Ron & NiKki
Below is an interview with the charming and thoughtful groom, Ron. He lives in Oakland, CA with his wife Nikki. They held their wedding ceremony at San Francisco City Hall followed by a lunch reception at their favorite restaurant Trabocco. The afterparty was held at The Miranda bar.
When you think back to when you first got engaged, what elements of the wedding were most important to you and your partner?
There were three things that were most important to us:
1) Having all of our close family and friends there at the wedding.
2) Having an officiant that we knew personally and that we thought would do a great job of setting the tone of the wedding and for our guests and someone who wouldn’t be a one time thing and we’d never see them again. Someone we knew well.
3) Lastly, the photography. At first, I was against spending a lot of money on a photographer. I was trying to keep the budget tight and the quotes came back starting from $2K+. Nikki convinced me it was worth the extra money to capture the moments. Looking back, this is the thing I'm so happy we splurged a little extra money on.
How did you and your partner approach the planning process? Is there anything that you wish was easier? Any advice?
About four or five months before the wedding, we set up a recurring meeting on the calendar that we held every weekend. In those early sessions we just sat down and said here are all the things that need to get done and we had this list of tasks and we would just put an owner next to each task. For example, one week I would be responsible for looking into the ceremony venue and figure out how we put down a deposit and Nikki would look into the reception venue. After that, we could come back to the list every week and report back on our research and would assign ourselves 1-2 tasks for the following week. That process made it manageable to just tackle one thing a week. We also had a tracking spreadsheet that had all the tasks in it and another tab that had predicted budget and another tab that had the actual cost this way we always had a clear picture of what it would cost.
What were you looking for in a wedding venue?
We wanted something that was affordable but was also a very beautiful space that would photograph well. We also wanted a venue that was used to doing weddings. I imagine that you could go to some city halls in this country where they may have a few weddings a week but it isn’t a big part of their culture but at San Francisco City Hall they have all sorts of options from public ceremonies to private ceremonies where you can rent out balconies. You can also rent out the entire City Hall for a night over the weekend which has a gorgeous dome, and that’s kind of a little more traditional venue and more expensive. We liked that they had this whole culture around weddings, this was important to us because we didn’t have a lot of time and we wanted a venue that was affordable but also had the wedding infrastructure in place. Taking care of deposits and the whole process was seamless. We were also looking for a venue that was accessible for our families.
After the ceremony we headed to one of our favorite restaurants, Trabocco. It’s a modern italian restaurant that is hip and trendy but is literally in a strip mall. It’s owned by this wonderful italian chef, we love his food and his hospitality. We rented out their patio and since we got married on a Tuesday, we rented out the space and their was no wedding upcharge.
I joke that is was in a strip mall but there is a ton of parking and super accessible and its amazing food and we just loved the hospitality. It’s one of our favorite restaurants and we thought it would be fun to have it there to introduce it to our families and friends.
Later in the night, we headed to The Miranda, which is one of our favorite bars.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wedding, what would it be?
We did a few speeches at the restaurant, so I think having more structure around that would have been better. It all went really well but I think people were confused. Just having a little bit of structure around the schedule and program would have gone a long way because people were a little nervous and didn’t know what was happening. It was still wonderful, but I wish I had given them more guidance on this.
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to other couples planning a wedding?
I would say if you can, to finance your wedding as much as possible by your own means. I feel like the more that family members contribute financially, the more say they have. One thing that was important to us was having independence on our day. We paid for our wedding, so we were able to make the decisions we wanted to make about things like the guest list, the food, the venue. I’m sure people had opinions but they had no skin in the game so they didn’t really chime in. I’m sure both of our parents would have chipped in but for me I see that day as setting the foundation for the rest of your life so if you set the precedent that others can meddle or get into your affairs, I wouldn’t like that. I don’t want people coming back six years later telling us how to raise our kids or where they should go to school. I realize this is something more broad and personal to me but I think I would advise people who are planning a wedding to ask themselves how are the resources you are taking and the decisions you are making influenced by other people around you? Are you comfortable with it?
What does marriage mean to you?
To me, it’s a commitment and the combining of two families and I think that was what was so exciting about that day. We had this very intimate wedding but it was very clear that the people who were there were coming together and now we were becoming one family. Officially, Nikki is my wife and my family and I would do anything for her that I would do for my sister or my mother or the same for her sister and her mother. It was this great symbolization of two families coming together and for me family is really important and has always been number one. I still joke to this day: I call Nikki's sister, “Sister Darcey” or my brother in law “Brother Pete” because I treat them how I treat my own siblings. It's unconditional love and if you need something, I’m going to be there for you. It was an exciting day to multiply the love and support that you have with all these amazing family members.
What is a funny memory from the wedding?
After Trabocco, we went to a bar called The Miranda. We had drinks there and partied it up until 2AM. The Lyft driver who took us all home picked us up in a minivan. This driver was kind of a peculiar guy, he had driving gloves on and had a funky headband on and I just thought ...okay, this guy is cool... he has a little different style. Then, all of a sudden he turns on this disco ball in the back of the minivan and he gives us this mic. He had a karaoke machine in his minivan so we turned it on and we sang all the way home. I’ll always remember the driver, his name was Anton, and he helped make that drive home at the end of the night memorable. He definitely got 5 stars.
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