Ariella Chezar recently relaunched her website with lots of new work, including Lyn and Scott’s gorgeous August wedding in the wine country, and I couldn’t wait to share it with you! Planner Kristi Amoroso and the lovely bride, Lyn, kindly sent over some details about the day. And beautiful photos by Suzy Clement. Says Lyn:

We chose Black Swan Lake because it was the perfect setting for a wine country wedding. It was a destination wedding for our friends and family, many of whom are from the East Coast and had never been to Napa before, and our venue really set the tone for the rest of the event. We loved the fact that there was a bocce court at the wedding site (it was a big selling point for us!) – bocce is a really important part of Scott’s family traditions, and many guests played throughout the evening.

We tried to incorporate many elements into the day that would honor our families and our family traditions. My grandfather used to grow orchids at his house, so Ariella included many orchids in the beautiful floral design. The ribbon around my bouquet was made from a piece of my mother’s wedding gown.

We loved that people got to stroll through a vineyard to get to the ceremony. The day before the wedding, it was 105 degrees and we were wondering how on earth people would be able to make it through the ceremony, but the day of the event, the heatwave broke and it was just a beautiful night!

The roof of the chuppah was a tablecloth handmade by the bride’s grandmother, and the wine the couple drank during the ceremony was the same wine they had at their engagement dinner.


There were so many highlights to the evening. The food was amazing – we love to cook (and eat) so it was really important to us that the food be a focus for the event, and Paula LeDuc Fine Catering did not disappoint! It was prime time tomato season, and we were really able to take advantage of the best of the harvest when designing the menu. I also absolutely loved the stationery designed by Elizabeth Hubbell. I mentioned to her an idea I had of sketches of tomatoes from old gardening catalogs and she ran with it and made it better than I could have ever imagined.

I also loved the table settings – the flowers were just spectacular, and I have always loved silver plated stemware and was so happy that the caterer was able to find it for the wedding. We decided to forgo the typical dessert course and have a cheese and port station instead – it seemed perfect for Napa, and I think it was a big hit.


See the dinner menu below!


In then end, what mattered most to us was just to be surrounded by our closest friends and family and just have a fantastic time. It’s so rare that you have the most important people in your life together in one place like this, and so we wanted to be very present during the weekend, if that makes sense. I think we both agree that we were really able to have fun with everyone – I think it helped to make an entire weekend out of the event as a destination wedding, so that there were more opportunities to spend time with people. We had an incredible time!


Congratulations Lyn and Scott! Thank you for sharing your beautiful wedding with us!


Wedding Feast

Heirloom Tomato Salad
a sampling of local organic tomatoes
with red wine vinaigrette, cracked black pepper,
fresh basil & olive oil with fresh mozzarella

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Wild Mushroom Ravioli
mixed seasonal wild mushrooms & ricotta cheese ravioli
served with sherry mushroom sauce
laced with white truffle oil, fresh chives & micro greens

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Garlic & Herb Roasted Filet of Beef
with panzanella & artichoke salad and demi glace

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Tomales Bay Cheeses
a selection of the finest local artisanal cheeses
with seasonal fruits, walnut levain & crisp lavash

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Wedding Cake

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Wines
frank family vineyards chardonnay, napa valley 2006
roth winery cabernet sauvignon, sonoma 2005

Photography: Suzy Clement / Event Planner: Kristi Amoroso Special Events / Venue: Black Swan Lake in Napa, California / Bride’s dress: Vera Wang / Hair, makeup: Sarah Hyde / Floral design: Ariella Chezar / Menu, escort cards: Elizabeth Hubbell / Catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering / Cake: Perfect Endings / Music: The Cowling Band
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Friends, you have been so generous to let me take all this time to share our wedding with you – thank you! It was so fun for me to revisit such a special day, and I hope that any of you in the midst of wedding planning will be able to take something from me blogging about my experience. I wanted to take one last post to share some of the things that aren’t necessarily obvious or visible in photos, but that are as much part of a wedding as all the things you do see.

