A Vibrant Wedding in San Francisco with a Raspberry Color Scheme
After Miriam Nastac's cousin suggested she meet Valentin Neiconi—a man who attended the same Romanian Baptist church as Miriam's family—their relationship started out slow: For more than a year, they were Instagram friends who only liked each other's photos. But when Miriam and some friends set off for a trip to celebrate her birthday in January 2019, Val grabbed his chance to make a good impression by wishing her a happy birthday. The couple began a month-long online conversation that culminated in a three-hour phone call one night. "We talked about everything and anything," shares Miriam. "I sent a text to my sister that night and I told her I found my future husband." When Miriam asked Val later why her birthday photos had inspired him to reach out, his reply couldn't have been sweeter: "He told me he loved how happy I looked and that it seemed like I was enjoying every moment I had and it was shining through me, so he knew he had to make a move because he wanted to be a part of that," says Miriam. "It brought me to tears."
The couple bonded over their shared faith and Romanian heritage. "Val and I both come from strong Christian backgrounds," says Miriam. "It was something that connected us right away. We both had been praying for each other and our friendship at the time and we just felt a sense of ease between us." About six months after they started talking, Val proposed on a private rooftop in New York City. "I felt like I was in a movie," says Miriam. "There was a pathway of candles leading to a bouquet of roses and Champagne, twinkle lights hanging, and the Empire State Building shining in the background. I could not believe he put something like that together. It was perfect."
The couple began planning a 175-guest wedding for November 23, 2019, in San Francisco. "I knew I always wanted an indoor wedding, somewhere in a beautiful ballroom with warm, dim, romantic lighting," says Miriam. They chose the renovated space at the Four Seasons, and Miriam left the rest up to Atlanta-based florist and event designer Shean Strong, whose Instagram inspired her décor choices. "Immediately I saw that his aesthetic is what vibe I was going for—more of a natural and organic style," she says. "I don't like things to look too perfect or symmetrical, I love texture and color. I wanted a French garden, but with a twist—something that looked slightly editorial." She let Shean surprise her with the specifics of the bouquets, centerpieces, and boutonnières. "He totally got me," she says, "and translated my vision into reality."
Blast from the Past
Off-white invitations with letterpress block text and hand-torn edges from Kelsey Malie Calligraphy included a custom sketch of the flowers used throughout the big-day décor. They also featured a very personalized envelope liner that incorporated the design of Miriam's parents' 1986 wedding invitation. "My mom had two that she managed to save over the years, and she had given me one of them back when I was a teenager. I thought it was so special and beautiful—I knew one day I would somehow want to incorporate it into my own invitations," Miriam says. "My parents had no idea. They were emotional and surprised, but very happy, and that made me happy."
Give Her a Ring
She also honored her parents by wearing a diamond-cluster ring steeped in family history. "It was the first ring my dad bought my mom when we first moved to America from Romania and he saved some money to buy her a beautiful ring," she says. "It has always been very special to me and I knew I wanted to wear it on my wedding day."
Her Gorgeous Gown
Miriam's dream wedding dress incorporated two main elements: "I just knew I wanted lots of texture and detail and a beautiful train," she says. When her mother and sister suggested an A-line Galia Lahav gown with an illusion open back, lace flowers, crystals, and a feather sleeve detail, she needed no convincing. "When I put it on, I just felt comfortable and beautiful. It fit my body well and that's what I wanted," she says. "I didn't want to not look like myself or feel like I was covered in all this fabric. And of course, it made all three of us emotional, so that for sure was the sign." For the wedding day, she borrowed the veil her sister wore to her own ceremony 12 years prior. "I know that meant a lot to her, as well," says Miriam. "She's my best friend and I wanted to take something from her day into mine."
The bride accented her loose waves with a sparkling leaf band from Maria Elena Headpieces and stepped into pale pink Manolo Blahnik heels. Another key accessory? "Val bought me this beautiful dainty gold and diamond bracelet to wear on our wedding day," she says.
Her bouquet was a complete surprise from her florist Shean Strong, but the bright pinks, creamy ivories, and organic shape were exactly what she'd envisioned.
Pretty in Pink
Miriam's sister, the matron of honor, chose an off-the-shoulder textured tulle gown in an ombré pink from Marchesa. "I really wanted her to stand out and look special, as well," she says. Miriam's other bridesmaid, a close friend, wore a magenta Betsy and Adam sheath. "I'm not a huge fan of bridesmaids dresses," notes the bride. "I wanted everyone to feel beautiful and comfortable. I didn't want them to look juvenile, just sophisticated and elegant."
Man of the Hour
Val chose a navy blue tuxedo jacket with black silk lapels, black tuxedo pants, and suspenders from Hugo Boss, with a Michael Kors shirt. "I think his fittings were more complicated than mine," says Miriam. He also donned sentimental accessories: "My dad gave Val a pair of his old cuff links to wear on our wedding day," says Miriam. "That was special to me."
At the Altar
In the ceremony space, traditional King Louis chairs faced a raised platform backed with off-white draping. An asymmetrical, broken floral arch created a focal point, while tall pillar candles in glass holders cast a romantic glow during the couple's first look, when Miriam and her father entered the room. "I think there's something so special about seeing each other for the first time when you're walking down the aisle," she says. "The whole ceremony can be such a blur of emotions, but I won't ever forget seeing Val at the end of that aisle."
