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What Happens When You Plan a Wedding 2,000 Miles Apart…

Think planning a wedding is hard when you live together? These lovebirds did it while living 2,000 miles apart! And it couldn’t have turned out more perfect. Located at the most charming venue in the middle of rolling vineyards, the imagery captured by Jen Philips instantly made me want to book a trip to wine country—have a look at The Vault for the full day!

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From the Bride… Cole and I wanted our wedding to be a reflection of our lives together so far. This meant great food, music, adventure, a lot of love and the most amazing family and friends supporting us. We had a long engagement and did a lot of the planning early on while living 2,000 miles apart! Believe it or not, the long distance planning process was really fun. We both grew up in Palo Alto, California so we considered some wedding venues closer to home, but we absolutely fell in love with Running Rabbit Ranch in Santa Rosa. We looked at eighteen different venues, and this one stood out the most to us. Perched on a hill and nestled in the vineyards, it was the perfect wine country wedding venue complete with white barns, old oak trees and goats a plenty.

Although there are hundreds of decisions to make during the wedding planning process, Cole and I felt that every decision we made felt “just right.” The decisions regarding the venue, our vendors, the ceremony, our vows and everything else came from our hearts and was a true reflection of what we value in life. We knew that we wanted to give our guests that quintessential summer wine country wedding experience while including some unique personal touches.

We honestly had a dream team of vendors! Jen, our photographer made us feel comfortable and at ease while taking photos in the 90+ degree weather. Brian from Ivy Hill Entertainment helped welcome our guests and set the mood with his acoustic guitar and singing. My stepfather officiated our ceremony on a high lawn overlooking the vineyards while goats and donkeys laughed along with us. We wrote our own vows and I surprised Cole with an engraved wedding band. The ceremony was an eloquent, funny and love-filled encapsulation of Cole and my relationship. We dined outside under an oak tree in the middle of the vineyards and had the most incredible farm to table food from the girl & the fig. I didn’t have a specific color palette or theme; I just wanted it to be fresh, clean and romantic. We were blown away by the flowers from Valley Flora, the floral arrangements were all so beautiful and were the cherry on top of our perfect day.

We had some DIY touches as well. Cole and I built all of the signs and table numbers and I hand lettered them. We also built the table assignment display using wood and chicken wire. Many trips to home depot were made, and we could not have done it all without the help of our parents. Cole infused the bourbon for his signature cocktail with thirty fresh peaches, which ended up being a guest favorite. One of the highlights of the day was our first dance, which took place in the opening of the barn on the hill above the dinner tables. We had a vision of dancing up in the barn while our family and friends were seated below, and our vendors were able to make it happen. There is nothing better in life than experiencing and sharing the love you have for your new spouse with those who mean the world to you. The entire day was so full of joy and love, and was the best day of our lives together so far! 

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Photography: Jen Philips Photography | Cinematography: EdgeFog Films | Floral Design: Valley Flora | Wedding Dress: Christos | Cake: Whole Foods | Invitations: Minted | Wedding Bands: J. August Jewelry | Catering: The Girl & The Fig | Hair & Makeup: Bella Bridal Napa Valley | Ties: Stafford | Groom's Attire: J Crew | Officiant: The Bride's Step-Father | Transportation: First Student Charter | Transportation: Rosie the Trolley | Wedding Venue: Running Rabbit Ranch | Bride's Shoes & Accessories: BHLDN | DJ & Musician: Ivy Hill Entertainment | Groom's Shoes: Cole Haan | Rentals: Bright Event Rentals

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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Sophisticated Outdoor Sonoma Wedding in Wine Country

Sometimes all it takes to shake off the work week and effectively put you in ‘weekend mode’ is a lovely wedding, and this pretty with a purpose from This Love of Yours Photography is sure to do just the trick. It’s timeless meets totally chic and we’ve got L’Relyea Events to thank for every effortless detail. See it all (including some GORGE Jenny Yoo dresses) in The Vault!

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From the Bride…Sonoma is so special to us – it’s where we got engaged. When we stepped onto the back patio of St. Francis Winery, we instantly knew this was where we wanted to get married. The backdrop of endless vineyards and rolling mountains against the blue sky blew us away. St. Francis already had a gorgeous view so I looked for decor that complemented the space. I wanted the wedding to be polished yet fun and sweet.

The colors I chose were gold and grey, with peach and white toned florals. I took time to DIY the seating chart with wine bottles we’ve collected over the years, and hang baby photos on the back of our two chairs. Chris prefers pie while I prefer cake, so we compromised with a small 2-tiered cake from SusieCakes and his favorite banana cream pie from Petaluma Pie Company. To end the night on an even sweeter note, we had Krispy Kreme donuts as our gift to the guests (which my little cousins loved!).

My mom gave a sentimental speech and reminded me of a specific moment growing up and what home means. I turned to Chris afterwards and we teared up a bit thinking about how our home is now the one that we’ve made.

