Gardens, painting and California Bears made a couple's dreams come true

Hilltop vows, an Art Deco ballroom, a lively party—Carolyn and Bruce made sure all aspects of their wedding represented their northern California hometown. Says Carolyn, "It’s full of gorgeous views and Craftsman-style architecture"—perfect for a September wedding.

Bruce asked that the event not conflict with a California Bears football game, so Carolyn planned the celebration for a Sunday, when the team is off. Many out-of-town guests spent part of the weekend cheering on the Bears and sightseeing across the bay in San Francisco, but, come ceremony time, all eyes were on the bride as she emerged from the Botanical Gardens of the University of California, Berkeley, in a silk-organza Le Spose di Gio gown. "It felt ethereal, walking through the trees with the sun shimmering off my dress," she says.

After the vows, the couple took a quick ride to the Berkeley City Club, which was designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan in 1929. "The ballroom was magnificent even when it wasn’t decorated," says Carolyn. The reception’s mood and movement were caught on canvas by artist Greg Kalamar. Says the bride, "It’s fun to look at it now and think ‘That’s my mom—dancing!’" –Kim Acosta

Our Favorite Things

This Magic Menu: Humbled by the unwavering support of friends and family throughout the planning, Carolyn and Bruce hosted 50 people for dinner in their home after the rehearsal. They hired a favorite neighborhood joint from their dating days to cater the event. "The chef put love juju in our food," says Bruce, referring to the West African superstition.

A Soulful Ending: Instead of following convention and choosing classical recession music, Carolyn and Bruce boogied to a soloist’s rendition of Aretha Franklin’s "Baby I Love You."

’Tis Better to Give: The couple requested that in lieu of traditional wedding gifts, guests donate to a Berkeley charity or another organization of their choice. "We feel so fortunate," says Carolyn. "We really wanted to pass that on."

Vibrant bouquet of roses and sweet peas.

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