When you hear the phrase “dream wedding,” the image conjured up in your mind probably looks something like today’s classically beautiful affair, which charms the eye with a mesmerizing blend of vintage-inspired glamor, mid-century modern elegance, and a healthy dash of fairy-tale romance. With its grand staircases and sweeping balconies, the couple’s chic venue, a stately Santa Cruz villa atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific, set an ideal ambiance for the dazzling jewel-toned wedding that the lovely bride, Kristan Shamus of Kristan Shamus Events & Design, had long envisioned. “Jewel tones provide a richness and vibrancy that call to me,” Kristan said. “I can’t quite put my finger on why, but they just always have.” Using strikingly vivid shades of deep teal, purple, magenta, and fuchsia complemented by pewter and silver base colors, she transformed the naturally breathtaking space into a sparklingly romantic setting that “transported guests to a different era.”
All the flawlessly executed details—from the lustrously pearlescent three-tiered cake to the orchid- and crystal-draped trees marking the entrance to the aisle, which was arranged in a spiral shape—had a magical quality about them. And Lindsey and Nathan Freitas of Bellalu Photography captured every last bit of magic—down to a sparkler getaway that could rival even the grandest old-Hollywood exit—enchantingly well. “With the help of my amazing day-of coordinator, Amy Frugoli of Twitterpated Weddings, I found 36-inch sparklers that burned for four minutes—plenty of time to snap some gorgeous pictures,” Kristan said. “And, boy, were they ever! My husband dipped me back and laid a kiss on me that made sparks fly, literally and figuratively. Lindsey captured the most stunning, breathtaking, magical, Hollywood-couldn’t-have-done-it-better photographs of those moments.”
Q + A with Kristan
What’s your love story? How did you meet, fall in love, and get engaged?
We met in new-age romantic style . . . on Match.com. I had been on Match off and on for about a year. I had two weeks left in my membership, and after that I was going to swear off online dating for good. Paul’s profile was sent to me in an e-mail from Match displaying potential matches. In his profile picture, he was wearing a tuxedo—I later found out that the picture was taken at his sister’s wedding while he was walking her down the aisle—and looking rather handsome. Match always provides some quick stats: height, age, interests, etc., so after he passed the cute test, I glanced down to his stats and saw that he was 6′ 4″. I’m 5′ 10″, so a tall, cute guy is something worth getting excited about. That prompted me to view his profile and read what he had to say. I couldn’t believe it; reading his profile was like reading my own. We are both very close with our families, and were looking for the same in a partner. We both wanted a true friendship and partner in our significant other, and we both wanted meaningful relationships, not casual fun dating. Our values were aligned from the start, and that was important to me. I was intrigued, so I decided that with only two weeks left in my membership I should make a move, which in the online dating world consists of sending an e-mail. I crafted something short and sweet and sent it off into cyberspace oblivion. Little did I know that he had only been on Match for three weeks, and I was the first girl to initiate contact. He received my e-mail on a Friday afternoon, and although he immediately read it, checked out my profile, and determined I was definitely worth a return e-mail, in typical guy fashion he sat on it until Monday. By Monday I figured he wasn’t interested, so when I received his response on Monday afternoon I was pleasantly surprised. We exchanged e-mails, then text messages, and by Wednesday we had a mini-date set up. We were going to meet for happy hour cocktails at the Elephant Bar in Cupertino. I arrived 10 minutes early to avoid that awkward, nerve-wracking moment of searching for the semi-familiar face of a stranger you’ve only seen in pictures, but he beat me to it. I walked in and there he was, already at a table in the bar. I had to give him credit; we both had the same plan, but he just beat me to the punch. We shook hands in that bizarre fashion that says, “I don’t know you, but I’ve been talking to you for days now, and I don’t know how to go about this.” Luckily, our cocktail server was on the ball and came over to take our drink orders; we both needed some liquid courage. With drinks in hand, the conversation flowed easily. We chatted for about two hours, and happy hour faded into dinner hour. With our tummies grumbling, Paul took the initiative and asked if I’d like to join him for dinner, as he was enjoying my company and our conversation. We talked for so long over dinner that we were the last to leave the restaurant. The rest, as they say, is history!
