Wow. October 15, we meet again. I cannot believe this time last year, I was getting ready to marry Dan at a beautiful house in Sonoma, California. We already shared a lot of the story and a few photos in this feature on The Knot, but I figured what better time than our first anniversary to unleash a hundred more photos on you! I’m fairly certain after this, you’ll feel like you were there.
Dan and I knew we wanted to do a destination wedding… we love traveling together and really wanted that opportunity to go somewhere exciting with our closest friends and family. We tossed around half a dozen destination ideas… Glacier National Park, New Orleans, a beach in Mexico… but ultimately Dan suggested wine country north of San Francisco, and I was SO ON BOARD.
I’d spent the previous two years working with a winery in Sonoma as part of a big collaboration with The Everygirl, so I was very familiar with the area, aesthetic, culture, food, and of course, wine! We both wanted a back yard dinner party under twinkle lights (ok, me more than him). Food would be served family style, wine bottles would be on the table so people could help themselves, and candles would be everywhere. Plus once Dan found our venue, a private home/estate on AirBNB, we knew it would be the coolest back yard ever overlooking a vineyard and the foothills of Sonoma. I’ve mentioned this before, but we did not have a wedding planner; Dan and I did everything ourselves, up until the day of when we had a local day-of coordinator step in to manage vendors and make sure things ran smoothly. You can see my wedding planning Pinterest board here. Actually, you can see the first pins at the bottom were from when I thought we were going to get married in a national park, before we decided on Sonoma!
As you know from the previous post, we had big plans for this back yard dinner party with sweeping views. But five days before the wedding, with news of a massive storm system coming down from Alaska, our day-of coordinator and I literally spent the entire Monday making calls trying to secure a tent that would be big enough. We were leaving for our wedding on Wednesday.
This meant the plans for a beautiful dinner under the stars was getting covered by a tent (that leaked in places!)… we didn’t have the budget (granted nothing was even available) to get a fancier tent with pretty curtain walls or anything. But we made do with what we had!
We arrived Wednesday night and packed welcome bags. We got to check into the house where the wedding would be on Thursday and a few of our friends and family came over and we enjoyed an afternoon of sun by the pool! That evening we had a welcome party at a local restaurant in downtown Sonoma.
REHEARSAL DINNER: SONOMA WINE TASTING!
In lieu of inviting all of our guests to formal rehearsal dinner, we decided to do something a bit more… Sonoma. We organized a wine tasting tour for everyone on Friday afternoon! This was thanks in large part to Kendall-Jackson, because most of the wineries cannot accommodate a group of 60 and they usually suggest breaking large groups up. We obviously didn’t want that. Lucky for us, the KJ team is pretty amazing and they hosted our entire group for an amazing tour of their gardens before doing a tasting in their grand tasting room (not pictured). Then we went to their sister winery, Matanzas Creek (pictured above) and did wine tasting and played bocce in the gardens. It was a grand old time. And yes, our mouths are purple from all the wine.
WEDDING DAY: GETTING READY
I got ready in the master bedroom suite of the house we rented with my mom and my five bridesmaids: my sister and four childhood friends. We wore the coziest Eberjey PJs, sipped mimosas, and got our hair and makeup done.
My gown was by Lela Rose which I was super lucky to buy a sample from Belle Vie Bridal in Chicago.
THE DETAILS & THE DECOR
Planning the details and decor of the wedding was easily the most fun part for me. Technically, the invitation suite was my favorite part, but really it all ties together. Notice the flowers in the crest, envelope liner, and bridesmaid gift wrapping paper coordinate with my bouquet which coordinates with my shoe and bridal part color, down to the grey velvet ribbon on the invitation? And even the bridesmaid gifts and getting-ready PJs are all in the same color palette, without being TOO matchy? Pretty cool, huh!?
WEDDING COLORS: ecru, grey, and green with black and blush accents
FIRST LOOK & PORTRAITS
Dan and I did a first look so that we could take photos before the wedding since we did not want to miss any of the cocktail party with our guests. It had just started drizzling when we walked down to the vineyard on the property but we were lucky to get a few photos in before the heavy rain came.
THE BRIDAL PARTY
After our first look and couple portraits, we were able to get group photos with our bridal party. The groomsmen did all have navy sport coats but I wanted a relaxed California vibe for photos so I had them leave them off for photos. The bridesmaids wore grey dresses from J.Crew and my two maids of honor had on white dresses from BHLDN. We got Dan’s blue suit during the Nordstrom anniversary sale!
You might also notice the ladies changed into lace TOMS for the majority of the evening. Sadly those got destroyed by muddy grass as you’ll see later.
A few portraits with our families! I love how they all coordinated with muted fall colors.
