Finding the Most Picturesque Wedding Venue Via Pinterest
March 2, 2018
California
Al FrescoVineyardSpring Weddings
Social Media is more than just pretty pictures and this Sonoma wedding is the living proof. After finding their perfect venue, Annadel Estate Winery, on Pinterest, this couple began vetting a rockstar team of vendors through Instagram. Crafted by Alicia K Designs, with florals by Loop Event Arts and Brett Heidebrecht's beautiful imagery, this California meets english garden party is the stunning result.
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How We Met... (from Grace)
I met Eric when he sat down next to me in Government class on the first day of our senior year of high school. What started out as just small talk between class periods became chatting online via AIM, going (as friends) to Homecoming, and becoming “Facebook official” in our second semester. Upon graduating, we attended universities that were 400 miles apart, and after thousands of text messages, hundreds of phone calls, and dozens of trips to see each other, we completed our degrees and moved to San Francisco together!

The Engagement… (from Eric)
After several years together in San Francisco and around the time I was considering proposing, I got a fantastic opportunity through my employer to work in Munich for a month. Grace and I then planned to travel around Europe after my business trip ended. I packed an engagement ring in a travel waistband and tried to calm my nerves and wait for the right moment. The ideal time appeared a couple days into our trip after arriving in Cinque Terre, while on a pre-dinner stroll along a path above Vernazza. It was the perfect location with an amazing panoramic view, a beautiful sunset and no one else around, so I seized the moment and asked—and she said yes!

Planning Our Wedding… (from Grace)
After we returned from our trip I started saving hundreds of inspiration images, which Eric and I comprehensively reviewed to nail down what would work for OUR wedding. Also, knowing that we wanted to get married near our Bay-Area-based families, we decided we wanted a venue in the beautiful Napa/Sonoma region. As one of the destination wedding capitals of the world, there were hundreds of venues to sort through, but once we honed in on our criteria—outdoors, with distinct ceremony and reception spaces, and within two hours of the city—the list narrowed.

We ended up finding our venue via Pinterest, and totally fell for it at our first visit. The beautiful roses growing inside the property’s chapel-like stone ruins provided the perfect backdrop, and we loved the character and authenticity of the property. Over the coming weeks we visited a dozen other venues (and even programmed a decision matrix to help us choose!) but deep down we both knew that the first venue—Annadel Estate Winery—was the one for us, even though it took a bit more logistical work to get it set up for a wedding.

Once we had the venue and a date, we realized we needed major help to get everything in order. We started with Annadel’s suggested coordinator list and combed through the planner’s websites, portfolios, and even Pinterest accounts. A great piece of advice I received was to analyze the Instagram accounts of any potential planners—or really, any vendor—you may hire. Often Instagram is kept more up-to-date than official portfolios, and is a great way to easily see what a vendor is doing NOW, instead of what they did several months ago. We fell in love with the work of Alicia K Designs, and after talking with them we knew we would be in expert, caring hands! Together we decided on a California-meets-English-garden vibe, with soft purples, greys and navy blue, and added texture with linen, wood and lots of greenery.

One of our other top priorities for the wedding was serving a great family-style meal to our guests. We had been to The Girl and The Fig restaurant in Sonoma before, and after hearing that they catered and could do mini sliders as well as our favorite pesto gnocchi, our caterer search was over. The food was so amazing, and more than a year later our guests still rave over how delicious everything was!

Truthfully, at this point I got a bit overwhelmed with the whole planning process. What got me through the planning daze was focusing on what was most important to me, and deprioritize, delegate or eliminate the other decisions. To me, the four most important things were the photographer, the florist, our first dance choreography and the invitations, so I tackled those next. I found our photographer Brett Heidebrecht, and our florist Loop Flowers through Style Me Pretty’s Real Weddings section; our invitations designer through Etsy; and our dance instructor through Yelp—thank goodness for the internet!

I think the most helpful thing I did while wedding planning was hiring people whose WHOLE portfolio I genuinely loved, and then allowing them a bit of room and creative license to "do their thing." By choosing professionals who have spent years honing their skills to deliver a portfolio of work they are proud of (and that their past clients were happy with), I felt like I could relax a bit more and rely on their expertise as I knew they were making the best decisions possible on my behalf.

Another valuable piece of advice I received from Jessica, our coordinator at Alicia K Designs, was to avoid planning any DIY projects that couldn’t be completed a month before the wedding. Based on this we scaled back the number of projects we took on, and focused on a few special details. After finding an old iron gate at the flea market, I was inspired to break out my calligraphy nibs and handwrite all the escort cards, which Eric then tied with twine to the decorative scrollwork. I also found a series of small antique frames which I used to display some botanical drawings for the table numbers, and thrifted some silver goblets (along with my parent’s wedding day toasting flutes) to hold arrangements at the cocktail tables, among other details. I thought we stayed pretty on top of it all, but we still found ourselves using the three days of vacation before our wedding to finish all our projects, and even ended up stuffing the wedding programs in the front seat of the car on our drive to the ceremony rehearsal! However, once our wedding day arrived we were able to mentally relinquish control and enjoy our day, as Jessica took over and directed everything flawlessly.

Lastly—and I know it sounds cheesy—throughout the day I made sure to take several mental snapshots of how everything looked, how happy Eric was, and how I was feeling. There were a few things that didn’t go as planned, but there were also several wonderful surprises. One of my favorite moments was when the last song was announced at our reception, and all our guests linked arms and belted along with Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. That is a moment which we couldn’t plan for, but was created by all the incredible friends and family that we have in our lives. It’s truly because of them that we had a wedding we’ll never forget.