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Vintage Jewish + Scottish City Hall Wedding

February 16, 2016

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Lindsay + Brian’s San Francisco City Hall Wedding


She eagerly awaited the eleventh hour in a long hallway. He stood nearby, jovially in conversation with friends and family gathered from all over the world. Each of them was a little nervous and a lot excited – this was a day that was so many years in the making and finally, it was time.

Brian came around the corner to the hallway where Lindsay was waiting for him, and was immediately blown away with his bride’s beauty. Lindsay’s couture dress was handcrafted by close friend Joe Deese, and it fit her brilliantly. She threw her arms open wide with a classic “Lindsay excited face” and Brian scooped her into his arms and he couldn’t stop saying, “wow, you look so … wow” to which she responded each time with, “I know, right?” over and over again. It was the best way to start their wedding day at the San Francisco City Hall.

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Lindsay and Ashley have been friends for half their lives, and when Lindsay asked us to come shoot her wedding in San Francisco this past weekend, we could not have been more honored or excited. We had seen photos of weddings at City Hall, but, nothing could have prepared us for the overwhelming beauty and deco architecture, the beautiful ambient light and the echoes of chatter from tourists. There were hundreds of people milling about, snapping photos, pointing out the intense moldings of ancient gods.

It really was the perfect place for them to get married – they’re both “suckers for grand spaces” and the old world meets new world flair of the San Francisco City Hall meshed well with their mixed cultural wedding. Brian’s family is from Scotland, and Lindsay’s family is Jewish – which certainly made for an interesting last few weeks. In fact, only a few weeks ago the two of them flew to Edinburgh, Scottland and visited Craigmillar Castle, a 14th century ancient ruin where they participated in a handfasting ceremony.

The handfasting ceremony is a Scottish tradition that comes from a time when some Celtic/Norwegian villages were too small to have their own priest and at the time, no priest meant no official marriage; they developed this ceremony as a celebration of the couple’s commitment and a provisional marriage until it could be officially sanctioned by the church. Their rings were as unique as you would imagine, having come from Edinburgh as well.

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Their ceremony was officiated by their friend, Stephen, who also happened to be Lindsay’s boss in her early career as a lawyer. It was at his law office on the Henson movie studio lot that Lindsay first met Brian, who spent more time in her doorway than at his own internship across the way with a LA talent agency. It was fate, although it took some time for Lindsay to acquiesce to Brian’s charm – it was truly a love story from the first moment; so, it was only fitting that Stephen be the one to officiate their American wedding.

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The story behind their rings is pretty incredible, and rather than try to re-tell the story in our own words, we thought Brian’s description fit it best. He said, “This story is some what long but here is the manageable version.  We knew we wanted to get our wedding bands in Scotland and needed to because we had the [handfasting ceremony at Craigmillar Castle].  We tried a few antique shops but nothing was really what we wanted nor could it be done in time.  Eventually we found our way to a pawn shop we had seen the day before and, low and behold, they had only one ring which had come in that morning.  It was just the style we were looking for and fit Brian perfectly.  We got it and thought our job was done.

Going home we decided to take “Thistle Street” for a bit of new scenery.  Turns out the first shop on Thistle Street is “Joseph Bonner’s Antique and Period Jewelry”.  This shop deserves far more description than I can give it here, but suffice to say it was a magical experience;  the shop is quirky, extravagant and elegant in the extreme.  Joseph himself, who engaged us personally, is a character worthy of fiction.  Immaculately dressed and composed and with a sophisticated arrogance that he truly deserves, Joseph proceeded to aloofly tell us why everything we had been looking for in a ring was wrong and what we truly wanted instead.  At one point he called Brian a “bit daft” for his pawn shop purchase and told Lindsay that she was “quite bossy” and to “stop chatting”.  It was incredible.  I have been calling it “Ollivander’s Ring Shop” (gratuitous Harry Potter reference).
As for the rings themselves.  They are Scottish forged gold hand stamped by the city of Edinburgh.  There are five stamps.  The first is a small castle representing the city of Edinburgh to let you know where it was made.  The second is a lower case “r” to let you know when it was made (no idea how).  The next are the letters “BON” for Bonner, to let you know who made it.  The next is a number representing the carat weight,  and finally is the crown of England.”
Incredible, right?

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After their ceremony, everyone headed to Town Hall (which ironically is not really a town hall, but rather a pub style restaurant in downtown San Francisco). It was here where the newlyweds were toasted by their dearest friends and family, with a few embarrassing tales and classic cheers. Brian and Lindsay enjoyed a cake bar of sorts, complete with three different types of cakes and a smattering of fun toppings available.

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And, in honor of Brian’s Scottish heritage, we leave you with this quote from their handfasting ceremony:

Mìle fàilte dhuit le d’bhréid, Fad do ré gun robh thu slàn. Móran làithean dhuit is sìth, Le d’mhaitheas is le d’nì bhi fàs.

A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage kerchief, may you be healthy all your days. May you be blessed with long life and peace, may you grow old with goodness and with riches.

Vendor Love

venue | Mayor’s Balcony, San Francisco City Hall

reception | Town Hall

officiantStephen Michael Kernan, Esq.

floral | Lindsay Salk Boyd, San Francisco Wholesale Flower Market

cakesThe Cakery, Burlingame CA

bridal gown | Couture by Joe Deese

wedding jewelryJoseph Bonnar, Edinburgh, Scotland

Scottish weddinghand fasting ceremony

Randy + Ashley Durham are a husband and wife wedding photographers from Southern California, and heck yeah we love to travel!! 

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