search little winter bride

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Today I'm filled with extra smiles as I get to share Part II of Kira and Bill's GORG northern Cali wedding and if you missed Part I you can see it here.  After a heartfelt ceremony, (lots of tears and laughter) guests gathered around the pool and veranda for cocktail hour as the funky street band, Mad Noise, (Kira and Bill discovered them one day in San Fransisco) played tunes to start up the evening festivities. At sunset, guests made their way through the garden paths and old ruin to the front lawn, where they dined and danced the night away. And I mean, there was some serious dancing going on, along with some AH-mazing music played by the reception band, Busta Groove. The dance floor was packed, the whole night, with a few peeps taking breaks for photo booth sessions, which was hilariously fun. The scene was enchanting, bistro lights strung across the reception area, peacock feathers served as table numbers, mini baguettes in paper bags that not only served as menus but also as place cards for each guest and instead of flowers, Kira opted for lemons, purple figs and mint in terracotta urns. It was GORG. And who needs flowers when you hosting a wedding smack in the middle of beautiful nature? It was quite the wedding. But I'll let the bride fill you in with more fine details on the planning of this glorious day.

From the Bride: "The first thing I learned was that Wine Country (specifically Napa/Sonoma) was wedding central and we didn't want to design a day that felt in any way expected or typical. Most of our guests were traveling from the east coast and we wanted to give them a taste of thing things we love most about wine country, while throwing a wedding that didn't feel like every other wedding they had attended.  Having been to what felt like 5,000 weddings by the time I got engaged, I knew fairly well the things I was interested in including, what elements of weddings/events I have found interesting and memorable, what I've found boring and overdone, and what simply didn't matter and could be eliminated all together.  Starting with the 'dinner party' concept, we began hunting for the right venue.  We quickly dismissed all of the vineyards/wineries that pop up on the wedding resources - they tend to be more restrictive with their vendors and we knew we didn't want to go the traditional route.   A friend of ours connected us with a vacation property broker in the valley and we ended up booking the first private vacation home we saw. It was absolutely stunning, unique and romantic.  It offered different experiences within the same property - allowing us to design a look and feel for the ceremony and cocktails and a completely different experience for the reception.  While this property was absolutely perfect, it was just that. Property.  We had to bring EVERYTHING in - from lighting to toilet facilities. It was going to be a busy year. Given the importance of food, we started with the caterer.  We ended up hiring a caterer who was spends a great deal of time as a private chef in the valley and takes his food very seriously.  Food (and wine) is incredibly important to us and was a priority and focus during the planning process.  We started with the menu and let everything revolve around the food. We knew we wanted to serve family style on each table, allowing a variety of taste and choices for our guests, while creating that intimate dinner party feel.  The table design, the flowers (or lack thereof) and the music fell into places once the menu was set, and then we just had fun with the details.  One of my favorite parts of the wedding was planning the music.  We saw the wedding as four parts; Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Reception and After Party.  We had very specific music ideas for each, but none so special as the music we had for the ceremony.  The day we got engaged, I called one of my childhood friends (we grew up on the same street and have been as close as family for the past 28 years).  She had spent many years rocking the saxophone in various jazz bands and I knew she was the only one for the part. This was my little surprise for my husband, planning for exactly a year (via skype between SF and Hawaii) the right music for the occasion.  As soon as Bill was standing at the front of the ceremony, she played the bridal party in to her jazzy rendition of "Someone To Watch Over Me".  I still get chills thinking about it and I can't think of anything more romantic or special to begin the most important 20 minutes of our lives.  It was pretty incredible.  And this leads me to the ceremony, which I think was the most challenging and clearly most important part of this entire experience. 

Unfortunately most blogs/wedding resources don't spend much time talking about the ceremony.  This could be due to the role religion plays in wedding (most couples, I imagine, are getting married in the church/temple and the ceremony is pretty much set and standard).  Since we were having a nonreligious ceremony, having one of our closest friends officiate, and writing the entire ceremony ourselves, it was up to us to create the words, vows and readings.  I'm biased, but I think the ceremony was spectacular. It just felt like US.  We laughed, we cried, our dog rolled around on my feet during my vows  (I lost my place) and we celebrated.  Our bridal party (and I hesitate to even use the term) was small and only included those closest to us.  Bill has two sons from his previous marriage, both of whom were his best men.  His brother was his groomsman.  My sister was my Matron of Honor and my two best friends (really more like my other sisters) who are themselves sisters, were the bridesmaids (or as I referred to them, Bridal People).  And of course our dog, Archie.  Our sister in law read a passage from Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' and my other childhood friend (the sister of our saxophonist) read from "The Velveteen Rabbit".  Prior to the wedding, our officiant/best friend had privately asked both of us a battery of questions, ranging from the details of our relationships' history (seven years and counting) to our hopes for the future.  These details were included in the ceremony and shared with us in front of our family and friends. It was so very special and emotional (thank goodness for waterproof mascara). And one of the most important elements of the wedding was my wedding band.  My mother, who when  marrying my father 40 years ago (!!!!) asked me to get married in her wedding band.  While this itself would have been special enough, it was intended to carry on a family tradition. My mother was married in her mother's wedding band and asked that I do the same. It really brought the generations of my family into the fabric of the ceremony and was just so incredibly special to me.    I could go on and on about the little details of the ceremony, but for those brides writing your own rules (and writing your own ceremony), just start with basic structure from which you can begin writing, and then just be creative!  Our wedding coordinator was incredibly helpful in helping us feather in the little details we just didn't think of (like the officiant letting the guests know they can be seated to asking for the rings).  Not big details - but things I didn't think to include as I drafted the sequence of events.  As far as readings, I would say just to find words that have deep meaning to you and your partner.   And if no words impact you, just don't have readings!  There are no rules other than you both saying some version of "I Do".  We included the signing of the marriage license as part of the ceremony. It just felt right to have all of our guests witness the importance of finalizing the document that actually married us.  It was a really nice moment for everyone.  And then once the ceremony had concluded, our saxophonist was brought out one last time, and we were played out to "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".  Yea, I could do that again."
On a personal note, I so wish we could all get together like this once a year! Srsly. In addition to participating in the big day as a bridal peep, which was the BEST, it was equally special to have the whole week with my BFF, our families and friends in one amazing location. Oh and waking up early the morning of the wedding to meet Kira at the Calistoga Farmers Market to pick and create our bridal party bouquets. It was really special to have that quiet morning together, sipping our morning coffee and giggling that she was getting, MAUIED.

Wedding Details
Venue: Private Residence, Calistoga, CA
Photographer: Scott Clark 
Dress: Anne Barge / Sottile
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik
Jewelry: Chabo's
Hair\make up: Eliza Desch
Flowers & Decor: Kate Stanley Designs (bridal bouquet and centerpieces) bridesmaids bouquets: Didi Weddings
Lighting: Twilight Design
Menu/Baguette Bags/Paper Design: Naglee Paper Projects
Table Numbers: Once Around
Invitations: Union Street Papery with Spark Letterpress
Caterer: Chef Adair Catering
Wines: Vine & Barrel
Transportation: Pure Luxury
Music: Ceremony - Marah Hardt (friend) / Cocktail Hour - Mad Noise  / Reception Band - Busta Groove
Groom's attire: Giorgio Armani
Bridesmaids attire: Joanna August / Intermix / Haute Hippie