Bay Area Wedding Photographer | Eclectic Vintage Botanical Science Inspired Backyard Wedding – Part 1

And we’re off!! This eclectic vintage botanical science inspired backyard Bay Area wedding is SO stocked full of goodness, we had to divide it all up into 3 digestible parts. Be sure to stick around as we reveal each one!!

Here’s what you can expect: our interviews with Jessica over at Storyboard Wedding – who styled and coordinated her sister’s botanical science inspired backyard wedding – as well as our interviews with the amazing couple themselves, Christy and James!

  • Part 1 – Where in the world this eclectic vintage botanical science inspired backyard wedding theme came from! Including floral, color palette, DIY design and inspiration.
  • Part 2 – Christy and James’ describe: their (hilarious) love story (which includes guns – yes, I said guns….), what it was like renovating their home for their wedding (oh, yes they did!), wedding traditions they kept and ditched. Plus getting ready photos and the first look
  • Part 3 – All about that epic DIY chalkboard ceremony backdrop and the stories behind it’s creation. Plus, wedding planning advice and tips from Christy!

Yeah… you might want to cuddle up with a cup of tea for this one!! Don’t say we didn’t warn you….

Jessica, tell us about the heart of the design inspiration behind your sister’s incredibly unique botanical and scientist wedding theme:

“The heart of our design inspiration was science. We leaned heavily on chemistry and botany to drive our inspiration, creating a virtual playland within something that is otherwise known to be very rigid and defined.  I really wanted to embrace every unique and otherwise masculine minded element that comes from the science world, while ‘decorating’ and enhancing it with feminine, gorgeous and organic embellishments from the botany world. When you open the door to something like science, there is such a terrific selection of fauna which is often overlooked for other affairs, that there is almost no stopping the stream of inspiration.”

Jessica, how did you go about choosing this beautiful color palette and florals?

“Christy has always had a deep seeded pension for red – ever since I could remember.  I think it definitely stems from our dad, and showed up in spades when she embraced her rockabilly style.  It was no great surprise to me when she voiced her desire for red to be her lead color.  We knew immediately that we wanted to steer clear of anything that was a bright primary red.  While lovely, it simply wasn’t a hue that folded flawlessly into a science minded world.

Within the very first moment of doing a bit of inspiration research, she spotted a stunning dahlia driven bouquet and we knew we found our perfect color palette: dark ox blood reds intermixed with organic hearty greens and neutral tones.  The selection of reds (when it came time to choose flowers), was really important as a lot of reds have a tendency to have blue undertones to them, creating an almost purple like cast.  It was really important that we choose to work with red flowers that bordered on the black brown side, creating that delicious dark blood red that we all covet so much in everything from fashion to interior design.  In the end karma dahlias along with Black Magic & Black Beauty roses did the heavily lifting in such a superb way.

In an effort to avoid anything that might even come close to resembling a Christmas or holiday color palette, I purposely selected a limited amount of white flowers.  I choose to work with anything white that leaned more towards a light airy stem or was petite and different in bloom, shape and size.  With such a strong dark focal color like blood red to drive our arrangements, flowers that were lighter in color were paramount to the overall aesthetic, creating dimension in the most subtle of ways.

A unique way that I troubleshot contrast within the arrangements, was working with what might possibly be a now favorite flower of mine, beige roses.  There are many variations of a beige rose, fortunately I was able to scoop up the two remaining clusters at the San Francisco Flower Mart that were very neutral in color perhaps with the softest pink sand kiss.  These roses were a cornerstone that I simply could not have gotten on without, giving an extra dimension to the overall effect which allowed for the deep red dahlias to stand out so much more profoundly!

The bouquet was crafted in the nature of something science minded. The overall aesthetic was something beautifully thought out with each detail planned for, in the precise manner we expect from scientific formulas. Each detail added to the bouquet was worked with to achieve the desired result, all while allowing for a controlled yet organic and brilliant reaction. The mix of wily dahlias, when paired with free-spirited silver dollar eucalyptus, created the loveliest of structured meets free form arrangements. Keeping with the oddity angle that surrounds the sciences, elements like petite black peppers and blushing bride protea were placed within the bouquet to showcase an uncommon collection of treats that served as a delightful surprise from within.”

Christy, tell us about your botanical and science wedding style and inspiration?

“As far back as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by the field of science. Science for me is about looking at the world around you and saying, ‘Why do you work the way that you do?’ and then not giving up until you’re satisfied with the answer. A lot of great discoveries were from folks taking an idea and running with it – which is still what works today.

In college, I loved to read about how these ideas became some of the greatest inventions of our time, and it thrilled me to imagine what it must have been like hundreds of years ago when there still was so much to discover.

I think that’s where James and I really bonded, over our love for finding out what makes things tick. James has always been an extremely hands-on kind of guy, and can pretty much fix ANYTHING. He gave me the confidence to take what I learned in theory and apply it to the real world!

About 8 or so months after James and I started dating, I revealed to James my secret obsession with rocks and geology. I was kind of a rock collection junkie and loved being outdoors collecting rocks and feathers and anything else that I found unique.

One weekend James surprised me with a camping trip and very special present – a gold panning for beginners kit!! This really was true love! We spent the entire weekend tail up in a river panning for gold, and once we found a few specs in the pan I was hooked! We began going camping every free weekend we had to search for gold!

A lot of the spots we would read about where in very remote areas and small towns that used to be bustling. My favorite part about our trips was that we would always come across one or two antique shops that you KNEW were filled with cool little treasures.

At first I would have to drag James in, but after a while I could see he was fascinated at peaking into the past as much as I was.

