A good whimsy wedding is like the perfect chocolate, or ice cream, or cupcake break for the start of your work day. Filled with bright colors, pinwheels, love, and fun, this California wedding has that ice cream factor that so many of us need to get us through to the weekend. And I’m loving it. The second I laid eyes on the fête, captured by Gertrude & Mabel Photography, I felt energized, ready to face the rest of my day, and SO. IN. LOVE. Just like this beyond adorable couple. Make sure you spend some time this afternoon getting lost in the full image gallery – it’s like the sprinkles to your love-filled sundae.

Alex and Kendall’s Napa Valley wedding was thirteen years to the day after they met.  A high school service trip to Costa Rica brought them together, and their initial puppy love blossomed into an enduring friendship that followed them to separate colleges and eventually back to each other in San Francisco.  Together again at last, their love for each other grew deeper still and it was only a matter of time before they decided to take the next step and get married (a decision they had each made many years before).

Kendall and Alex wanted to create a wedding that reflected this growing up together.   They wanted the day to feel playful and relaxed, like they are, without losing the elegant and sophisticated elements that maintained the significance of the long-awaited day.  Naturally, Kendall, a fourth grade teacher who likes little more than crafting, wanted to create this atmosphere with as many do-it-yourself projects as possible.  Fortunately her mom, Paula, lived nearby and likes little more than working on craft projects with Kendall.

When Kendall and Alex saw Beaulieau Gardens in California’s Napa Valley they knew it was the perfect setting for their dream wedding.  The space was beautiful and didn’t require any fussing.

Kendall considers her best decision in dreaming up the wedding day was not complying with a strict color palate.  She started with gray and yellow because she loved how gray was sophisticated but not stuffy and yellow seemed so playful against it.    Still, she never felt forced to select details in only these two colors when so many other colors complemented them so well.  Quickly the palate grew with shades of orange, light blue, greens, and even natural earth tones in some of the linens.

Katherine of Cherries in San Francisco completely understood Kendall’s request for beautiful, loose flowers.  Kendall didn’t want anything too structured or within too strict of a color palate.  She didn’t require Katherine to stick within a list of acceptable flowers, instead just trusted her to pick out what seasonal flowers looked best.  The yellow, orange and pale green blooms were incredible.  Yellow, “Billy Balls” for the groom and groomsmen were the perfect, playful accessory.  Old-fashioned tea tins held flowers over yellow and white striped linens in the cocktail area, and a variety of more rustic stone and metal containers held arrangements over natural linen tablecloths in the dining area.  Kendall and Katherine agreed on a flower palate that wasn’t “matchy matchy”.

Going along with this varied palate, the six bridesmaids more an assortment of dresses, with the maid of honor in a long gray dress from JCrew.  Kendall told the girls to look for a dress they liked in gray, yellow or a complementary orange or pattern.  They accessorized with jewelry and shoes in similar shades or neutrals.  Kendall didn’t see the dresses together until the wedding day, and couldn’t have been more pleased.  The various dresses added incredible color to the ceremony and a depth to the photographs that a monochromatic bridal party wouldn’t have achieved.

At some point early on, Kendall decided that the pinwheel was the perfect playful symbol for the wedding day.  She and her mom made over 250 of them using patterned paper, wooden dowels, and ribbon.  The pinwheels became the escort cards for the wedding–a paper strip attached to the dowel had each guest’s name and table number hand-written (in a few different ways).  After making them, they realized they needed some way to hold the pinwheels, so Kendall’ father, Steve, was enlisted to build two 6ft by 6ft foot garden stands.  Painted gray and adorned with pale yellow window planters, the colorful pinwheels looked fabulous and fun.

Viola, from Chewing the Cud in Oakland, California, worked with Kendall to create other paper goods to suit the concept of the wedding.  She used lined school papers and hand-drawn fonts to satisfy the idea of growing up together.  The pinwheel symbol was repeated in gray and yellow on the invitation and on the ceremony programs that doubled as fold-out fans.  Viola also created table number tents that shared numerical facts about the couple (Kendall and Alex met 13 years ago today at table #13).  The menu was done on natural colored paper with “EAT and love well” (a sentiment close to Alex and Kendall’s hearts) displayed at the top.  Chalkboard signage throughout the wedding was in keeping with the playful school concept.

The fabulous food and assortment of desserts (no wedding cake) were catered by Paula LeDuc. Tim Lilly at Paula LeDuc cleverly had the servers all in yellow ties, unbeknownst to us.

Perhaps the highlight of the whole incredible evening was the rising of the full moon in the warm, Napa sky while guests danced under the stars and twinkly lights.

Photographer: Gertrude & Mabel Photography / Floral Designer: Cherries / Event Design & Planning: Stacy McCain / Invitation Designer: Chewing the Cud / Catering, Desserts & Location: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering / Wedding Gown Designer: Amy Kuschel, Astaire Nosegay / Groom & Groomsmen Suits: J.Crew / Ties: Handmade by Emy / Location: Beaulieu Gardens

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