Rustic Petaluma Barn Wedding
March 27, 2014
United States
RusticRustic WeddingsSpring Weddings
I'm going out on a limb here, but this might just be the most charming, most beautiful, most unbelievably quaint and romantic wedding you've ever seen. Not only is it on a farm (complete with lambs), in a beautiful field with beautiful flowers, and all finishing with a stunning cake from Sweet Lauren Cakes, but the couple at the center are just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. Tanja Lippert, we heart you for sending this one our way!
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From the stunning bride... As a wedding photographer, I strive to genuinely connect with each of my couples during the planning process so are comfortable with me by the time the big day rolls around. It was actually one of my couples that bright Matt and I together! After learning that one of them was a talented duo of graphic designer and web developer, I decided to hire the couple to help me rebrand my business. We started meeting weekly and quickly became good friends. It also turned out the groom had a best friend who had a long time crush on me. He bugged them continuously to invite him over one of the times I was visiting for a design session. Finally after a few months, unbeknownst to me, I was set up on a blind date. Supposedly I was just having lunch with my couple and their “friend” who just happened to be hanging out at the house that afternoon. The groom did a good job of setting up Matt with opportunities to chat himself up. At first I was just enjoying everyone's company, but then I started to find Matt (and his English accent!) intriguing. I actually got really nervous at one point during the meal and had stopped eating my lunch completely. Matt thought he had totally blown his chances! At the end of the meal, I said goodbye to my couple and Matt stayed behind to keep me company as I waited for the muni bus. He politely kissed me goodbye on my check like all my other european friends do. I tried not to think much of it, but that kiss was part of his strategy all along. By the time the bus drove me away, a wave of butterflies had rushed over me and I knew I had a crush on him. We started dating and after few short months, I could already tell he was “the one”. Matt proposed a year and a half later during a romantic getaway weekend in Napa. We went on an afternoon picnic and the autumn leaves were falling all around us when he went down on one knee. It was very sweet and romantic!

We had many priories while planning the wedding, but the photographer and creating a day that would photograph beautifully were at the top of the list. I wanted our wedding to be an intimate party full of lovely details that I would want to photograph. Location, ambiance and light played a huge factor in all the decisions during the planning. After much searching, we found Chileno and discovered they only do a handful of weddings each year. We immediately fell in love with the rolling hills, the century old barn and especially the ranch owners. It was meant to be! Originally we wanted to get married in the fall so we had a full year to plan, but pushed it up 6 months so the ranch was green from the spring rains and teaming with new baby animals.

We wanted to provide a very relaxed and down to earth California experience to our guests as many of them would be traveling from the UK to be with us that day. It became a blend of “English charm meets California ranch” to celebrate our different upbringings. We love that in California you can have farm to table meals and we wanted to share that fresh culinary experience with our visiting guests. All of the food and alcohol was locally sourced, including the grass fed beef that was raised right there at the ranch. Even the scraps at the end of the meal were saved for the piggies.

Our ceremony took place in an open field. It was breathtaking to take in while I was walking up the freshly mowed path to meet Matt. We had a dear friend become ordained just so he could marry us. Two days before the wedding, I ended up pulling an all nighter and rewrote the entire ceremony. The original pieced together script felt too short and generic, when what we really wanted was something personal that included our story with heartfelt thoughts on marriage. I do however love that we kept our vows traditional, using the same words couples have said to each other throughout the centuries. We also included the couple that set us up on the blind lunch date and had them do our readings, “Recipe For Love” and a poem called “The One”. To mark the ceremony spot, I found an old kilim rug and love that it now serves as a permanent memento in our home. Besides the seated guests, there were also few cows wandering nearby to witness. Their mooing really added to the ambiance! I was also really pleased with my dress choice too. I had originally picked out one with a full tulle skirt, but am so happy I changed my mind during a second visit to the salon. The skirt was made of the lightest taffeta and the asymmetrical hem meant it could be gently picked up by the breeze.

We wanted the barn to have an inviting and romantic ambiance for dinner. There were already Edison bulbs hanging in the barn, so we added some uplights for warmth as well as a stunning chandelier set inside an iron orb above the dance floor. The guests loved dancing to the fully costumed 80's cover band, but we also created a space at the opposite end where people could connect and lounge. I made two curtain panels and hung them to separate the space and accent the cake table. We also included a vintage sofa with custom pillows from etsy in lieu of hay bales, to make things feel a bit more formal.

To give the day a more English feel, I opted for a soft pink and gold color pallet. There was an abundance of garden roses, peonies and jasmine that added the loveliest fragrance to the air. Some other details include the vintage ring boxes from Matt's hometown in England, a London pocket watch gift to Matt, homemade early grey shortbreads as favors, and we encouraged the ladies to wear hats. Our ceremony music included our favorite Beatles songs and we even had the band play the James Bond theme when we entered the barn. I also managed to source a vintage London taxi cab for our grand exit a few weeks before the wedding. Without telling Matt, I replaced the original hired sedan for the taxi. Needless to say, Matt thought the surprise was “absolutely brilliant”. The guests waved both US and Union Jack flags to send us off at the end of the night.

The wedding day turned out more beautiful and incredible than I could have ever imagined. We are so thankful for our many wonderful friends, family and vendors that put their hearts and talents into making our day so special. I am also grateful for the amazing Tanja Lippert for being there to capture our day. She is one of my biggest inspirations, mentors and now a wonderful friend. The joy I feel when I look back at the love and memories she captured in the photographs is something I can share with my family in the years and generations to come.