Love is like…

Love is like playing the piano.

First you must learn to play by the rules,

then you must forget the rules and play from your heart.

– Anonymous

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel


Wedding Traditions and History: The White Wedding Dress

Queen Victoria, 1840

Queen Victoria, circa 1840

The very first white wedding dress was worn in 1499 by Anne of Brittany, as she married Louis XII of France. Prior to this date, the bride would traditionally wear her best dress to her wedding, and in fact, the color did not matter. This was of course a more practical option because the bride could wear the dress again. The truth was that only the wealthy could afford an extravagant gown that would be worn just once. The trend of wearing a white dress never really took off until the 1840’s when Queen Victoria wore a white dress as she married Prince Albert.

Queen Elizabeth 1947

Queen Elizabeth, circa 1947

Every culture is different.  Here’s an interesting fact: in Japan, a bride wears white to symbolize that she is in mourning for having to leave her family. Later in the ceremony, the bride will change her costume several times to reflect her changing identity.

Photo courtesy e wedding inspiration

Photo courtesy e wedding inspiration

In Western culture, it’s a common misconception that wearing white is a symbol of the bride’s purity; it is in fact meant to be a symbol of joy.  The act of wearing a white wedding dress is still very much the traditional choice today, however, symbolically, they are less about the bride’s purity and more about her debut as a first time bride.

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

In case you missed it, be sure to read our last entry featuring Wedding Traditions and History: The Wedding Cake!

Wedding Traditions and History: The Ring Finger

Ever wonder why we wear wedding rings on our left hand, second finger from the last?

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Throughout the various stages in history, wedding rings have been worn on different fingers.  This includes the thumb and on both the left and right hands.

According to a tradition derived from the Romans, the wedding ring was worn on the left hand (finger closest to the pinkie) because there was thought to be the primary vein running through the finger. This vein was referred to as the ‘Vena Amoris’, or the ‘Vein of Love’, which was directly connected to the heart. Sadly, scientists have now proven that the existence of such a vein is actually false. Despite the discovery, this myth is still regarded by many hopeless romantics as the number one reason wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand.

Photo by Edyta Szyszło

Photo by Edyta Szyszło

Another Christian theory states that early marriages practiced a ritual of wearing the wedding ring on the third finger. During the ‘binding ceremony’, the priest would declare the following words: “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” At the same time, he would take the ring and touch the thumb, index finger, and the middle finger.  Then, while uttering “Amen”, he would place the ring on the ring finger, which sealed the marriage!

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

If you missed it, be sure to check last months Wedding Traditions and History installment on Wedding Traditions and History: The Bridal Party!

In Versus Out… Wedding Trends for the New Year

Happy New Year from Stacy McCain Event Planning!  We were so thankful to have the opportunity to spend the holidays catching up with close friends and loved ones (not to mention eating way too much sugar and drinking lots and lots of bubbles).  Now, we’re heading into this year feeling energized and ready to tackle all of the fabulous events on the calendar for 2014!

We’ve spent some time reflecting on past events, and thought we’d share our ideas on some present and future wedding trends.  We love the direction trends are heading and can’t wait to see which new ones we help create for our wonderful brides and grooms in the coming year.

TRENDS: ‘Out’ VS. ‘In’


traditional veils VS. statement hairpieces

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel


cake toppers VS. edible flowers

Photo by Lushome

Photo by Lushome

Bridesmaid Dresses:

single color dresses VS. patterned dresses

Photo by Heather and Carol for Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Heather and Carol for Gertrude & Mabel

Men’s Personals:

fresh boutonnieres VS. handmade boutonnieres

Photo by Peppermint Cloud

Photo by Peppermint Cloud


solid linens VS patterned, textured linens

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Welcome drinks:

lemonade VS. agua fresca

Photo by Bon Appetit

Photo by Bon Appetit


mercury glass VS. white ceramic vessels

Photo by Sasha Gulish

Photo by Sasha Gulish


pashminas VS. light wool blankets for the ladies

Photo by Elle Jae Photography

Photo by Elle Jae Photography


mini ice cream cones VS. house made It’s-It’s

Photo by Sasha Gulish

Photo by Sasha Gulish

Photo Booths:

photobooth reels VS. handheld flip-books made to order { Click Here }



metallic/sparkly shoes VS. solids

Photo by Heather and Carol for Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Heather and Carol for Gertrude & Mabel


pocket fold VS. off-set triangular fold (even better when accented by a single english rose nestled in a custom vase)

Photo by Heather and Carol for Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Heather and Carol for Gertrude & Mabel, Florals by Kathleen Deery Design

Wishing you a prosperous and healthy 2014!

2013 Trends: Wedding Ceremonies with Lisa Francesca

Happy Fall, everyone!  Our November Trends blog post features the words and wisdom of one of our very favorite officiants, Lisa Francesca. Stacy was first introduced to Lisa by her father, Hank Basayne, who was also an officiant.  Hank was the officiant of the first wedding where Stacy served as an assistant in the Bay Area. Soon after, Hank became a colleague and trusted confidant.

