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Cassandra and Jess
It was one of wedding planner Cassandra Santor's clients who introduced her to his friend Jess Unruh. Three years later, this southern California couple headed north to make things official with an intimate autumn wedding. After 13 years of planning other couple’s weddings, it was time for Cassandra to focus on her own, and together with her groom, they crafted a big day that truly reflected their personalities.
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The couple welcomed 65 guests to Old St. Hilary's, in Tiburon, California, for the ceremony on October, 19, 2012. The former mission church—and current historical landmark—was built on a wildflower preserve.
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Wheat wreaths adorned the chapel's doors.
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Magnolia garlands with gilded leaves throughout trailed up the bannister.
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For Happy Tears
Cassandra's great-grandmother always had a handkerchief, and now, the bride always carries one herself. As a nod to the tradition, Cassandra collected hankies and had them embroidered with the couple's "US" monogram, which stood for their last names and their new union. She also gave her husband-to-be, father, and father-in-law hankies with personalized messages.
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A Light Snack
Clear gable boxes stuffed with afternoon snacks after the ceremony since there were a few hours until the 5 p.m. cocktail reception. They included local treats including Krave sweet chipotle beef jerky, La Forêt 7-layer chocolate bars, fresh pears, water bottles, and packets of almonds and cranberries.
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Cassandra had been searching high and low in Los Angeles for the perfect gown when she finally ventured to The White Dress, where she tried on a Jorge Manuel dress called the "Lloyd Wright." "The paneling reminded me of the chapel we chose to get married in and I never had a second thought about the dress," Cassandra said. She completed her ensemble with Dior pumps, Trumpet & Horn jewelry, and a custom Renee Pawele bolero and Chantilly lace veil.
Jess sported a Klein Epstein & Parker suit.
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The duo's "US" monogram and "Est. October 19, 2013" were sewn into the groom's suit jacket and the bride's gown. The initials also graced the groom's shirt.
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A Nice Nosegay
Cassandra's niece walked down the aisle before her with a bouquet of astilbe.
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A Kind Thanks
An old Chinese proverb was incorporated subtly throughout the wedding, starting with the stationery suite, which referred to guests as “golden threads.” It read: “An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break. May you be open to each thread that comes into your life – the golden ones and the coarse ones – and may you weave them into a brilliant and beautiful life”
The couple wanted all guests to feel like honor attendants so they made boutonnieres for everyone, with gold-edged ribbon, and finished with a paper ribbon stating the couple’s names and wedding date.
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Kicking It Off
When the couple first ventured north into wine country to look at reception venues, Jess learned how to saber a bottle of Champagne. He put his newly acquired skill to use by cutting into a bottle of bubbly.
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Card carousels painted gold displayed escort cards that doubled as menus. The variegated orange sleeves held menu pages bound with gold thread and included dedications to each person in attendance.
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Dinner was served in the Hilltop room of The Carneros Inn, in Napa Valley. Centerpieces by Brown Paper Design included astilbe, amaryllis, garden roses, parrot tulips, hypericum berries, dahlias, and pieris dotted the table, as did gold mini pumpkins nodding to the season. Cloche jars with white pumpkins also housed gold table numbers.
The menu “invited guests into our foodie hearts” according to the bride. It had seasonal touches like pumpkin soup, as well as a duet of prime filet mignon and day boat scallops. The third course was Jess’ cheese sampling, which boasted some selections from his hometown of Petaluma (one of the finest cheese towns in California). Cassandra’s course was the fourth and final one—an individual chocolate fondue plate in honor of the fudge and sweets she used to make as a child.
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A Sweet Cake
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Cinnamon-sugar mini donuts with caramel dipping sauce and hot apple cider with cinnamon stir sticks were perfect for the autumn evening.
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A Welcome Distraction
The Aqualillies—a synchronized swim troupe from Los Angeles—danced to retro tunes while the reception room was flipped to serve as a dance hall.
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Professional choreographer John Carrafa created a mash-up for the newlyweds. They started with "Fireflies" by Owl City and progressed into "Eyes" by Cascade, then "Cantaloop" by US3, and finally a waltz to "Until…" by Sting.
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Dancing with Dad
Cassandra grew up dancing on her dad's feet to Anita Baker, so they chose her song "You Bring Me Joy" for their spin on the dance floor.
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Cassandra and her cousin constructed signage to let guests know that they'd arrived at the church and to send them off at the end of the night. This farewell sign read "Thank you for joining US."
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Photography: Justin & Mary
Ceremony Location: Old St. Hilary's
Reception Location and Catering: The Carneros Inn
Event Planning and Design: Cassandra & Company Weddings
Day of Coordination: Caitlin Arnold
Flowers: Brown Paper Design
Videography: Elysium Productions
Officiant: George McLaird
Calligraphy: Kathryn Murray Calligraphy
Cake: Alexis Baking Company
Hair and Make-Up: Mariah Nicole
Wedding Rings: Yale Jewelers