Cozy Union Hill Inn Wedding
May 9, 2014
RusticVintageHotels + Resorts Weddings
This wedding? It's irresistible. It's the kind of wedding that will make you blush at just a few glances. As ready as I am for warm sunny days, this wintry gallery from onelove photography is one I don't mind cozying up to for just a wee bit longer. Oh, and when I say you have to watch the film from Amari Productions, you have to. I've watched it twice already and I promise, it'll leave you with a grin from ear to ear.
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From the beautiful Bride… Austin and I have spent 8 beautiful, and perfectly imperfect years growing up together and falling in love. A few of those years were spent at a distance (it CAN be done!) while we both pursued individual passions. When I first saw Austin one evening during freshman student-athlete orientation week at Stanford (he played baseball, and I lacrosse), I proclaimed he was ‘the one’ (Don't worry, not to his face). After college, when the world suddenly felt big, the one thing I never questioned was our love. And when the long distance started to take its toll, it was the support of and energy from our family and friends that helped us through. From gifted airline tickets and points from our parents, to surprise romantic getaways planned by friends, to timely hugs, phone calls, jokes, and listening ears, our relationship has always been bigger than just us. It has been shaped and touched by so many others along the way, and we wanted everyone (present and not) to feel warm, loved, involved, and appreciated. For all of these reasons and more, we wanted our wedding to be intimate yet fun, emotional yet light, and deeply personal yet inclusive. We accomplished this by having a mini destination wedding in a small town where everyone would be together, having our close mutual friend (Stephen Brown) officiate with a ceremony we all worked together to design, writing and delivering our own vows, having a big bridal party yet just our siblings with us at the alter, and storytelling through decor wherever possible.

Austin’s minor league baseball travel brought us to small towns all over the country full of character, history, and some of the kindest people we've met. Visiting Sonora and Union Hill brought us back to that challenging, but special time in our relationship, while at the same time offering us the perfect spot to start our exciting new chapter. While the decision to have a winter wedding was mainly to coincide with the baseball off-season so that our friends who play could be there, it is also our favorite time of year. We both come from families with Moms who, combined, account for 96% of holiday decor sales annually. Austin's family is seriously good at Christmas, and I grew up in a home where there was always a fire burning (real, not gas) and candles lit. I also went to high school at an all girls school where sweater weather was highly anticipated and hot chocolate was frequently consumed. We decided we wanted a wedding that harnessed the magic, spirit, coziness, and peace of the season, without being overtly holiday themed.

Individual lanterns & custom matchboxes: My favorite part of evening Christmas Eve church service growing up was the candle lighting ceremony. Everyone receives a candle as they walk in, which are later used to illuminate the church as the lights are turned off and music plays. We decided to re-create this at our wedding which ended up being quite the perfect solution to the power outage. Everyone kept their candles lit even after our guitarist Jason finished singing, then using them to light the way to cocktails! What an unforgettable view we had from the alter.

Mini flags w/bells: Christie & PJ made little customized flags with mini gold bells attached for people to wave as we processed out of the chapel. They had a mix of exclamations on them, my favorites including “Yay!” and “Go Card!” (a common cheer at Stanford athletic events).

Bambi’s bells: Our table assignments were done with vintage cowbells. Not only did I (unwillingly) receive the nickname ‘Bessy the Cow’ at summer camp, but my Mom Bambi was infamous for ringing a cowbell to corral my brothers and I in for dinner and to communicate her enthusiasm at all of our athletic events.

Table Names: Instead of table numbers, we named each table after important places in our lives and relationship, including the dorm where we first met (Branner), the baseball and lacrosse fields (Sunken Diamond and Maloney Field) where we played our games throughout college, our favorite study spot (CoHo), our first date spot (Cheesecake Factory), and our favorite restaurant in San Francisco (Frascati). At each table we included a fun story about the significance of each place and people involved in our experiences.

Milk & Cookies: Along with our beautiful cake and candy bar, we brought in cookies from Jimmy V’s Sports Cafe, infamous at Stanford particularly amongst student athletes. A surprise for our teammates in attendance.

Madlibs: We had custom madlibs created for each place setting and had SO much fun reading through all the responses when we were back at home after the wedding and honeymoon.

Gold Dipped… Everything!: Austin and I both love neutral colors and rustic/reclaimed decor, and it’s no secret that I love gold touches. Finding our dream venue in Gold Country was serendipitous and so gold became a major motif. Gold dipped candles, gold dipped vases, gold dipped antlers for centerpieces, gold dipped bark pencils to complete the madlibs, gold dipped A&B letters, and whatever else Christie and PJ could get their hands on to dip. I remember walking into the reception hall after our first look (before the ceremony and before the power came back on) and literally having my breath taken away by what those two amazing ladies had done.

My advice to current brides:

1. Take every opportunity to turn a wedding task into a fun date or activity. Turn a food tasting into an impromptu overnight getaway or date night, stuff invitation envelopes as a catch up session with a group of friends, or work on budgeting together over a mimosa brunch.

2. Things WILL happen that you didn’t plan for, that you can’t plan for. Perhaps it won’t be an epic snowstorm the night before your wedding, or a city wide power outage the day of, but it will be something. I promise that these are the very things that will lead to some of your favorite stories and memories.

3. Build in some private time with your new husband or wife right after you get married and before you join the party to appreciate each other, that moment, and everything and everyone around you. This was some of the best advice I was given by a close friend. I'll never forget it.

4. Pick vendors whose work you love, but more importantly, who you love as people. They can be the most unexpected support system you have on your big day.

5. Remember to take care of yourself. There are times you will feel overwhelmed. Remember to do things that help you keep perspective. Get a massage, exercise, sit with a good friend and cry or laugh, read, go outside, hold a puppy…

Our best memories of the day:

- Waking up to a snowy winter wonderland and a massive power outage
- Standing at the alter with our officiant and dear friend Stephen Brown ("Brownie") who was a classmate of ours at Stanford and has known each of us since the very beginning.
- Sharing the vows we wrote with one another.
- We decided to skip part of the cocktail hour to enjoy some private time, appetizers, and our signature drinks by the fireplace at the alter. As we lifted our glasses for a toast, we heard a thunderous roar from the barn chapel below as our guests celebrated the power coming back on. Right in time for the reception!
- Watching our wedding party dance into the reception to “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy”.
- Our first dance that we had so much fun learning and practicing with our incredibly talented choreographer and friend, Annemarie of The 8Count.