I adore Garden Pavilion, and Katie and Dave’s beautiful October wedding will show you exactly why… that beautiful house with a big front porch, the walk down the aisle and over a little bridge… add gorgeous florals and an incredibly thoughtful bride and groom, and you’ve got the makings of a spectacular wedding celebration.
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? We are both from the East Coast but have lived in California for the past few years and felt that Sonoma would be a beautiful place for our friends and family to come out to in the fall. The Garden Pavilion was the first and only venue we visited! We had the entire wedding there, as well as the Sunday brunch. It feels like a secret garden and has all sorts of spaces filled with incredible old provencal decor and furniture. There are vineyards and palm trees, huge flowering stalks and flat lawns. There’s even a little pool! Having your wedding there gives you the full run of the place from Friday through Sunday, and some of our wedding party even stayed in the big house on the grounds. We extended our own stay from Thursday through Monday, and it was such a treat to settle in to this wonderful spot for so many days, almost like a pre-honeymoon.
“Dave is Jewish and I am Catholic and we wanted to include elements of both traditions but not be restricted by either. I am a writer and in hindsight I realize that my planning of the ceremony very much reflected the way I typically work on a story. There was research and rabbit holes and reading all 200 comments on every marginally relevant blog post… there was a long period in which I was paralyzed by choices and crippled with indecision… and there was the deadline-day clarity that came with waking up really early, finding a quiet spot with a pretty view, and putting together all the pieces that I’d been collecting along the way. Then celebrating with a glass of wine!”
Your ceremony in three words. Spirited, inclusive, bright.
Who officiated your ceremony? I’ll never forget my friend Andrew Krucoff’s face when I asked if he’d be willing to officiate our wedding — it was a look of complete terror. I thought there was no chance he’d agree to do it. But he had been the first person that came to mind for Dave and I when we talked about having a mutual friend officiate. Some of our favorite New York memories had taken place at Friday night Shabbat dinners at his apartment and we wanted that raucously inclusive spirit to be part of our wedding day. Eventually I pestered him about it enough, he relented, he fretted, and then he went and knocked it out of the park. (My personal favorite moment was his closing line: “Now smash the patriarchy and kiss the bride!”)
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? It was important to my mom that we have a passage from the Bible in our ceremony, so we included an Old Testament reading. (It included the line “flowers appear on the earth / the time of singing has come” which suited our wedding well and were also part of a song that I remember singing at church.) We all loved the Jewish tradition of both the bride and groom walking down the aisle with both of their parents, so we incorporated that. The resulting memories and photos are some of my favorites. We also did the Jewish breaking of the glass, but more on that in a moment…
What was your ceremony music? We had a bluegrass duet who played Ashokan Farewell for most of the processional, Canon in D for my walk down the aisle, and Up on Cripple Creek at the end. They also played throughout the cocktail reception. But the absolute stars of the show were my gorgeous cousins Elizabeth and Meredith O’Leary, whose performance of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” was stunning and meant so, so much to me and Dave.
What were your ceremony readings? A reading from the book of Song of Songs, “Union” by Robert Fulghum, and a traditional Irish wedding blessing.
What were your vows like? I am a crier and knew I wouldn’t be able to handle reading vows of any significant length, so ours was short and sweet: “I promise to support and challenge you as we face every adventure together. I love you and you’re my best friend.” I found the book Into The Garden: A Wedding Anthology to be so useful in planning the ceremony. (I actually left it behind on a bookcase at the venue as a sort of gift offering to the wedding gods!)
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? It was the moment when our officiant read the words “as this glass shatters, so may your marriage never break” and my darling beloved looked at me, stricken, and mouthed: “…..I forgot the glass.” The officiant’s mic picked up my response: “Oh dear.” The next minute was a blur — all I really remember is a lot of laughter and seeing caterers scurry looking for something we could break. Dave ended up stomping on an enormous wine glass (not even champagne!) wrapped in a napkin as one of my worried bridesmaids blurted out “everyone shield your eyes!” It really couldn’t have gone any better.