The ceremony…. oh the ceremony. This was supposed to take place where you’ll see cocktail hour was in the next section. But a torrential downpour came just as the ceremony was going to begin, so our day-of-coordinator and her assistant moved 50 white chairs into the wine cave on the property and lit about 100 candles. It ended up being very romantic.
First our bridal party and parents walked down the aisle to Jackson Five’s “I’ll Be There.” Then I started the walk down the aisle by myself, then met Dan who was waiting for me where the chairs began, and we walked the rest of the way together to the song “All Through the Night” by Sleeping at Last. I really wanted to walk to him but I also loved the idea of us walking together toward the altar, since this was a decision we were making together to spend the rest of our lives together.
The ceremony was an emotional roller coaster. Laughing, then crying, then laughing then crying. We had a friend marry us, and he had everyone in stitches. Then when it came town to read our vows, that Dan and I had written together, pretty much everyone was crying – including us. Then Mike took over again and everyone was laughing. Then we kissed, a good kiss, and we were married! Our coordinator forgot to turn the recessional song on but it was such a short aisle it didn’t really matter. Wine time!
So this part was crazy. THIS is where the wedding ceremony was supposed to be. But as I said, it was POURING during our ceremony. And it COMPLETELY cleared right after the storm passed, so much so we had the a double rainbow over the house and a pretty epic sunset over the vineyards and hills. And all of our guests got to enjoy that spectacular view (even though the grass was QUITE wet)! Funny how things work out!
DINNER & SPEECHES
(ie an hour-long emotional roller coaster with tons of wine)
Dinner could not have been any more amazing. It was exactly what we wanted (minus the tent, but at least that kept everyone dry and warm!)–candles, wine bottles lining the table so guests could help themselves, amazing farm-to-table food being passed, and the speeches. The food was DELICIOUS. And it was very important to me guests could have as much or little of the things they wanted. I hate seeing how much food goes to waste when there’s a set plated meal served. And we did cookies and ice cream for dessert instead of cake because yum. Those are our favorites.
Then there were the speeches which were pretty epic. We of course had asked our dads, maids my honor, and best man to keep them short… which none of them did… hah but it didn’t matter because they were ALL SO GOOD. Guests were saying they were the best speeches they’d ever heard. ALL FIVE. Another emotional roller coaster that had EVERYONE laughing and crying then laughing again. It was amazing.
AND FINALLY, DANCING
After dinner came the dancing!
Dan and I danced to “I Will Follow You” by Toulouse, I danced with my dad to Tony Bennet’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” and Dan danced with his mom to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts.
The big hit of the night that had EVERYONE on the dance floor was “SOB” by Nathaniel Rateliff.
The night ended by everyone going back into the wine cave where the dancing and drinking continued… all in all, it was an absolutely perfect weekend.
Photography by Jenna Kutcher Photography
Happy Anniversary, what a beautiful weekend! I just got married a week ago in the Chicago suburbs and the exact thing happened to us. Rain came pouring down and didn’t look like it would let up, we moved inside and then after our ceremony was over we were greeted with the most magical double rainbow 🙂
Loved seeing all the details, congrats again! xx
Oh my gosh yes I heard last weekend (and then this weekend) were both so bad with rain in Chicago! Well I am happy things worked out as well! 🙂 Congratulations!
I know that the wine cellar wasn’t your first choice but I think it was gorgeous, Alaina. It was unique and still fit the color scheme and a really beautiful backdrop. I love all of your choices, weddings have really evolved since I was married in the early 00s but I would like to think that if I had to do it now I would do it similar to yours.
Oh I totally agree! I’m so happy with how it turned out! And thank you so much! 🙂
Happy Anniversary you two!!! What a fun way to celebrate the day!!! I totally do feel like I was there!
Happy Anniversary! What gorgeous photos! It looks like it was a super fun wedding and the joy on your face is magic. Also, can I just say thank you for the introduction to “SOB” – I’ve just had myself a wee dance party. Haha 😂
Happy Anniversary!! You looked so gorgeous and incredibly happy! Thanks for sharing!
Happy Anniversary! Thank you for sharing your photos, they are beautiful and it looks like such an amazing day! I love the W flag “guest book” and an idea I may borrow for our upcoming wedding (my fiance’s last name starts with a W and we’re both big Cubs fans!). What kind of markers did you use so that didn’t bleed on the polyester fabric?
Hi! Love this! Mind sharing the name of the venue – looking for something similar.
Dani – did you find something to go with?
Hi – I’ve heard horror stories about Airbnb owners cancelling and then leaving the bride and groom with no venue. Any advice on how to ensure that doesn’t happen? Did you rent everything (tables, linens, glassware, etc) without help from a planner or did the day of coordinator help with that?