A Traditional White Wedding in California
Julia and Nick
Julia and Nick met in late 2007, when Nick, a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, returned home for the holidays. His best friend -- who lived next door to Julia's parents -- introduced the two California natives, and the rest is history. After months of long-distance love, Nick moved back to the West Coast, and the couple set a date: September 18, 2010.
Julia carried a bouquet of 'Polar' roses, hydrangeas, and white 'Angelique' tulips.
The Ceremony Location
Julia and Nick were married at Stanford Memorial Church -- the same place his parents wed more than 30 years earlier. The century-old building sits at the foot of the Palo Alto hills and at the end of Stanford University's main quad, and features a facade covered with extensive murals and mosaics.
At First Sight
Nick recalls seeing his bride walk through the doors as the most amazing moment of the wedding. "I was expecting to be shocked, but there was no way I could have been prepared for the way she was silhouetted against the sunlight," Nick says. "And then she slowly emerged into the light of the church. She looked perfect. It was the most beautiful thing I'll ever see."
The Bride's Entrance
An organist played Pachelbel's "Canon in D Major" as Julia entered with her father, George Clause.
At three o'clock, 200 guests filled the church for the Catholic ceremony. In addition to religious readings and the exchange of vows, there was a prayer for Nick's friends who could not attend because they were serving overseas. The couple exchanged wedding rings from Tiffany & Co.
A Special Exit
After the ceremony, Nick's fellow officers formed a sword detail. As Julia and Nick walked through the arch formed by the blades, each pair of men lowered their swords and announced, "The right of passage is a kiss." So with every few steps the newlyweds embraced.
Dressed to Impress
Along with Nick's uniform-clad friends from the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Marine Corps, the couple pose for a portrait with photographer Kimberly White
The Bridal Party
The bridesmaids wore champagne-colored J.Crew dresses -- selected in part because of the way they coordinated with the gold buttons of Nick's uniform -- with pearl necklaces.
The Reception Venue
The couple fell in love with Ralston Hall Mansion, a national historic landmark in Belmont, California, after touring the expansive front lawn, gardens, and the house's many beautiful rooms. (It didn't hurt that Nick's last name is Ralston.)
High and low arrangements of 'Polar' roses, 'Polar Star' roses, 'Viviane' spray roses, hydrangeas, snow-on-the-mountain, French tulips, phalaenopsis orchids, and Phlox trachelium anchored the round tables in the grand ballroom. Table numbers and menus made by the bride coordinated with the invitation suite.
Schumann's Four Seasons Caterers prepared dinner. The salad course was spring greens with poached pearl onions, gorgonzola, caramelized pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette. For the entree, guests chose from the filet mignon in a peppercorn cognac sauce with roasted red potatoes and grilled asparagus; grilled salmon with watermelon-ginger salsa, jasmine rice, string beans, and baby carrots; and vegetable risotto with shaved Parmesan and basil oil.
At the bar, two wines chosen by Nick's mother honored the bride: a pinot noir from Julia's Vineyard and a Santa Julia Chardonnay.
The First Dance
The newlyweds danced to "While We Cry," an instrumental song by one of their favorite blues guitarists, Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Julia danced with her father to Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful." It was a sentimental song for the pair, as Julia's dad had written its lyrics on a card to her the day she was born.
A Special Performance
Julia's father and two brothers took to the stage for a cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride and Joy." Then, Nick took the microphone to perform a rendition of Van Halen's "You Really Got Me." The songs were a highlight of the reception for Julia.
The Keith Johnson All Stars kept everyone dancing through the evening.
After a lot of searching for a baker who could create their dream chocolate chip cookie-dough wedding cake, Julia and Nick found Laurel Seymour-Beebe of Oh Cake! Why chocolate chip cookie dough? "Our first real conversation happened over a tub of cookie dough," Nick says. "Julia offered me the last bite because she didn't want anyone to say she finished the entire thing by herself ... but, really, she did."
True to Marine tradition, Julia and Nick used his sword to cut the cake.
A candy bar was set up to honor of Julia's famous sweet tooth. The "Love Is Sweet" table displayed various white- and champagne-hued candy (for which Julia made labels and bags with custom stickers). Also on hand: red velvet cupcakes made by a friend who was inspired by Julia and Nick's save-the-date (a photo of them holding a dozen cupcakes with their wedding date spelled out on top, plus a recipe for red velvet cupcakes on the back).