This Elegant Wedding Celebrated California's Natural Beauty and Farm-to-Table Food
Christina Walker and Ken Rakestraw first connected on the dating app Hinge and quickly discovered that they had a great deal in common, including several friends. "As it turns out, we only lived a few blocks from each other, so we picked a spot in our neighborhood," says Christina. "After a successful first date, we actually ended up planning our second for the next night. From there, we were pretty much inseparable." Eventually, they realized that Ken knew Christina's uncle and that their dads had met at a car show years before. "Long story short, we are incredibly grateful to technology for helping us to meet when our lives were already so closely intertwined, and we had no idea!" says Christina.
The pair became engaged in December of 2018. "We are really big on traditions and particularly forming our own traditions, so every year we celebrate our own Christmas before leaving town to be with family," says Ken. "I had insisted that we go for a walk after we finished dinner and before we opened presents. We walked over to get some frozen yogurt and then walked to Alamo Square park—it was right near my old apartment, a few blocks from our first date, and it overlooked City Hall where we had had our second date. After a long trip down memory lane, I finally dropped down to one knee and popped the question." The couple decided to keep the news a secret that night so they could enjoy it, just the two of them. "Then the following day, we celebrated with my grandparents before heading up to Seattle to be with her family for the holidays," says Ken.
When it came time to begin planning, the pair knew exactly where they wanted to hold their wedding—no research needed. "As soon as Ken and I got engaged, we emailed Full Belly Farm," says Christina, noting that Ken actually worked at the farm in college. "We knew we loved it, we'd told our friends about it regularly, and now was our excuse to finally get everyone together there." The venue's story spoke to the couple ("The thoughtfulness behind how and why they farm was beyond anything we had ever heard before," notes the bride), as did the food. "Their farm-to-table dinner defines the category. Since our first farm dinner in 2016, we have gone back regularly two to three times a year."
The duo enlisted Hailey from Two Roads Event Co to bring together their fun, personal, and family-centric event through "elevated and unique" design; the bride's mother, who tackled several DIY projects, was just as helpful ("She should really be listed as a vendor!" says Christina). As for their overarching goal? "We wanted everyone to come together and get to know each other over the wedding weekend," says Christina. On the big day, they exceeded even their expectations. "I remember how calm and confident I felt throughout the entire morning leading up to the ceremony," shares Ken. "For me, it was almost like a triathlon or race day where I knew I had put in all the hard work, the ups and downs of stress, and planning leading up to it, and it was now the big day and the focus should be on staying calm, present, and enjoying every moment. It didn't disappoint one bit!"
A Custom Suite
Since they wanted invitations that were completely unique, Christina and Ken commissioned an artist on Etsy to create their stationery suite; Sweet Invitation Co included a sketch of Full Belly Farm, where their celebration ultimately took place. "We loved giving our guests a little peek into our venue," says the bride.
Full Belly Farm grows their own flowers and has a florist on-site, so farm-fresh blooms were the order of the day. In fact, Christina was so confident in the talents of Hannah Muller at Full Belly Floral, that she made some general suggestions and trusted her to create her bouquet. "She perfectly blended my wine-and-blush color tones, complemented them with lush, textured greens, and tied it all together with hand-dyed ribbons," says the bride. "One of my favorite parts was how she incorporated unripe blackberries and flowers that looked and felt like feathers."
The bride fell in love with an elegant high-neck wedding dress by Mikaella Bridal, complete with a matte-satin bodice and tulle skirt, at her very first shopping appointment. "My sister has a career in apparel production and is an incredible seamstress," Christina adds. "She saw my dress and knew just the touch we needed to make it more 'me,' and actually made the belt."
Bridesmaids wore floor-length dresses in a dark shade of wine. "I honestly arrived at that color because I felt like it just totally embodied fall," says the bride. "I loved how it contrasted against the greenery of Full Belly—and I had seen some amazing arrangements that Hannah had done with those colors. I guess you could say that the color was partly chosen because of the flowers I had seen."