Shortly after Hank’s passing, Stacy began to work more frequently with Lisa. Lisa is kind and has a wonderfully calming presence about her. She is a superb listener and is easy to talk to. Lisa is so well respected in the industry that she is in the process of writing a book, forthcoming in the Fall of 2014, from Chronicle Books.  You can read some samplings of her writing on her website.

Photo by Mark Baumann

Photo by Mark Baumann

First tell us a little bit about yourself, and the scope of your services.

I was born and raised in a multiple-module, multiple-faith family in San Francisco. As such, I began my informal studies on religion and spirituality at the very young age of eight, when I left my home and wandered four blocks to an empty church! I have officiated at weddings and other ceremonies since 2002. My ceremonies range from civil and community-oriented to spiritual to interfaith and intercultural. I believe that love wins, and every adult should be able to marry.

What is your process in terms of getting to know a couple?  How much time do you spend with them prior to their wedding?  How far out are couples hiring you?

I like to spend at least an hour during the initial interview with my couple. We usually meet in person, but often we need to meet by phone or online because they are from other parts of the country.  We often have a second interview to hammer out some parts of the ceremony after they have had time to think about their options. Once I draft the ceremony, I ask them to review it online. I attend the rehearsal and am basically on call for anything they might want to discuss from the first interview through their wedding day.

Ceremonies come in all shapes and sizes.  What are the first steps a couple should take when drafting their ceremony?

I encourage a couple to think about their ceremony from the inside out. An easy first step would be to start thinking about what kind of vows they want to make to each other. That is the kernel, the essence of the ceremony. Everything else is the frosting on the cake.

The second step should be an examination of the outside: how long do they want their ceremony to last? This will depend, frankly, on the comfort of their guests. They can go longer, adding more elements, if their guests are appropriately seated and shaded from the sun.

Photo by Gertrude and Mabel

Photo by Gertrude and Mabel

How much personality do you suggest couples incorporate into their ceremony?  Is there a time when the couple should defer to traditional practices?

Great question! Personally, I am not “married” to traditional practices at all. A legal ceremony can be as brief as “Do you?” “I do.” Any ceremony choices after that should be all about the couple’s unique personalities.

How long do ceremonies typically take place?  What is your ideal length of ceremony?

A typical American wedding takes between ten and forty minutes. If you are in the hot sun at a beach, ten is better. But usually twenty or thirty minutes is best for everyone. Any shorter and they will wonder what just happened. Much longer, and guests might begin to fidget. This is not to disparage wedding masses, which can take hours, and Hindu ceremonies, which can take days.

Photo by Meera Fox

Photo by Meera Fox

What is the most unique ceremony you’ve ever been a part of?

I had to think a long time about this question. I think my own wedding in 2004 was perhaps the most unique in terms of sheer variety in faiths. My Humanist minister father married my husband and me. Our ceremony included readings from a Jewish sister and a Baptist brother, and a Buddhist sibling led Grace at our reception.

What is the one thing you’d advise couples against when they’re working to create their ceremony?

Don’t feel the need to try to memorize your vows. You don’t need to add anything to the pressures of an already exciting day. As the officiant, I always have the vows written down for my couples.

Photo by  Kate Harrison Photography

Photo by Kate Harrison Photography

To write vows, or not to write vows – that is the question.  When do you suggest couples make the decision to write their own vows?

Each participant must feel comfortable reading something personal in front of a group. If one just feels nothing but terror at the prospect, it is far better to just limit the speaking to “I do.”

What is your all time favorite ceremony reading?

A: I wish I had just one, but I keep finding new ones to add to my list of favorites. As I am preparing for a wedding in October, I have been researching Slovenian poets and finding new poems to love.

What should couples keep in mind when choosing their readings?

The readings should enhance the tone you want for your wedding.  What three adjectives describe how you want your ceremony to feel? If you want romance and passion, try poetry by Octavio Paz, or D.H. Lawrence. Or you may prefer the simple, plain-speaking piece of advice from Hugh Prather. If you’re looking for a poem about nature, check out Mary Oliver or Jane Hirschfield. If you’re hoping for more humorous and whimsical literature, try something like Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein.

Here’s a Shel Silverstein poem we’re particularly fond of:


by Shel Silverstein

Thank you, Lisa!

To learn more about Francesca or to contact her directly, please visit her website.

In case you missed it, be sure to read our September installment of Trends, featuring Bridal Party Jewelry with AJ Stout of Stella & Dot

Our Very Favorite Father/Daughter Songs

It’s undeniable: the bond between a father and his daughter is special and sacred ( hello… just think of George and Annie in Father of the Bride! ).  Therefore, having the opportunity to share a Father/Daughter dance at her wedding, is often something a bride dreams about before she even meets her husband to be.  For a father, this dance honors that special relationship, but also serves as the acknowledgement and acceptance of a new man in a his daughter’s life.
As the choice of this song carries so much significance, it’s easy to feel pressured to make it just perfect.  Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of our all-time favorites, to help you choose the song that fits your relationship best.

Gertrude and Mabel Photography

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Father-Daughter Songs

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Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Be sure to check back next month for the list of our favorite Mother-Son songs!