It’s easy for blogs and magazines to show you the design and the details, but not so easy to convey how things tasted, or how the music sounded, or if everything went smoothly. I hope by sharing our menu I’ve given you a little idea of how delicious all of the food at our wedding was, and by seeing photos of everyone dancing you can see how awesome the band was. But that’s only part of the day – so many other things contributed to what it was…

…starting with our planners, Laurie Arons and Jenna Lam, who not only helped with our wedding design and details, but who also handled vendor communication and coordination, made sure everyone was where they needed to be and that everything happened on time, and troubleshot anything that went wrong (Jenna did such an amazing job the day-of, that Ryan and I were totally unaware of any issues that might have come up with vendors or timing, etc.). I know that a wedding planner doesn’t fit into every wedding budget, but for us, having them be part of our day ensured that everything went smoothly and allowed Ryan and me to be guests at our own wedding.

In a city with limited parking, and with so many out-of-town guests, the shuttles and valets were two of the keys to making our guests comfortable – and they’re really some of the unsung heroes of a wedding. Bauer’s shuttles brought guests from their hotels, to the church, to the reception, then made trips back to the hotels all evening. And for guests who drove to the ceremony, Soiree Valet saved them the trouble of finding parking or having to walk in the rain. (Soiree’s owner even drove a guest’s car to the reception when the guest decided to hop on the shuttle!) I think when your guests feel taken care of, they’re bound to have a good time.

One thing you hear all the time in the wedding world is the word perfect - I know I use it here on Snippet & Ink, and it’s all over wedding blogs and magazines. And when you’re looking at pretty pictures, and reading about the parts of a wedding that someone decides are worth sharing, it’s easy to think that perfect is a reasonable expectation for your wedding day. To me, our wedding day was as close to perfect as you can get, thanks to our incredible vendors, planners, friends and family, and the decision that Ryan and I made to be fully present at our wedding. But the truth is, when you think of perfection as everything looking and happening exactly as you have it in your mind, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Because even if things are as perfect as can be, even if you’re the most organized bride and have the most incredible vendors, things never happen just the way you imagine: flights get cancelled, it pours rain, cakes get stuck in traffic, babies cry during the ceremony, cousins give embarrassing toasts. Or maybe you just feel all around different than you thought you would feel.

And the only thing you can do about any of this, is to let go. Go into your wedding day as free of expectations as possible, and let yourself experience each moment for what it is. My older sister called me about a month or so after we had set a wedding date, and told me that she was pregnant with her third baby, and that he was due on our wedding day. In a perfect world, I’d get a healthy nephew and have my sister in attendance, but unfortunately that was an impossibility. I knew that she was going to miss my wedding day, and it broke my heart. But in some ways, it was a gift – it forced me to let go of the Perfection Myth. When your would-be Matron of Honor can’t come to your wedding, the color of your ushers’ ties seems totally irrelevant. So does having a runny nose at your own ceremony (I had to grab Ryan’s pocket square in the middle of the blessing and blow my nose – not solemn or romantic!), or getting cake on your dress.

The flip side of this, of doing away with expectations, is that you open yourself up to feelings and moments that you never could have imagined. Things like: the feeling of total love and support as I stepped into the church with my parents on either side of me; making eye contact with my groom through the window as he smoked a cigar outside; our friends surrounding us in a giant hug circle while singing “Stand By Me” a capella after the band packed up; jumping out of our getaway taxi at a stop light to hug my cousin who was in the car right behind us; the utter joy that I felt all day long. MARRYING MY BEST FRIEND.

And the most awesome part of all? The end of our wedding was just the beginning of our life together – how wonderful is that?!

 

Photos by Magnolia Photo Booth Co.

 

Bauer’s Transportation, Laurie Arons Special Events, Magnolia Photo Booth, and Soiree Valet are sponsors of Snippet & Ink.

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Last day of wedding recaps, I promise!

