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Traditionally Elegant California Garden Wedding

Once in a while, we come across a wedding so sweet that words simply won’t do it justice. And this one m’dears, we’ll it’s left us speechless. An homage to memories made in wine country, it’s an elegant affair overflowing with history and heritage. Set amongst sweeping vineyards, this European-inspired garden celebration is crafted from the heart, and Larissa Cleveland has it waiting for you in the gallery!

Garden Venue

From the beautiful Bride… John and I met soon after the 2008 election at a launch party of a civic engagement organization called Citizen Hope. We were friends for over a year before we started dating, and we were together through my time in the Peace Corps in Ukraine. John proposed inside the clock tower of the Ferry Building in San Francisco, in part to remind me of all the great times we shared in the city that we both love and call home.

When we started looking at venues and found Beaulieu Garden, we knew it was the perfect place for our wedding. With its manicured gardens, fountains, cherub statues, sweeping vineyards, sparkling pool, tree-lined drive, and sycamore arbor, it had just the right look and feel that we were going for – elegant, romantic, beautiful, and full of history. We also have many wonderful memories of our time together in wine country. The decision to get married at the gorgeous, European-inspired Beaulieu Garden helped guide our vision for the wedding. Since I’m a huge Francophile, and we were going to travel to Paris for our honeymoon, there were many French-inspired design and style elements that fit seamlessly with the setting. We decided on a soft palette of mainly ivory, blush, pale gray, silver, and hints of black. The invitations were letterpress with gray ink on white card stock, and included a custom design of our monogram over a picture of the iconic tree-lined drive of Beaulieu Garden, which we used on other elements throughout the wedding. The florals included blush and ivory French garden roses, café au lait dahlias, eucalyptus, and olive leaves. My dress was a drop-waist ball gown with a Chantilly lace and beaded bodice fitted to the hip that cascaded into a full French tulle skirt. I also wore diamond and pearl drop earrings that my mother wore at her wedding and that she gave me as an engagement gift. My “something borrowed” was a pearl bracelet of my mother’s that was my grandmother’s before that. I gifted my bridesmaids and myself matching bracelets inscribed with a delicate “love.”

For the ceremony, we decided to incorporate some Jewish and Irish elements to celebrate parts of our heritages. Atelier Joya created our beautiful chuppah using a wrought-iron frame, an ivory silk canopy, and ivory roses, hydrangeas, and greenery in an asymmetrical style. We incorporated other Jewish elements, including the breaking of the glass and the reading of a variation of the Seven Blessings. We had a family friend of John’s sing the Irish song, “The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee,” which was his late mother’s favorite song, with his family priest introducing the singer. Our readings also included an excerpt from the Irish book Anam Cara, as well as a favorite Shakespeare sonnet. John and I crafted our vows together, weaving traditional vows with our own ideas. My uncle officiated the wedding, and we decided to have the wedding party be mostly family to keep the wedding feeling intimate and special.

There were so many other details that made our wedding feel like ours. We decided to include some signs, including a few DIY chalkboard signs and an amazing custom antique French mirror welcome sign that ended up being one of my favorite elements. The escort card display consisted of cards set on a bed of dried lavender within mirrored trays, which echoed the sprig of lavender on top of each guest’s dinner menu. We had three different cocktail napkins made with our names and different symbols that each meant something to us – one with the Golden Gate Bridge, for our home, another of the Eiffel Tower, for our upcoming honeymoon to Paris and the inspiration for the look and feel of the wedding, and the last was a Claddagh symbol, an Irish symbol combining love, loyalty, and friendship.

After a year of intensive planning of every detail, witnessing our vision come together was breathtaking. Seeing the sparkling lights, chandeliers, votives, and gorgeous centerpieces, enjoying Paula LeDuc’s steak frites and our favorite wine, Failla Pinot Noir, and listening to the heartfelt and funny speeches, the guests’ laughter, and French jazz in the background – it was a dream. At the end of the night, after lots of dancing and chatting, the guests picked up mini bottles of Napa Valley sparkling wine, and a white 1947 Packard took John and me to the after-party. It truly was the most magical and special day of our lives, and we are so happy to have gorgeous images photographed by Larissa Cleveland to look back on to remember each moment of the day.

My advice to future brides would include choosing vendors who not only understand your vision for your day and know how to do what they do well, but also whose company you enjoy, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with them, and this will make the whole process a delightful experience. It is also important to know what matters to you going into the day, because it will fly by, and you want to make sure you’ve done everything you want to, whether it’s tasting all the food that you chose, dancing, getting the photographs you want, visiting with various friends and relatives, or otherwise. And, most importantly, and what many others advised me before our day, is to try to take a moment for just the two of you and gaze at each other, to take in all the love, joy, and beauty that surrounds you, and to make a conscious effort to be present during each and every moment, because you will want to remember them forever.

