Set deep in the wooded charm of Bainbridge Island, WA is Grace Episcopal Church- a modern chapel that moonlights as an art gallery. With its floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the tree-filled property, rock labyrinth and water features, and its yellow pine, open beam structure, this modest venue needed little decorating to satisfy the tastes of Michael and Julia, two native Pacific North-westerners who wanted to showcase the beauty of their home town with minimalist accents.

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It was the last weekend in May, and the only flowers were those she carried: a bouquet of 40 stems of blush colored peonies. The linens were crisp white, and the centerpieces, created by the bride and her best friend, were small succulents, encased by gold, geometric lines. Their programs, designed and created by life-long friend Devan McCabe of Nimbi Creative, served as the gifts from the Julia and Michael to their guests. Each page paid tribute to the story of their relationship and honored the members of their family and wedding party.

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Currently living in San Diego, Michael and Julia knew they couldn’t expect 120 of their closest friends and family to make the trip from Washington and Oregon to Southern California; so, they catered their entire day around spending time with these people they far too rarely get to see. Their photographer and friend, Charaia Calabrass, flew in from Colorado to shoot their day. And, unique to Michael and Julia, her instructions were simply this: “take pictures of people having fun. We won’t ask our family and friends to miss the few hours we all have together waiting around for picture groupings, so just spend your day capturing candid conversations and hugs and smiles.”

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She wore a Maggie Sottero gown, chosen for its artsy layers, texture and ability to accentuate her Christian Louboutin stilettos, an engagement gift from the groom (and the only black shoes allowed in the wedding party). He wore Johnston and Murphy, a customized pallet of deep colors and rich textures that brought together the rest of the group’s attire. Their wedding party was comprised of couples who stood hand in hand, dressed and coordinated to fit their personal styles, rather than a full ensemble, in navy, plumb, grey and brown.

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A cocktail hour proceeded the ceremony, where the groom and wedding party got to visit and enjoy their guests, with drinks created and provided by Kitsap Bartending Services, a company owned by one of the groom’s life-long friends. The ceremony itself included the talents and touches of as many friends and family as Michael and Julia could include. The reception, hosted by the bride’s sister and brother in law, was designed with conversation in mind. Indie-Folk music serenaded guests, who made their way around the room of draped cocktail tables, intentionally missing seating, so that people would spend their evening visiting with more than the people seated to their left and right. Catered by the groom’s parents, the foods were all tailored to living in the PNW and deserts were baked by the bride’s family, an array of the bride and grooms’ favorites from childhood. And, their wedding cake was true to the theme of the rest of the day: personal. Friend and locally-known baker Brittany Melseth made a Guinness chocolate cake with Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting (traditionally the cake she makes for Michael each year on his birthday).

View More: http://charaiacamillephotography.pass.us/michaelandjuliaAnd, as no reception would be complete without toasts, Karla Luna (Julia’s sister) organized a tribute rap, set to the theme song from “The Fresh Prince of Belair” telling the story of Michael and Julia’s relationship. Karla, Cherie (groom’s sister), Elisa (sister in-law), and Katie (best friend) all showcased their rhyming and beat-boxing skills, while everyone watching stood somewhere between hysteria and complete shock, knowing how much these ladies hate being the center of attention. And, since absolutely nothing could top that, Michael and Julia exited shortly after, sent off by sparklers and cheers as the Puget Sound grey began to roll across the sky.

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