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Once Upon a Time, This Napa Valley Wedding Escaped From a Fairytale

As soon as this gorgeous Bride saw Beaulieu Garden, she thought, “This is a fairytale place.” And having seen all the beautiful photos from Lori Paladino Photography, I feel confident saying her wedding was a fairytale, too. With vendors like Bliss EventsValley FloraPaula LeDuc Fine Catering and Got Light? acting as fairy godparents, this Napa Valley affair is one beautiful beginning to happily ever after. Fall in love with it all in The Vault!

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Outdoor
Styles
Al Fresco

From The Bride…When my husband, Jon, proposed to me, his first question after “will you marry me?” was “Do you want to have a big wedding in Napa?” Although Jon was from Berkeley, we lived in New York City and I had only been to Napa once about a decade earlier, but having always wanted to get married somewhere beautiful outdoors, I immediately said yes. As the planning unfolded, I quickly understood why Jon had suggested Napa. We both envisioned a whole weekend-long celebration filled with a variety of activities and events so that we could spend quality time with our guests. We wanted our wedding to be just as special and memorable for our guests as it was for us, especially because the majority of our almost 200 guests were flying from the East Coast or Europe. From the stunning scenery and perfect weather to the extraordinary venues, and of course, the world-class wine and cuisine, Napa Valley was truly the perfect place for our wedding weekend.

As we began the planning process, the pieces of our weekend quickly started to come together – a kickoff bike ride through Calistoga and its vineyards, followed by a welcome dinner at a local St. Helena winery, and a farewell croquet brunch at Meadowood. However, finding the right venue for our wedding proved more challenging: we wanted a place that fit our style vision of natural elegance and was large enough to accommodate all of our guests, while still feeling intimate. Beaulieu Garden, with its manicured French and Italian gardens, fountains, pools and vines fit the bill perfectly. I remember the first time I saw it and thinking, “This is a fairy tale place.” We hoped our guests would feel the same way about our wedding.

Our ceremony was held in the breathtaking sunken garden, followed by cocktails in the Italian garden, dinner under the vines, and dancing by the reflecting pool. Getting to use all of these different spaces made each part of our wedding feel extra special and provided more opportunities for guests to mingle and meet one another. To keep the party going when the wedding concluded at 10 o’clock, our guests were whisked up the road for an after-party in the historic, candle-lit cask room at Merryvale Winery where my younger brother Daniel DJ’ed and everyone danced late into the night.

Our design inspiration was the exquisite, natural beauty of our venue. We wanted our color palette and decor to accentuate, rather than compete with, the grounds so we used a lot of light pinks, peach, greens and white in the flowers, programs, champagne and other details. We placed classic chandeliers above the tables and numerous candles everywhere – on the tables, around the pool, and on the fireplace mantle. Everything was designed to feel very soft and ethereal, punctuated with pops of brightness like the guava bridesmaids’ dresses, strawberry welcome drinks and pashminas for guests. We had a lot of fun working not only with our vendors but also our family members (my mother and aunt made the ceremony chair signs, and Jon’s sister made our Wall of Fame) to create little details that pulled our vision together.

We knew that the biggest challenge of a large wedding was to create an experience that was highly personal for our guests; we wanted the wedding to be a celebration of how important they were to us in addition to a celebration of our marriage. One thing we did was create what we called our ten-foot long “Wall of Fame” where we included a picture of each guest and note from us about what we loved about them. This was a fun way for our guests to feel welcomed and also get to know one another. My mother also surprised us with personalized M&Ms in our wedding colors with our faces and names on them for each of the guests.

A highlight of our wedding for both of us was the ceremony. I remember walking down the aisle with my grandfather and seeing Jon with the biggest smile ever staring straight at me, and me stealing looks at my mother in the front row with an equally big smile on her face. Jon and I wrote the ceremony script together for Judge Kozinski who married us, and separately wrote our own vows, so every word of our ceremony had special meaning to us. Reciting our vows in front of our favorite people as the sun shone down on us was simply magical. Lori Paladino was fantastic at capturing it all, including the moment when Jon prematurely went in for a kiss before the judge said “you may kiss your bride,” which got everyone laughing.

We had also arranged for aunts and uncles from both sides of our families to sing and play a song during our ceremony from my great grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Having both of our families – who had previously met only over email – come together for that was very meaningful. Another highlight of our wedding was the final dip in our first dance. Jon and I embarrassingly had over 10 dance lessons to nail those 2-3 minutes, and it was all worth it!

