Flood Mansion, San Francisco
Walking down the aisle against the backdrop of San Francisco’s infamous Golden Gate Bridge is a dream come true for many. The City by the Bay has always been a popular wedding destination for couples from all over the world. With its endless views of the bay, the charming Victorian houses overlooking the hills, and the rich arts and culture scene, San Francisco is a true gem of a city on the West Coast. There are countless locations that are perfect for a picturesque ceremony. Christie and Mark chose Flood Mansion, a private school by day and event venue by night. It’s a luxurious option in the prestigious neighborhood of Pacific Heights, guaranteed to match any taste in venues.
And while the perfect venue is important, you’ll still want to experience all of the beauty that the city has to offer. Capture your special moments in a San Francisco themed wedding photo shoot, for a memorable experience you’ll get to look at and dream of forever. Christie and Mark covered some of the best photo locations, including the incredible Palace of Fine Arts. We also know the best spots for a panoramic view of the stunning Golden Gate Bridge: Catch the sunset at Baker Beach, roam the lush grass of Chrissy Field or drive up to Battery Spencer for a larger-than-life, close-up view of the bridge. Want to go to even higher heights? The scenic drive up to Twin Peaks is worth the trip itself, but the spectacular views of the entire city and surrounding bay will make for some breathtaking wedding photos.
HOW YOU MET AND STARTED DATING:
We met at UC Berkeley as undergrad students. Mark was a football player and I was a sorority girl. We started
dating before our junior year and have been together ever since!
Mark took me on a horse drawn carriage ride in Downtown Los Gatos around the holidays. As we were
rounding the corner, Mark said he wanted to give me my Christmas present. He had told me he was getting a
Lululemon sweatshirt I had my eye on, so when I didn’t see a big box she was very confused. The next minute
he had popped out the ring and asked those 4 special words- “Will you marry me?”
We hired Franca Aschenbrenner soon after we got engaged and would not have done it any other way. We are
both very busy and did not want the stress of wedding planning to A) Slow us down B) Cause more problems
than happiness. Thank you Franca for being our eyes and ears on the ground at all times! We spent a good
amount of time planning in the initial stages, but from a few months in Franca happily took the reins and did
an amazing job.
We had a trip planned to Hawaii for a few months, and it happened to be right after Mark proposed (perfect
timing in know!), and my mom was so excited to get started planning, that she began looking at venues right
away. She actually found Flood Mansion while we were on vacation, and couldn’t stop talking about how much
she loved it. We came back and saw a few other venues before going to Flood, and they just didn’t feel right.
After finally getting to see Flood Mansion in person, we fell in love at first sight! It felt like home the moment
we walked in.
Flood Mansion is actually a Sacred Heart School (by day!) and I went to one of their sister schools as a child, so
it really felt like it was meant to be when we found Flood Mansion. We signed on the spot.
THE ENAGEMENT RING/ WEDDING BANDS:
Mark did it all! He really wanted to find a smaller jeweler that he could work with really closely and personally.
Mark adored working with Shepherd Jewelers and everyone there was such a pleasure to get to know. On
picking the ring: Mark’s sister and I went ring shopping just as a fun girls day out a long time ago, I had no idea
that Mark was secretly having her scope out my style! He had a lot of guidance in picking from her, and did the
best job. I love my rings!
THE BRIDAL FASHION:
My overall style for the wedding was very traditional and classic. But not in a stuffy kind of way, so that made
dress shopping a bit of a challenge. I went to 4 wedding dress stores with a pretty clear vision of exactly how I
wanted to look in my mind. Classic and timeless, shouldn’t be too hard to find I thought to myself..turns out
wedding dress shopping is hard work and I found something not quite right in every dress I was seeing, much
to my entourage’s dismay. Finally I went to Jin Wang Bridal in San Francisco and after doing the whole thing
again and finding nothing that was IT…my stylist said “Ok Christie, I am going to put you in the most simple
gown I have, to cleanse your palate of all these gowns.” Turns out…that was THE dress and I knew the moment
I put it on! Then I had went out and everyone cried when they saw how happy I was and we all knew this was
THE BRIDE’S HAIR AND MAKEUP:
Franca, my amazing wedding planner sent me to Elizabeth Chang head stylist at Skyla Arts. I did my initial
consultation (3 hours!) with her and she asked questions about every step to make sure I was totally happy with
the look. She made the process very involved and led my abstract vision of traditional elegance into the most
stunning look. I booked her right after!
