Wine Country is the absolute ideal spot for a gorgeous fall wedding and The Carneros Inn is definitely at the top of that list. Think a plethora of pumpkins, yummy market fresh eats, the most dreamy outdoor weather with just a touch of crisp fall air. Sounds pretty amazing, right? These California nuptials, photographed by the fab Sylvie Gil, have all of that and more with design and styling pitch-perfect for a casual family gathering. And there are so many great images from the day. We are thinking this might be the best time to grab a latte and take a little break and got lost in the gallery for awhile. Enjoy!
From the Bride…
Our wedding celebrated the incredible local food of the California wine country, and the abundance of the autumn season. We wanted the relaxed feel of a casual family gathering, and came up with the theme of “a wedding lunch at the farmers’ market.” To create the feeling of a market festival, the tables were decorated with overflowing market baskets of seasonal flowers, fruits, and vegetables and pumpkins were everywhere at both the ceremony and the reception. Our entertainment was also in keeping with the outdoor market theme – we had The Baguette Quartette, a French accordion band, for music, as well as a magician who mingled with guests to do up-close magic, a caricature artist, and a photo booth. I loved that we had unique and fun entertainment. The Carneros Inn was the perfect venue to help us realize our ideas. Not only do they have a convenient and stunningly beautiful location, but they also grow many fruits and vegetables for their restaurant and catering right on the property. We walked from the ceremony to the reception down a path lined with trees bursting with fruit – figs, quince, apple, citrus, and more. This was a natural choice for our local, seasonal food theme. The food was of the utmost importance to us, and The Carneros Inn exceeded all of my expectations with it.
Because the ceremony started at 11am, we began the reception with a brunch-themed cocktail hour. We had a hugely-popular Bloody Mary and mimosa bar where guests could mix up custom breakfast cocktails. These were enjoyed along with breakfast-themed passed hors d’oeuvres such as blini with smoked salmon and crème fraiche, smoothie sips, and bacon twists. We followed the cocktail hour with a seated, family-style lunch with beautiful salads and grilled meats and fish. Everything was served on large platters and passed around the tables just like we would for a family gathering at home. For dessert, in addition to the wedding cake, we had home-style seasonal pies and ice cream. All of this created such a wonderful feeling of a relaxed, casual family gathering, which really important to us.
My favorite unique details were the pumpkin altar, the lemonade stand, and the photo booth. Our ceremony was performed in front of a “pumpkin altar” – my florist got together bales of straw and the most incredible array of pumpkins I have ever seen, and stacked them all in front of the ceremony site. In addition to the stunning view, the pumpkins created the perfect backdrop for our autumn farmers’ market theme. The lemonade stand was a table with lemonade, ice water, and iced tea in beautiful, huge glass jars set up at the back of the ceremony site for arriving guests to get refreshments as they gathered before the start of the wedding. The photo booth was the best because it printed two copies – one for guests to keep, and one for them to paste in a scrapbook with a little note so that we can remember who came. Going through the scrapbook provides such wonderful memories. For favors, my mom and I spent the summer preserving the harvest from our own gardens. We sent guests home with small jars of homemade jams, jellies, sauces, pickles, and fruit butters that we covered with small squares of hand-cut fabric and tied with garden twine. We also made tiny sachets of dried lavender from my mom’s garden. It was the perfect way to celebrate the harvest and to make the favors personal and memorable. The groom and groomsmen were great sports and spent the days before the wedding pulling lavender buds from stems and tying garden twine onto the jars.
For me, the best decision I made throughout the whole planning process was to hire our planner, Julie Atwood. We started planning on our own, but happened on Julie by accident and it was the best thing that could have ever happened. Not only did she have so many incredible, beautiful ideas that made the event more magical than I ever could have imagined, but it was also a huge comfort to know that I had somebody who really understood me and made sure that my own ideas came to fruition. She had amazing insight into which vendors would work best for me – a florist Maria Philbin that would be excited about my ideas, a photographer, Sylvie Gil who would make me comfortable, feel like a friend, and take the most beautiful photos I’ve ever seen, and a hair and makeup artist who understood my idea of beauty and could help make them a reality. Having Julie’s help definitely lowered the stress level of the planning process, and just made the wedding so much more fun, beautiful, and unforgettable than I ever could have done on my own.
Photography: Sylvie Gil / Wedding Planner & Design: Julie Atwood Events / Location: Carneros Inn / Food & Beverages: Carneros Inn / Floral Design: Maria Philbin / Celebrant: Tim Boeve / Harpist: Bertina Mitchell / Music: Baguette Quartette / Hair & Makeup: Leticia Ontiveros / Graphic Design: Carrot & Stick Press / Rental Equipment: Classic Party Rentals / Linens: La Tavola Fine Linen Rental / Caricature Artist: Marc Till Schmid of Cartoon City / Photo Booth: Denon & Doyle / Magician: Frank Balzerak, The Art of Magic / Transportation: California Wine Tours / Bride’s Gown: “Lily of the Valley” by Carolina Herrera