Old-World Elegance at Classic Ballroom Wedding in San Francisco

Ashley and Carlos

Photographed by: Dalal PhotographyLocation: San Francisco, California, United States

The evening that Ashley Gould and Carlos Privat were introduced was full of discoveries. First, they uncovered their common experiences during different years at UC Berkeley. Next, they realized that they were both attorneys, albeit in distinct fields and finally, they were shocked to find out that they shared the same birthday which happened to be only days away. Carlos decided to use this revelation to his advantage and called Ashley with birthday wishes and an invitation to lunch. Soon, dinner followed and so did a date to go peach picking with Carlos and his friends.

It could have been the bucolic romance of the day, or the pie Ashley baked from their efforts that night, but within that orchard, the couple fell in love. Three and a half years later, standing in the rain on a beach at the edge of Golden Gate Park, Carlos asked Ashley to be his wife and to share one more thing in common with him…her future.

A clear vision and talented vendors are certainly valuable tools in one’s wedding arsenal, but having a mother seasoned by the planning of two older daughters’ weddings is priceless. Between her mother’s support, the couple’s creative input and the stunning backdrop of the recently restored Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel, Ashley and Carlos’ dream of an elegant, old world affair in San Francisco was brought to fruition. The first glimpse of the personality that would infuse their celebration came during their rehearsal dinner at The Concordia-Argonaut Club where they are both members. The familiarity of the location for the bride and groom was only enhanced by a performance that paid homage to Carlos’ Peruvian heritage. A well-known singer in the Peruvian community, Carlos’ relative Juan Jose sang with a Peruvian band and authentic dancers in festive costume brought many of the guests onto the floor to participate in the display.

Ashley and Carlos took the time to design a ceremony that also reflected their backgrounds and religious affiliations. They chose to have an interfaith wedding, officiated by both a priest and a cantor, and to include readings in Hebrew, English and Spanish. Carlos’ uncle read several passages in Spanish and two of the couple’s dear friends recited a love sonnet by Pablo Neruda in both its native and translated languages. Adding to this inclusive feeling, Ashley and Carlos’ priest encouraged them to write personal letters to each other before the wedding that he later read to them and their audience during the ceremony. It was truly powerful, eliciting both tears from the bride and groom and gratitude from their loved ones for involving them in such an emotional experience.

Ashley and Carlos achieved the atypical look and feel they wanted for their affair by remaining loyal to the Venetian Room’s supper club ambiance, right down to Ashley’s wedding ensemble. She considered her hair, makeup and earrings all throwbacks to another era and with her lavish yet unadorned gown and the borrowed vintage lace veil her mother’s best friend wore at her own wedding, Ashley befitted the room like a golden age star. Interestingly, Carlos’ vest and tie, as well as the ties given as gifts to their groomsmen, were made from the same material of Ashley’s dress supplied by her dress designer, Jin Wang. The reception décor was an extension of the blue and gold colors of the room, with long tables covered in blue linens and topped with glowing lamps and flowers in warm shades of yellow. The unique centerpieces were actually several arrangements of freesia, tulips and roses clustered together along the tables in small vases interspersed by spheres coated in yellow button mums.

Guests dined on an autumnal menu of butternut squash soup en croute, filet mignon and macadamia nut crusted halibut with potato puree and desserts alternating between chocolate crème brulee and toffee cream with berries. Slices of their wedding cake were also served, a square-tiered confection of white chocolate walls and raspberry “terraces” enclosing white cake filled with lemon curd and fresh raspberry and cream layers. Before cutting the cake, Ashley and Carlos toasted one another as well as their parents and guests and hearing themselves called “husband” and “wife” for the first time was an exciting moment they’ll never forget.

Nor will they forget the songs Ashley’s family composed for them on their wedding day. In keeping with a Gould family tradition, Ashley and her dad danced their father daughter dance to the same song he had written for her Bat Mitzvah years ago. He and Ashley’s three sisters also collaborated on a special song for the bride and groom that “was not only amazingly beautiful, but extremely emotional” for everyone.

Ashley and Carlos remembered how hard it was to stop smiling throughout their night and how nothing could keep their guests from dancing along to the swinging standards of the band. The dance floor was so packed that the couple had to extend the band’s time for another hour. The details of their affair – décor, music, and romance – transported their guests to another place in time, where elegance and jollity went hand in hand. For Ashley and Carlos, their wedding in the Venetian Room was a telling predecessor to the real thing they encountered on their honeymoon, a tour of Italy’s most romantic destinations: Rome, Siena, Bellagio and of course, Venice.

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