Shortly after Tony and I got engaged, I scheduled a bridal gown consultation at Vera Wang to celebrate our engagement and the start of wedding planning with my sisters and mom. I had zero intentions of actually choosing a gown on our first outing as we had only been engaged for a few days and we had yet to set the date or select a venue. However, the moment I caught sight of the Vera Wang gown Kate Hudson wore in “Bride Wars,” I knew I had found the one! A few twirls later, we put down the deposit and called it a day. Since the dress is quite a BIG statement, it was important to us that our wedding matched the style of the dress— elegant, romantic, and classic.
At the time, we were living in Florence, Italy and we wanted to choose a venue that captured the essence of Tuscany, complete with rolling hills and sunset views. My sisters suggested Clos LaChance Winery in San Martin, California and we immediately fell in love with the vineyard’s Tuscan charm, panoramic views, and California feel. We even booked it prior to ever visiting! The venue provided an elegant, yet easygoing and intimate setting to create our dream Tuscan-inspired wedding.
We chose a classic color palette of white, ivory, and pale blush with gold accents that enhanced the aesthetics of the venue and added a touch of elegance without distracting from the setting’s natural beauty. We are not a traditional couple by any means. In fact, we had three maids of honor and three best men, including our beloved dog, but I was uncertain whether an all-white bridal party would be a fleeting trend or detract from the bride. Eventually, we decided we loved the look of a clean white and ivory color scheme and any other color would take away from the backdrop’s gorgeous views. I wanted all of my bridesmaids to feel beautiful so I asked them to choose their preferred dress style. From maternity to mermaid style dresses, all of my bridesmaids looked incredible in their unique style and I knew there wouldn’t be any confusion over who the bride was with the size of my dress!
We worked with an amazing florist, Shawna of Flower Divas, who helped transform Clos LaChance from charming to elegant. We were extremely fortunate that our florist was really our pseudo wedding planner, because planning a destination wedding (even if the destination is your hometown) from abroad without a wedding planner is stressful! She was available 24/7, offered advice and suggestions, and brought our vision to life. She did so much work behind the scenes, including contacting five different wholesalers to find creamy white French Anemones with dark blue centers to tie in with my husband’s midnight blue tuxedo for our June wedding! For the bridal bouquets, floral garlands, and centerpieces we used a variety of white, ivory, and pale blush David Austen Garden Roses, Ecuadorian roses, ranunculus, hydrangeas, lisianthus, and French Anemones. We decorated the wedding ceremony aisle with an assortment of overflowing stone urns to create a Tuscan feel. We brought in an arch and covered it in tulle fabric to complement my dress and draped it with white and ivory floral garlands to create a “frame” for our ceremony.
We wanted our ceremony to be personal, meaningful, and entertaining so we opted to write our own vows and asked my brother-in-law to officiate. We had so much fun writing and planning our ceremony and it made our day that much more special to have a family member marry us. It didn’t hurt that we had guests in tears from laughing so hard either! On a last minute whim, I asked our florist to create a customized floral backdrop for our photo booth and it ended up being one of my favorite aspects of the night! We used artificial green ivy mats for the wall and adorned it with fresh flowers in white, ivory, and blush. We worked with Shutterbooth to create a personalized logo for our photo strip, which included our monogram, names, and the date of our wedding. Guests couldn’t get enough of the photo booth, which made for some pretty memorable photos towards the end of the night! For the dinner reception we continued with the white and ivory color palette and selected ivory linens and subtle ivory and champagne pinstriped napkins to create a clean and classic look. We used a mix of high and low centerpieces with gold votive candles, gold framed table numbers, gold letterpress menus, and gold accented chargers, flatware, and glassware to create an elegant and romantic tablescape.
We are both huge foodies and it was important to us that our wedding dinner was delicious, memorable, and interactive for our wedding guests. We worked with our caterer, CordeValle, to create a customized plated family-style dinner that was symbolic of our time living abroad, but also paid homage to the California region. At the dinner service, guests were encouraged to share, relax, and indulge in multiple servings of dishes prepared with local ingredients that held a special place in our hearts. Cordevalle was able to recreate several of our favorite “food memories,” including a Salad of Endives with Crispy Potatoes, Dijon, Pancetta, and Poached Egg reminiscent of one of our favorite bistros in Paris and Smoked Angus Striploin with a Blackberry Demi Glaze using local California produce. At the end of the night, we offered “Late Night Bites” to our guests that represented our favorite guilty pleasures, such as “In’N’Out” style sliders and fries, Chicago style cheddar and caramel popcorn, and mini doughnuts.
To add a personal DIY touch to our wedding, I asked my mom to handwrite all of our wedding signage. We collected gold frames for months leading up to the wedding and she used her calligraphy skills and a gold permanent marker to create the table seating assignment, bar, dessert, and guestbook signs. One of our favorite signs was a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald representative of the “Lost Generation” in Paris where we currently live, which we displayed at the bar during cocktail hour.
Advice for Other Brides
As you get into the final stages of planning your wedding it’s inevitable you will have regrets (venue regrets, vendor regrets, dress regrets, invitation regrets, décor regrets, budget regrets, etc.), but chances are you have already put down a deposit or signed a contract and there’s no turning back now. Just TRY to remember how you fell in love with the idea in the first place, trust your instincts, and remind yourself of what’s really important; you are getting married to the love of your life and you get to celebrate with all of your loved ones!