For many couples, California’s wine country is a wedding destination. But for Mary Robb and John, they call the Napa Valley home, so it was only natural to tie the knot there, on the groom’s family ranch…
The bride wore the family sixpence in her shoe and her grandmother’s Belgian lace veil, also worn by her mother and aunt.
Says the bride, “We wanted the evening to feel intimate and faithful to what we cherish most about living in the wine country. For us that meant a reverence to nature, or ‘God’s first cathedral.’ We were married under an oak tree in the horse corral on John’s family’s ranch in Napa Valley, where, three years before, John took me hiking the hillsides on our first date.”
“The Reverend Dr. Mark Anschutz baptized me as an infant and he flew in from Cape Cod to officiate our wedding.”
“Our reception was held in a beautifully restored barn on the property. We hung white twinkly lights and colorful streamers, on loan to us from our favorite wine bar, Bergamot Alley.”
SEE THE FULL GALLERY FOR MORE PHOTOS FROM THIS RUSTIC WINE COUNTRY WEDDING.
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? John’s a winemaker, so the wine country is our home. And – as is often the case – our calendars are shaped by the seasons of the vine. Our goal was to be hitched before harvest! … when spouses become what is affectionately referred to as “harvest widows.” With five months to plan, we pulled upon our family, our friends, our neighbors, and our favorite local go-tos.
What was your favorite moment or part of the day? We were toasted by our sisters, then our brothers, and then my parents. My mother snuck kazoos into the barn and surprised us by leading the entire party in a rendition of You are my Sunshine! The sound of 135 kazoos under the roof of our candle-lit barn was a magical thing, just bursting with joy and love.
Tell us about the menu. Dinner was family style, prepared by Gerard’s Paella, which we first discovered at the Occidental Farmer’s Market. Dinner was accompanied by a Sauvignon Blanc from the ranch and a Syrah produced by one of our dearest friends, John Lockwood of Enfield Wine Co (who also deserves credit for introducing us!). We served a local sparkling, Schramsberg, and a keg of our very favorite local pale ale from Chau Tien Brewery. We placed bottles of wine along the center of each table so that our guests could help themselves. Dessert was prepared by another dear friend, Katherine Bishop Remy, who created the most exquisite rose-geranium scented heirloom vanilla cake with lemon curd and seasonal berries. Also, as an ode to my childhood-friends from summer camp who were in attendance, we served root beer floats at the end of the evening.
Any DIY details? We were married on a ranch, so no better reason to bring out the cowbells! We spray painted them gold, tied escort cards to them with baker’s twine, and they doubled as each guest’s seat assignment. Our guests loved having something to ring, especially during the toasts!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? You plan, you plan, and you plan… then, on the big day, you let go! Allow yourself to feel like a guest at your own wedding. It will unfold naturally and take on a marvelous life of its own. Your wedding night is a rare opportunity to have everyone you love in one place. Pay attention to the beauty in everything, breathe it all in, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
What advice do you have for other brides? Choose your coordinator and photographer well – it’s worth the investment! You’ll be spending your whole wedding day (and more) with these people, so you want to enjoy them. Your wedding day can be hectic, and they are there to be “anxiety reducers:” calm, grounded, forces for good. If they’re top notch, maybe they’ll even help settle your rambunctious nephews, so you don’t have to!
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Go to your rolodex! You may just have a friend who’s a professional pastry chef. Also, ask a wedding coordinator to consider offering his/her services just 60-90 days out from the event. You’ll need to book most or all of the major vendors but the coordinator can help you with the final punch-list and, most importantly, their presence will allow you to enjoy some really important quality time with your guests when they arrive.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? When the sun fell low, a heavy and orange full moon rose over the hillside and we roasted s’mores. Then I tossed the bouquet, John and I ran under the row of sparklers, hugged our parents, and hopped into the 1947 Packard convertible awaiting our send-off. As we pulled away, the barn behind us was glowing, the low-hanging full moon was glowing, but we were glowing most of all.