#WeddingWednesday: The Venue, San Francisco City Hall

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For this #WeddingWednesday, I am sharing what I think is the single most important part of your wedding day (besides a happy loving couple) – the venue! The venue sets the mood and the tone for the event, whether it’s formal or casual, traditional or modern, a dance party or a great dinner party. When Mr. R and I were thinking of ideal venues, we struggled between something outdoor and rustic and something traditional and grand. Our relationship started by making trips to the wine country with friends, so we felt that a winery wedding was the setting that made the most sense of our love for great wine, outdoor weather, and showing our east coast family and friends what the bay area was all about. But simultaneously we wanted a black tie wedding, an open bar (with liquor) and a party that lasted into the night.

Unfortunately trying to put all those things together proved tricky, so we ended up deciding on a beautiful location well situated in the center of San Francisco, that provided a wealth of historical weight and allowed us to dress up and party into the night. Mr. R and I were both immediately struck by the beautiful  interior architecture of City Hall, the gorgeous winding marble staircases, and the drama of the lofty carved ceilings. We also loved the linear rows of trees leading up to the entrance of City Hall, which provided us with enough green to get our ‘outdoor’ photos and provided a nice counterbalance to the interior detail of the building.

The last location which is in the pictures below is the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. It’s where the Bridal Party got ready (in the Hotel Vitale), and where Mr. R and I had our first look, and is one of our favorite locales in the city. We loved that we were able to have some images of the bustling city behind us, our favorite farmers market in the distance, with land, ocean and bridges all in view. The locations were the perfect mix of traditional architecture and outdoor adventure, and I think our photographer Amanda Crean killed it in understanding my vision and blowing me away with her amazing photography. Check out the images below for references of our beautiful wedding venues!

View of the Ferry Building from the Hotel Vitale


First look in front of the Bay Bridge


Our gorgeous wedding party in front of the ferry building


Mr. R and I in the trees in front of City Hall


Walking into City Hall underneath the famous entrance!


Our stunning ceremony!


Looking down on our guests from the 4th floor during the cocktail hour


Me striking a pose


Us on the 4th floor above our guests during cocktail hour


Love the winding stairwells!




Flipping the dance floor during cocktail hour


Dance Party!


My amazing friend Laura singing “Someone to Watch Over Me” during dinner


Happily dancing into married life!


Wedding Wednesday: My Wedding Invitations

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After 3 months, I am so excited to finally be able to share with you images from my wedding- both the actual event and the planning process! Each week I will be breaking down the process of inspiration, design and what actually happened during our wedding, from the invitations to the dress to the tablescapes to the welcome bags to everything else in between. I originally thought I wanted to try to get this wedding published in Style Me Pretty or in some print magazine, but after realizing that I would have to wait forever to share the photos and still not be able to share my actual story, that it would be best to share it right here on theStyleSafari with you all!

First up this week was the wedding invitations. Invitations can be a daunting task because there are so many stunning designs out there. There are ultimately so many directions to go, whether it be in style or price. I outlined some of my favorite wedding invite inspiration in this post, and you can see I took direct inspiration from some of those ideas.

Modern malachite green, grey black white and marble wedding invitations designed by Stefanie Schoen // thestylesafari.com

Since we knew we were getting married at San Francisco City Hall (more on that later, but it was a full wedding and reception, not an elopement) I wanted to celebrate but modernize the classic San Francisco monument. I was and still am in a ‘marble’ phase, so I originally drew inspiration from the marble floors and staircase in SF City Hall as the starting point for our background. Somehow the marble didn’t give the punchy ‘wow’ factor that I was going for, as I really wanted my guests to open the invites and see something bright, colorful and modern, while still feeling familiar. I decided on a beautiful blue-green malachite that I altered in photoshop, and absolutely loved the color pop that it gave.

Modern malachite green, grey black white and marble wedding invitations designed by Stefanie Schoen // thestylesafari.com

I layered additional escort cards each with a different but connecting theme that added an eclectic but collected feel. The rehearsal dinner card was grey with a wavy hint of malachite, which matched a small square card with a malachite S&J logo which had our wedding website information on the back.

