Technically, I already have my dream job. But if I had to choose a runner-up profession, I’d say Professional Wedding Crasher would be it. Because then I could happily spend my weekends attending gorgeous weddings like this colorful Squirrel Creek Ranch affair, a wedding sooo insanely beautiful and sooo filled with fun, it obviously (obviously) can’t be missed. See it all captured by Ken Kienow right here.
From the Bride… After all the time and energy I put into making sure everything was perfect for our wedding, I can happily say that there is not a single thing I would have done differently. The day was perfect.
After getting engaged in December 2012, we were on the lookout for a wedding venue. We looked all around Napa Valley (close to the town of St. Helena that we call home) but couldn’t quite find what we were looking for. We wanted something rustic and real, we had an old barn in mind, something in nature that we could turn into a romantic wonderland for our special day.
My husband is a professional cyclist so come the beginning of February we had to head off to Girona, Spain where we spend half of our year. Leaving without having found a venue was not part of the plan, but thankfully we were about to get lucky. I found Squirrel Creek Ranch online while I was scrolling through the never ending options for wedding venues in Northern California. While I couldn’t get home to go see it, my mother and maid of honor went in my place and I saw what would end up being my wedding venue for the first time via Skype. Thank goodness for technology. So, sight unseen, I decided to go with my gut and I booked it!
After my fiancé and I saw it for the first time in person in May, we knew it was time to get to work. It was a beautiful site, essentially a blank canvas for us to turn into our own perfect wedding. I pictured the tables, the dancing, the bright flowers among a rustic backdrop, the beautiful old barn completely lit up and full of our friends and family, and of course the big bon fire and late night s’mores snack. There was a great space to hold the ceremony outside in the late afternoon light, just as I had always imagined. My husband and I both love the outdoors so we thought it would be very appropriate to be married outside and then hold the rest of the evening inside the barn.
We started by getting all of our vendors lined up. I knew I would need help bringing all my visions to fruition, so I reached out to a friend from high school who was just starting her career as a wedding coordinator. We had a lunch prepared by Antonio Ayestaran who we then hired as our caterer. We hired a DJ and the amazing Rock Ridge Bluegrass Band, rented everything we could possibly need for dinner (tables, chairs, place settings, heaters) and found someone to do all the lighting. We stumbled upon an incredible photographer Ken Kienow who just happened to be a cycling fan and knew of my husband. All the big things were actually the easiest to set up.
Then came the details, the parts of the wedding where it was more about how much time and effort, and for lack of another word, heart, we wanted to put into it. I knew I wanted my wedding to be personal, to make people really feel the love between me and my husband and to feel like they were part of it rather than just observers. From the hand crafted signs we made in the garage in the final week, to the altar that came from my parents property in the mountains near Trinity, to the old stained glass window we turned into a seating chart, to the flowers that my bridesmaids and I were literally putting together the day before the wedding, the personal touches were numerous.
I got a lot of inspiration from Pinterest. I had ideas of what I wanted things to look like, but seeing real live examples helped me solidify what I was looking for. Of course I can’t forget to mention Etsy. The myriad of handmade items for offer made my life a little bit easier when it came to putting some of those personal touches into our wedding. Throughout the months leading up to the wedding I had numerous friends telling me to take a step back and make sure I enjoyed the process.
As much joy as planning my wedding brought me, I would be lying if I didn’t say that there were stressful moments that brought me to tears. I knew what I had envisioned and what I wanted, and despite all the help I had from friends and family, especially my wonderful mother, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. I had never planned an event for so many people and it seemed like there were so many details still to be taken care of as the day was fast approaching.
Of course, as the rehearsal dinner came and passed and the day of the wedding arrived, my worries and fears melted away and all that was left was my dream come true. I woke up to a beautiful morning, warm and sunny, fall was in the air, bright blue skies, it was more than I could have asked for. Everything was falling into place. I spent the day getting ready with my bridesmaids in one of the little country houses that overlooked the outdoor area where we were holding the ceremony and then it was time!
Throughout the day, even during the ceremony, my husband and I made sure to do our best to take everything in. So much time and effort and love had been put into making this one day everything I had dreamed of, and I didn’t want to let it just pass me by. Walking into the ceremony, seeing all of my friends and family, and my groom at the end of the aisle, was a moment I will never forget. In what felt like the blink of an eye, I was officially married! As my husband and I walked down the aisle we paused at the end to turn around and take it all in. This was the only time in our lives that we would have all of our friends and family together in one place, from all parts of the world, to celebrate the love we share with each other. It was a breathtaking moment.
We laughed, cried, toasted, danced, sang at the top of our lungs, took in all the love and good wishes, and at the end of the day, my husband and I were left with an overwhelming feeling of happiness.
What I’d like to impart to all future brides and grooms is to make sure your wedding is what YOU want. People often say, “don’t sweat the little things” or “don’t worry about the details”, but I can confidently say that it was just that, the little things and the details, that made our wedding so special. Taken on their own the details can seem relatively insignificant, but all put together on the day of the wedding, they gave it the character and unique feel that I had always hoped for.
My heart is full of gratitude for all those who so lovingly came together to help us fulfill our dreams. I am especially grateful for Ken, our photographer, who was able to capture all of the once in a lifetime moments of our beautiful day!
Photographer: Ken Kienow | Event Planning & Floral Design: Chelsea Tucker Butts | Floral Design: Bride + Friends & Family | Rentals: Celebrations | Caterer/Bar/Cake: Antonio Ayestaran | Hair: Brittin Lemma | Makeup: Kacie Hengler | Groom’s Suit: John Varvatos | Wedding Dress: Saja | Bluegrass Band: Rock Ridge Bluegrass Band | DJ: Larry Burow | Ceremony And Reception: Squirrel Creek Ranch