During San Francisco’s coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, it became a ritual for Nikki Rothberg and Ryan Welsh to walk to the highpoint of Bernal Heights Park almost daily. It got the heart rate up, says Nikki, as well as provided a “mini escape” during the past year. So, when it came time to choose a destination for their micro wedding, the couple opted for the park.
“Neither of us would ever have thought of having our wedding venue in a public location,” says Nikki, who works in public relations at Apple. “Though once we knew we were going to make a wedding happen, it was impossible to think about anywhere other than there—so close to us, so spectacular, so local, so perfect.”
Nikki and Ryan, the founder and chief executive officer of artificial intelligence company Kyndi, immediately hired Ashley Smith Events to serve as “maestro” for the day, which they all collectively planned in just three months. Nikki liked Smith’s discerning eye and modern style, which fit well with their vibe for the micro wedding: personal, modern, and transportive.
The day kicked off with an outdoor ceremony in the park, with the city views as the backdrop. Then, the party of 16 headed to the couple’s favorite neighborhood restaurant, Blue Plate, for a Mediterranean-inspired, alfresco dinner party complete with one big surprise: hundreds of blooming angel trumpet flowers.
“The whole courtyard was fully entombed within this canopy of yellow; it was absolutely magnificent,” the bride says. “We didn’t know they’d bloomed like this until we walked in. They hadn’t been there just a few weeks prior. They smelled like a vacation, too.”
Knowing she wanted something sculptural and modern, Nikki found the top of her look online from Australian designer Toni Maticevski. Nikki, who is also Australian, liked that the designer came from her home country. So, she also reached out about pairing the top with a skirt in the same material. The combo worked out perfectly. “It felt decidedly very me," she shares.
The couple used their neighbor’s roof deck for the first look photos. When Ryan turned around, Nikki says they laughed—they couldn’t believe they were about to say “I do.”
We had a blast together, just cruising around our local streets, but in a wedding dress and tuxedo.
“We had a blast together, just cruising around our local streets, but in a wedding dress and tuxedo,” Nikki says of the pre-ceremony photo shoot in their neighborhood. “It was so surreal.”
Nikki is Jewish, so it was important to her to have a rabbi preside over the ceremony and include traditions like the seven blessings. For the flowers, she included a touch of home, eucalyptus, in the arrangements. Her parents sent her childhood silver cup to be used during the proceedings as well.
“It was a long walk and quite windy, so it brought some drama,” Nikki says of trekking up the park’s stairs to the ceremony location alongside one of her best friends. One of her friends later joked it looked like a scene out of “Game of Thrones.”
Because Nikki’s parents reside in Melbourne, Australia, they could not attend the wedding due to travel restrictions. “My friends are amazing and took their role as ‘parental technical support’ very seriously and ensured mum and dad were included in the pre-ceremony happenings,” Nikki says. “They introduced them to the waiting guests, which was so funny and sweet. Everyone was taking turns with the iPhone and including them in the post-ceremony conversations. It was very kind and hilarious at the same time.”
Nikki carried a small bunch of white calla lilies for her bouquet.
“We kept the ceremony simple—nothing of what we felt was superfluous, forced, what I would consider over the top, or didn’t make sense to us,” the bride says.
“Guests (and myself) saw an emotional side of Ryan that we hadn’t before,” Nikki says of sharing their own vows. “It was a moment.” The couple also had their 14 guests join them in reading the seven blessings.
“San Francisco is known for its foggy and moody weather,” Nikki says. “The wedding day brought the drama with mist and light rain for part of the day, but it turned out brilliantly for photography. The sun broke out right during the ceremony.”
Nikki and Ryan share their first kiss as newlyweds atop Bernal Heights Park.
“Ultimately the outcome of doing it this way far outweighed waiting and postponing indefinitely,” Nikki says. “It was sad my parents couldn’t be there but we did our best. They had the time of their lives being part of it all. No regrets at all.”
The party transitioned to a nearby restaurant, Blue Plate, for dinner, which included an outfit swap for Nikki. She donned a patterned Johanna Ortiz silk dress and Ryan kept his ceremony look: a made-to-measure Sid Mashburn shawl-collar tuxedo with Chelsea boots by Australian designer R.M. Williams.
The couple leaned into the Mediterranean aesthetic of Blue Plate’s courtyard, which is anchored by a huge lemon tree. Smith used a mix of patterns, colors, and florals to make each table feel unique but coordinate with the space. As a surprise to the couple, the trumpet flowers that fill the courtyard happened to bloom just in time for the party, adding to the escapist vibe.
The menu included Blue Plate’s famous fried chicken and meatloaf, as well as smoked trout deviled eggs, blistered shishito peppers, key lime pie, and plenty of Aperol Spritz cocktails. “I make no apologies for serving fried chicken at a wedding,” the bride adds. “It was the biggest hit!”
The reception was otherworldly: The insane floral canopy, intimate feel, candles, lanterns, mood, music, color, and energy were completely transportive. The whole day was a reprieve from isolation for everyone.
“The reception was otherworldly: The insane floral canopy, intimate feel, candles, lanterns, mood, music, color, and energy were completely transportive,” Nikki says. “The whole day was a reprieve from isolation for everyone.”
Ceremony Venue Bernal Heights Park
Reception Venue Blue Plate
Planner Ashley Smith Events
Officiant Rabbi Miriam Senturia
Bridal Gown Toni Maticevski
Reception Gown Johanna Ortiz
Spray Tan La Tira
Groom’s Attire Sid Mashburn
Engagement Ring Dauphin
Wedding Bands Graff
Floral Design Marigold
Invitations Paperless Post
Music Dart Collective
Catering Blue Plate
Videography Max Curtrone
Photography Katherine Ann Rose