A family ranch in the hills of Napa was the setting for this party that included a stroll of discovery among friends.
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A Day of Play
On a sun-filled day during the week of Lindsey Wiseman’s wedding, her bridesmaids—fondly referred to as “professional fun-havers”—joined her on her family’s ranch in St. Helena, California, for an atypical bridal shower. “Just as they were honoring me, I wanted to create an event that honored them and their incredible roles in my life,” Lindsey explains.
The party began with breakfast in town at Model Bakery, a favorite of the bride-to-be’s, followed by a private tour and wine tasting at Schramsberg Vineyards that ended in a candlelit cave. The adventures continued once back home.
“The ranch is a never-ending labyrinth of secret hiding places, beautiful vistas, and picnic-perfect spots,” Lindsey says. “I wanted to spend time walking to those memorable places with my favorite ladies because it has been home to so many of our magical events over the years.” Fittingly, Tamaru, the maid-of-honor (and Lindsey’s friend of more than 20 years), and Julia Lake, the planner, event designer, and florist, crafted clues that took participants on a stroll through the property—and on a walk down memory lane.
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A Choice Encounter
Lindsey’s fiancé, Andrew, took a cross-country road trip from Colorado to California the week of the wedding with planned pit stops to visit friends while en route. He arrived in the Golden State (and at the ranch, to be exact) just as the ladies returned home from their tasting in town.
The groom-to-be announced his serendipitous appearance by running over to the car that held Lindsey, scooping his bride from her seat, and carrying her up to the house, where the girls-only brunch awaited.
The couple dated three years before saying, “I do.”
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Partygoers returned to the ranch to find the front veranda transformed into a magical reception of decadent bites and sparkling beverages. “It was a vision out of Gone With the Wind!” Lindsey says.
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Lindsey scored her “leisure dress” from Lolo’s, a consignment shop based in St. Helena, California, which she often frequents because of its proximity to her local grocery store. “Whenever I can buy things and give them a second life, I do,” she says.
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Ladies Who Brunch
Attendees noshed on a crudité tower of assorted spring vegetables, lima bean dip and Champagne-blue cheese dip; endive spears with lemon-avocado crème and micro amaranth; and Aleppo pepper and sumac-spiced deviled eggs. Not pictured: Polenta bites with peach preserves and shaved Mimolette and burrata with togarashi-spiced Castelvetrano olive relish.
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A Bowl That Brings a Punch
A sparkling grapefruit punch with orange and Meyer lemon wheels served as the perfect segue between tea and Champagne.
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Ice, Ice, Baby
Fava bean flowers, sourced from the family’s beloved ranch, were frozen into cubes.
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Taking Tea With Sugar
An ornate sterling platter held Cara Cara orange curd tartlets with kumquat and lemon-cream cheese-filled tarts with Mandarinquats and carrot granules. A cake stand stood piled with salted maple shortbread cookies with cream cheese filling, while mini pistachio and orange-scented shortcakes covered an antique platter (and were later slathered in whipped cream and quince butter).
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After ample nibbling, the “Hounds and Hares” scavenger hunt through the ranch, with clues written as riddles, began!
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Lindsey—the woman of the hour—solved the first riddle, leading the crew to the property’s hillside wine barn (where Lindsey and Andrew would marry two days later) in search of flower crowns.
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Cue the Curtsies
English teatime delights and head wreaths found, Lindsey honored each woman by crowning her with the accessory and a title unique to their friendship. For example, her sightseeing companion, Marissa, was dubbed, “Goddess of dangerous travels, close calls, and safe homecomings.”
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The pack then moved under the property’s California oaks to the lake in search of the next stop.
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The Water’s Fine
Once on the dock, the group found roses—one for each attendee—and a glass bottle of melted Rocky Mountain snow sourced from Vail, where Andrew and Lindsey met. The contents were poured into the lake to symbolize the coming together of friends and their years of adventures and the bride’s unchartered but exciting adventure to come: marriage.
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Stories Worth Telling
The next riddle led the pack to a wide-open grassy knoll with a circle of eight chairs. In advance of the moment, each guest wrote a note detailing her favorite memory with Lindsey on a vintage English postcard (the groom hails from England). The kind words were scattered upon the seats.
“It was truly magical,” Lindsey says of the blessing ceremony. In return, the bride-to-be recalled how she met each lady and the importance of the woman on her life.
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The scavenger hunt ended with a bohemian picnic under the patio’s large oaks. The friends spent the rest of the afternoon cozied up among wool throws and silk pillows sipping punch and enjoying some serious girl time.
“I presented each lady with a beautiful turn-of-the-century brooch that I picked up from Portobello Market in London,” Lindsey says. The clips were fashioned into fascinators and accessorized updos for the wedding. “Each broach chosen represented the personality of the bridesmaid,” Lindsey explains. “For instance, my friend Allison received a flamingo for her carefree, bright, and fun spirit.”
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After working up an appetite by answering riddles, the bridesmaids chowed down on farro salad with shredded Brussels sprouts, Chioggia beets, green garlic, and pepper confetti; roasted asparagus crostini with citrus-whipped goat cheese; and Vadouvan chicken salad with roasted fingerlings, fresh celery, and golden raisins.
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Birds of a Feather
A woven basket pulled from the farmhouse held pheasant feathers from the bride’s mother’s former ranch on the San Francisco Bay. “I liked the idea of the feathers because they represent nesting,” Lindsey says. “And as my girlfriends sent me off to get married, they were also helping to ‘feather’ my nest with wonderful memories, thoughts, and dreams.”
Pinecones, also from the former house, accompanied the plumage, making for a cherished grouping. “I always remember my grandfather bringing them back to the house to start the fire in the big fireplace,” Lindsey explains. “Having both treasures at my brunch brought the spirit of my grandparents and the memories of childhood.”
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“Décor-wise, I think you get the best events if you are able to forage items from the client’s property, attics, and china closets,” says Julia Lake, who planned and designed the daylong party using exclusively family pieces.
The event culminated with attendees attempting to make art of their own; they participated in a session to create olive branch garlands that were used as wedding décor just a few days later.
Photography: Taylor Gage Photography