Tell us a little about yourselves.
Amanda is a 31-year-old cis, lesbian Puerto Rican/Cuban born in Miami and raised in Southern California. She works as a Database Manager for an educator’s union in the San Francisco Bay Area. Amanda is an occasional gamer, ABBA-lover, and vegetarian who enjoys outdoor activities. She is fascinated by how things work and are the designated handyperson of our household.
Stephanie is a 29-year-old cis, pansexual Black/Filipina vegetarian born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an Operations Associate for a baby food startup and is passionate about food, travel, and languages. She is an amateur vegetarian and vegan chef that aspires to own a food business focused on healthy, delicious, affordable food for everyone.
How long have you been together, and how did you meet?
Since we officially started dating on February 8, 2013, we have been together for almost seven years! We were just about to begin our last semester at Humboldt State. Less than three weeks before we started officially dating, we met at a local bar. Stephanie and one of her besties, Taylor, decided to get drinks. Amanda spotted Stephanie from across the room and knew she had to meet this cool, stylish girl with the bleached blond hair and bright yellow pea coat. She mustered up the courage to approach her and started up a conversation. Stephanie had no idea that Amanda was interested in her as more than friends until Taylor pointed it out the next day. Amanda also realized that her roommate, Jennifer, also knew Stephanie and Jennifer connected the two of them so they could meet up again.
Tell us about the proposal.
Stephanie planned a week-long trip to explore Idaho, Yellowstone, to view the total solar eclipse within the path of totality. Amanda was under the impression that she was going to witness this epic event, but little did she know that Stephanie had something up her sleeve. Stephanie bought the ring about one and a half years prior, thinking she was going to propose while they were in Europe, but held off because she knew the moment had to be even more extraordinary. Stephanie proposed as soon as the totality of the solar eclipse had ended. Amanda was so overwhelmed with emotions but managed to say yes.
That sounds so romantic!!! What about your venue for the wedding, what lead you to that?
We researched thirty venues, and we saw twelve in person all over the Bay Area in a span of a few weeks in June 2018. Towards the end of our search, we were second-guessing our top contenders because they didn’t feel like “us”. We were worried that we might have to settle and book something to get on the 2019 calendar. Suddenly, we stumbled upon Sova Gardens online and instantly knew we had to check it out. When we pulled up to the parking lot, Amanda said she had an excellent feeling, and that feeling was confirmed after the tour. It met all of our wants, was within our budget, and looked absolutely beautiful! We were very happy when we requested our date and they were still available.
What was the inspiration behind the vibe of your wedding?
We wanted our wedding to be a reflection of us, for people to walk into the venue and know exactly whose wedding it was, not only from the photos but from the entire experience and personalized details. We each created a signature cocktail: Amanda’s Gingerhound (a Greyhound with Ginger Syrup) & Stephanie’s Whisky Almond (Whisky & Amaretto).
We designed our dinner & dessert menu to highlight our cultural backgrounds and reflect our vegetarianism (everything was vegetarian, but we also incorporated people’s dietary needs to ensure they could enjoy as much food as possible).
We put together a joint playlist that featured all of our favorite songs for our DJ to mix.
We selected a venue that featured a redwood since we met each other in Humboldt (a place known for its redwoods). We told our love story through the table number cards on the guests’ tables (each card had a significant moment of our love story and corresponding photo). It was important for us to have all these personalized details because we wanted to immerse our family and friends into the world of Amanda & Stephanie (aka Stephanda).
Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.
Amanda wanted something that she was comfortable in, an outfit that was a reflection of herself and made her feel like a bride. She had never worn a three-piece suit and felt like this occasion was the perfect one. Amanda had a difficult time finding outfits that would fit her body directly off the rack. She also had a hard time finding a business that was explicitly inclusive to all, while still being within her budget. Amanda realized that ASOS has suits and ordered a few pant, jacket, & vest combinations from their men’s section to try. After a few months of research, she was able to find a suit that did not need tailoring and came in the off-white color she wanted.
Stephanie knew very early that she wanted to combine pants or shorts with a skirt for her outfit. She spent most of Fall 2018 saving images on Google and Instagram as prep work before she decided to dive into the research. It was difficult finding a wedding jumpsuit or romper with an attached train, even more, difficult finding it in plus size. In January 2019, Stephanie spent time looking for white jumpsuits and detachable tulle trains separately. She bought many jumpsuits and rompers from various clothing websites that carry plus-sizes (ASOS, boohoo, Macy’s, Fashion Nova, etc.). She kept track of potential ones, returned those that did not work, and kept searching for the perfect one. Stephanie stumbled upon Showpo, an Australian online fashion retailer, and found the one! It was EXACTLY what she wanted; a white romper with an attached train. She was so glad she didn’t settle and persisted with her search.
Talk to us about the big day! We want all the details!
