Last September, my sister’s wedding was cancelled due to the catastrophic flooding in Colorado. Instead of postponing their nuptials, she and her fiance ran off to the wine country to get hitched that very weekend. This is the story of their elopement, with beautiful photos from Select vendor, Christina McNeill. And if you missed it earlier, you can see Part One of Lora and Grant’s wedding story right here, where my sister talks about planning a wedding that didn’t happen.
On Friday morning, the day before their Colorado wedding would have happened, my sister says, “I woke up in our beautiful hotel room in Napa and prepared to exchange vows with my husband-to-be. Our wedding photographer lives in the Bay Area, so she was able to pick up some things from local loved ones: champagne and a few good luck trinkets from my sister, and gold bows for my shoes (and a glue gun to attach them with) and a beautiful bouquet from my godmother. I had my dress, which was just as I had imagined it. I had my veil to make me feel like a true bride. I did my makeup and hair. And I was so sure in what I was about to do, that I knew the day would be just as it should be, and I embraced it with both arms.”
Lora’s dress was a simple white chiffon bridesmaid dress from J.Crew to which she added a polka dotted illusion top and sleeves.
“Grant looked very handsome in his suit, and I felt gorgeous just from how he beamed at me.” Isn’t this how every bride wants to feel on her wedding day?!
Lora and Grant walked up the steps of the Napa Valley courthouse, only to be told that they were in the wrong place… instead they needed to go around the corner, down a little alley, to the county clerk recorder’s office…
The best advice Lora received as a bride? “Just go with it. The county offices where we got married weren’t exactly beautiful. They looked a little like a DMV. And the special room for weddings was particularly interesting. There was a large old 70’s photo of a vineyard, faded and yellowed, plastered on one whole wall, and it was framed by two polyester maroon curtains. Not exactly what I had been expecting or would have chosen. When we walked into the room our photographer didn’t skip a beat. “Just go with it.” She said. “This is amazing, I can see some great cheesy prom pose pictures happening in here.” I wouldn’t say that it was her words so much as how she delivered them. She wasn’t just telling me to go with it; she wasn’t going to allow anything else. It was such a relief and immediately took all of the pressure off! Grant and I were able to have fun with the space and our photographer and neither of us worried about the curtains or the poster. It became a fun part of the day instead.” (See some of the cheesy prom pose photos in the gallery.)
In addition to her something old, new, borrow, and blue, Lora’s earrings were a gift from the groom’s mother. They were custom made drop pearls, accented with diamonds that had once been part of her own engagement ring.
The newlyweds celebrated with a post-wedding lunch from Bouchon Bakery, including a raspberry eclair (especially fitting since the bride is a pastry chef!).
The gold and cream bouquet included cafe au lait dahlias, parrot tulips, lace cap hydrangea, ranunculus, passion vine, hellebores, blushing bride protea, wild grasses, and miniature pomegranate, accented with a gold brocade ribbon.
What was your favorite moment or part of the day? I really enjoyed the entire day so much. Getting ready in the morning, the wedding ceremony, and the photo shoot around Napa Valley afterwards were all very special and fun. But perhaps my favorite part of the day was after all of that when it was just Grant and me, walking in the dark from our hotel to Bouchon for dinner. Yountville is so beautiful, peaceful, and quaint, it felt like being in a movie. Especially after the amazing day we had. We were both on such a high but both so relaxed. It made it feel real for me, that Grant was my husband and I was his wife, and we were walking to our first dinner together.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? I had planned on including a few traditions in our wedding, but due to all the last minute rearrangements, all that stuff sort of fell to the wayside. Luckily, I have one of the best sisters in the world and she sent a wedding tradition care package along with my photographer. Not only did she send celebratory champagne (and beer for Grant), but she also included something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence for my shoe. I didn’t know I’d feel this way beforehand, but I really appreciated having these little things to make me feel like a bride. Traditions have a way of transcending time and space, and taking part in this tradition allowed me to feel like I was a part of something bigger.
What advice do you have for other brides? To go with what feels right for you. I felt pressured to have the perfect wedding and that caused me to stray from what I knew all along I would really enjoy. Something small, personal, and private. Thankfully I got a second chance and was able to have my perfect wedding all along. But I really wish I had stuck to my guns from the beginning. It would have saved a lot of time, money, and stress.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? Something unexpected about the day was everyone’s positive reactions to us as we made out way through Yountville. We stopped at Bouchon Bakery for savory fouette and a raspberry eclair. Other customers beamed at us and gave us a polite congratulations. At the R + D Kitchen the hostess immediately congratulated us and quickly swept us to a seat at the bar, poured us some champagne, and gave us some delicious crostini to nibble on. When we mentioned how much we loved their bee champagne flutes, and if we could purchase them as a memento, she insisted that we take them, free of charge. The bartender and rest of the staff were all more than accommodating and really made us both feel like guests of honor.
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Last Minute Napa Valley Elopement25 February 2014
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