A Whimsical Purple Wedding in California
Dana and Erik
Native Californians, Dana Johnston and Erik Marinovich met in a sculpture class at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. After a few missed opportunities to request dates or have conversations, the couple finally connected just prior to Dana's graduation. A two-and-a-half-year long-distance relationship followed before the couple moved to New York together. A few years later, on the night before Dana's birthday, Erik popped the question. With a wedding in the works back in their home state, the two decided the time was right to move back to San Francisco.
Erik designed all of the stationery and collateral himself. Perfectly illustrating the story of how their relationship progressed, the save-the-date was an illustration of the Brooklyn Bridge merged with the Golden Gate Bridge. The connector platform was a pencil that announced "Dana and Erik are getting married!" Inside the folded paper, the basic details of the wedding were listed, accompanied by an illustration of the California state flag.
Erik also designed a wedding website with all pertinent information and a hint of the personality of the wedding to come.
The invitations were packaged in unused writing tablets from the 1950s. Erik illustrated his and Dana's seven-year relationship using two small characters, drawn into all the major moments in their years together. Underneath was the formal invitation, also printed on vintage paper. It was attached to the folder with grommets and accompanied by an RSVP card attached by photo corners to the opposing side.
Just above the outgoing address on each invitation, Erik laser-etched the witty line: "Dear postman warmly deliver this tender parcel to our fine guests."
Wanting to host their wedding at a location that evoked classic California, and that would feel like a weekend retreat for the friends and family making the trip, Dana and Erik settled on a spot hidden in the hills of Carmel Valley. The Holman Ranch is a historic hacienda, and its lawn provided a perfect ceremony setting overlooking the hills.
The ceremony was officiated by Doris Slater, a longtime friend of the bride's mother. The emotion-filled nuptials including readings by friends, among them excerpts from letters the couple had written to each other. In their letters they explained why they wanted to be married to each other.
Ribbons marked the ceremony site while still showcasing the views of the surrounding Santa Lucia Mountains.
Here, the couple walks back up the aisle to "First Day of My Life" by Bright Eyes.
For the ceremony program, Erik drew familiar representations of the bride and groom as well as ribbons waving in the wind, as they did on that day in May 2009.
To kick off the celebration, guests were served a signature cocktail dubbed "The Lady Dee" in honor of the bride. Composed of vodka, soda, and Chambord, and served with a twist, it was accompanied by printed cocktail napkins featuring one of Erik's drawings of the characters dancing to music with the word "yes" underneath. They were foil stamped in gold at Partybasics.com.
Cocktail hour music was strictly Big Band style, played in memory of Erik's late grandfather.
The bridal bouquet, kept simple, used just two colors of blooms.
Dana wanted a dress with classic glamour and smooth lines. She got just that with her Marisa gown. The flower in her hair was her "something borrowed" -- her bridesmaid Vanessa had worn the flower on her own wedding day.
The groom's gray Paul Smith suit was accessorized with a tie bar, a pre-wedding gift from friend Dennis Payongayong.
From Head to Toe
The four girls wore purple Moulinette Soeure dresses from Anthropologie and carried bouquets that included colorful roses.
Gifts for the Guys
As a gift from Erik for each of his best friends from New York, he gave them engraved gold whistles.
The escort cards were hand-painted with table numbers and clipped to a ribbon that was wrapped around an oak tree.
Erik designed a series of characters to hold up the hand-painted table numbers. For example, the card for table 11 featured a piggyback ride; another table showed the couple's two cats holding up a sign with the table number.
The Reception Tables
The 175 guests sat at long tables near the main house on the property. Purple runners and simple groupings of flowers decorated the open area of the rose patio.
The Place Settings
Dana had read that in Croatia, it is customary to give a branch of rosemary to each guest as they enter a wedding. She and Erik liked the idea, but tweaked it by placing a sprig at each plate.
The Place Cards
The place cards served a dual purpose: In addition to labeling each guest's seat, they also included a small drawing meant to indicate which dish would be served.
The organic menu for the evening was prepared by Paradise Catering. The company grows much of its own produce for its seasonal cuisine. Guests started with a salad of grilled artichoke with lemon aioli topped with goat cheese crumbles, caramelized pecans, edible flowers, and honey and thyme dressing.
Guests could choose between a surf-and-turf main course and a vegetarian offering. The fish (seared salmon) and sirloin (grilled tri-tip) were served with Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and asparagus with bernaise sauce. The vegetarian lasagna was accompanied by polenta Gorgonzola.
For the menu, Erik drew illustrations of each course in the typeface he developed just for the wedding.
The menu was wrapped around a hidden playlist card; the playlist was curated by dear friends Jason and Jordan (of EnormousChampion) and given as a gift by the couple, who were unable to attend the wedding.
Erik's father, Dominik Marinovich, and uncle, Ognjen, make wine together. Each year, with the help of the other men in the family (including Erik), they pick eight barrels of grapes and turn them into wine.
This 2007 blend of cabernet and Syrah was made especially for Dana and Erik's wedding. Erik designed the tags explaining the wine's origins.
With plenty of kids in attendance, Dana and Erik wanted to give them a special table where they could play. Set up with coloring books, crayons, stickers, glow stick jewelry, bouncing balls, Slinky toys, colorful plastic cups with silly straws, and some candy, it kept all the young guests happily occupied. The bonus: The bride and groom were given multiple art projects as a result.
Dana and Erik danced to a live recording of Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine" in the dinner area.
While the couple lived in New York City, they attended a fair and stumbled upon the work of artist Charley Harper. They later purchased their first piece of artwork together, fittingly by Harper. When the artist published his book, "Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life," they bought a copy to use for their guestbook.
Dana's friend Cassandra Straubing, a glassblower, gave the couple special glasses to use during their toast. Cassandra used purple glass to tie into the wedding.
After dinner, guests moved over to the carriage house for dancing. A DJ played music selected by the groom.
The bride and her father, Daniel Johnston, took to the dance floor to "All I Have to Do Is Dream" by the Everly Brothers. As a little girl, Dana used to sing the song with her father and sister in the car. During the dance, her father sang along, and guests joined in.
Bridesmaid Vanessa and her husband Omer sipped coffee, served in simple glass mugs.
Erik selected The Supremes's "Baby Love" as the song to dance to with his mother, Karen Marinovich. Like the bride, Erik chose the song because of his memory of singing it in the car. Karen loves to have fun on the dance floor, so there was lots of twirling and smiles.
Patisserie Bechler created the French-buttercream-covered cake and decorated it with fresh flowers on each tier.
The cake was actually two flavors: St. Michel (a chocolate sponge cake with chocolate mousse and splash of Grand Marnier) and Brie au Kirsch (a vanilla sponge cake with vanilla custard, almond meringue, and Kirschwasser liqueur).
Here, Erik and Dana share a slice of the Brie au Kirsch flavor.
Bottles of wine made by the groom's father and uncle were given to guests as favors. The half-liter bottles featured labels with a series of the groom's illustrations and a few Croatian phrases ("celebrate," "play," and "cheers") to pay homage to the groom's heritage and the history of wine-makers in the family.
Bridesmaids in the Photobooth
Photographer Thayer Allyson Gowdy set up a self-portrait station using the inside wall of the carriage house as a backdrop. The bridesmaids gladly struck a pose.
The Marinovich Men in the Photobooth
Erik, brother Anton, and dad Dominik also captured a candid moment.
Laughter in the Photobooth
Dana and her new mother-in-law have a laugh.