I am being asked that often since I got back. And so, I have decided that I need to write it down.
First of all, San Francisco is one of my favorite cities. I spent a lot of time there as a baby and a kid, and I spent a lot of time there in my late teens during the 60s. A bunch of us all lived there from early spring until school started in the fall, every summer for about five years. We had the best time!
I go there whenever I can, tagging along when my husband has to spend a week there for work, for instance. While he works, I head out the door each morning and explore, and there is always so much to explore. I love cities with art galleries, museums, and great public transportation.
I came of age in San Francisco, so it has a special place in my heart and soul. And if you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair!
So, my son-in-law, Robert, proposed in Europe, and then the plan was in place. Only it was a very quiet plan. It was, in essence, pretty much an elopement in many ways. Except I knew about it as I was invited to fly up to be a witness and to photograph the entire thing. How fortunate for me.
So, on a Wednesday afternoon, I few up to San Francisco, and spent the first 20 minutes or so, just trying to find Robert and Kiera. We were talking on our cells, "Did I walk right past you?" "Didn't you come from gate 11?" Eventually I heard, "Is there an escalator near you?" "Yes, there is." "Can you come up it?" I went to look up at the escalator, and there they were, at the top, the beaming bride and groom!
There was much rejoicing and many hugs and then we got onto Bart, rode it to the mission district area, and then walked to our bed and breakfast. We walked for a pretty long time, but none of were complaining, we were just talking away.
At our B&B, the Inn San Francisco, we made friends quickly with the inn keepers, who showed us around and told us to let them know if we needed anything at all. (They went out and bought Kiera a shower cap!) The Inn is three stories with a deck on top, a side yard with a patio and cast iron dining sets, and a wooden hot tub (remember those?). It's Victorian and cozy.
After our tour, we took our bags up to the third floor. The plan was to get settled a bit and then go get something to eat. But then we were all feeling kind of tired, and the inviting parlors downstairs supplied all manner of refreshment, so we opted to just go downstairs and enjoy the ambiance. We dined on some organic fruit (very juicy and sweet!), and other treats, and sat and talked, took photos, and then went up to the deck, up a narrow, iron, spiral staircase. There we took some night photos of the bride and groom on the eve of their nuptials.
Then we settled down in our separate rooms. Mine had a square, screenless window that opened up to a cool breeze and a view of the city. The window was level with my bed. If I lived there, I would have slept with my head at that window, gazing out, instead of having my feet there.
The next morning, I went into the room where all the action was. There was wedding attire hanging about, and a make-up artist came to do Kiera's make-up and hair. I took photos of that as it was happening, and the wedding attire hanging up, and whatever else seemed significant, or worthy of future memories.
By the time the young lady was finished making Kiera glamorous, we all knew each other pretty well, and so photos were taken of everyone, and the hugs and well wishes were abundant and then it was time to finish getting spiffed up with cufflinks, shoe buckles, etc.
We went upstairs to take a few daytime photos from the top deck, and then went down for a few in the patio & yard, and then, the cab was there, and we hopped into the cab to go to the flower shop.
On the way, Kiera made good friends with the cab driver and learned all about how long he had been married, how many kids, etc. And, again, we were all good friends and he offered his wedding advice before he dropped us on the block where the flower shop was located.
As we walked to the flower shop, passing drivers gave gentle, congratulatory beeps on their horns, seeing a couple in wedding attire, and the flower lady was expecting us. She was sweet and we got to know her and from where she came, and she designed the wedding bouquet and the boutonniere on the spot with input from the bride and groom, and yes, I took more photos of this process.
Then it was time to depart and there were hugs and well wishes again, and if they looked like a bride and groom before, they did even more so now with their bright orange flowers. We walked to city hall from the flower shop and again, gentle honks, voices calling out congratulations, etc.
Then there was the beautiful San Francisco city hall with its old and graceful architecture. Up the steps we went with pauses for photos on the way in.
While in there, there were several stops at an office to fill out forms, etc. a couple of stops in the restroom, one in a lobby for snacks, but a tremendous amount of our time was spent exploring the building and taking photos. I would like to know how many times I went up and down that vast, central staircase. In any case, I didn't feel a need for exercise for about three days after that.
Finally, it was time. We met with the judge and she was sweet and personable, and had some words to say of marriage advice, and then she told us to meet her up at the rotunda where she would perform the ceremony.