Having our wedding in Napa and both being foodies, we knew we would have great food at our wedding. Jon cooked for me on our second date, and we love to bring friends together over meals. Paula LeDuc was incredible at tailoring our menu with the farm-to-table and local foods we love, using fresh vegetables from the venue’s garden, and even making our entire menu gluten-free since I have Celiac disease (our guests never knew what they were missing!). We also had two gluten-free cakes – a tiered wedding cake with blackberry conserve filling created by Forget-Me-Not cakes, and a Norwegian wedding cake (kransekake) made by Jon’s mother, complete with Norwegian, Irish and American flags to represent our heritage.

My husband and I had a great time designing our invitation suite, escort cards, table numbers and ceremony program with Lisa Kasch of Egg Farm Lane. She captured our style – which she dubbed “wine country prep” – and vision from the get-go and helped us hone our color palette for the wedding. We wanted our guests to open our invitations and feel like they were about to embark on a very special and action-packed weekend. Our favorite insert was the personalized map of Napa Valley that highlighted our weekend venues and some of our favorite wine country sites.

• What is one piece of advice that you could give brides-to-be?

I would advise brides-to-be to take advantage of the opportunities in the planning process to collaborate with, learn more about and have fun with their spouse-to-be. Planning the ultimate party of your life with your best friend should be fun so don’t let the details – important as they may seem at any given time – wear you down. As for those details, take the time to build a stellar team of expert vendors with whom you connect. Being able to trust them to get the planning and execution just right allows you to focus on more important things.

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Photography: Lori Paladino Photography | Cinematography: Aaron Lee Films | Event Planning: Bliss Events | Floral Design: Valley Flora | Wedding Dress: Anna Maier | Cake: Forget-Me-Not Cakes | Invitations: Egg Farm Lane | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale | Catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering | Lighting: Got Light | Band: Keith Johnson All Stars | Groom's Attire: Ralph Lauren | Officiant: Judge Alex Kozinski | Ceremony Music: Synchronicity Strings | Transportation: Royal Coach Limousine | Venue: Beaulieu Garden | After-party: Merryvale Vineyards | Norwegian Cake: Groom's mother | Wedding Photographers: Lori Paladino Photography

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A Garden Party Wedding We’d Die to Attend

Good gracious, this wedding. This garden set, floral-filled, impeccably styled wedding. It’s got some insanely talented vendors behind it, including Jose Villa, Bustle Events, Nicolette Camille, TEAM, and Paula LeDuc, but it’s also got a ton of heart. Read: the bride’s beaded reception gown was custom-made by her mom! Go snag a closer peek with a trip to The Vault.

Colors
Seasons
Spring
Settings
Garden
Styles
Al Fresco

From The Bride… I wanted to convey a sense of laid back luxury with a touch of rustic since we were dining under a 150-year sycamore tree trellis. Sas and I love rustic French decor. The rustic aspect came through with the patinated footed compotes with tumbling fruit, burnished votives, and a day of paper that was watercolor painted to match the dusty blush silk ribbons of my bouquet and corsage wristlets.

From Erin of Bustle Events… When I first met with Kaen and Sas to discuss the overall aesthetic they wanted for their Napa Valley wedding, Karen had mentioned her love for deep dramatic and moody colors. The wedding featured deep moody purples, dusty rose and muted grey blue with pops of gold. The ceremony took place in the garden with a semi-circle of potted plants and loose flowers created by the spectacular Nicolette Camille. Karen wore a Inbal Dror caped gown.

After the ceremony and cocktail hour Karen changed into a beautiful beaded dress her mom custom-made for her. The reception took place under the vine arbor. Guests found vintage bottles containing a single bloom and tied with their tables and names calligraphed on fabric. Each table was covered with textured grey linens, bowls of real fruit and lush centerpieces in gold footed containers. Guests place setting was adorn with a hand painted menu and a piece of quartz wrapped with gold wire.

The moody theme was carried out throughout the entire event. Paula Le Duc filled the guests bellies with the most amazing food and even used deep purple potatoes to keep in line with the food. The couple partied with their closest friends and family while dancing under the stars.

As Seen in the Current Edition of Flutter Magazine

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Photography: Jose Villa Photography | Event Planning: Bustle | Floral Design: Nicolette Camille | Wedding Dress: Inbal Dror | Wedding Dress: Handmade By Mother Of Bride | Invitations: Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence | Bride's Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Dessy Collection By Vivian Diamond | Hair + Makeup: TEAM Hair and Makeup | Calligraphy: Design House Of Moira | DJ: Boutique DJs | Groom's Attire: Tom Ford | Groomsmen Attire: Joseph Abboud | String Quartet: Garden Strings | Venue: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering | Catering + Cake: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering | Linen Rentals: La Tavola Fine Linen Rental | Menus: Design House Of Moira

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here
Blush and Lavender Auberge du Soleil Wedding

Oh how I love a love story. Mostly one that takes place in Italy and ends up with a gorgeous Auberge Du Soleil wedding so pretty I could cry. Every moment of this couples’ gorgeous day was filled with emotion and meaning (they even said their vows in Italian as a tribute to where their story began – so good, right!?) – this wedding, beautifully captured by Clane Gessel Photography, is truly one for the books.