We dated for three blissful years before Paul popped the question. We got engaged on November 12, 2011, on a very windy and chilly bluff overlooking the Silicon Valley at sunset. Paul told me it was date night and to get dressed up for a nice dinner, but he wouldn’t tell me where we were going. Mind you, we had already booked our wedding venue, picked out my engagement ring, and hired our day-of coordinator, so I knew what was up, but I played along. When we got in the car, we started driving south on Highway 85, which is not in the direction of our favorite restaurants, so I was admittedly a little thrown off. We turned off 85 and drove through the winding hills of Los Altos. It was a beautiful drive. The trees were in their fall foliage, the sun was setting, and we saw a beautiful doe; the magic was starting. At the top of the hill, the valley spread out below us, twinkling in the dimming light of dusk. It was truly beautiful, but there was one problem: It was freezing cold with a fierce wind. The weather might not have been cooperative, but Paul was a man on a mission. We got out of the car under the pretense of getting a better look at the view. After a few shivering moments of taking it all in, Paul decided not to make me freeze any longer. He turned me toward him and told me the most wonderful, sweetest things about why he loved me, why I was perfect for him, and why we are so great together, and then he got down on one knee and produced that long-desired blue Tacori box from his pocket. He asked me to be his wife as he opened the box, and inside was the ring of my dreams, being presented by the man of my dreams. I said yes. We kissed quickly, shivering and our teeth chattering, then dashed to the car. After a quick makeout sesh in the warm car, we headed up to San Francisco, where we dined at our favorite steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris. We kept our news a secret for two whole weeks so that we could tell our families in person over Thanksgiving. That was one of the hardest secrets to keep, but it was such a rewarding decision. Telling our families in person was truly priceless. After much cheering and hugs all around, everyone whipped out their phones, cameras, and video recorders, becoming our personal paparazzi, snapping pics and recording us as we told the story of our engagement. My best friend and soon-to-be maid of honor was there, and I’ll never forget the silent moments of communication we had, as best friends of 15-plus years do, while the paparazzi was snapping and recording. Those moments, those memories, are some of our favorites from our year of engagement.
How did you choose your venue?
We were so lucky with this one! We fell head over heels in love with the first, last, and only venue we visited. Before I started my business, I had already dipped my toe into the wedding industry, and through that I had found some venues I really loved. When I e-mailed about one venue in particular, I found out it was already booked for our date, but the event manager, Brooke, e-mailed me about one of the other properties that she managed, and from first click I was in love! Not only was it absolutely stunningly gorgeous and everything I had ever dreamed of, but it was a private estate, which meant that it was ours and only ours for the entire wedding weekend. In addition, as if that wasn’t already enough, it sleeps 18, which meant that we could have our bridal party and parents stay with us. It was a dream come true! The craziest part was that I wasn’t even engaged yet! So I called my boyfriend—now husband—and said, “I found this venue, and we have to go see it!” I made an appointment for the next available showing. Paul took an afternoon off work, and it turned out to be a gorgeous fall afternoon: 75 degrees and sunny as we headed down Highway 17 to see “the Villa,” as we call it. From the moment we drove up the driveway and walked through the magnificent double doors into the grand sitting room, the place took our breath away. The sun was bouncing off the ocean, limning the room in a golden light. I had only laid eyes on one room, but I knew this was where we were going to get married.
Can you tell us a little bit about the details of your wedding and your sources of inspiration?
For as long as I can remember, I’d always wanted a jewel-toned wedding palette. Jewel tones provide a richness and vibrancy that call to me; I can’t quite put my finger on why, but they just always have. I’ve always loved the glamour of the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s and modern clean lines, so I knew that I wanted to blend those two styles together for a mid-century modern feel. I also wanted a subtle fairytale feeling, as I really did (and still do!) feel like I had found my prince charming and that I was the luckiest girl in the world to have him. We included some fairytale elements in our chosen fonts, on our website, and in some of the wording we used. However, we wanted to avoid a literal evocation of the fairytale theme, such as through Disney princessesque décor elements. Instead, we wanted people to feel like they had been transported to a different era, a magical one that was unique to us and to our mid-century modern design aesthetic. By the end of the night, all of our guests were calling it a magical, fairytale wedding that only happens in dreams, so I guess we hit the nail on the head.
