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

    This week I have two really special wedding stories to share with you, both of them from couples whose weddings were affected by the devastating floods in Colorado last September, and who were kind enough to share their stories. The first is that of my sister, Lora, and her husband Grant, told in two parts…

    Invitation by Minted. DIY save-the-date.

    When Grant and I met with Betsy at the Lyons Farmette, a small four-acre farm outside of Boulder, we knew we wanted to have our wedding there. Driving across the bridge and through the cottonwoods lining the property, its charm was apparent straight away. It was such a beautiful space and reminded both of us of my family’s cabin in Montana. It felt welcoming and private, but even more than that, Betsy was so warm and easy going, she really made us feel like family right away, and even sent us home with a gorgeous bouquet of peonies from the farm.

    We set the date for September 21, and I spent the next year agonizing over every detail –  I am a horrible perfectionist, and when you grow up around talented, artistic, and tasteful women, it can be hard to let a napkin just be a napkin! We decided on a gourmet box lunch and hired a bluegrass band; my mom designed sweet, rustic centerpieces of geraniums and bacopa, and made black and white checked tablecloths; and our caterer even arranged to have a bike-powered cider press on site!

    And then, a week before the wedding, it started raining. And it didn’t stop. Lyons, where the Farmette is located, got more than 17 inches of rain in just a matter of days, and was now being referred to as an island. Streets flooded, creeks and rivers overflowed their banks, washing away roads, cars, and homes. We were lucky that our home in Denver was okay, but so many people’s lives were devastated.

    We had visited Lyons so many times for wedding walk-throughs and pie tastings, and now we just liked to go for no reason at all. Such a small and charming town, it’s hard to feel that you’re not a part of the community when you’re there. Most of our wedding vendors were from Lyons, and they all knew each other. There’s the bartender who worked at the local restaurant, The Fork, which is located across the street from the St. Vrain Market where we were going to get our amazing apple pies. Our caterer, Katie of EAT! Catering, lived in town and had introduced us to everyone else, including our day-of coordinator, Georgia, who was dating our band leader, Joe. In just a few short months of hectic planning, I had come to know some amazing people, and now their town was under water.

    When the floods hit, my mother was already in town to help with last minute wedding preparations. As soon as I got home from work that day, she said to me, “I don’t think the Farmette is going to happen. I found another location here in Denver where we can have the wedding, or you can postpone, or you guys can cancel the wedding and elope. I think whatever you end up doing will be great and we just need to make this decision now.” This is not what any bride expects to hear just a week before her wedding. But somehow, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Feeling my mom’s positive attitude, and seeing the devastation caused by the floods, I knew this was not the time to mourn my wedding. This was a time for people to focus on bigger and more important things. “I think we should cancel the wedding,” I told her.

    Grant agreed immediately, and after calling my dad and my sisters, I emailed everyone else to let them know that the wedding was canceled. My heart was racing. With just the click of the “send” button, an entire year of planning was going to disappear.

    Betsy at the Farmette contacted us to let us know that they would not be able to host our wedding because they no longer had working water, electrical, or sewage. Most of our guests were able to cancel their flights with a full refund or credit, and got deposits back on the hotel rooms they had booked. Some people were still coming in, mostly Grant’s family and international friends, along with some other close family friends and the best man. And instead of spending the week attending to final wedding details, we had the chance to really visit and enjoy the company of those loved ones who did make it to town, and my mother and Grant’s parents put together a last minute “reception” at a local brewery.

    Once the decision was made, I jumped into elopement plans, because rain or shine, I was going to marry this man! And I finally realized that I was getting married! This was happening! In all the noise and stress of planning a wedding, I had lost sight of what it was really all about – Grant and me, coming together as a family. We just wanted to get married. We didn’t need a standing ovation or an applause. We really just needed each other.

    So on Thursday night, after sharing dinner with the 40 friends and family who came into town for us despite the rain, flooding, and cancellation, Grant and I hurried to the airport and hopped on a flight to San Francisco, headed for Napa Valley. On Friday, the day before we were originally supposed to get married, I woke up and prepared to exchange vows with my husband-to-be. It certainly was not the wedding that I had planned, but it’s surprising to me now that eloping isn’t taken seriously as an option by more people. I recommend it to all my engaged friends! I will always cherish the day that Grant and I got married, just the two of us, from saying our vows in front of a cheesy vineyard photo backdrop, to taking photos in front of the real thing. It was a beautiful wedding and it was ours.

    Photos by Christina McNeill.




    Christina McNeill is a Snippet & Ink Select vendor.
    Minted is a sponsor of Snippet & Ink.

    12 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Real Weddings

    I can hardly think of a better way to start the week than with this incredibly lovely wedding from our talented friend and Select vendor, Meg Smith. From the bride’s sheath dress to the charming garden restaurant venue to the undefined color palette, each aspect of Stephanie and Kellsey’s July celebration was an invitation to guests to feel at home…

    Says Stephanie: “I asked a local classic car club if they had any members who might be interested in driving my parents and me from our hotel to the ceremony, and a really sweet gentleman offered to drive us in his gorgeous midnight blue 1930 Lincoln. His kindness and generosity added a special feeling to the start of our wedding.”

    The bride’s sister created the chalkboard “program.” Other DIY details included the invitations and save-the-dates, table numbers, cocktail menu, and honey escort card favors (all made by the bride), and the ring pillow and table runner (made by groom).

