Real Wedding | Catherine & Jay

I love the elegant backyard dinner party vibe of this wedding. The scenery is breathtaking.  The family style tables, low centerpieces and paper lanterns create an intimate setting. And the DIY by the bride make the wedding truly  personal.

Catherine & Jay | July 10th, 2009 | Incline Village, Lake Tahoe, Nevada

How he proposed
We had just moved in together 3 weeks earlier. We had planned a birthday get together for him on Saturday. Friday night I was running around to get his gifts and came home frazzled. He kept following me around which was weird. Finally I went in the living room and he asked me what his present was. I said I didn’t get him a present. He said, “well, I got you one.”  Then he got down on one knee and gave me the box with the ring in it. I was stunned. (We had dated for 5 years and I actually got to the point where I wasn’t sure where we were.) I stood there for so long he said, “well, I’m still here. What’s your answer?” Then we went to dinner at our favorite little neighborhood restaurant and enjoyed the evening to ourselves. What I didn’t know is he had told all of our friends and family already and his birthday party the next night was actually planned as an engagement party with all of our friends and family.

The wedding
We both love Tahoe. While we both love to ski, we prefer it in the summer. The blue sky and water is spectacular. We had our wedding ceremony at the Thunderbird Lodge, a 1930’s mansion on the lake of Tahoe.

The reception was at Jay’s Uncle’s backyard at his house in Incline Village. We felt very lucky because Incline is beautiful and the ability to have a wedding in this area is very rare.


I did all my own flowers. I went to a florist in San Francisco and took a Saturday afternoon class. I created a collage of what I wanted my wedding to be like. Then I went to the San Francisco ferry building to look at the flowers I liked. I then went to a florist in Tahoe and asked  her to order all of the types of flowers I wanted. I bought the flower urns at the flower market and assembled all the reception flower arrangements myself.

I made the wedding ceremony pamphlets myself. I also made the save the dates. I had koozies printed with our date on them. In side the koozies I put a mini booklet. When I was babysitting my niece, she drew pictures from the stories of me and Jay. I took these stories and turned them into a picture book of how we met.

My mother works at a school. She found a big chalkboard and I wrote everyone’s name and table number on the blackboard.

For table place numbers, I took olive oil bottles and put numbers on them for each table.

I put old fashioned Polaroid camera’s on the children’s tables. Or just for the 10 and 12 year olds. Then told them to take  photo’s of all the guests. We hung string by the exit and had the girls hand the photo’s with laundry pins.  People could then take the photo’s on the way out. It was a big hit.

How she knew her wedding dress was “The One”
I was very efficient about my wedding dress. I scouted out places and got recommendations of where to go in San Francisco. I chose 3 places I felt fit my style and budget.  Amy Kuschel was the 3rd place I went to. I tried on a number of dresses. I knew it was between 2 dresses. I actually chose my dress on the 2nd fitting.  I brought the people I trusted most and that was a big help.

The moment Catherine will never forget
Very hard question. It’s hard to pick one. Being with my best friends/bridesmaids before the wedding was really special.  We went to the wedding reception in a shuttle. All my bridesmaids exited to start walking down the aisle. There was 5 minutes I was by myself in the shuttle looking out the window watching the ceremony knowing no one could see me. Just knowing it was all about to go down – and being by myself to reflect on it, was special.

Catherine’s Wedding Dress: Amy Kushel