Fields of lavender and beautiful sweeping views of vineyards make this rustic California wedding from Julie Kay Kelly Photography just breathtaking. Aside from the stunning scenery, I love how this couple added a sense of whimsy in creating a one-of-a-kind wedding by including touches of baseball nostalgia (especially the nod to my beloved Atlanta Braves) and even their adorable pup! The gorgeous bride, Floren, is here to share her planning insight with us:
What (or who) helped you most in your planning process and/or on your wedding day?
Stephanie Cole, with A Dream Wedding, was our wedding coordinator. We didn’t realize how many details were involved and decisions to be made. While it was still a lot more work for us that we anticipated, she helped us so much with narrowing down lists of vendors to those we would be interested in based on our tastes and intentions for the event. We would have never been able to finish all of those details in time without her, and her coordination of vendors, deliveries, setup, etc. on-site made the execution of our wedding flawless! Floren: honestly Joe did so much more of the work than I did. This also wouldn’t have been as perfect without him keeping track of every single little decision that had to be made and piece of information we had to provide. We made all of the decisions together, but his attentiveness and communication with everyone is what completed it all.
What was the most important thing to you when deciding who to work with for your wedding?
We needed vendors that could accommodate less traditional proceedings, and also more environmentally-sensitive practices.Several vendors were chosen and details coordinated to reduce resource use and minimize waste. We absolutely loved working with Jenna Cook with Da Bombe Cake Company. We liked that she provides unique looking cakes that were also the most delicious we tasted during our selection process. We were able to use multiple cake/filling/frosting combinations for each tier, which was exactly in line with our desire to have a lot of fun, non-traditional options. As an added bonus, she bakes a small cake on your 1-year anniversary to discourage freezing the top (they are never good a year old from the freezer).
We selected Bonnie Z from Dragonfly Floral, after visiting her wonderful organic flower farm. She exceeded our expectations with the arrangements. They were more perfect for the event and for our preferences than we could have ever dreamed up ourselves. I really can’t say enough about how wonderful her work was.
Julie Kay Kelly was another favorite. We can’t imagine getting a more personal experience or accurate depiction of exactly what we are all about. Friends and family had great compliments for the photos, and we are so excited about the album we put together with Julie to commemorate one of our best days together!
Our caterer, Park Avenue Catering is a Green Certified caterer, using sustainable practices. Chaz Crosier was our specialist, and he made us feel like our wedding was the most important thing for them, and we knew he would ensure everything would go just as we wanted it to, even with all of our odd requests (like sparkling wine served as guests arrived, before the event).
We preferred the sounds of a small string trio for everything prior to the reception, and a band over a DJ for the reception. Angela at Wine Country Entertainment helped a lot with our selections. Wine Country Trio performed creative and fun soft renditions of many songs, new and old during guest arrival, ceremony and cocktail hour, and Jazz on the Vine provided the music during dinner, then expanded to become the City Lights band for dancing. The mix of Motown, swing, oldies, and current favorites kept everyone ready to dance!
What was your inspiration for your wedding details and/or design?
Neither of us had been to Napa/Sonoma before we decided to take a trip there to see if we might like any wedding venues. We both love farm-fresh food, wine, and the outdoors, so California was an immediate thought. We ended up loving the more casual feel of Sonoma, and we decided on St. Francis because it was exactly the kind of image we had in our minds when we set out on a possible outdoor vineyard wedding. The views are stunning with mountains, grapevines, and lavender visible in all directions, and having everything outside in one place was the kind of ‘easy’ we wanted for our guests.
We wanted it to be unique, fun, intimate, and relaxing for everyone. We didn’t want our guests to feel like things were too formal, too routine, too big, or too ‘scheduled’. We intentionally planned our wedding all the way across the country to make it a vacation or destination wedding for the guests. We hoped people would make an extended stay of it to enjoy wine country or take in the San Francisco sights. We also hoped to spend more time with friends and family who came out, instead of just a quick wedding weekend – we looked at this as a unique opportunity to have nearly everyone important to us in one place at the same time.
Floren particularly did not want all the traditional elements of a wedding, so she insisted that Joe also walk down the aisle with his parents, that the wedding party was seated during the ceremony, and that the readings were done by her young nieces. (The readings selected were excerpts from less traditional sources: “The Velveteen Rabbit,” “Marley and Me,” and “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”) Most notably, Joe and Floren’s dog, Koufax, was a big part of the ceremony as the ring bearer and keeping watch over ‘third base’ (from the Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field), where the wedding was officiated by Floren’s dad. We had the wedding party walk down the aisle to “Speak Softly Love” (the love theme from The Godfather – which was Joe’s parents’ first dance!), we exited the ceremony to “Here Comes the Sun” (Beatles), our first dance was “And I Love Her” (Beatles), cake cutting had Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah (Louis Armstrong), and the last song at the reception was “How Sweet It Is” (James Taylor).
What was your favorite thing about your wedding?
It was decidedly OURS. From the non-traditional reading and music selections, to drinks being served as guests arrived, to having the dog involved every step of the way, it was uniquely suited to our preferences and what was important to us.
We also loved the time we spent together alone following the end of the ceremony, before going back out to greet our guests. This was another great effort by the caterer and wedding coordinator – Joe and I had a tray of the assorted appetizers we had chosen for the cocktail hour, as well as a champagne toast waiting for us in a room just inside.
What is your best piece of advice for other brides?
Keep your partner involved! This is as much his day as it is yours, and getting input from him will make it much more representative of the two of you as a couple. Also, without anticipating how stressful the wedding planning is, we were so relieved to find that the event itself was SO worth the effort and exceeded our vision and expectations – don’t let the stress of planning overwhelm your goal of a perfect day. A wedding planner/coordinator is a huge help.
Awesome – and extremely detailed – advice, Floren! But enough about the bride and groom. Let’s talk about the real star of this show: scene-stealing and extremely dapper dog, Koufax. She is such a sweet addition to the bridal party and completely at home at the altar (and third base). Adorable! How about you? Would you include your furry friends in your wedding? If so, how would you include them? Ring bearer, flower pup? I’d love to hear your thoughts!