Colors
Seasons
Spring
Styles
Al Fresco

From Clane Gessel PhotographyHow and when did the couple meet?

Don and Katie first met during a study abroad program in Siena, Italy during the winter quarter of 2004. Although they both attended UC Irvine, it took this specific time and place for them to finally meet. Don would admire Katie from afar, but eventually worked up the courage to talk to her one day. During a trip to Rome, Don overheard Katie talking to one of his flatmates about her interests in art, travel and music. He recognized commonalities they shared, and this piqued his interest even more. They were traveling wanderers starting to find their place in life and were drawing inspiration from everything around them. He learned she liked to sketch but hadn’t done so in awhile. With all their shared interests, Don just knew he had to get to know her better.

He made his first move after class one day when he handed her a sketchbook he had purchased especially for her. She opened the book to reveal his hand drawn rendering of the hands from the Sistine Chapel and an inscription that read, “Always treat your interests as divine”. Later that week, Katie went to visit Don to bring him some soup after he got sick on a weekend trip in Milan. She brought him a Venetian glass pen to thank him for the sketchbook, and showed him a drawing she made of the Piazza Del Campo in Siena, Italy. They were not only inspired by their surroundings, but also by what they would learn about each other. Don would later explain that his sketch to Katie was intended to symbolize the act of making a true connection. Sometimes in finding out who you are, you open yourself up to someone finding you. He felt lucky to have had this chance encounter at discovering true love. Katie and Don backpacked through Europe once the program ended and it was during those travels that they both realized their true connection, and could envision spending their futures with each other. Destiny brought them together and the rest became history.

How did the proposal take place?

During a spontaneous trip to Chicago in 2011, Don popped the question at the top of the John Hancock building while they dined at The Signature Room. He had been hiding the ring in his camera bag and was patiently waiting for the perfect moment to surprise Katie. While she was aware of an impending proposal, Katie never anticipated Don could obtain the ring in time for their trip. Unbeknownst to Katie, an elaborate plan had been in the works involving his brother’s friend delivering the ring from SoCal to SF, and Don sneaking away to pick him up from the airport, get the ring, and hide it while she was packing. Katie was so preoccupied with travel preparations that she didn’t even notice Don had left the apartment, let alone that he was collecting such a significant piece of jewelry…

Flash forward to the day of the proposal- Don wakes up early to call Katie’s mom, her brother and Aunt Suzanne to ask for permission. He doesn’t get a hold of Katie’s mom, but her brother and aunt enthusiastically give their blessing, and Katie’s mom texts hers by the end of the afternoon. Meanwhile, they enjoy a glorious day of sightseeing outside in the frigid November air. Don insists on treating Katie to a manicure after she notices her nail is chipped. Then they take an architectural boat tour over Lake Michigan where they catch a sunset against Chicago’s bold skyline. By the evening, Don casually mentions he has made a last minute reservation at the Signature Room for dinner.

Katie felt content to have found her soulmate, and remembered how Don had always wanted to bring her to Chicago, to the city where he was born. She also recalls how he had mentioned he would want to propose to her there and Katie felt a slight pang of disappointment that it wouldn’t happen. She casually wondered how he hypothetically would have proposed had he gotten the ring in time. When Katie asked him, Don paused with an amused look on his face. Then indulged her curiosity by explaining that if he had the ring, he would have proposed right here, and that he would have told Katie how happy he is to be here with her to show her a piece of his childhood. He tells Katie that as his life began here, in the symmetry of it all, he would want his life with her to start here as well and that this day would be the day where we would begin spending the rest of our lives together. Before Katie had a chance to fully process the beautifully romantic proposal that she hypothetically missed out on, something suddenly distracted her. At that moment, Don slowly reaches down into his camera bag and pulls out a small, blue velvet box. He proceeded to tell her, “The thing is, I do have the ring…” And that is literally all Katie could remember hearing him say. He slips the ring onto her finger and she choked out the word, “Yes!”. Then their charming waiter came by and asked them if they’ve just gotten engaged, and enthusiastically makes Don reenact the proposal for him while he took a picture of Don and Katie. Albeit, the second time around, he made Don properly get down on one knee and make a spectacle in front of the onlooking diners.

What was your fondest wedding moment?

That’s a hard question. Everything about our wedding was just unbelievably amazing, emotional, and breathtakingly beautiful. It’s a toss up between exchanging our personal vows to each other in Italian, and seeing each other for the first time during the “First Look” photo session before the ceremony. During both moments, Katie could see Don’s eyes beginning to well up with tears, and she had to consciously stop herself from crying and ruining her expertly applied makeup. There would not have been enough time to redo it. That said, she was crying happy tears on the inside! Interesting facts about you and your spouse that you would like to share.

