California is known for its acres and acres of lush, gorgeous wine country.  Probably the most famous vineyards are those up north in Napa and Sonoma so it comes as no surprise that we get a lot of weddings from these areas.  With a winery as your backdrop you can hardly go wrong and this smart couple decided to let those breathtaking views speak for themselves.  Neutral and berry tones perfectly accentuate the venue and the season plus sweet little touches like the moss letters don’t overpower the natural beauty.  Jessamyn Harris Photography images showcase that great California light and the love that is obvious between these two.  Click here to see even more!

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From the Bride… I was set up with my now husband by a college roommate, who went to high school with Tim in Michigan. I had recently moved from the East Coast to Chicago for work, and she wanted to play matchmaker. I protested fiercely. She gave him my number anyway.  One two hour phone call, and back to back Friday, Saturday & Sunday dates later, I was smitten! Tim proposed just over one year later while picnicking at our favorite spot overlooking the Lake Michigan.

As we live in Chicago and good portion of both of our families reside in the midwest, it only made sense to begin planning for a Chicago wedding. After looking at numerous venues, we didn’t find much we were excited about. We regrouped, thought about what we truly wanted from our wedding (namely an awesome outdoor venue and a killer party for our guests) and made the decision to get married in Northern California where I grew up. From that moment on, everything came together, in great part to my parents, who were our eyes, ears and voices while we tried to plan from 2,000 miles away.

Tim & I wanted our reception location, B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen, to be the star of the day. With unbelievable vineyard views, we capitalized on the beauty of our surroundings by using lots of natural materials. For the reception we set up long wooden Calistoga tables topped with burlap runners, wooden table numbers painstakingly stained by my Dad, and low centerpieces of local dahlias, hyndrangeas, Bells of Ireland (a nod to our shared heritage), and loads of votives. Heather Murdock of Blue Orchid Floral truly understood the feeling of the day, and enhanced our surroundings rather than competing with them.  We acknowledged our winery venue by displaying the place cards in used wine corks (again, thanks to my parents for spending hours upon hours gluing them together!) and having our guests sign a book of Sonoma wineries that we now have on our coffee table and look at often. We highlighted the olive grove setting of the dinner by decorating our delicious cake with olive branches, set up a cigar bar by the fire pit for those who wanted a break from the dancing, and offered wraps to all the ladies in case the weather turned chilly.

One of my favorite memories of the day was walking into the church on my Dad’s arm, and seeing the faces of every single person who is important to us. I felt overwhelmed with love, especially when I saw my handsome groom’s face at the end of the aisle. In all photos from our Catholic ceremony (which we thought would be formal and solemn), Tim & I have the goofiest grins on our face…we were just so happy to be getting married! I also loved our first dance. Despite being watched by 150 guests, I felt like we were all alone on the dance floor, singing our favorite song to one another. Another magical moment occurred during the speeches. My Dad killed it- he had everyone laughing, and I was in tears. By the time he passed the mic to the best man, the sky had turned an amazing shade of pink. It was unbelievable. The rest of the night included celebrating with our friends and family, including what was probably the most fun bridal party ever, and not one, but two dance offs.

We feel so blessed not only to have found one another, but that we were able to celebrate our love with everyone around us, and we are thankful that so many of our friends and family made the trip out to California. We hoped for a wedding that not only reflected us, but also provided our guests with something to remember.

For those of you planning a “destination” wedding, I’d recommend really vetting your vendors. The day of the wedding I was completely stress-free because I trusted that each of them was going to take care of everything. I was also incredibly lucky to have a friend of the family act as our Day of Coordinator. She knew every wedding detail inside and out, and took care of all the logistics so I could just enjoy the day. It also helped to have an incredibly detail oriented mom who kept me on track. Our wedding would not have been possible without her!

Wedding Photography: Jessamyn Harris Photography / Wedding Venue: B.R. Cohn Winery / Bride’s Gown: Marisa via The Unique Bride / Bridesmaid Dresses: J.Crew / Groom & Groomsmen Suits: Kenneth Cole / Flower Girl Dresses: Nordstrom / Floral Design: The Blue Orchid / Wedding Cake & Cupcakes: Two For Two Cakes / Hair & Make-Up: Mary at The Powder Room / Moss Letters: Mother and Father of the Bride / Catering: Park Avenue Catering / Rentals: Wine Country Party & Events / DJ: AMS Entertainment / Bagpiper: Jim McElroy / Wooden Table Numbers: Paper Moss / Ring Bearer Bowl: Paloma’s Nest / Wedding Dress Hanger: Etsy

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