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American and Iranian Traditions Were Combined at This Micro-Wedding in Mendocino

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Christina McNeill

Attorneys Alexandra Hemenway and Nima Rahimi met while they were first years at the same firm and bonded over Old Fashions in a Portland basement bar. The two parted ways when she worked in Phoenix, and he moved to San Francisco. When Alexandra later made her way to the west coast city, he was one of the few people she knew in town. After dating for three-and-a-half years, he proposed over Memorial Day Weekend in Mendocino. “I’m a huge Angela Lansbury fan, and it just so happens to be where Murder She Wrote was filmed,” Alexandra explains. He got down on one knee at one of their favorite oceanside resort, Heritage House.

Once engaged, the two made plans for an August 1, 2020 wedding in San Francisco. In April, they let their guests know they would keep everyone posted with their plans, as the pandemic continued. And by late May, they cancelled their event—luckily before they had put down huge deposits for things.

Alexandra and Nima shifted their vision to an intimate, 15-guest wedding in August and were lucky to find Molly at MacCallum House, who helped them plan their outdoor day. “My dream was to host a wedding that was an open love letter to my home state, California, and feature some of my favorite female-founded local businesses/designers in the process,” she states. And Alissa Bell helped set the tone for the nuptials with beautiful stationery.

The couple also had a City Hall ceremony in San Francisco—where both of their parents got married in the ’80s—three days before their Persian service in Mendocino. “Our amazing photographer helped us recreate my parents’ wedding photo—a polaroid, taken outside City Hall—which was a dream come true for me, especially as my father passed away in 2018,” Alexandra shares.

For her City Hall ensemble, Alexandra—a self-proclaimed Francophile—chose to wear Rime Arodaky’s Jax belted lace-trimmed crepe mini dress, crystal earrings by Isabel Marant, and Malone Souliers pumps. She also held a beautiful bouquet of flowers from The Bud Stop. “I like to think of my guiding aesthetic as a French/Californian mash-up.”

Days later, the bride wore a dress that she’d designed herself with local, female-founded business The Couturiere. “The inspiration was Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy dress from Sabrina—a film I saw for the first time at the age of seven which motivated me to one day study and live in Paris,” she explains. To complement this second look, Alexandra wore Sarah Flint pumps, a face mask from McMullen, a ’50s vintage clutch from Sweet & Spark, and her mother’s diamond earrings.

Nima looked handsome in a Tom Ford mohair silk tuxedo, Brioni shirt, John Hardy cufflinks, Alexandra’s father’s Rolex, and Isaac Santoni shoes.

On August 29, 2020, the main ceremony took place on the lawn of MacCallum House, a Victorian home that’s also a great restaurant in Mendocino. Alexandra walked down the stairs—adorned with florals by Eva Lina Floral—to meet her mother, before they took a trip down the aisle.

The couple had a Sofreh Aghd—traditional Persian wedding ceremony spread—designed by Fancy Little Details, which featured a book of poetry by the famed Persian poet Hafez. The two sat in front of a mirror and candelabra that represent bringing light and brightness into their future. Fresh bread, herbs, and coins were also on the table for prosperity, along with other symbolic tokens.

“We also changed the traditions to reflect our values as a couple,” Alexandra explains. “We had the best men hold the lace over our heads during the Persain ceremony—a task that is typically purely for the ladies—and included some of my favorite poets as well, [like] Margaret Atwood.” The couple’s close friend, Hani, officiated the service, and Alexandra and Nima also exchanged their own vows. “For my vows, I spoke them in English and in Farsi—although my Farsi mostly just comes out with a French accent, since that’s the only foreign language my brain knows. Nima was totally surprised—it was great.”

Once married, the newlyweds led everyone in a champagne toast and left to take a few portraits. They then rejoined everyone for a seven-course tasting menu with Mendocino wine pairings and dancing under the stars with Heart of Gold DJs.

Looking back at everything, the couple is super grateful their weddings came together. “We needed so many things to align for our tiny ceremony to happen and they all worked out,” the bride says. “I’m also glad that we had such a small ceremony in one of our favorite places.”