FUN FACTS ABOUT KATHERINE JOE (KATIE)

Katie is the youngest child of Jeanie and the late Alvin Joe, Jr. She has one older brother, Steven. She grew up in San Francisco, and has lived there most of her life. Since a young age, she was determined by her family to be strong willed, artistically gifted, and very bright. She enjoyed trying to outwit her older brother Steven to keep him on his toes. She loves to spend her time getting lost in a good book, engineering solutions to common household problems, occasionally joining an indoor cycling cult, challenging herself with learning new skills, and cuddling on the sofa at night with Don and their canine compadre, Finn. She takes after her father in her passion for great food, and Don has observed that the way to her heart is usually through her stomach. Her proudest and most recent accomplishment has been competing in a half marathon with Don over this past summer, having trained for less than 5 weeks (not recommended). Katie has finally found her perfect match in Don; his unwavering belief in her inspires Katie to challenge herself beyond her own expectations. She loves and admires Don most for his kind-hearted, genuine and selfless nature. He is truly the most thoughtful person she has ever met.

FUN FACTS ABOUT DONALD BANAYO (DON)

Don is the youngest son of Manolo and Aniceta Banayo. He has two older brothers, Emmanuel and Patrick. Don was born in Chicago, but moved to San Diego at a young age after getting Pneumonia due to his susceptibility to the cold and harshness of Illinois winters. Although difficult for his loving parents, they made sacrifices and took risks for their family and started their new life in California. As a young boy, Don has always been a gifted artist skilled at painting and sketching. He has an affinity for music and would later collect a large number of vintage vinyl records including some of Katie’s late father’s. Although Don has a severe food allergy to tree nuts and fish, it does not hinder his appreciation for great food that he learned from Katie and the Joe Family. He loves all things with a story, a good glass of scotch or a refreshing IPA, enjoys getting lost in a good film, and gets a kick out of muggle technology and all things tech. Don is a man of many interests, is a constant tinkerer, a geek, a dreamer, and a kindhearted old soul. He is often rendered powerless to the smile of his beloved Katie and her fearsome sidekick Finny the dog. Yet even in certain defeat, Don has an everlasting love for the two who serve as his constant inspiration.

Where do you reside and what are your occupations?

We reside in San Francisco’s Pac Heights neighborhood. Don is in mortgage lending operations, and Katie is a property manager.

Who were your favorite wedding vendors?

This is an impossible question! It’s like asking who your favorite child is! All of our vendors were phenomenal and made our wedding go off without a hitch. If you twisted my arm, Amber McKenney of Sweet on Cake was so much fun to work with. Jin Wang of Jin Wang Bridal in San Francisco was instrumental in helping me find the perfect gown. Her attention to detail and honest critique is what makes her a true bridal gown expert. Emily Coyne of Auberge du Soleil was amazing to work with too and went above and beyond in helping us create our dream wedding. She gave us many of the referrals for our other vendors. Paul Stokey of Tesoro Flowers is a magician with floral artistry. He took my vision to another level. Bellarosa String Quartet and DJ Josh Dukes were the best! Sherrie Long, my hair and makeup artist, made me look and feel like a beautiful bride. Her specialty is creating glowing, 3 dimensional bridal makeup looks that photograph extremely well. Kim Remulla, my day-of coordinator worked tirelessly behind the scenes to carry out the little details I planned like filling organza bags with fresh rose petals for tossing. Alex and Ysabel from Say Ya Photo Booth really engaged all our guests and provided such a fun experience with all of their awesome props. And last but certainly not least, our photographer Clane Gessel is such an extraordinary talent. We were blown away by his work from the beginning and never looked back. He knows how to position you to capture incredible shots and spectacular lighting. He made us look like a dream.

What advice do you have for future brides?

Enjoy every moment of your wedding! Don’t stress out on the little details. The day goes by so fast, that you need to remember to take moments for yourself and enjoy everything you’ve created. It’s a beautiful milestone in your life that deserves to be remembered. Having a day-of coordinator is indispensable for allowing you to focus your time on enjoying your big day. Yes, the wedding is a big expense, but for us it was all worth it. Looking back at the photos and videos brings us back to that day and all the love and happy emotions return and remind us of what life is all about.

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Photography: Clane Gessel Photography | Event Planning: Auberge Du Soleil | Floral Design: Tesoro Flowers | Wedding Dress: jinwang | Cake: Sweet on Cake | Hair + Makeup: Sherrie Long Makeup Hair & Effects | DJ: Josh Dukes | Favors: Xox Truffles | String Quartet: Bellarosa String Quartet | Venue: Auberge Du Soleil | Photo Booth: Say Ya Photobooth

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