My favorite card however was the RSVP card, which we decided upon a postcard size – which has cheaper postage (!), and requires no envelope. I wanted the card to look like a vintage postcard, and since SF City Hall was built exactly 100 years before our wedding, in 1915, I was able to find a vintage photo of it’s construction that gave everyone a taste of the glamour that they would see at our wedding.

san francisco city hall wedding // thestylesafari.com

Modern malachite green, grey black white and marble wedding invitations designed by Stefanie Schoen // thestylesafari.com

The final few details were all around packaging. I wanted a bold, contrasting pattern for the back of the invites and our envelope liners, so I designed a wide black and white brush-stroke pattern that was modern and intentional, which I also think combined well with the other prints and black and white photo. I hand-popped grommets into the mini-cards and used them to hold a black ribbon to tie the entire invite together in a nice bundle, that I hope was beautiful and fun to open. Overall, I loved the result of the invites and I think they told our story beautifully- we had a glamorous modern wedding in a vintage setting, which combined Mr. R and my respective love for the traditional and the new.

Modern malachite green, grey black white and marble wedding invitations designed by Stefanie Schoen // thestylesafari.com

Modern malachite green, grey black white and marble wedding invitations designed by Stefanie Schoen // thestylesafari.com

Here are my top 5 tips for designing your wedding invitations.

1. Draw inspiration from your venue- may it be the scenery, an architectural detail, or a zoom in of a particular flower – it will help with a starting point

2. Don’t be afraid of color and pattern! I know it’s hard to decide on one or two but color has the ability to transform a mood, and you want your guests to feel momentarily transported when they open your invites.

3. Don’t forget packaging! The tiny details like the liner and the ribbon were some my favorite parts of the invite and were actually very cost-effective (we printed and cut the liners ourselves), but manage to tie the entire invite together, literally.

4. Save money by not sending RSVP cards! We did, but we love when a couple asks us to log-in to their website to RSVP and it saves money on additional cards and postage.

5. Consider lower-priced options like Wedding Paper Divas, who have tons of awesome options for affordable prices, or hire me to design your invites (or shower invitations, save the dates, baby announcements etc.) for you- and have them printed with Wedding Paper Divas as I did for mine! Email me at stefschoen@gmail.com for more information!

Wedding Wednesday: Pre-Wedding Family Dinner

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The Thursday before our wedding, Mr. R and I invited our 2 immediate families over for a casual taco dinner and cocktails. Since all other activities included our extended families and friends, it was the perfect chance to bring together our parents and siblings to discuss the upcoming event and get in a few laughs before the stress set in.

Since having to cook for 12 people and host at our new house was a bit overwhelming, my brother and sister-in-law generously offered to cook the entire meal! They picked up oysters from Tomales Bay and Hog Island, made fish tacos with ALL the fixin’s and even brought lobster that they caught off the Rhode Island coast with them on the plane to make Mr. R lobstah rolls. If that wasn’t enough, my sister-in-law surprised me by making me a beautiful celebratory wedding cake. Since we didn’t have one at our wedding, she knew I was a bit disappointed and somehow managed to make me a tiered naked lemon cake, with mixed frosting layers of berry compote and lemon curd. It was the most amazing thing I have every tasted and was even more beautiful to look at. I had to snap hundreds of pictures of it because I was beyond blown away and now I need to convince her to start a blog. Seriously, who’s with me?

Anyway, I wish I had more pictures, but we started to eat al fresco just as the sun was setting, and it was a lovely change of pace to stop taking photos for a few days. I did snap a few photos of my outfit, which was white of course, but I jazzed it up a bit with a sequin top and pleat front pants. I love that the look was slightly androgynous and covered up, which was very different than the look I went for with my wedding dress, which I can’t wait to share soon!

ASOS white sequin t-shirt, Zara white pants (also love these), Zara patent round-toe pumps