Vivian & Leonard | Simple Modern Wedding in Sonoma

Vivian is a wedding photographer who found herself on the other side of the lens as a bride. “Having seen countless weddings throughout the years, I’ve witnessed just how easily the outside pressure of the wedding fantasy can cause brides to lose sight of what a wedding is really about,” she says. “What helped me stay focused was knowing that I didn’t have to do everything and that a few simple and elegant details could be just as beautiful as a wedding that was full of them.”

Vivian shares a special moment from before the ceremony: “Len and I had chosen to walk down the aisle together and when he came into the bedroom to get me, I could see his face brimming with tears. I asked what was wrong and he gave me a huge hug and said, ‘Nothing. I just love you so much!’ It was a small moment that is forever cemented in my heart.”

Says the bride, “When it came to choosing a reception location, I knew I wanted to do it at a restaurant. I didn’t want to have to worry about selecting linens, chairs, figuring out where the caterer would setup, and I knew that a restaurant would have all that taken care of.”

Vivian on the look of their reception venue: “El Dorado Kitchen had a front room with a wall of white and green vases which were in our wedding colors and in the modern and elegant style that we were going for. Because the room itself was so beautifully decorated, I knew that I didn’t have to do much else. My florist, Nancy Liu Chin, designed the perfect simple floral arrangements for our reception that complemented the restaurant’s decor. Our cake designer also beautifully paired geometric designs as well as succulent accents.”

Why did you choose this location for your wedding?  We knew we wanted to keep the wedding small and intimate. This allowed us to stretch our limited wedding funds and provide our guests with more. The idea for our wedding was to make a relaxing weekend out of it. We rented a beautiful house in Sonoma that provided enough space and amenities for everyone to enjoy themselves. The large backyard was equally beautiful and I knew that underneath the trees would be the perfect place for a ceremony. As a photographer, I deliberately chose locations that I knew would have the best natural light.

What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  I was inspired by the natural beauty in Sonoma. We are so fortunate in Northern California to have this natural beauty at our fingertips. Our wedding style was a combination of rustic natural elements paired with modern elegance. Len and I both have a love for the outdoors and nature as well as mid-century modern design and we were able to recreate the balance between the two with our wedding.

Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day?  Oh yes. I would say my husband having to go to the ER for appendicitis on our wedding night was an unexpected surprised that flipped our wedding weekend and honeymoon on its head. Our Sunday barbecue was canceled, our Palm Springs honeymoon was canceled. Len and I spent the rest of our stay in wine country at the hospital. (You can read all of the details of Vivian and Leonard’s ordeal over on A Practical Wedding.)

What advice do you have for other brides?  Prioritize and be realistic. And learn to let go. I knew that choosing locations that were naturally beautiful would save me a lot of planning and decor headaches. And I also knew that I didn’t want or need a million little DIY details since I did not want to spend the weeks leading up to my wedding in a wedding DIY sweatshop. (And those DIY details weren’t missed at all.) Learning to let go was important as well. There comes a point during the wedding planning process when you have done all you can do and there’s no point in worrying about what’s out of your hands so it’s best to let go and settle in and enjoy your wedding day! The unexpected is bound to happen and all you can do is roll with the punches and focus on what’s really important: celebrating your love with friends and family.


See more photos from this intimate Sonoma wedding in the gallery.

Vendor Credits

Photographer: Josh Gruetzmacher / Ceremony Venue: private residence in Sonoma, California / Reception Venue: El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma, California / Floral Design: Nancy Liu Chin Designs / Bride’s Dress: Nicole Miller from Lilac Dress Boutique / Fascinator Veil: BHLDN / Groom's Attire: Ted Baker / Groom's Ring: DMD Metals / Invitations: Tricia Jang / Cake: Soul Desire Bakery, 707-980-9371 / Rentals: Wine Country Party & Events

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