My advice to planning brides would have to be take a few moments privately with your significant other that day. Everything goes by so fast!

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Photography: This Love of Yours Photography | Event Planning: L'Relyea Events | Floral Design: Vanda Floral Design | Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Cake: Susie's Cakes & Confections | Invitations: Paperless Post | Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaid's Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Catering: Park Avenue Catering | Makeup: Julie Dy | Hair: Camilla Betteridge | Favors: Krispy Kreme | Groom's Attire: Andrew Marc | Venue: St Francis Winery | Men's Watch: Tudor | Place Cards: Minted | Robes: The Knot | Sash: a.b.Ellie | Tie: Paul Smith | Veil: Monique Lhuillier

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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A California Winery Wedding with a Mountaintop Ceremony

For this sweet Bride, a wedding at her family’s winery was a dream come to life. The rolling vineyards and sweeping landscape made the perfect backdrop for a day designed with a “less is more” approach while still every bit as beautiful. Details like the seasonal floral arrangements by EV Floral Design and romantic invitation by Bella Figura quickly stole my wedding blogger heart, and thanks to This Love Of Yours Photography and Paperweight Films, you can see every bit for yourself.

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From The Bride…The vision for our wedding was an intimate gathering with the most beloved people in our lives at my family’s winery. We wanted to get married on a full moon at the height of the growing season before harvest, so we picked Saturday August 29th for these reasons. Simplicity was key and we embraced a less is more attitude. We wanted the floral arrangements to be seasonal from the Napa area or gathered from the property, the food to reflect all the bounty that this region of California has to offer, and to drink the wine grown from the land right outside. There were three things we wanted: a mountain top ceremony, a cave dinner, and an afterglow with a campfire under the stars. We wanted to wear outfits in light colors to reflect the casual attitude of the ranch and the airiness of the mountain setting. The overall feelings were warm, intimate, wild, gathered, elegant, simple, and homemade.

I remember the whole week in such detail, and basically every moment would be worthy to write about here! If I had to pick just one from the wedding day itself it would be riding in the horse carriage with my dad from the barn to the ceremony site, coming over the hill, and seeing all of the most important people in my life sitting on the top of the mountain, and Scott at the end of the aisle. It was the culmination of so many emotions and I wasn’t expecting it to hit me so hard. You get caught up in all the planning but there are moments like this that you just can’t plan for. From sharing that special last moment alone with my dad and seeing him tear up as we approached, to riding with the draft horse and thinking so much about my grandpa Jim (no longer with us) who founded the winery and how much he would absolutely love Scott and how much I miss him. Thinking about my personal history with the ranch and what the property means to me, realizing that everyone was there to celebrate our wedding day, and finally seeing Scott waiting for me down the aisle…You could say that I “lost it” in that moment which I was not expecting to do. It didn’t help that my dad was crying too, but I pulled myself together and didn’t cry during the ceremony, which I also did not expect to be able to do!

I love our venue because I grew up there, felt totally comfortable and relaxed, and I was so happy to share it with everyone! The winery staff went out of their way to help make our day special. I love everyone who works there a lot. And I really, really, really love the views from the ceremony site (a.k.a the picnic site), too.

One of the most important things was food and wine. Scott is a chef and my parents own the winery, so it was essential that the formal dinner (four courses with wine pairings) be excellent. We also paired a special cremant with the cake course and it was amazing! Scott helped collaborate on the menu and wine pairings and created two cocktails for the evening, one sparkling vodka, grapefruit and rosemary to kick off the reception and one Manhattan whiskey for after dinner with campfire and cigars.

My advice to planning Brides is to edit, and be OK with letting things go. Especially if you do not have a planner (like we didn’t), you have to accept some things will not go as planned. If you set your mind to think this way you will feel happy and free regardless of what happens on the big day. Remember, no matter what: it will be amazing, it will be the best day of your life, and you get to MARRY the love of your life! Also, unless your man is SUPER into all of the details, don’t burden your groom with a ton of wedding stuff. Have date nights where you focus on him, not the wedding. And lastly you don’t need to add a hashtag or a custom font/logo to every little thing – you can go crazy with personalization to the point where you feel like you are advertising your own wedding! If the venue and vibe is designed to represent you as a couple then personalization will shine through regardless, and you will save time and money.

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Photography: This Love of Yours Photography | Cinematography: Paperweight Films | Floral Design: EV Floral Design | Wedding Dress: Saja | Cake: Forget-Me-Not Cakes | Invitations: Bella Figura | Bride's Shoes: Ancient Greek Sandals | Groom's Attire: Freemans Sporting Club | Venue: Pride Mountain Vineyards | Golden Fig Vases: Roost | Groom's Shoes + Tie: Suitsupply | Hairpiece: Hushed Commotion | Place Cards: Smock | Programs: Bella Figura

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