave a nod to tradition by cutting a two-tiered vanilla and marble cake, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting.
Gina and Chad took their first spin as husband and wife to a compilation of Ginuwine's "Pony," John Legend's "All of Me," Ray Lamontagne's "You Are The Best Thing," and "Inspiration" by Chicago. "The wedding was perfect in every way possible," says the bride. "The weather, the guests, the music the food, the view... you name it!"
The couple spent a long weekend in San Francisco before heading home, and are planning their honeymoon as we speak. Both the bride and groom encourage couples to embrace every moment of their wedding day. "It goes so quickly once it arrives," says Chad. "Be sure to take it all in while you have the chance." Gina adds that her best advice is to marry your best friend. "Nothing else will matter."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Hotel Vitale || Day-of Coordinator: Ryder Sloan Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier, from Bridal Galleria || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Makeup: Nam Vo || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier || Groom's Attire: Versace || Groomsmen's Attire: Eli Thomas || Wedding Bands: Joe Escobar Diamonds || Florist: Flower Divas || Invitations & Paper Goods: Only The Best || Music: Boutique DJs & Entertainment || Catering: Hotel Vitale || Cake: Susie Cakes || Favors: Ghirardelli || Photography: Angie Silvy