    Why Barndiva? “It made sense to get married in the Bay Area since we met and live in San Francisco and it was convenient for most of our guests. I really wanted an outdoor wedding with lots of greenery, so we looked mostly in Sonoma County, where Kellsey grew up. Although we visited some stunning private estates and wineries, most were way out of our budget and had many restrictions. Barndiva had intimate garden spaces that fit our simple, down-to-earth aesthetic, incredible food and service, and we loved that they support local agriculture. Healdsburg is charming and has great access to beautiful parks, the coast, and wineries, so we knew our out-of-town guests would enjoy it as a destination.”

    One of the bride’s favorite parts of the day was the speech her groom gave to her at dinner.



    What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  Memories of dining outside on warm summer nights from my childhood in Pennsylvania, the beauty and bounty of Bay Area farms, and creating a feeling of warmth and conviviality. We didn’t stick to a strict color palette, but kept the colors fresh and natural, mostly greens, gray and neutral. We got engaged under magnolias in Dolores Park in San Francisco, so I used magnolia flowers in the save-the-dates (which were inspired by vintage seed packets) and invitations. The favors we made – local honey in test tubes – were a nod to our having met while working in biomedical research labs. Our signature cocktail, the Whitman’s Waltz, is our favorite drink from our favorite restaurant in San Francisco, Range.

    What was your favorite moment or part of the day?  We got up early in the morning and rode bikes through vineyards to Dragonfly Farm, the beautiful organic farm that did the decor for the wedding. We didn’t want to do a first look, so I really cherished having some relaxing time alone after the frenzied couple of weeks leading up to the wedding.

    Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  We had lots of traditional elements – a ring bearer and flower girls, a first dance, and cake cutting – but strayed from tradition when it felt right. Kellsey and his groomsmen walked down the aisle as part of the procession – it seemed strange to have him enter as an afterthought – and I walked with both my parents. We also introduced something that was new to us, handing flowers to our mothers after our vows, to symbolize the joining of our families. My favorite was a tradition from the Basque side of Kellsey’s family… when a child is born, the grandfather makes a special vintage of wine to be served at that child’s wedding. The wedding wine that Kellsey’s grandfather bottled for him hadn’t aged spectacularly well, so Kellsey and his father distilled it into a wedding “whiskey” instead, which we used for the toast. It was fun, and a way to include Kellsey’s late grandfather in our celebration.

    What was the best advice you received as a bride?  Don’t let wedding planning take over your life or relationships. Have fun with it, get as much as possible done ahead of time and definitely leave yourself a couple days to spend some time relaxing together.

    What advice do you have for other brides?  DIY elements can make the wedding feel so much more personal, but be realistic about how much you, or your friends, can and want to take on. I love any excuse to do letterpress printing so designing and making all the paper projects and favors was fun for us. Originally we planned to make the centerpieces and bridesmaid bouquets, but at the last minute decided that we would prefer to spend the days before the wedding hanging out with our out-of-town guests. Our amazing florist, Asako Hana, didn’t have time to do more than my bouquet and Kellsey’s boutonniere, but luckily we found Bonnie [at Dragonfly Floral], who came to the rescue with gorgeous centerpieces.

    Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  Focus your efforts on things that really matter to you, and don’t worry about what everyone else does. The biggest cost savers for us were keeping our guest list fairly small, having a Sunday wedding, and using an iPod for reception music. Picking a venue that didn’t require much extra decoration also helped, and what we did buy (like a cute cake stand) were things we would keep and use later. Eliminating the dessert bar, simplifying drink choices, and forgoing entree choices allowed us to serve an incredible multi-course meal that our guests raved about, and kept the focus on our wedding cake. If there’s a wedding at your venue the day before or after yours, ask about sharing decor – we lucked out and the couple the night before had rented chairs we loved that we were able to use at no cost, and we let them use our lounge seating.

    Photography: Meg Smith / Venue: Barndiva in Healdsburg, California / Dress: Jenny Packham / Shoes: Something Bleu via BHLDN / Bridesmaid Dresses: J.Crew, Lela Rose / Flower Girl Dresses, Ring Bearer Attire: J.Crew / Letterpress Printer: San Francisco Center for the Book / Floral Designer: Asako Hana, Dragonfly Floral / Rentals: Encore Events / Musicians: Luke Kirley, Aaron Requiro / Cake: Beyond Buttercream / Ice Cream: Humphry Slocomb / Hair: Brush Salon

    This post contains affiliate links.
    Meg Smith is a Snippet & Ink Select vendor.

  • Charming Barndiva Wedding from Meg Smith

    24 February 2014
  • 2 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Real Weddings, Some Favorites

    Take a little break from work and weddings with some of my favorite links from around the web this week…

    This wall of herbs puts my windowsill aspirations to shame.

    I try not to buy every craft book I see, but Find & Keep looks irresistible.

    Coveting Emerson Fry’s “interior life” collection.

    Warm lemon pudding cake sounds really yummy right now.

    If you’re tired of winter, Ariella Chezar’s Pinterest is sure to cheer you up.

    An entire New York City block was electrified! Yikes!

    My home “office” is actually my dining table. But I wish I had room for this retro-fab desk!

    I’d love to be a wedding guest and find this tropical welcome gift waiting for me.

    Have a happy weekend, lovelies!


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    3 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Weekend Round-Ups