“So much of our inspiration came from the venue itself — it’s just such a lush, floral setting in the middle of a beautiful region and I wanted to reinforce that. (When people asked me what my wedding colors were I was always like, “Um… is ‘lots of flowers’ a color?”) I love flowers almost as much as I love paper products and was so excited to learn out that my favorite stationer Rifle Paper Co. offered wedding invitations. At dinner I knew I wanted to use old colorful china as an extension of that theme. We had food from a caterer known for sourcing fresh wine country ingredients, wine from an old friend’s family winery (where we held a fabulous Thursday tasting event for early-arrivers) and perfect gorgeous flower arrangements from our old neighborhood florist in San Francisco. We also made sure to have lawn games.
“If I had to sum up our wedding I’d call it an English garden wedding meets a wine country dinner followed by a high school dance party and a speakers-on-the-porch late night.”
What was your wedding menu? We served dinner family style so that everyone could get a taste of all the dishes, and I can’t say enough about Grapevine catering. The first course was a salad of baby lettuce, strawberries, spicy almonds, blue cheese and Chardonnay vinaigrette. Dinner was cabernet-braised short ribs with tomatos and onion jus, paired with a syrah from Donelan Wines, and a porcini-dusted sea bass with poached figs, golden balsamic, and Cabernet sea salt with a chardonnay from the same winery. The sides were roasted vegetables and a summer corn and charred tomato risotto.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Black pepper cake with strawberries, balsamic whipped cream, and a buttercream icing, and a gluten-free chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and candied coffee beans. We also served pecan pie and plum pie.
Did you have a signature cocktail? We had Old Fashioneds and Transfusions but in general the bar was mostly a free-for-all.
First dance: “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen
Father/Daughter dance: “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel
Mother/Son dance: “Anything You Want (You Got It)” by the Traveling Wilburys
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. My nieces wearing their flower girl dresses and leopard-print cardigans and absolutely killing it on the dance floor for hours on end… Refusing to relinquish my bouquet at the cocktail hour, no matter how many people offered to take it off my hands … Passing around a handle of Maker’s Mark and giggling with some of my best friends, as if we were back in someone’s dorm room or basement… Taking Polaroid selfies… My mother in law passing out leis on the dance floor (“because you’re going to Hawaii on your honeymoon!” she kept saying)… Feeling so much love for my amazing maid of honor for basically the entire year leading up to my wedding… Watching people serve themselves seconds on food … Eating pulled pork sliders and dancing to “Hips Don’t Lie” off a terrible stereo at the late-night.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? Not really. We did have a table of wedding photos from our parents, grandparents, etc, which I always love seeing at other people’s weddings! Also, I don’t know if this counts as a tradition, but our florist was meaningful to us. Dave and I were long-distance between NYC and SF before I moved out west in 2011. When I arrived he had the most lovely flower arrangement waiting on our mantle from Verde SF florist down the street. Monica ultimately designed the flowers for our wedding and I can’t say enough about how happy they made me. We kept a number of the vases from the arrangements.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? I had so much fun buying vintage stamps on Etsy for the invitation envelopes.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Make sure to eat! If you can, ask your caterer to make a little plate-for-later for you. (I know everyone always says “take a moment to take it all in” here, but honestly, you can’t take a moment to do ANYTHING if you don’t eat.) More minor advice that I appreciated: numbering the RSVP cards lightly in pencil on the back to track responses can really help solve some handwriting mysteries.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? It will become apparent what sorts of things really matter to you and which things you’re more “whatever” about. These things may surprise you! But don’t be afraid to really indulge the former at the expense of the latter. Also, write thank you notes the second you receive a gift or you’ll live to regret it.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I wish I had a great video of my cousins singing at the ceremony. Also, we forgot to sign and send back the contract for the photo booth and didn’t realize our mistake until the wedding was half over and the guy wasn’t there. These are both problems I’m lucky to have!
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? We now have approximately 150 wedding-themed matchbooks, 400 napkins, and 100 bookmarks in our house that we completely forgot to set out as favors. Anyone need a light?
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? My favorite memory was when I took a moment to survey the venue well into the night and saw people scattered all over – some playing lawn games, some lounging on porch chairs drinking coffee and eating pie, and many dancing to late 90’s/early 00’s hits. I just felt such true contentment. The food was delicious, the wine was superb, “Return of the Mack” was playing, and just about all of my favorite people in the world were right there in one place. It was everything I had hoped would happen.