When I see real marriages in my email, I can be sure that they will be romantic and beautiful.

Sonoma is one of them. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t fall in love with a wedding that took place in this part of California’s wine country.

Alistair and Brian’s wedding day was something I didn’t expect. The wedding is still elegant and glistens in a glorious light. (Captured by White Ivory Photography! There isn’t even a single grapevine in sight.

This flower-filled garden setting has a vintage elegance that we would not normally associate with casual Californian weddings.

Even though it may be elegant, it doesn’t mean that the wedding can’t also have personality.

Alistair and Brian created a meaningful and emotional celebration by planning their day around a dinner party.

Their dog of honor (whose flower-adorned collar we are seriously digging!) Their thoughtful readings (their lesson on marriage equality is particularly beautiful) and the emphasis placed on good food and wine make this wedding a truly beautiful day.

Those weddings are always our favorites, regardless of where they take place! We love them all…

Wedding Day Snapshot

Our Love Story

Brian met Alistair through mutual friends at a Sublime Cover-band concert in San Francisco.

Following that first encounter, they crossed paths at different social gatherings. However, their relationship did not officially begin until several months later.

After moving to California, attending grad school, and starting careers together, Brian proposed on Ali’s Birthday six years later under the guise of a weekend getaway.

The Inspiration

Our wedding theme was elegant vintage. The wedding combined the elegance of a Victorian mansion with a lush spring garden.

Our color palette consisted of earthy tones such as lavender, blush, and sage.

The table settings were decorated with classic Chantilly Lace, vintage table numbers framed in wood, and a variety of antique crystal votive candles.

The Flowers

Roses, peonies, and various sprigs of flowers were used in our floral arrangements. Our flowers were to have a wildflower look but with a touch of elegance.

For additional texture, the arrangements included leafy greens as well as succulents.

The Attire

The bride wore a light and airy A-line gown with a plunging neckline. It also featured a chapel train.

The bodice featured lace motifs on an illusion, a soft net with pearl buttons, and a double-faced ribbon. A mid-length veil was also worn by the bride, which added texture.

The bridesmaids wore floor-length gowns in petal pink with lace bodices and flowy chiffon chiffon skirts.

The men were dressed in grey suits with champagne ties.

The dog of honor for the couple wore a floral collar and matching ribbons.

The Photographer

We were immediately impressed by the friendly and kind demeanor displayed by our photographer, White Ivory Photography.

Her portfolio was beautiful, and she did her best to capture all the details. She was easy to work with.

She helped us with our engagement shoot, which gave us the chance to become comfortable in front of a camera before our wedding.

Our Favourite Details

The wedding ceremony we had was very personal and reflected who we are both as individuals and as a couple.

We wanted to include our families in the ceremony, including our dog! We were very particular about having a friend officiate the ceremony.

We wrote our vows and selected readings which really resonated with both of us. We didn’t hesitate to interact with the crowd or laugh while we were both crying our eyes out.

To incorporate the groom’s passion for games, we had our guests sign Jenga instead of the standard guest book. We also created a personalized crossword puzzle that kept everyone entertained while the dinner orders were taken.

The Venue

The beautiful Garden at Madrona Manor was a major selling point. We wanted a romantic, lush outdoor setting to hold our wedding ceremony.

We also enjoyed a private dinner on the Palm Terrace, overlooking the Garden. This was the perfect place to celebrate with close family and friends.

The Ceremony

We customized our ceremony by having an old friend officiate. This was the best choice we could have ever made.

Before the wedding, he gave us homework by asking us to send (secret) messages to one another. He incorporated these messages into the script of the ceremony.

Two brothers of the bride also read a poem entitled ‘Marriage,’ as well as an excerpt from a 2015 US Supreme Court ruling regarding marriage equality.

The readings were both beautiful and spoke of the importance of marriage. They also allowed additional family members to be included in the ceremony.

The Music

Our music was played by a string ensemble consisting of viola and cello.

The bride’s processional was ‘Crazy Love by Van Morrison.’ Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ was the bride’s procession. The Beatles’ ‘All You Want is Love’ was our recessional.

We started with ‘Heaven by Bryan Adams. Our simultaneous mother/son and father/daughter dance was to Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

Advice to other couples

We set up a budget early in the planning of our wedding (lots of spreadsheets!) ).

To stay on track, we also created a separate savings account for “the wedding fund.” We made monthly contributions.

We kept a to-do list with a lot of tasks, and we assigned them to each other so that planning was a true joint effort.

Decor & Details

We wanted to choose a venue that was surrounded by natural beauty. We kept the decor to a minimum, with only a few table centerpieces and floral arrangements.

The floral arrangements that we used for our ceremony were two large floral arrangements, which were placed on pillars supplied by our florist.

We decorated the cocktail area with large framed photos of the bride and groom, as well as personalized signage and decorative accent pieces.

We used votive candles to create a romantic atmosphere in the cocktail and reception area.

The only DIY project we did was to make ribbon wands that were used by the flower girl and ring-bearer at the ceremony. Our guests were able to take away wands as party favors and use them during the recessional.

The Refreshments

Our wedding was intentionally kept small and intimate (think of a classy dinner party). The food was given more attention as a result.

The Michelin-rated restaurant at Madrona Manor provided a three-course sit-down meal for our guests.

Dessert was a two-tiered vanilla buttercream frosted chocolate cake. Our florist topped the wedding cake with a floral arrangement.