Rebecca Melton admits that she and John Carlo Heywood searched long and hard to find each other. "John Carlo had gone on over a hundred first dates in four years and I had committed myself to at least 10 hours a week of online dating," Rebecca says. "Finding each other wasn't just a long process, it was also grueling and disheartening." Although neither thought their first date was a success, they decided to give it another try — a decision that proved to be worthwhile. After just three months of dating, John followed Rebecca from New York City to California for a job transfer and the rest was history. On July 6, 2014, John proposed while on a picnic at a little park on the top of Nob Hill, and Rebecca happily accepted.
The pair looked at several San Francisco venues for their May 23, 2015, wedding, but in the end, they chose the James Leary Flood Mansion. "It has lots of old-world detailing and a grand yet light and airy feeling," the bride says. "Plus, it had a courtyard for our ceremony and amazing views of the bay." They tapped Emily de Ayora of Downey Street Events to help them plan an elegant, dream-like celebration with lots of spring-inspired details. Annie McElwain Photography was there to photograph every special detail — from the bride's stunning ball gown to the flower-filled reception.
Rebecca and John didn't select a set color palette, but did work pale pink, mint, midnight blue, and gold into as many elements of their day as they could, starting with their invitations. Their elegant white stationery suite was complete with navy typography and chic gold foil detailing on the edges.
As Rebecca went into wedding dress shopping, she took her mother and father's advice to heart: "They both said I would cry when I put on 'the one' and I did!" Her Allure Bridals ball gown, complete with a sheer-illusion back and neckline, an embroidered bodice, and slight cap sleeves fit perfectly with the regality of their wedding venue.
She accessorized her soft updo with a beaded clip and donned delicate drop earrings. Her only pre-wedding attire regret? Not trying on veils with her wedding dress. "The first one I ordered ending up being too short and was a last-minute headache to exchange for a longer one," Rebecca says.
Her bouquet was an absolute stunner. Rebecca carried a round, loose arrangement of peonies, Juliet and David Austen garden roses, ranunculus, sweet peas, queen Anne's lace, and greenery in various shades of pink.
Rebecca's bridesmaids wore off-the-rack T-Tahari floral jacquard dresses with an embellished neckline. Each carried a bouquet similar to the bride's, with a mix of roses, ranunculus, lisianthus, astilbe, and jasmine vines.
John chose a bespoke tuxedo from Isaia, paired with a black bow tie, Ferragamo shoes, and Mont Blanc cufflinks.
The couple's outdoor ceremony was held in the venue's courtyard. "The mansion has a series of arcaded windows and a balustrade with urns at the ends," Rebecca says. "We put large flower arrangements in the urns and a beautiful spray on the transom above the central set of French doors. No one had ever put flowers up there before according to the venue staff!"
Rebecca and John chose not to write their own vows ("I didn't think I could keep it together to say them," the bride says) but did personalize their ceremony in a few different ways. First, a friend recited e.e. cummings' "I carry your heart with me." Then, after the couple exchanged rings, they asked all of their guests to join them in singing The Turtle's "Happy Together." "We were a little nervous as the officiant, DJ, and wedding planner had never had a couple sing a song during the wedding, but it worked out great!" says Rebecca.
The party then moved inside to the mansion's main hall, where two rows of long tables were set to seat Rebecca and John's 126 guests. There, loved ones were treated to an incredible floral sight: Arrangements of tall and short blooms spanned the length of each table, made up on roses, garden roses, peonies, lisianthus, ranunculus, stock, jasmine vines, hydrangeas, and anemones. "We had a ton of flowers. One guest joked that four days before our wedding, every flower in Ecuador was cut," says the bride.
The result was stunning and well worth the effort. The couple, their planner, and florist all decided that alternating high and low arrangements was the ideal way to keep conversation flowing between guests. Place settings were an elegant combination of a gold-rimmed white charger topped with a floral-patterned china plate. Gold flatware, crystal stemware, and pale aqua linens finished off the look.
Rebecca and John's chairs were decorated with trailing swags of fresh flowers, including peonies, roses, and ranunculus.
The couple's first dance was one to remember. Rebecca, a professional ballroom dancer, and John, who loves to tango and swing, both felt strongly about making their moment special. So the bride taught her groom the classic Viennese Waltz and took an elegant twirl to "So This Is Love" from Cinderella.
Although dinner included an incredible selection of meal options (think Maine lobster salad, California Sea Bass, and roasted angus beef), it was dessert that really stole the show. The newlyweds sliced into a four-tier vanilla cake, which was filled with lemon and strawberry filling, topped with buttercream frosting, and decorated with cascading spun sugar flowers.
If that wasn't enough sweets for guests, they could also choose from a selection of treats from Batter Bakery, including salted chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate sandwich cookies, honey vanilla and strawberry tarts, coconut macaroons, caramel brownie bites, and lavender sea salt shortbread.
This flower-loving bride, who honeymooned with her new husband in Dordogne, France, has some sage advice for couples that feel equally moved by lots of blooms: "Whatever you were thinking of spending on flowers, spend more. We did and we couldn't have been happier with the result!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: The James Leary Flood Mansion || Wedding Planner: Emily de Ayora of Downey Street Events || Officiant: Steve Siglin || Bride's Wedding Dress: Allure Bridals, purchased at Trudy's Brides || Hair & Makeup: Meaganne McCandess || Groom's Attire: Isaia || Engagement RIng & Wedding Band: David S. Diamonds || Florist: Amy Burke Designs || Invitations: Crane & Co. || Additional Paper Products: The Aerialist Press || Music: Synchronicity Strings; Sound In Motion || Lighting: Got Light || Catering: Melons Catering || Cake: The Whole Cake || Desserts: Batter Bakery || Rentals: Classic Party Rentals; La Tavola Linen; Frances Lane || Photographer: Annie McElwain Photography
Did you love this West Coast wedding? Then watch another couple exchange vows in an open-air California celebration in the video below.