The inspiration and the color palette
The venue’s balconies have the most beautiful iron scrollwork. The elegant staircases are painted a soft teal color, and the front doors feature ornately carved wood and metal in teal shades reminiscent of copper patina. The rest of the venue provides a beautiful and ornate backdrop in warm shades of cream and ivory, while the ocean in the distance offers beautiful blue and gray hues. The elegance of the venue and its stunning details inspired everything, from the bridesmaid dresses, to my dress, to the color of the flowers and more. I took every detail and every color into account when designing the wedding. The crystal chandelier in the great room of the venue inspired the crystal chandelier floral arrangements on the tables and was a jumping-off point for all things glamorous throughout the wedding, from the invitations, to the rhinestone picture frames that were used as place cards, to the rhinestone- and ribbon-wrapped cylinders that were filled with floating candles. Given the venue’s cream and ivory tones, we wanted a base color that was complementary yet didn’t blend into the background. We also wanted the deep teal, purple, magenta, and fuchsia jewel tones to be the focal point of the décor. With that, we decided our base tones would be pewter and silver. We chose taffeta linens in pewter and used shades of pewter and silver to as a background for our invitations and all of our print designs. Once we had an idea of how we wanted our wedding to look and how we wanted it to feel, we met with Asiel Designs. John and Linnae of Asiel Designs are truly masters of their craft. Linnae was able to take what was in my head and not only make it a reality but also exceed my imagination. Their artistry truly and literally shined on that magical day. When we sat down to dinner, the sun was setting over the ocean, and the angle of the golden rays limned the crystals and refracted the light, casting rainbows onto the pewter taffeta linens.
The ceremony setting
Another very magical touch was the silver trees, dripping with crystals and cymbidium orchids, that sat atop clear Plexiglas pedestals, suspended crystals encased inside, marking the entrance to our spiral aisle. When I walked between those two trees, I felt like a princess entering a sacred realm. In a sense, I was entering a sacred realm, the sacred realm of our wedding ceremony; it was one of my favorite moments of the day. Our ceremony was held on the edge of a bluff overlooking the ocean, and the ceremony setting was the only part of the décor that incorporated white. We wanted the feel of the ceremony to be light, pure, and focused on us and our guests. The ceremony setting was also quite unique in that our aisle was a spiral. The semi-round seating trend is very popular right now and for good reason. It has a feeling of continuity to it; everyone is connected in love and harmony on such a joyous day. We decided to take the design one step further and create a spiral so that we were literally surrounded by the ones we love. Starting from the first seat, my father’s seat, all the way to the last seat, all of our guests were connected, side by side, unified as one, giving us their love and support as we vowed our eternal love and support to each other. It was an unforgettable feeling, and it fills my heart with joy every time I reflect on it.
During the ceremony we felt it was important to honor those who had departed this world, including my mother and Paul’s father. We had a candle lighting ceremony during which we lit three candles: one for each of our parents and one for the remainder of our departed loved ones. After the ceremony was over, we had those candles moved to a table on which were displayed photographs of our parents and grandparents with a sign that read, “Moments of love between the people who have shaped our lives and made us who we are today, our parents and grandparents, captured on their love-filled days: engagements, wedding days, and anniversaries.” It meant a lot to us to have the candles for our departed loved ones displayed on that table. We put a lot of thought into how to honor my mother and Paul’s father, and we really felt like we gave them the honor they deserved.
The ceremony was also special in that neither Paul nor I could stop crying. We were so overcome with love and emotion that tears streamed down our cheeks through our laughter and our sweet moments alike. Our day-of coordinator had given Paul Kleenex for my tears, and he ended up needing them for his. After I read “I Carry Your Heart” by E. E. Cummings, he was so touched that all he could do was shake his head in amazement and wipe my tears away for me.
The signature cocktails
In addition to honoring our departed parents during the ceremony, we wanted to recognize them in other ways as well. Paul and I are foodies and cocktail enthusiasts, so at our rehearsal dinner we honored his father by serving one of his, and coincidentally one of our, favorite desserts: key lime pie from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. My mother loved Fuzzy Navel cocktails, so we served Fuzzy Navels as one of our signature drinks and called it a Suzy Q, which was my mother’s nickname. We also felt it was important to honor my father, who contributed a considerable financial donation to our day. The cocktail was called The Father of the Bride, and it was a Dark and Stormy: Myers’s rum, Bundaberg ginger beer, and Rose’s lime juice. We didn’t tell him we were doing this, and so he was quite surprised to find out that folks were walking around drinking a “Scott,” as the guests nicknamed the drink. Our other signature drinks included a Blushing Bride (champagne and Chambord) and a Gold Groom (tequila, mango, orange, and pomegranate juices). They were all a huge hit, and our guests were very thankful that we had a selection of cocktails, beer, wine, and champagne. Guests would ask each other, “What are you drinking?” and the enthusiastic response would be, “A Suzy Q,” or “A Scott,” or “A Blushing Bride.”