A Traditional Ceremony
During the ceremony, a string quartet performed "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," "Fairest Lord Jesus," and Ed Sheeran's "Perfect." "The songs we chose were a reflection of our faith and our love," says Miriam. "Exactly what we wanted for our special day." Other favorite moments from the religious ceremony included songs performed by the bride's uncle and two memorable spoken pieces. "We had a beautiful message given by our friend Alin and Val's brother Adrian, who also married us," says Miriam. "Traditionally, our weddings are typically at least an hour long, so there's a lot that happens during the ceremony."
Together at Last
Meeting at the altar remains one of the couple's favorite parts of the day. "We were both so nervous," says Miriam. "I remember telling Val when we were standing up there that I thought I was going to throw up and he said, 'Me too!' After that I giggled a little bit and he took my hand and my nerves went away." During the ceremony, the couple exchanged their own vows, which Miriam describes as "so special." "Since the start of our courtship, I had been writing down little things along the way and I incorporated them into my vows," she says. "His vows were beautiful. They were a reflection of his love and his promises to me. We wanted all of our guests to feel a little bit of the emotion and love we had for one another and I think they appreciated that part a lot."
After the service, the newlyweds paused for portraits outside the hotel, on the roof deck, and on the streets of San Francisco as their guests moved on to the cocktail hour, where servers passed trays of wine, Champagne, and pink lemonade "to match the décor!" says Miriam.
Miriam and Val also set aside time for family portraits, posing with Miriam's parents, sister, nephew, and brother-in-law—who also stood up as one of Val's groomsmen in a black suit with a slim black tie. "My mother's dress was really special because I found it," says Miriam. "I wanted something that was similar to my dress with texture and flowers. She looked so incredibly beautiful." Miriam's nephew, two-year-old Ezra, performed his ring bearer duties in a black suit and Air Jordan sneakers. "With his little shaggy hair cut, I just wanted to squeeze him!" she says. "He's the sweetest little boy."
Making a Statement
A clear acrylic statement box filled with pretty blooms also served as the couple's seating chart, and read "Tu esti sufletul meu pereche"—"You are my soulmate"—in Romanian.
Table for Two
The couple moved the broken arch from the ceremony to the reception to create a backdrop for their sweetheart table, and added two more arrangements surrounded by candles in front. Off-white linens let the centerpiece display—which included fresh fruit—take the focus.
Bold and Beautiful
Miriam gave her florist full control over the reception details. "I honestly left everything up to Shean—I knew the color palette," she says. "I told him I wanted all the centerpieces to have an organic shape to them. I didn't want anything perfectly round or square." White anemone and pink-dyed baby's breath added an unexpected element to the asymmetrical arrangements and varied pink shades.
Dinner Is Served
Acrylic table numbers brought minimalist contrast to the opulent gold chargers and flatware. "There were enough neutrals in the chairs and linens to offset the bright and bold colors of the florals and the beautiful fruit," says Miriam.
The couple chose a lavish menu from the hotel's chef. "Food is very important in our culture, so we had to be sure we served plenty of options for our guests," says Miriam. "We started off with an amuse bouche of butternut squash veloute and for the main course we chose king salmon and a beef tenderloin with truffle mashed potatoes. We figured you couldn't go wrong with those options."
Miriam counted herself a fan of Jasmine Rae Cakes even before she realized the Four Seasons offered the one-of-a-kind confections on their menu. "She doesn't just make cakes, she makes works of art," says Miriam. "In the 30 minutes that Val and I sat there and answered a few questions, she sketched out the most beautiful cake we had ever seen. I get chills just thinking about it."
The final product was a sculptural dessert with sugar leaves, flowers, and textures in shades of both light-and-dark pink. Flavors included Earl Grey tea cake with orange cream cheese, honey buttercream, and candied ginger; and lemon cake with lavender buttercream and raspberries. "The flavors seem odd, but I've never tasted a more delicious wedding cake in my life," says Miriam.
The bride's mother and aunts and Val's mother all worked together to make more than 15 different traditional Romanian treats for a dessert display (complete with favor boxes so guests could take home their favorites). "It's not a Romanian wedding without the traditional desserts," says Miriam, "so our guests were definitely looking forward to it."
A Celebration of Love
Since Christian Romanian weddings don't usually include dancing, the couple opted to entertain their guests with speeches and toasts, a photo booth, a gelato cart, corn hole, and a slideshow. "[Dancing] is something we wanted, but we also wanted to be respectful of our families, so we chose not to," says Miriam. "It's really never a problem because Romanians enjoy their social time, especially at weddings. Everyone seemed to be relaxed and enjoying themselves."
Photography, Clary Pfeiffer
Venue and Catering, Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
Flowers and Event Design, Shean Strong
Videography, IQ Videography
Stationery, Kelsey Malie Calligraphy
Cake, Jasmine Rae Cakes
Music, San Jose String Quartet
Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen Rental; Hensley Event Resources
Bride's Gown, Galia Lahav
Bride's Accessories, Manolo Blahnik shoes; Maria Elena Headpieces jewelry
Hair, Teddi Chanos
Makeup, Ashley Bias
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Betsy and Adam; Marchesa
Groom's Attire, Hugo Boss
Groom's Shirt, Michael Kors
Transportation, Nationwide Limousine Service
Engagement Ring, Lauren B
Gelato Cart, Pop Up Gelato
Guest Book, Portside Paper
Photo booth, Soul Happy Photo Booth
Wedding Rings, Stephanie Gottlieb