Before our wedding, someone told me that Ryan and I would probably want to leave the reception early, but we ended up staying until nearly 1:30 in the morning! We were having so much fun dancing and visiting with our guests, we didn’t even realize what time it was until we took off in our getaway checker cab…

Laurie Arons came up with the idea to tent the outside deck (and to drape it with charcoal gray fabric), to give us more room for the reception. Kathleen Deery created the loveliest lounge area for anyone who wanted a break from dancing, or who just wanted a place to sit while they chatted and munched on desserts.

Instead of take-home favors, we had Christmas crackers that our junior bridesmaid passed out after dinner. My mom made all of them, and filled them with paper crowns and little toys - people actually wore the crowns and played with the toys!


Crystal Monee Hall and Jazz Mafia kept us dancing for hours! I knew Crystal had an incredible voice, but when she sang Aretha Franklin’s rendition of “You’re All I Need to Get By” for our first dance, Ryan and I were both totally blown away. Our junior bridesmaid was a total rockstar – she stayed up until midnight dancing with us!


The guys smoked cigars on the front porch of the Presidio Social Club later in the evening – I loved seeing people from different parts of our lives spending time together!


Another detail that I always loved and wanted for our wedding was a vintage photo booth, and I’m so glad we rented one! We went with Magnolia Photo Booth, because they had all the charm of vintage, plus modern features (like the ability to completely take the booth apart and then re-build it on site, or the option for printing doubles). This was quite possibly the biggest hit of our wedding – there was a line to take photos all evening! Jill Sassa made a sweet guest book album for us (complete with photo corners), where guests could leave a photo along with a note.


When Ryan and I finally pulled ourselves away from the party, we hopped into the checker cab (who kindly waited for us an extra hour) and discovered one last surprise waiting for us, from planner Jenna Lam: a French wire basket filled with a split of champagne and two champagne coupes, a slice of wedding cake and treats from the dessert buffet, a bottle of Spotted Cow beer from Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin (which you can’t find in California), and our guest book photo album. I can think of no better way to end such a wonderful day than by sharing a glass of champagne and a piece of cake with my new husband, looking at all the fun photos and notes left by our friends and family.

Photos by Elizabeth Messina.



Kathleen Deery Design, Kiss the Groom (Elizabeth Messina), Laurie Arons Special Events, Magnolia Photo Booth and PS Paper are sponsors of Snippet & Ink.

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Some of the best wedding advice I received was from Vané of Brooklyn Bride, who said:

Hire vendors that you trust, and then leave the day to them. My vendors knew the look I was going for, and I wasn’t about to spend time looking over their shoulders. You’re hiring professionals, and they’ve done a lot more of these weddings than you have, so just let yourself enjoy the day and know that they will do the best job they can for you.

Because I trusted each of my vendors, I was able to let go of the planning, and to approach my wedding day as stress-free as possible. Also, because I didn’t know exactly how every last detail would turn out, I got to be totally surprised when we walked into our reception - what a gift!

In meeting with our planners, Laurie Arons and Jenna Lam, and with designer Kathleen Deery, the only thing that I specifically asked for were cyclamen centerpieces (they feel so much like Christmas to me, without screaming Christmas like poinsettias might). Aside from that, I left Kathleen and Laurie to their own devices – I felt confident that Kathleen and Laurie understood my aesthetic and the general feeling we wanted for our wedding, and when I saw a table mock-up with some of the ideas they were considering, I knew that the end result would be beautiful. And it was!

Kathleen arranged ruffly-edged cyclamen and miniature pine cones in a variety of white vases made by a local ceramicist. Each place was set with a pom-pom trimmed dinner napkin and a pine cone rosette, and small votive candles cast a warm glow on the tables. Menus doubled as place cards: Jill from PS Paper designed and printed the menus to fit the rest of our stationery, and she hand-glittered each wreath! Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls did all of the reception calligraphy, including each guest’s name at the top of his menu.