The photo booth
Another touching detail was our photo booth wall. My uncle is a craftsman, and he made us a beautiful photo booth wall. I chose the wallpaper, a pewter and silver damask print, and my aunt gave me some ornately carved vintage photo frames. I collected old black-and-white photographs of our family members: grandparents, great grandparents, and great aunts and uncles, including some glamorous wedding portraits circa 1920 and 1930, and framed them all in silver and black frames. My uncle then took all the elements and created a piece of art. I truly love the photographs of Paul and I posing with the vintage frames of the photo booth wall. I used one of these photographs for the cover of the 2013 family calendar I made for everyone with our wedding photographs.
The guest list
Our families, who are incredibly important to us, were an important consideration. We are very close with our own and each other’s families. Since our venue was a private estate, we had certain guest count limitations, and this made putting the guest list together a little bit tricky at first, but we quickly decided that our family and our closest, longest friends were the most important people in our lives, and so we kept the list intimate and small. We only invited 12 of our closest friends—friends of 15-plus years—and the rest of our guests were family members. Having a small guest list was one of the best decisions we made; every time we looked at a face it was someone we loved and had known for so many years that we could literally thank them for helping to make us who we are today and for helping to shape us into perfect partners for each other. I would make that decision again in a heartbeat.
Designed by Jen’s Cake in San Jose, the cake was so gorgeous that most guests, including my bridesmaids, thought it had to be fake and just for display. It was a simple three-tier round cake with a petal-shaped bottom tier to evoke a bygone era. All the tiers were adorned at the base with rows of rhinestones. The ivory buttercream frosting was smoothed to look almost like fondant but with a very subtle texture. It was dusted with pearl luster dust to give the finish some dimension and depth. The cake sat atop an ornately carved silver riser and was crowned with deep magenta-purple flowers. The guests were quite surprised when we cut into it and they saw that it was, in fact, a real cake. Not only was it gorgeous, but all three flavors (yes, I had all three flavors that night—lemon cake with raspberry cream cheese frosting, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, and German chocolate cake with dulce de leche filling) were so incredibly delicious that the day after the wedding we all had cake with our champagne brunch.
The invitation suite, paper goods, and signage
Our print designs and signage were created by Paul’s cousin, April Funsten, who owns Penny Ann Designs and does beautiful work. She handmade the triplicate-layer invitations with ribbon and rhinestone buckle detailing, and she designed our monogram, which adorned our invitations, our thank-you notes, our bar signage, our seating chart, and more. She was just as excited about the glamour factor as I was, and she managed to find Swarovski crystals in just the right shade of teal, so we adorned every sign we could with crystals. I think my favorite paper element was the menu/thank-you card that she made for every guest. On one side was a thank-you note from Paul and I to our guests, and on the other side was the night’s menu. A number of guests kept theirs and have it displayed with the thank-you side up. The programs mirrored the invitations and were done in triplicate layers with the poem I read to Paul printed on the final layer. Lastly, my other favorite signs were the welcome and farewell signs that read, “Happily ever after begins here,” and, “…And they lived happily ever after,” respectively. We still have all of our signage and are trying to incorporate the happily-ever-after signs into our home. We already have the signature cocktail sign allocated for our new steamer bar cabinet.
I had always wanted to drive off in a vintage Rolls Royce while golden fireworks burst overhead, but being a bride of reasonable financial means, I chose to do sparklers instead. With the help of my amazing day-of coordinator, Amy Frugoli of Twitterpated Weddings, I found 36-inch sparklers that burned for four minutes—plenty of time to snap some gorgeous pictures. And, boy, were they ever! My husband dipped me back and laid a kiss on me that made sparks fly, literally and figuratively. Lindsey Freitas of Bellalu Photography captured the most stunning, breathtaking, magical, Hollywood-couldn’t-have-done-it-better photographs of those moments. They are truly breathtaking, and a huge gallery-wrapped canvas is currently on order for our home. Not only did the sparklers make for out-of-this-world-gorgeous photos, but our guests had an absolute blast playing with them. The boys were play-light-saber fighting with the lit sparklers and making light saber noises. The girls were posing with their lit sparklers for the cameras and acting goofy and silly. Many guests told us after the wedding that the sparklers were their favorite part of the reception and such great fun. In fact, I ordered 100, even though we only had 75 guests, and somehow the last box of 25 mysteriously disappeared. I have a feeling that they will resurface at someone’s Fourth of July BBQ this year!
Tell us about your wedding day look. What did you wear, and what did your bridal party wear?
