Though these high school sweethearts are originally from Texas, Morgan and Charlton have called California home for the past ten years, and they wanted to share their love of the wine country with friends and family, so they chose to host their wedding celebration at Vintage Estate in Yountville. Meg Smith was there to capture the day on camera…
“I borrowed my grandmother’s dinner ring from my sister, and for my something blue my sweet friends gave me a beautiful Laura Merken clutch with my new initials monogrammed into it in blue,” says Morgan. “Additionally, as navy blue is one of our favorite colors, all of our bridesmaids wore blue dresses and they were considered my something blue.”
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? We are both huge fans of California’s wine country – the breathtaking vistas, the world-class food, and of course the best wine on earth! Yountville is special for us as we are both huge foodies and in particular fans of Thomas Keller’s restaurants. Vintage Estate provided the perfect combination of what we dreamed of for a wine country wedding: a gorgeous setting that featured the natural beauty of Napa, excellent food and wine that allowed us to showcase so much of what we love about the region, and most importantly the space needed for our large guest list without sacrificing an ounce of charm.
How did you go about planning your wedding? We wanted our wedding to be a showcase of everything we love about Northern California, but also just a really fun celebration of all the people in our lives. So the venue, flowers, photography, music, food and drink were all major factors for us. We enlisted the help of a wedding planner, Your Event By Erin, who was critical in helping us find the right details and helping keep everyone running together – and to say she was invaluable running the wedding on the day-of is a vast understatement!
“We are both huge college football fans and the my team was down to the last thirty seconds of a very important game when everyone told me I had to begin walking down the aisle. I tried to delay the start, but ultimately ended up walking down the aisle with seconds to spare in the game. When I first got up to the altar I asked if anyone could tell me the final score (my team had won)!”
Your ceremony in three words. Beautiful, relaxing, and traditional
Who officiated your ceremony? Levi Weintraub, one of our first and dearest friends from San Francisco, became ordained a few years before our engagement and we knew immediately we wanted him to officiate when we got married.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We had a traditional ceremony, however, we customized all parts of the ceremony to really relate back to our personal lives and the relationship we’ve built together. The readings we included played on our love for literature, but also told our journey with each other.
What was your ceremony music? The Eloquence String Quartet played the following which are several of our favorite songs:
Parents’ entrance: Yellow by Coldplay
Bridesmaids’ entrance: In My Life by The Beatles
Bride’s entrance: Moon River by Henry Mancini
Recessional: Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles
What were your ceremony readings? William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116” and “Union” by Robert Fulghum.
What were your vows like? We each wrote our own vows – Charlton has a tendency to get carried away, so we limited ourselves to 2 minutes each. They included a snippet of an email that I had written to Charlton in 2005, that was just as relevant then as it is today.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? During the ceremony, we both felt like we had tunnel vision and were alone with our officiant – which made it feel uniquely ours; as if it was our most private moment.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We were high school sweethearts, so we had 12 years’ worth of close friends plus our family who we wanted to include. We’ve lived in California for over a decade but are originally from Texas, so we anticipated many out of town guests, which made it very important to us that the venue we chose reflect how beautiful and relaxing the place we call home can really be. We wanted people to feel the elegance and charm Napa offers but to also feel as if they came together effortlessly (I’m laughing as I write this).
“The reception was So. Much. Fun. The cocktail hour began immediately after the ceremony on the adjacent lawn, and featured signature cocktails from the bride and groom and some of our favorite California wines. Dinner seating was a king’s table for the wedding party and rounds for other guests, which led to some friendly rivalry about which table was the most fun – and later led to some truly hilarious outbursts during the best man’s speech. We kicked off the dancing with a twist – the DJ played R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)” for a few seconds before moving into our real first dance, Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.” After dances with our parents, Jackson 5’s “ABC” opened up the dance floor to everyone and it stayed packed until we called it a night with Mumford & Sons’ “Lover of the Light.” Guests danced, drank great wine, played corn hole on a custom California vs. Texas set, and laughed more than we had ever seen at a reception. When it was over, many guests (and both of us!) immediately had the same refrain: “Can we do it again next weekend?”
Did you have a signature cocktail?
Groom’s drink: Vieux Carre
Bride’s drink: The Magdalena (tequila base infused w/ poblano pepper)
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? Charlton made “birthday cake truffles” as thank you gifts for guests – miniature balls of cake covered in a shell of white chocolate and dusted cake crumbs (recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar, NYC). Also, we spent many hours at the Alameda Flea Market finding antique frames and decorations that help fit our rustic elegance theme.
First Dance: “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison
Father/Daughter: “Drive” by Alan Jackson
Mother/Son: “A Song For Mama” by Boyz II Men
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Take your groom and step back every hour for a full minute. Take a look at all the people you love that are around you and take a mental picture. These are some of my favorite memories and they are so strong in a day where so much was a blur (also thanks to my fabulous photographer and videographer, the day is much more put together).
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Make a decision and don’t second guess it. At the end of the day you could contemplate the details of every item and vendor up until your wedding day. Once you find one you love, move on and really just enjoy how it’s all coming together!
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?
I wish I’d made the decision to get a videographer sooner! This was a last minute add on for us and truly one of the best things you can do. We look at our photos and video highlights constantly as nothing can bring your wedding day back to you like these two items. We really loved the people we worked with and having trust in them is critical.