Guilty…I have a tenancy to play with my hair so knew I wanted my hair up from the start. I Wanted something
really timeless and classic, but not boring. Elizabeth and I tried a centered low bun and then a really clean side
bun. I really liked being able to see my hair on the side so I didn’t look bald to myself!
Overall, Elizabeth really just perfectly took my ideas and turned them into reality better than I could have
THE BRIDESMAID FASHION:
5 bridesmaids total. 3 of Marks sisters, 2 of my best friends. I wanted to go all together to look for gowns,
however two live out of state so that did not happen. We went to Bella Bridesmaid in SF and tried on almost
every gown they had. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted the girls in long gowns for a winter
Finally we narrowed to three styles and I just asked them each, “What are you most comfortable wearing?” All
picked the same one!
Then came the color… Originally wanted a winter wonderland feeling for the wedding and wanted the girls in
blue. All the Pintrest winter weddings you see are usually blues and silvers, but after long consideration I just
was not feeling like the blues were really me. I absolutely love all shades of pink, and decided to go that
direction instead and use the winter feel in other parts of the wedding. After that another shopping trip helped
me decide on a really light soft pink (after Trying every single pink available).
Honestly, the Bridesmaid gowns solidified look for the entire wedding for me!
THE FLOWER GIRL AND RING BEARER:
Cousins of Christie, twin boy and girl.
THE GROOM’S ATTIRE:
The men didn’t really have any special parts of their outfits other Mark’s groomsmen gift to them. They each
received a custom flasks with their Nicknames that they all kept in their pockets the entire wedding. I hope
they went to good use!
THE COLORS/THEMES/STYLES OF THE DAY:
My goals for the wedding: 1. Everyone had fun 2. Everyone left full 3. Feel like us as a couple.
When I began thinking of the style of wedding we were going to have, I really wanted to play in the winter
wonderland theme. Our wedding fell right between Christmas and New Years, so I wanted to find ways to
connect the two holidays without making it feel like a holiday party at the office.
The whole theme developed their style and included parts that were very “them”. For example we used lighter
colors of Pinks and Golds throughout the whole day rather than dark usual winter colors. I wanted it to still
feel romantic and light, sort of like you were walking through a hall of freshly dusted snow.
I incorporated snowflakes in a lot of places too. In the wedding favors we had 2 truffles, and on top of each was
a hand dipped snowflake made of white chocolate. The place settings were little kissing bells and each table
was named after a different Christmas character. Our seating chart (created by Franca) was all in individual
snowflakes and was absolutely beautiful.
We used a really big present like bow on the top of our cake, and had little Christmas trees made of layers of
chocolate in the dessert bar. For an extra little décor piece, we scattered really tall vases filled with gold tree
ornaments all around Flood Mansion.
My family is also very Italian, so we added a few traditional touches as well- We had a Jordan Almond Bar,
that has a traditional Italian story behind it. Each guest Takes five different flavors and colors and each is
represented a wish for the bride and groom. Franca (wedding planner) make cute little cards of what each
flavor meant as a wish.
We just really tied in Little things from our life that made it feel very us, into one big theme.
THE STATIONERY :
I always wanted my stationary and the invites specifically to feel very traditional and classic. I wanted them to
be like a little story too rather than just one cards saying “Hey we are getting married!” Mark and I included a
little extra card inside the envelope that was our version of The 12 Days of Christmas. We gave guests 12 things
to do, or oud favorite spots in San Francisco so that they would really enjoy their stay that much more! Like
#3…Our favorite restaurant, Make a reservation here on Tuesday night! Then we included a link to our
wedding website where we recommended our favorite appatizers ect. That and touristy type of things for the
out of towners made our invites feel really personal
THE CEREMONY DÉCOR:
Our church was decorate really nicely already for Christmas so we just accented with a few Snowflakes in Pink
here and there to really tie in the reception feel too.
I wanted the bouquets to feel really full, but still romantic and very traditional. McCalls catering did all the
flowers and they used roses in light pinks and full hydrangea arrangements in the reception.