Seamlessly Coordinated Suiting
"We wanted the guys in something clean and crisp," says Ken of the navy suiting he and his groomsmen donned, via the The Black Tux. "We made sure they all had the same brown leather shoe color, and [our planner] Hailey [from Two Roads Event Co] suggested the cream tie from The Brothers at OTAA which tied in nicely."
Flowers for the Flower Girl
Multicolored blossoms crowned Christina's niece's long hair, all tied together with a rust-colored ribbon.
A Breathtaking Ceremony Setup
The ceremony site was situated beneath a canopy of 50-year-old walnut trees, with a lovely floral arch marking the spot for the vow exchange. Rows of benches were arranged behind a few lines of farmhouse chairs; locally made wooden pillars held lush floral arrangements at the aisle's entrance. Potted plants and herbs lined the aisleway as a nod to the location.
Christina and Ken turned to Etsy again for the personalized signage that welcomed guests to the ceremony.
The flower girls wore white and held baskets filled with petals for their trip down the aisle.
A Meaningful Service
Christina and Ken's service was made special by the loved ones who participated. "Adam, our officiant, is one of Christina's best friends and an incredible public speaker," says Ken. "They've shared a lot of life's ups and downs over the years so it felt very natural to have him tell our story. He surprised us by playing the first voicemail I ever left for Christina out loud during the ceremony."
The groom's grandmother spoke about what leads to a long, successful marriage, as she and Ken's grandfather had recently celebrated 60 years together. "There wasn't a dry eye at the ceremony after her speech," Ken says. Finally, Christina's sister appropriately shared some tips on raising a loving family, which rounded out the beautiful family-centric ceremony.
A Place to Rest
In addition to playing lawn games, guests relaxed at lovely lounge areas laid out for the occasion.
Upon arrival at the reception site, attendees were greeted by a wall of rosé from one of the couple's favorite wineries, Cline. "We're wine club members there because we love their low-key family vibe, and it was at Cline a few years ago that Ken and I first started talking about our future engagement," says Christina.
Long wooden tables with coordinating chairs defined the outdoor party space and were draped with mauve runners; they also featured textured green napkins.
Pretty Place Settings
Each place setting was topped with a menu card tied with ribbon and accented with a sprig of rosemary. Touches of gold were highlighted in the silverware and stemware.
Golden Bottles of Oil
Olive oil, bottled at the farm, accompanied the first delicious course of housemade bread and salad served family style.
The father of the bride gifted the couple prenuptial dance lessons, so Christina and Ken kicked off the party with a choreographed number to "I Love You Always Forever" by Donna Lewis. "We chose the song because it steadily built in energy throughout and had a few fast-paced twists," says Ken. "During our dance lessons, we found out that we each felt comfortable with entirely different dances—Christina naturally felt at ease with the hustle dance while I gravitated towards the fast-paced salsa moves. We enjoyed how well we were able to blend these two dances into our routine, allowing us to add an element of surprise, which captivated our guests."
A Cake for Cutting
Although the couple offered a dessert bar complete with a donut board, they also cut into a carrot layer cake to keep with tradition.
Photography, Cavin Elizabeth Photography
Venue and Catering, Full Belly Farm
Coordination and Event Design, Two Roads Event Co
Flowers, Hannah Muller for Full Belly Floral
Invitations, Sweet Invitation Co
Menu Cards, Minted Memories
Signage, Hey Lovely Co
Officiant, Adam Klein
Bride's Gown, Mikaella Bridal
Bride's Accessories, BHLDN (veil and jewelry), Steve Madden (shoes)
Hair and Makeup, Morgan Merrill
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Show Me Your Mumu
Groom and Groomsmen's Attire, The Black Tux, The Brothers at OTAA
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands, Brilliant Earth
Guest Book, Artifact Uprising
Music, Brandon Bosch/The Celebration DJ
Cake, Lester Farms Bakery
Rentals, Celebrations, La Tavola, Theoni
Transportation, Neumann Enterprises