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?!

Christina McNeill | Snippet & Ink Christina McNeill | Snippet & Ink

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.

After enjoying treats at Bouchon Bakery and R + D Kitchen, the bride and groom headed to the vineyards for some wine country portraits.



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.

Photographer: Christina McNeill / Ceremony: Napa Courthouse in Napa, California / Restaurants: Bouchon BakeryR + D Kitchen / Strapless Dress: J.Crew / Illusion Top: Donna Savoy / Shoes: La Dolce Vita / Veil: Tessa Kim / Bouquet: Michaele Thunen / Groom’s Suit, Shirt: Calvin Klein / Tie: T.M. Lewin / Shoes: Cole Haan

Christina McNeill is a Snippet & Ink Select vendor.
This post contains affiliate links.

  • Last Minute Napa Valley Elopement

    25 February 2014
  • 26 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Real Weddings, Some Favorites
    1. lena

      So impossibly lovely.

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    2. Marcie Lynn

      Oh my, these are all so beautiful! I love the their love is captured! I’m glad it all worked out in the end and it’s a wedding day no one will ever forget. Great job, Christina! PS – I am IN LOVE with her ring!

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    3. Shanley

      So happy! I have been waiting for this post!! Such a great story and beautiful photos by Christina!

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    4. jody savage

      so so lovely!

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    5. Sarah

      So dear!! And what a lovely dress! :)

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    6. andrea nicole

      what a cute idea to add the polka dot sleeves! i love it!

      thanks so much for sharing. these pictures just make me happy. congrats to them both!

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    7. Denae Brennan

      Such a beautiful story! And funny, the same thing happened to my husband and I in Napa when getting our marriage license – we went to the courthouse first and were told to go to the clerk’s office. Totally down a random alley and not picturesque, but I love the photographer’s advice to just go with it! Such a lovely story of what weddings are really about!

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    8. Lori

      Simply beautiful and Christina captures the best moments!

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    9. Margery

      .Thanks for sharing. Isn’t it wonderful when everything turns out so much better than you had expected? Christina did amazing work with the photos. Who would know it wasn’t planned to be and look exactly like this??. Sounds like it was perfect for both of you. Congratulations!

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    10. silvana

      LOVE!! So sweet and intimate. The photos are gorgeous!

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    11. Fotograf Ślubny

      Beautiful photos… !

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    12. Allison

      Absolutely beautiful in every way! Love how Lora and Grant took lemons and made lemonade champagne!

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    13. Blenda Montoro Miller

      Awww Christina, what a sweet elopement! I love the photos at the bakery too and her flowers are gorgeous! you capture it so nicely, Bravo!!!

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    14. Anny

      I think the photos would have told a story by themselves, but I loved reading about their adventure. The entire piece kept me smiling throughout. Beautiful wedding!!! Beautiful artistic photos. Beautiful story. Congratulations

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    15. Cecilia

      Lovely! What a special and beautiful wedding day. Congratulations.

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    16. The McCartneys

      Blown away by the charm and beauty in this wedding!! So sweet, and wonderfully captured! :)

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    17. Katie

      This Napa wedding photographer truly worked magic – This makes me want to elope right this minute! :)

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    18. Heather Johnson

      This makes me want to go back in time and elope! What an amazing end to a sudden turn of events! And, as always, GORGEOUS photos by Christina :)

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    19. Mirelle

      An absolutely wonderful job Christina – your photos are always so magical!

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    20. Sarah

      We were married 2 days after Hurricane Sandy in NYC and had to re-plan everything at the last minute to make it work. Stories like Lora and Grant’s hit me right in the gut.

      The love is so obvious in these pictures! What a beautiful way to turn tragedy into great memories.

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    21. Rachel

      This is such a lovely wedding and sweet story!

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    22. Carolee

      Such a pretty bride! What a fun thing to be a part of! Great job on the photos

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    23. Helen Andrews

      Ooooh la la what an amazing chance to be a part of the wedding I was so sad to miss
      in Colorado! we love you Lora,bring grant to vashon Island!!! H and D

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    24. Lora Kleinwachter

      Thanks to all of you for such thoughtful comments! Christina really did a wonderful job of capturing the day, and I’m so glad you enjoyed her incredible photos and our wedding story. And a special thanks to my fantastic sister, Kathryn, for letting us be a part of her beautiful blog!

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    25. Lindsey

      Love love love an elopement, especially this one!

      / Reply
    26. Napa Valley Elopement | Christina McNeill, San Francisco Wedding Photographer Christina McNeill, San Francisco Wedding Photographer

      […] Thank you Kathryn for introducing me to your sister — and for the wonderful post on your blog, Snippet & Ink! […]

      / Reply

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