Photography: Larissa Cleveland Photography | Videography: Thomas Hughes Films | Coordination: JBD Events | Floral Design: Atelier Joya | Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Cake: Sweet On Cake | Stationery: A Day In May Design | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale | Catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering | Lighting: Got Light? | Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss | Ceremony Music: An Elegant Touch Of Strings | Venue: Beaulieu Gardens | Dance Lessons: The Dance Loft | Flower Girls Dresses: Joan Calabrese | Linens: La Tavola | Makeup And Hair: Meaganne McCandess | Mirror: Bee Curious Designs | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Vintage Car: Classic Convertible Wine Tours

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
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From the pages of the
{ The latest from our most exclusive, hand-picked list of vendors }
Oak Tree California Engagement Session

Never have I EVER seen a bride-to-be rock a dress quite as gorgeous as this ivory all-lace number. It’s the perfect attire for this love session among the oak trees, and the talented Mariel Hannah captured each smile, kiss and sweet moment in between. More in the gallery!

From Mariel HannahA romantic and airy engagement amidst a grove of oak trees. The air filtered through this lovely valley as Emily’s custom lace dress glimmered in the California sunshine. I’m thrilled to submit this lovely engagement. Emily and Curt are set to marry this July in Avila Beach, where organic and simplicity are the main vision for their wedding.

Photography: Mariel Hannah | Venue: Central Valley

Firestarter Wedding Favor Giveaway!

Nothing says you’re a perfect match (pun intended) quite like this oh-so-chic favor. Dreamt up by the fabulous Lauren Wells, these adorable little firestarter favors come packaged complete with a mini wood block, bits of kindling greenery and matches—a surefire way to get your guests excited about those beachside bonfires and seasonal s’mores. We fell in love with them at the West Elm Wedding Registry pop-up party and today, we’re searing with excitement, because we’re lighting the way for one lucky reader to win 120 Firestarter Wedding Favors. Enter below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

For bonus points, leave a comment on the post telling us one thing you can’t wait to register for from West Elm’s Wedding Registry!

Photography: Ruth Eileen | Wedding Registry: West Elm | Event Design + Firestarter Favors: Lauren Wells Design & Styling | Floral Design: Petal Floral Design | Cakes: Mayflour Cake + Confections | Doughnuts: Blackbird Doughnuts

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
West Elm + Style Me Pretty Wedding Registry Pop-Up

One of the best perks of tying the knot? Sprucing up your newlywed abode with registry goodies, of course. A few weeks ago, we partnered with the West Elm to launch their brand new wedding registry. Alongside some of our favorite local vendors, we pored over their gorgeous wares, snapped fun photo booth pics, indulged in sweets from Mayflour and Blackbird Doughnuts, and got to chat with some pretty darn adorable Boston soon-to-be’s. It was an incredible day to say the least and we were so happy to be a part of West Elm‘s new adventure!

Petal Floral Design‘s spread was so indicative of designer Becca’s aesthetic….lush, organic and utterly beautiful. Becca can basically transform any space into something dreams are made of and she used a few elements from West Elm to crank it up a couple of notches. But honestly, the best part about Becca is that she is one of the coolest chicks I know and just wants to do what she loves most…make beautiful things. 

Ruthie is one of our nearest and dearest friends and she was on hand to not only show off her gorgeous portfolio, but to also shoot the gathering in all its glory. Ruthie is responsible for so many of our favorite moments on Style Me Pretty and not surprisingly, she really captured the event so beautifully. We heart Ruthie in a big way.

I’ve been a longtime admirer of Lauren‘s work so to get to meet the lovely lady behind the genius was a definite highlight. And when I tell you she didn’t disappoint, that might be the understatement of the century. Lauren is the very definition of loveliness and she came equipped with one of the cutest favors I’ve ever seen – tiny firestarter kits for late summer nights under the stars. I could die.

I could basically fall in love with anyone that offers me free samples of buttercream but Jocelyn of Mayflour Cakes is on an entirely other level. She was doling out petite bites of heaven that had the words honey and lavender in them and to be honest, I was shoveling them into my mouth faster than I could hear any more about them. Plus, she just has a way with beautiful cakes so they were as pretty as they were yummy.

I think my husband Tait – also an SMP-er – basically rooted himself beside the Blackbird Doughnut display. And funny, the whole crowd seemed to innately migrate towards them too. Why? Oh maybe because these doughnuts are AH.MAZING. Dark Chocolate Ganache, Lemon Raspberry and oh I don’t know, some other amazing flavors were definitely the belle of the ball.

Photography: Ruth Eileen | Wedding Registry: West Elm | Event Design + Firestarter Favors: Lauren Wells Design & Styling | Floral Design: Petal Floral Design | Cakes: Mayflour Cake + Confections | Doughnuts: Blackbird Doughnuts

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here