I was so happy to see that most of our guests wore their escort card buttons – it was one of those little details that I think really set the tone for a fun reception. Each button was hand calligraphed by Maybelle in white ink on red paper, then Jill punched each button by hand, attached them to the correct table number card, and displayed them on vintage postcard stands.


When guests arrived, they were greeted with Poinsettias (our signature cocktails) and passed hors d’oeuvres: Seared Beef Crostini with Horseradish Cream, Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Spicy Slaw, Tuna Poke with Cucumber, Fall Vegetable Antipasti with Truffle Cheese, and French Fry Cones. Jenna made sure that there was a little sampler plate made for Ryan and me so that we could taste everything.

Total side note: By letting the colors at Presidio Social Club determine our wedding colors (white, charcoal gray, red), everything coordinated without too much extra effort. Even the wait staff wore red ties and charcoal gray aprons, which was just part of their regular uniforms.


We didn’t have a receiving line (do people still do receiving lines? I’d love to hear from someone who did), so Ryan and I walked around to each table during dinner to say hi to all of our guests. But somehow we still had a chance to sit down and eat our meals, which were delicious: Gruyere Cheese Toast with Tomato Fondue, Little Gem Caesar Salad, and a choice of Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs or Roasted Chicken or Ricotta Gnocchi (with fall squash, grilled lemon, sage and toasted hazelnuts). I have to say, the Presidio Social Club did a wonderful job not only of serving really good food, but their service was also spot on.

The week of our wedding, I felt like I was starting to come down with a cold (are you kidding me?!). So two nights before the rehearsal dinner, Ryan (my hero) put me to bed early while he and my mom stayed up late to do the seating chart. I don’t know if it’s because we have such awesome friends and family, or if Ryan and my mom are incredible seaters (most likely a combination of both), but everyone had a good time at their tables.


My mom gave a lovely welcome toast at the beginning of the meal, and Ryan’s siblings gave a very sweet and funny toast at the end. Then it was on to dessert…


Menus specifically told guests to “Save Room for Dessert!” To begin with, there were hot, chocolate-filled beignets passed around after dinner (if you ever have dinner at PSC, definitely ask them to make some of these for you). Then there was the Noci Gelato bike with Salted Caramel, Macadamia Nut and Stracciatella gelati, as well as Tangerine sorbet. (I love this pic of my dad with the ice cream and paper crown.)


Then there was the dessert table from Perfect Endings, which was another wonderful surprise. Instead of specifying exactly what desserts we wanted on the table, we shared our ideas and favorite flavors with Laurie and Jenna, and Perfect Endings used those to come up with this delicious dessert menu: Coffee Crunch Trifle, miniature Coconut Cupcakes, Sam’s Passionate Kisses (passionfruit curd on a tiny macaroon), White Chocolate Choux Puffs, Eggnog and Donuts with Rum, Gingerbread Cookies, Peppermint Bark, and Lemon Leaves (shortbread with white chocolate and lemon curd).

Jill created the darling dessert display, from the cake stands to the polka dotted paper. With Maybelle’s calligraphy, Jill made signs for each treat, as well as the chalkboard menu (with the frame from my bedroom mirror!). She even trimmed the tablecloth with pom-poms to match the dinner napkins!


Our wedding cake was another wonderful surprise. Perfect Endings made the most beautiful cake, decorated with simple white buttercream and cyclamen flowers – I didn’t realize until later that they were made of sugar! (This cake from Perfect Endings has always been one of my favorites, so it was incredibly special to have them make our wedding cake, complete with sugar flowers.) There were two tiers of lemon sponge cake with lemon curd and two tiers of Mahogany cake (chocolate layer cake with chocolate hazelnut truffle cream). If I ever need another special occasion cake at anytime in my life, it will be Perfect Endings’ Mahogany cake… I dream about that cake…

Photos by Elizabeth Messina.



Kathleen Deery Design, Kiss the Groom (Elizabeth Messina), Laurie Arons Special Events, Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls, Noci Gelato, Perfect Endings and PS Paper are sponsors of Snippet & Ink.

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