So up those vast, marble steps again, all the way to the rotunda. There we took some more photos, and waited. When the judge appeared, she was, again, sweet and she offered a bit of instruction about how it would go, (Kiera had noted that she thought she must love her job) and then had the couple stand before her, holding hands while she performed the ceremony. I was allowed to move around at will and photograph the entire thing. When saying his vows, Robert was beaming tenderly. When Kiera said her vows, she teared up, which of course, made me tear up, but I kept shooting.
There were others on lower steps in that vast hallway, watching the ceremony and I saw others also tear up when Kiera did. Once again, she makes emotional connections with others, wherever she goes. Those watching were wiping away tears and smiling sweetly.
They exchanged rings, were pronounced husband and wife and then kissed and kissed. A few things were signed, and then we went down to the second level, and took many more photos.
Then down to the ground level, and yes, more photos, and photos of them coming out of city hall, beaming and leaping with joy.
Next on the agenda? A walk to where the cake would be served. We walked to a bakery that sold cupcakes, and along the way, more gentle beeps and words of congratulations. In the bakery, I wondered why Robert kept looking at his watch. But their wedding cupcake awaited them. It was put into a small, white box. As we were stepping out the door, I asked Robert where he thought they would have it, in that little park right there, across the street? Yes, that's a good idea.
Oh, he's a sly one. We walked over to a bench where a musician sat with his guitar and his music on a stand, and we learned that he had been arranged in advance, to serenade the new couple. He began with the Beatles,' In My Life. So sweet. Kiera had no idea and was joyfully stunned. He played many songs while they ate their cupcake, smooched, smiled, laughed, sang along in harmony, and danced.
Little children came and sat at their feet, or came to stare in a kind of reverent awe at the bride and groom. They danced some more, and smiled and laughed, and soon it was time for the next leg of this wedding adventure. By now, I was convinced that this was a cool way to have a wedding, complete with flowers on the way, cake, music, dancing, and well wishers on the sidewalks, in the parks, on the cable cars, and in their cars as they drove by gently honking.
We met out pedi-cab guys on the other side of the park. Kiera and Robert sat on the seat of one of the pedi-cabs, and I sat on the other one. Pedi-cabs are comfortable seats in a trailer behind a bicycle being pedaled by some very fit guys. We took off and rode like that for three hours all over San Francisco. We went up hills (slowly) and down hills (speedily), we went onto sidewalks, through neighborhoods, through heavy traffic, alongside cable cars, through a craft fair, along the wharf, near China Town, through the arches of the Fine Arts Palace, over and under bridges, and well, really, pretty much everywhere.
And all along the way, people were smiling, offering their congratulations, honking (gently), staring, pointing. I think some of the people went home and said, "You won't believe what I saw today! A bride and groom being pulled along in a pedi-cab!"
I took lots of photos, until my hand was cramping and the fog had rolled in and a wind came with it and soon we were really, really cold. We had blankets to wrap up in, but they were no longer enough.
Then we stopped at the park by the Painted Ladies, said our thanks and goodbyes to our pedi-cyclists, who we also got to know pretty well, but they didn't offer wedding advice. We squeezed out a few more pix then flagged down a cab to meet up with our dinner reservation. Our cab driver was a friendly guy and Kiera started the conversation by saying, "Guess what we did today!" And soon, we knew how long he had been married and how many kids, and he had his marriage advice to contribute, too.
We dined on a quality wedding dinner at The House, and so, the wedding day was complete. When we got back to the Inn, there was an Inn keeper there that we hadn't met yet. We sat around his office while I printed my boarding pass for the next day, and got to know this personable man, and he, too, offered some sage marriage advice. I have to say, that all of the advice given to the couple, all day long, was wise and sound.
I think there was a bit of everything, that wedding day, that is found in traditional weddings. The dress, the veil, the rings, the tux, the bouquet, the guests (albeit, in this case they were spontaneous guests along the way), the boutonniere, the cake, the music, the dancing, the advice from spontaneous fatherly figures that we met throughout the day. And there were a few things that were not traditional, such as the pedi-cab ride all over San Francisco. But then, some might even equate that to the bride and groom getting away in their carriage.
It was a magical day full of spontaneity, smiles, and lots of love. If I could add anything to the mix, it would only be this one thing: forever.