I would always love to search through the antique stores for anything science related. When I compared the equipment they had to use then to what James and I use at work today, I found it incredibly interesting how scientists made discoveries hundreds of years ago. I would love to pick it up and think of all the cool discoveries that were made with it. So after a few of these trips it became about finding gold, collecting parts of nature, and looking for vintage science equipment. We started to amass quite a collection.

So naturally when it came time to think of a ‘theme’ for our wedding, I couldn’t think of anything better than combining our love for nature and science, as these were all the things we loved and were a very large part of our lives. Furthermore, I didn’t like the idea of buying a thousand wedding items that would never be used again. It was important to us that a lot of our decor really was an extension of who we are.”

Interviews continue below gallery (told you, you’d be here for a while ;) ;) …

Jessica, how did you choose to decorate the indoor reception area and the outdoor ceremony site, in a way that presented itself with a beautiful contrast and a consistency that complimented the other?

“While the selection of flowers we choose to work with was key, exactly where those flowers presented themselves was even more important! Given the location and the space Christy and James’ wedding was at, we were able to create two different experiences that perfectly complimented each other.  Blooms found outdoors differed greatly from those that lined the reception tables indoors. While the outdoor ceremony setup likened itself to the drippy beauty that is a conservatory, indoors played out like the pages of a botany textbook, featuring unique and peculiar stems. While the color palette outdoors was much more structured and styled, the palette indoors was allowed to drift toward more organically found hues that took on a real life collection vs something heavily curated.

Reception tables were displayed in a long table format, allowing for a non-stop flow of design. Each table was punctuated by 3 oversized metal ring stands which played host to a collection of flask variations that served as the most perfect of centerpieces. An assortment of oversized oddity blooms in the form of King Protea, various other Protea and Banksia became the centerpiece stars. In between these quiet giants were rows of test tubes set in wooden racks which played host to an assortment of stems from nigella pods, poppies, lisianthus, Scaboisa Pods, lotus pods, milk wedd and grevillea just to name a few.  To fill the space in between, vintage Merck chemistry bottles, as well as market sourced mixed bottles were spread throughout, providing the final locale for the remaining stems which lined the table.  The mixture of heights created an enchanting visual experience, all while allowing guests to easily enjoy conversations across the table.  The remaining piece to the indoor experience were actual botany textbook prints which lined the walls, giving you the feeling of the most chic of classrooms ever.

As much as the indoors was all about a certain structure, the outdoors was much more about the organic botanical beauty that nature creates herself.  We worked hard to create a more storybook conservatory type feel that was beautifully drippy and wonderfully romantic. Vintage furniture pieces that my sister had collected over the years were brought outside, featuring design points like drawers filled with clusters of flowers and stuffed with springy greens. Smilax vines hung from café light strands overhead which reinforced a reclaimed by nature type of feel.”

Jessica, explain the flow you created for guests as they arrived at the wedding to maximize their experience:

“Guests were filtered through a long side entrance leading to the backyard, providing multiple opportunities to play! A floral accented hand painted wood sign greeted guests at the beginning of their journey leading to an entry way lined in greens. Along their path to the backyard, thoughtful metal hanging baskets marked the way, filled with floral arrangements which bubbled over clueing guest into the treats that lay ahead. Each basket was a mix of Black Magic and beige roses, the ever unique and wondrous Ivanhoe rose, dahlia, gooseneck Veronica and Amaranthus which was draped over the side in a true botanical style.

Once guests breeched into the backyard, they were presented with the gift and guest favor tables with the café lights hanging overheard. Each table was dotted with vintage chemistry pieces in the form of microscopes, pipettes, beakers, graduated cylinders, bloating papers and bottles of old chemicals just to name a few treats. While these details were wonderfully fun to look at, they also created a playground for styling and bloom placement.

Keeping with the science spirit, guests had a unique take home in the form of a petite beaker turned terrarium – a special treat by anyone’s standards! In any environment where nature has begun to reclaim its foot hold, no space is left untouched.  In that spirit, I made sure to have plenty of clusters of things like succulents, bottle brush, pomegranates, euc nuts and the like to accent the bottoms of display tables, steps leading into the house as well as along refreshment tables – leaving no place left un-styled!

To give the guests places to hold their conversations, cocktail tables were placed throughout the backyard which featured thoughtful chemistry and engineering minded arrangements. Flowers were featured in brushed gold vases that were finished with a thick matte black stripe which likened themselves to pipes. The three vases of varying heights were then stacked for presentation on old chemistry textbooks. The result was a comfortable surface that served double duty as conversation starters as well!”

Jessica, what are your final thoughts?

“At the end of the day, no flower or green was left unused with any ‘leftovers’ being placed into baskets, buckets, bottles and the like. These last minute arrangements filled the space in the most delicious of ways, truly driving home a conservatory feel at every angle. Being able to create two such unique, yet beautifully paired experiences really allowed us to drive home science as a theme in a way that was relatable and approachable. I think a lot of people entered the wedding thinking how on earth is science a wedding theme, with just about everyone leaving feeling that it was quite possibly the most spectacular of wedding themes ever.”

The Team:

Photographer: Angie Capri Photography // Florals & Styling: Storyboard Wedding // Wedding dress: Maggie Sottero – Chesney // Sash: Wtoo Bridal Accessories by Watters Bridal // Veil: Bel Aire Bridal // Hair: Katie Miller, Vamp Salon // Make Up: Erika Miller, Vamp Salon // Shoes: Betsy Johnson // Jewelry: Bauble Bar // Cake: TL Cakes of Brentwood // Invitations: Ink Topiary // Wooden “His” & “Her” signs: Host & Toast //  // Rentals: Got A Party // Food: Kinder’s BBQ // Venue: Private Residence, Brentwood, CA