Our wedding day couldn’t have turned out better! Everything we were stressed out about just disappeared on the day because we knew it’s too late for any changes.
We separated ourselves into our rental in the morning and started getting ready with our bridal parties. The champagne and beer started flowing, and we knew that it was a great day to get married. Amanda had written a private letter to Stephanie that contained vows she wanted to keep personal and not share during the ceremony. She arranged this letter to be given to Stephanie by her best friend when they were getting ready. Amanda and her bridal party had already left the house, and Stephanie and her bridal party were running a little behind schedule. As Stephanie was putting on the final touches to her outfit, she received the letter. As soon as she opened it, she became overwhelmed with emotion and started crying (happy tears, of course!).
Once we arrived at the venue and saw how our florist (aka Stephanie’s mom) made everything even more beautiful, we were in awe! There were flowers all over the interior portion of the venue, the aisles, the alter, all the different tables, etc. The florist went above and beyond our vision.
We were also happy that the venue allowed us to create three aisles. Two on the outsides of the seated area for Amanda and Stephanie to walk simultaneously down, allowing them to each have their own aisle and meet at the altar. A third one in the center to allow for them to walk down together after the ceremony. The ceremony went beautifully, simple, short, and sweet. After the ceremony (during cocktail hour), we took pictures with our bridal parties, immediate family, and just the two of us. Thankfully our caterer took care of us by keeping us fed and hydrated during this portion of the day, so we didn’t miss out. After all the photos, we shotgunned beers together alongside our bridal parties (Stephanie won!).
We had our bridal entrance and sat for dinner (some of the best food we’ve had). This gave us a chance to catch our breath and enjoy the delicious food before visiting with all the tables. After dinner, we cut the cake and transitioned to our first dance. After the first dance, Stephanie changed into a sequin, gold romper to dance the night away in.
Partway through the evening, we grabbed some desserts from the dessert bar and snuck off to spend time with each other. It didn’t last too long, but it was just enough time to check in with each other. By 10 pm, we had to leave the venue and partied with the remaining guests at the nearby casino.
What are your favorite moments?
A: Finally, seeing each other at the altar is one of my favorite moments. It reminded me of why we were there, sharing our love for each other in front of all our friends and family. Also the first dance and dancing with all of our friends and family.
S: The venue has a rental house on the property with a wrap-around porch. There were two rocking chairs on it that we sat and held hands in. We have pictures of that moment, and it is one of my favorites from the wedding, especially since Amanda wrote in her vows about us getting old and sitting in rocking chairs together. Also, my mom is not one to give speeches or toasts or share her feelings with me, so for her to come up with such a heartwarming toast meant everything. Another favorite is that I loved that my bridal party and I were the last ones on the dance floor! We literally danced the night away.
Advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Communication is necessary, along with clear goals and tasks. Remember that it’s about you and your future spouse. This day is indeed yours, and in the end you should make decisions that will make you happy and no one else. #YouDoYou
Glad we did:
-Having a day of coordinator to manage the logistics. For a couple that was heavily involved in the planning, we wanted to make sure we wouldn’t have to be taken out of the moment of our big day to manage any issues that arose. We also wanted to make sure that the stress did not fall on our immediate family.
-Having the food reflect us and our culture.
-We both have Moms that are really important in our lives, and we incorporated them into the ceremony as “flower girls.” Coming up with that idea was excellent and helped us remember that whatever you decide to include should be up to you and your partner.
Wish we did:
-It is hard to realize that you and your partner know all of these people, but not all of them know each other. We wish we had time to make connections amongst various friend groups and family. Also, we wish we had more time to just catch up with people, especially those that traveled far.
P.S. The day goes by fast, so take as many opportunities as you can to step back and observe how perfectly your day came together!
What does marriage mean to you?
To Amanda, marriage is about feeling comfortable and secure, supportive, and loving someone unconditionally. Learning and loving together and growing with one another.
To Stephanie, marriage is just a formality, something to have on paper. She doesn’t think it is a necessity to show your partner how much you love them. That being said, she wanted to make her deep and strong relationship with Amanda legally binding (especially since we’ve only recently had the right to do so).
Photographer Kristen Murakoshi Photography
Second Photographer Roxana Lopez Photography
Cinematographer Color Me Oakland
Cake Your Sweet Expectations
Cake Topper Simply Bo Petals & Events
Catering Sonoma Caterers
Ceremony & Reception Venue Sova Gardens
Celebrant Christina Littleﬁeld
Day of Coordinator Susan Manzi
Desserts East Wind Bakery
Engagement Rings Equalli
Florist Simply Bo Petals & Events
Furniture Hire Heirloom Events
H&MU Devotion Studio, Stephanie Ramirez
Sound Hire DJ Emancipacion
Stationery DIY Canva
Stationery Printer Mimeo
Wedding Rings Young in the Mountains, Romas Banaitis