Meet Me in St. Louis

By Amanda Henry
In Feature, Style

A San Francisco couple choses the Missouri Botanical Gardens as the site for their Midwestern destination wedding.

 

THE BRIDE

Jennifer Balaco  33, Marketing Communications  Consultant

THE GROOM

Chris Hanrath  32,  UX Designer

Their Story

In 2007, Jennifer Balaco and Chris Hanrath both started masters programs at the University of Michigan School of Information—but they didn’t cross paths until a year later, at a happy hour event during the first week of class. They connected instantly, and after many hours of studying together in coffee shops across campus, it was clear that their relationship was meant to be more than just a lifelong friendship. After graduation, when Chris secured a job in San Francisco, they decided to take a big step and move across the country together. After two years of exploring and enjoying the Bay Area together, Chris knew that Jennifer was the one for him. He planned an adventurous day to pop the question, setting up diversions with several friends along the way. After brunch at one of Jennifer’s favorite spots, he suggested it was a perfect day for a hike along the Pacific coast. When he stopped to change the lens on his camera, Jennifer thought nothing of it and went on admiring the view of the coast. Then, she looked down to find Chris on one knee with a smile on his face, a sparkling ring in a box and his camera securely in his bag. Needless to say, there was no hesitation in her answer!

Middle Ground

Jennifer and Chris had a big decision to make when it came to where they would tie the knot. The couple lives in San Francisco, Jennifer’s family is from Collinsville, IL, and Chris’ family lives in Dusseldorf, Germany. Knowing that not all of their friends and family would be able to celebrate with them no matter which location they chose, they decided on St. Louis. The couple chose the Missouri Botanical Garden as the site for both the ceremony and reception, and were thrilled to have the dazzling Chinese Lantern Festival happening at the same time. It was a beautiful and exciting destination for out-of-town guests, making it easy for the couple to focus on the fun parts of planning their big day.

Bastille Inspirations

With the wedding date set for July 14, Bastille Day, the couple decided it was appropriate to have a French countryside feel. Jennifer wore a one-shoulder belted ball gown, and her maid and matron of honor wore one-shouldered cocktail dresses. The flower girl’s ivory dress was handmade by the bride’s aunt and was completed with a crown of tea roses. For flowers, the bride’s stepsisters arranged a lovely mix of cream and red blooms with touches of blue here and there. They used mason jars for the flowers and candles, and used vintage crates and tulle to decorate the dessert table. An antique typewriter was set up for guests to leave well wishes for the couple alongside a slideshow of pictures of the couple throughout their lives.

A Light Nosh

As self-proclaimed foodies, the right food choice was important to the couple. They decided to skip the sit-down dinner, opting instead for a casual atmosphere with an hors d’oeuvre buffet of finger foods to give guests a greater range of options. Jennifer’s stepsisters made an array of tiny desserts, including several of Chris’ favorites: lemon cupcakes with a lemon curd filling, chocolate cupcakes, strawberry rhubarb pies and apple pies baked in jars. Botanical Garden as the site for both the ceremony and reception, and were thrilled to have the dazzling Chinese Lantern Festival happening at the same time. It was a beautiful and exciting destination for out-of-town guests, making it easy for the couple to focus on the fun parts of planning their big day.

Making it Their Own

The ceremony itself was short and sweet. The couple celebrated their parents by presenting them with roses, and then shared general vows in front of the guests, followed by private vows whispered to one another. The couple exited the ceremony as husband and wife to the Beatles’  “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The day ended with dancing at the private reception, as the glow of hundreds of Chinese lanterns filtered through the trees.

 

3071_1106.jpg

Jennifer Balaco & Chris Hanrath’s wedding

3072_1106.jpg

Jennifer Balaco & Chris Hanrath’s wedding

3073_1106.jpg

Jennifer Balaco & Chris Hanrath’s wedding

3074_1106.jpg

Jennifer Balaco & Chris Hanrath’s wedding

3075_1106.jpg

Jennifer Balaco & Chris Hanrath’s wedding

3076_1106.jpg

Jennifer Balaco & Chris Hanrath’s wedding

 

Photo credit: Heather Roth Photography

Recent Posts