When Queen Victoria married in a white gown, who knew it would spark such a lasting trend? In 1890—a full fifty years after Victoria said “I do”—white wedding dresses became the norm in America. Before then, practicality won out: During the time of the California Gold Rush, for example, a woman probably wouldn’t have the luxury of wearing her wedding dress only once, so something like this blue silk number from 1868 made much more sense.
I learned this and other fascinating pieces of wedding history when I went to see eleven historical wedding dresses at the “Unveiled” event in my hometown of Auburn, CA.
Individual dresses are displayed at different locations: the Bernhard Museum (where you’ll see the sweetest pink flower girl dress from the late 1800s!), and the Placer County Museum in the Auburn courthouse, where a 1929 dress is the undeniable showstopper. The lacy tiered skirt stops just below the knee, but the sheer veil cascades well beyond it, pooling in lacy loveliness at the bride’s feet. The photo shows a solemn wedding party. I hope they went on to have a better time at the reception!
You can see the collection Tuesday–Sunday, 11–4 at the Gold Country and Bernhard Museums through November 2009, and daily, 10–4 at the Placer County Museum until May of 2010. Admission is free.
The second part of our wedding anniversary road trip was as fun and romantic as the first. My husband Jaya and I drove to Half Moon Bay, a quaint little town along the coastline where the air is fresh, the people are friendly, and the pace is slow. By the way, this is a great spot for a honeymoon by the sea, too.
We arrived at the Oceano Hotel & Spa in the afternoon and settled into our room. It was delightful, with a fireplace and couch, eating area, and a large bathroom with full-size soaking tub! After a rainy morning on the road, it was great to slip in for a long hot soak.
I was charmed by the shabby chic decor—the bed even had organic linens! After we spent the afternoon relaxing in these very pleasant surroundings, we met with owner Nancy Nerhan, who showed us around the hotel. Those of you planning a wedding in Half Moon Bay take note: Their banquet room has a dance floor with a large skylight over it, so wedding guests can spend the reception dancing under the stars.
That night we walked over to Sam’s Chowder House, where I tried my favorite seafood dish, cioppino. The food was delicious, and we sat at the window with a view of the sunset over Half Moon Bay. Walking back, we discovered a path that takes you along the waterfront, right to the hotel.
We spent the next morning exploring the tide pools at Moss Beach. Afterwards, Jaya napped while I took a stroll through Harbor Village, a light-filled boutique mall connected to the Oceano Hotel. I stopped in at Savvy Skirts for some retail therapy. The name itself means smart women, and it’s all about celebrating the girl in all of us: fun, stylish and practical gift items for the super busy woman. The story of how this company came to be is inspiring.
Their website is a great place to look for gifts for your wedding attendants, too!
That night we dined at Crab Landing Seafood and Steak House, which is just outside the Harbor Village. There was a live jazz trio playing on the lower level, easily heard on the upper level where we were seated. The ambiance was very modern and upscale. Since both Jaya and I love sushi, I kind of expected that we’d order that, but the other items on the menu looked so interesting we both couldn’t resist! I had salmon-wrapped scallops that were just out of this world.
All in all, our road trip was a perfect way to celebrate 5 years of being married, and we didn’t even have to go far! Just another reason to love California.
While California is undeniably a wedding venue paradise, this state also doubles as a wildly popular honeymoon destination. And given the current state of the economy, how lucky are we to live in a place where a quick day trip can make us feel like we’re thousands of miles away from our daily lives?
For our 5th wedding anniversary, my husband Jaya and I decided to take a short trip from our hometown of Auburn to places we had each frequented separately in our early adulthood—but this time, we’d be together! The journey started in San Francisco, at the California Academy of Sciences. Since the new building was recently completed, this was not the Academy we remembered. Some elements are still there, though, like the massive pendulum that shows the movement of the earth, and the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that once served as greeter to the scads of schoolchildren and other visitors.
Steinhart Aquarium was always my favorite part of the Academy. Jaya once worked here, donning a diving suit to take care of the tanks. The new facility didn’t disappoint us. Jaya and I wandered through exhibits of living jellyfish, coral reefs and tide pools with as much excitement as in our youth. Several exhibits amazed me with their sheer artistic composition. The animals showed off their vibrant colors and energy, like living paintings.
As we explored the aquarium, I couldn’t help but imagine the space as the backdrop to a fabulous event. Then we came to a glass tunnel, where we stood UNDER the water, looking up at the fish swimming above. I decided it would be the perfect spot to set up the bar! This was the lowest level of the four-story rain forest dome, which is just like stepping into that ecosystem, complete with colorful amphibians, as well as free-flying birds and butterflies.
Next, we drove down the coast to stay at the Davenport Roadhouse in the tiny town of Davenport, just 10 minutes from Santa Cruz. Our room was very comfortable, with rustic wooden love seats outside the door to let us take full advantage of the ocean view. We ate in the Roadhouse Restaurant, a large room with brick walls and a cheery fireplace, where I had the best risotto I’ve ever tasted. We’ll definitely return here in the future.
The next day we visited Año Nuevo State Reserve. I once gave elephant seal tours here as part of a course at UCSC. If you want to go, you need to get tickets in advance, but it’s easy to do. Visit their website and you can book months ahead. The tours take place rain or shine, as Jaya and I found out, getting more than a little wet on the three-mile trek! However, the animals were more active in the rain, so we thought it was well worth it.
Next on the agenda was a trip to Half Moon Bay, but more on that in my next post…