I wore Priscilla by Maggie Sottero. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved huge ball gowns, corsets, and all things that sparkle. The dress I chose was the perfect embodiment of these elements. The corseted bodice was intricately embellished with Swarovski crystals and had a modest sweetheart neckline. The voluminous skirt had soft, romantic pick-ups and allowed me to wear a 48-inch hoop skirt, creating a true ball gown effect. I paired the dress with a Swarovski halo tiara, an embellished fingertip-length veil, Swarovski chandelier earrings, and a simple Swarovski tennis bracelet. I wore ivory satin wedge heels by Nina Eterna with soft, romantic bow details on the front. My bridesmaids wore floor-length strapless gowns in a luminescent deep teal taffeta by Waters Too (style 977) paired with dark silver satin peep-toe heels. The surplice-draped bodices, dropped waists, and full skirts were ever so figure flattering. The back of each bodice dipped into a modest V with taffeta-covered button detailing. The backs of the skirts gathered in a way that created a soft, romantic, train-like effect as they walked. These dresses were very much a blend of today’s fashions and those of a bygone romantic era, reflecting the feeling and theme of the wedding. They wore very sparkly rhinestone chandelier earrings and simple rhinestone tennis bracelets. I didn’t have them wear necklaces, as I wanted their beauty and the beauty of the dresses to really shine. They all chose romantic curls for their hair, swept softly away from their faces. The bouquets they carried were lush and created the perfect pop of color in rich hues of jewel-toned magenta, fuchsia, and purple, tied in pewter satin ribbon. The girls truly were stunning. The groom, groomsmen, my father, and my husband’s stepfather wore very sharp—James Bond sharp—tailored-fit tuxedos. The groom wore a classic five-button vest and a Windsor tie in ivory. The groomsmen wore the same style in silver, and their Windsor ties had subtle stripes in shades of silver and pewter to pull in the masculine silver hues of the wedding. We didn’t want the bridesmaids and groomsmen to be in the same color; rather, we wanted them to complement each other, and, boy, did they ever! The bridal party looked stunning together. The groomsmen and fathers wore calla lily boutonnieres in magenta hues, with Paul, the groom, wearing the deepest shade and an orchid to set his above the rest. Our mothers and stepmothers all wore floor-length gowns. My stepmom and Paul’s stepmom were in beautiful satin navy gowns accented with silver and rhinestone jewelry, while Paul’s mom wore a beautiful silver lace dress with a deep pewter base, complete with a modest side split and a pair of sassy deep purple Mary Janes. Their corsages matched the bouquets the bridesmaids carried. The moms complemented the wedding party, each other, and their tuxedo-clad husbands perfectly. We also asked our guests to either dress in the colors of the wedding or in complementary colors: silver, pewter, teal, navy, purple, etc. I have to applaud them; they took it to heart, and it shows in our photographs.
What kind of advice would you offer to future brides?
Plan, plan, plan! Enjoy the ride. Plan some more. Take a break. Plan again. Enjoy the ride. Take a break. Repeat. The old adage “stopping to smell the roses” is true from the moment you get engaged to the moment you get on that plane when returning from your honeymoon. It truly is a magical ride, and this isn’t Disneyland; when the ride is over, there’s no getting back in line. You get fleeting moments to take it all in. Some of my fondest memories of my big day are the moments I stole, in the midst of all the excitement, when no one was watching. I also think it is important to anticipate issues before they happen. Every bride and groom has that one family member, or two, who is going to create a situation of stress either during the planning process or, heaven forbid, on the big day. Being able to really think about that particular family member and proactively yet diplomatically put out a fire before there is even smoke is priceless. This magical, once-in-a-lifetime ride is what you make it, so make it extraordinary!
Photography: Lindsey and Nathan Freitas of Bellalu Photography / Ceremony and reception venue: Villa Viscaya / Day-of coordinator: Amy Frugoli of Twitterpated Weddings / Event’s manager: Brooke Greene / Flowers: Asiel Design / Cake: Jen’s Cakes / Event planning and design: Kristan Shamus of Kristan Shamus Events & Design / DJ: Mike Santillian of Fog City Entertainment / Libations: Mills Wine Group / Catering and rentals: Five Star Catering / Hair and makeup: Monina Wright of Moderne Beauty / Invitations and printing: April Funsten of Penny Ann Designs / Guest transportation: The Santa Cruz Experience / Bridal party limousine: Corinthian Transportation / Taffeta linens, napkins, and velvet table runners: Classic Party Rentals, Burlingame / Bride’s dress: Priscilla by Maggie Sottero / Bride’s shoes: Nina Eterna / Bridesmaid’s dresses: Wtoo (style 977)
This wedding was submitted via Two Bright Lights.