A Family-Focused Wedding Officiated by the Bride's Grandmother

It took Rachel Farnham and Brandon Kida a first date in Brooklyn to realize that they actually lived a mere eight blocks away from each other in Manhattan. Their relationship moved quickly, ultimately leading to a cross-country move to Los Angeles together in 2015. Three years later, Brandon popped the question on the other side of the world in Paris. "The sun was setting and the lights on the riverboats were starting to flicker on when Brandon proposed," remembers Rachel. "It was magic!"

Despite their romantic ties to two coasts and a foreign country, the couple chose Rachel's hometown of Minneapolis to say "I do." They chose Minneapolis so they'd be close to the bride's 95-year-old grandmother, who officiated the ceremony. From there, Rachel and Brandon envisioned a "comfortable dinner party" with their nearest and dearest and put the focus on "having a great evening and sharing a good meal with our friends and family." The most astonishing part? Rachel and Brandon only went to Minneapolis once during the planning process! "We just had to trust that some things we booked but had not tried or seen, would work out."

Luckily, the actual day exceeded their exceptions—even though bad weather forced them to switch their ceremony site one day before! Read on to see how their intimate, family-focused celebration came to life on October 5, 2019, captured by J. Olson Weddings.

"We were on the same page about keeping it simple and small," shares the bride of her wedding vision. She carried a hand-wrapped bouquet of spray roses, ranunculus, and stock flowers.

After trying on multiple dresses in various styles, Rachel stumbled upon this high-neck crepe sheath gown by Watters online. "It had some elements I liked from other dresses, so I went with a friend [to try it on in-person]. With the belt and veil it felt right," she says.

On the big day, she wore her maternal grandmother's wedding ring on a gold necklace as her "something old" and a friend's pearl hoop earrings as her "something borrowed."

The couple chose to tie the knot in Minneapolis so the bride's 95-year-old grandmother could witness the ceremony. "She does not travel any longer, so we knew we wanted to have the wedding in Minneapolis so she could be there," says Rachel.

Brandon opted for a dark navy suit from J.Crew and a bowtie. Their smile-filled first look took place in Rachel's parents' living room.

We stayed true to what we wanted our day to be about, gathering our families and closest friends for a great dinner party.

The couple did tackle one DIY project: the boutonnieres. Rachel had planned to pluck flowers from her own bridal bouquet to create boutonnieres for Brandon and their fathers, but forgot about the project until the morning of their wedding! "I texted a dear friend in a panic and she, along with two other amazing friends, came to my rescue," exclaims the bride. An added bonus? Rachel's friends even brought her tacos as a pre-wedding treat!

Rachel and Brandon planned on saying "I do" in the backyard at Rachel's parents' house—where they got ready and posed for portraits—but rainy weather forced them to bring the nuptials indoors.

Hosting the ceremony at Grand Café in Minneapolis wasn't part of their original plan—it came together the day before the wedding! "We contacted the amazing Bridget at Grand Café to see if we could use the restaurant as not only our reception venue but also our ceremony venue," explains the bride. "She did not hesitate to say yes!"

Escorted by her parents, Rachel transformed Grand Café's kitchen into her wedding aisle. Her cousin played "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" on the violin as she approached Brandon at the altar.

It was incredibly special to have my grandma officiate our wedding...She was poised, happy and she filled our day with love.

Rachel's grandmother played a very important role on the day: Officiant! "It was incredibly special to have my grandma officiate our wedding," recalls Rachel. While it took some convincing for her grandmother to get ordained online (without doing so, the marriage wouldn't have been legal), Rachel said that she rehearsed the ceremony script daily. "We had a few day-of changes to the ceremony, but none of that ruffled her. She was poised, happy and she filled our day with love."

The couple exchanged personal vows, which included nods to their first date and, of course, their dogs!

"We love the charm of Grand CafĂ©, it has a very personal feeling—and the level of hospitality from the impressive menu to the intuitive service is outstanding," shares the bride. "While we knew no matter what we would have a good time, everything turned out to be more fun and better than we could have ever imagined."

Following the ceremony, the newlyweds cracked a sake cask for guests to sip during cocktail hour.

Even though our wedding was small, we had friends and family from all over. It meant so much to see them and to spend time with each of them.

Rachel's father kicked off the toasts with anecdotes from her childhood while her dear friends exchanged memories, jokes, and well wishes. "Brandon’s friends had guests doubled over with laughter and drying their eyes," Rachel recalls. "It was really moving to hear details about what made these friendships endure through the years and set a warm tone for the rest of the night."

The couple envisioned a cozy, intimate celebration, calling Grand Café the "perfect setting." Inside, booths and tables were dressed with petite flower vases, candles, mixed glassware, and custom signage in deep emerald green. They also did away with traditional seating assignments, opting to combine friends and family at various tables. "We mixed friends and family at tables, so there would be familiar— some of them reconnecting after years—and new faces," adds the bride.

To enhance their dinner party theme, the coursed menu, which included chilled shellfish with bacon mayonnaise and chicken pithivier, was served as a mix of family-style and plated dishes.

An ultimate confetti sprinkle cake took centerstage for dessert, alongside walnut cake with chocolate glaze, lemon cake with toasted meringue, and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. 

When the night was over, the couple celebrated with three days of adventure in Utah followed by a few days of relaxation in Hawaii.

"Even though our wedding was small, we had friends and family from all over. It meant so much to see them and to spend time with each of them," reflects Rachel of the wedding. "We stayed true to what we wanted our day to be about, gathering our families and closest friends for a great dinner party."

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