Liz and Kyle said “I do” on a sunny Sonoma day that celebrated not only their love for one another, but for their family and friends. We adore the bride’s bouquet, the grape arbor hung with crystal chandeliers where they exchanged their wedding vows and the gilded details at the reception, but we think this couple’s thoughtful approach to wedding planning is the best part of this beautiful celebration.
“Many people told us to make our wedding day ALL ABOUT US. And luckily, we were able to plan our perfect day. But a wedding isn’t just for the couple – it is also for your family and friends, and lets them share in your special moment. So, we tried to be really conscious of the experience our guests would have the weekend of our wedding. We wanted it to feel like a little getaway celebration, which is why we chose Sonoma, half way between our families in Los Angeles and Portland, and just outside of our home in San Francisco. We thought a lot about our guests’ experience that weekend, and it made for the most wonderful celebration.”
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? Kyle wore his grandfather’s Rolex watch and I wore my grandmother’s sapphire and diamond ring. It was special to have our family heirlooms on during our big day.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? What they say is true – after all that planning, you finally get to live out all the spreadsheets and timelines, but the day can fly by if you let it. Some lovely friends took us aside throughout the weekend, reminding us to breathe, savor, and enjoy.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? The weekend goes so fast, so we tried to spend every second with our guests and each other. We rented out the Inn above our venue so we could have some of our closest pals in the neighboring rooms, and we did a first look to give us quiet time together and allow us to enjoy cocktail hour with everyone. At the reception, we tried to stick together. It is so easy to get pulled apart into different conversations, so use the buddy system and just hold hands! // We also did first looks with our parents. We are both only children and our families of three are extremely close, so it felt important to spend private time together on the day of our wedding.
“We wanted a venue that could accommodate both our ceremony and reception, knowing that we would be dying to get the party started. Ramekins fit the bill perfectly in a picturesque setting. After we said “I do,” we were mere steps from delicious food, our first sips of champagne as a married couple, and the waiting arms of our friends and family.”
Your ceremony in three words. Heartfelt, personal, and brief!
Did you do anything special for your guests at the ceremony? We were having an outdoor ceremony in August, and the weather in Sonoma was quite warm. We provided parasols to shade guests from the sun, and set up lemonade, iced tea and cucumber water to make sure everyone stayed cool.
What was your ceremony music? Our processional was Jose Gonzalez’s “Heartbeats.” I walked down the aisle with my parents to Phoenix’s “Love Like a Sunset Part 2.” And Kyle and I walked back down the aisle to Bright Eyes’ “First Day of My Life,” which has the sweetest lyrics and is a college favorite from when we were falling in love.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We wrote our ceremony together with our officiant. We wanted to recognize our parents, have our friends take part through readings, and share a mix of personal and traditional vows. To write our personal vows, we agreed on a basic template ahead of time – we would recount qualities we loved in each other, three promises we would make to each other, and a wish for the future. We read them aloud a week before the wedding to get the jitters out.
What were your ceremony readings? Instructions for Life in the New Millennium by the 14th Dali Lama, an excerpt from The Alchemist, and a reading from 1 Corinthians.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Your wedding is a rare opportunity to share your heart with your future spouse in front of your friends and family. It was so special to be able to read our personal vows with everyone we love as witnesses. Also, walking down the aisle was an incredible experience that we weren’t prepared for – it was like a dream. Having every face from every part of your life smiling at you all at once was pretty intense, in a good way. Not to mention, my vision was a little hazy at that moment – the veil, the sun and some serious eyelashes led to everything having a soft focus that was otherworldly.
“Our wedding reception was a magical, meaningful, gold-gilded, champagne-fueled, love-filled evening. From start to finish it was the best day of our lives. It was both the culmination of our relationship and beginning of our marriage tied into one.”
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? We wanted to thank our guests for what they had brought to our lives and relationship, so we wrote personalized notes to everyone and used them as place cards so they could be read before dinner was served. Our friends and family are truly amazing, supportive, and awesome people, and it was important to show gratitude and tell them how much they meant to us. // We also wanted to honor our lineage. Our parents have each been together for over 35 years. We asked both sides of our family to collect wedding photos from previous generations so we could display them during cocktail hour. It was really fun to see all the love and wedding day photos from years before – and all the fashion!
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? One of the benefits of getting married in a place like Sonoma is that you don’t have to do much. So we let the scenery at our venue shine through and just added a few special touches. That, plus some great food and an open bar, made for a wonderful evening!
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? The budget is hard and can make planning very stressful. Do what you can to pick a few priorities and scale back on the rest. At the end of the day, it’s important that you have a meaningful, fun day filled with love, so just keep coming back to that goal.
What was your wedding menu? Passed hors d’oeuvres included black Mission figs with crispy pancetta, barbecue pulled pork sliders and Ahi tun tostadas with lime crema. The main course was an heirloom tomato and watermelon salad and a choice of a grilled bistro filet or brined Petaluma chicken breast.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a salted caramel cake from Crisp Bake Shop, as well as a dessert bar with salted brownie bites, chocolate dipped cheesecake pops, fruit tartlets and mini s’mores. When it comes to sweets, we think more is more!
What was your first dance song? Our first dance was to Ray LaMontagne’s “You are the Best Thing” – the title says it all! My father and I honored our family’s love for Frank Sinatra with “The Way You Look Tonight“, and Kyle and his mom danced to “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart.
How did you create the décor for your reception? I spent several weekends hand-painting candles for the tables and spray painting frames for the family photos and signs. Everything in our house got the Midas touch!
Tell us about your last dance. The last dance was pretty epic. When “Wonderwall“, my lucky song, came on, everyone circled the dance floor and sang at the top of their lungs as we danced in the middle. By the last chorus, all our guests had come in for one huge group hug, with us and our parents in the center.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? We were blown away by the outpouring of love we felt all weekend so it is tough to choose just one moment. The speeches Kyle’s best man, Liz’s maid of honor, and our parents gave were so thoughtful, and had hilarious visual aids! We didn’t hire a videographer, but one of Kyle’s friends was kind enough to capture the most important moments throughout the day, like our ceremony, toasts and our first dance, on video. A friend covered our bed with golden rose petals and made sure we had some dessert saved for the next morning with coffee. We had so many people who moved mountains to celebrate in person with us – several of our friends in medical residency planned their whole year’s vacation around our date and Kyle had a friend come from abroad. We got countless hugs, hand squeezes, kisses and words of love and support. But, if we had to choose one – it would be when we were introduced into dinner officially as husband and wife. Walking through the double doors to standing applause while M83’s “Midnight City” played made us feel pretty special.