THE CEREMONY TRADITIONS:
We are both Catholic and actually hadn’t found a church since moving to the area, this was the perfect kick to
find one! St. Vincent de Paul is in our neighborhood, and we have continued to go almost every week and have
made some amazing lasting friendships through the church. We are so happy to have found the perfect one for
our perfect day.
THE CEREMONY MUSIC:
I walked down the aisle to a Cantor singing, and violinists playing “Cannon in D”, to keep it really traditional
from the start! Through the ceremony, the pastor moved into Christmas carols instead of traditional hymns to
make the whole room come to life and feel really Christmas-y! It was one of my favorite parts. We walked out
to “Joy to the World” together as Husband and Wife.
My bridesmaids and Mark’s groomsmen rode in the Google Bus. I work for Google and they let us rent the bus
for the day for everyone, but the one thing I promised to myself was, “I will not get on that bus in my wedding
gown, I take it to work every morning there is no way!” So I traveled to the ceremony in a limo just with my
mom and dad. Mark and I did not see each other before I walked down the aisle. It was perfect.
THE CENTERPIECES/RECEPTION DÉCOR:
When we picked Flood Mansion I decided I Really wanted rounds NOT long tables. We love the feeling of
flowing conversation with round tables vs one long one, so we packed in as many as possible! I think we nearly
filled Flood to capacity!
McCalls catering did all the centerpieces too. They really take care of everything. I wanted to have an even
number of tall and short centerpieces to give the room continuity and wanted them to match the style of my
bouquet. Just bigger!
THE COCKTAIL HOUR:
Open bar, and passed champagne
This was really hard to pick because McCalls had so many amazing things! We did a huge tasting with them
and finally narrowed to our final menu. Mark loves shellfish so his favorite part of the night (food wise) was
the shellfish appetizer trio of Clam Chowder, a fresh fish salad and a seared scallop bite. I unfortunately am
really allergic to all those things however.
My favorite part was also part of the apps. I am a sucker for really good comfort food and wanted my wedding
appetizers to be really happy and easy to eat. We have been to so many weddings where the food is so fancy
it’s hard to really enjoy, and I wanted my guests to feel treated to something yummy but special that they knew.
We did mini Sliders, gourmet stuffed cheese balls and little Reuben sandwiches. Simple food done fancy! I
couldn’t have been happier.
THE WEDDING CAKE:
We picked Cake Expressions on Cake Franca’s recommendation; and only went tasting once, it was so easy to
find exactly what we loved and never made any more fuss! The layers were all a little different. One smooth,
one to match the lace in my dress and a few with the present bow that we tied into the whole wedding. With of
course the big one being on top as our cake topper. Each layer was also a different flavor:
Red Velvet again (Yum!)
THE FIRST DANCE SONG:
We had our first dance to “Can’t Smile Without You”- Barry Manalo. This has been our song for ages, and we
actually had the title inscribed into the inside of Mark’s ring!
THE RECEPTION MUSIC/DANCING/ENTERTAINMENT:
I really wanted the reception music to actually make people get up and dance. So it was really important to find
a good mix of poppy current songs and older ones. The only requirement I had for our band was, play mostly
Mostly upbeat dancing songs vs. slow songs.
Everyone was up and dancing all night, and there were definitely some dance circles with my sorority sisters at
We didn’t do a big send off, but left right after and went to their after party at their hotel for drinks ect with
close friends and family.
The favors were little boxes of 2 truffles each with custom hand dipped white chocolate snowflakes on top.
They were placed on a table along side the dessert table in a big Christmas tree like formation
YOUR BEST ADVICE:
Be a team! There is no way for one person to handle everything on their own, so stick together and support each other through the process.
YOUR INSIDER TIPS:
This is a tough question, but I think our three favorites were our photographer Clane Gessel, our band Larry Lynch and the Mob, and our
caterer McCalls Catering. Clane really brought a lot of energy and did an amazing job fitting in all of our dream pictures into one very busy day,
Larry Lynch and team brought the house down and had everyone dancing all night long, and McCalls brought such a high quality of service to
us that can’t be matched.
Its really hard to have a full time job and plan a wedding at the same time, so I had nightmares that I forgot
something HUGE and no one showed up to the wedding! Luckily that did not happen