A Colorful Outdoor Wedding in Napa Valley
In March 2012, Alessa got stood up for a date. Rather than mope around at home, she decided to go out with her friend, Ben, who brought along his friend, Andrew. "We went on two dates the very first week and really hit it off. The rest is history," says Alessa of her instant connection with Andrew. Two months later, Alessa and Andrew vacationed to Newport, Rhode Island, where they both realized they were in love. Newport became their "special place," so Andrew (a director of media strategy at the NFL) planned to propose there in July 2016. "I had my suspicions, but when there was no proposal the first night, I put it out of mind," says Alessa, who works as an interior designer. "Saturday night we went to the Castle Hill Inn, where we had been many times before, and walked out to the lighthouse. That's where Andrew got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!"
Andrew grew up in San Francisco, and the couple wants to raise a family there one day, so they decided to tie the knot at Meadowood in St. Helena, California. They loved the venue's large pine trees and cottages, since they reminded Alessa of the East Coast and served as a blank slate for design aspirations. "We had friends and family flying in from around the world, so we also wanted to pick a place where people could make a vacation out of their trip," says the bride. "Meadowood struck the perfect balance for us with incredible food (which was of paramount concern to Andrew), great service, and a beautiful property." The celebration took place on September 23, 2017, and 155 guests attended the wedding, which brimmed with colorful flowers, naturally lush scenery, and an overall playful aesthetic.
The Stationery Suite
PS Paper designed the stationery suite. An orange, blue, green, and white color palette—as well as small floral details—hinted at the wedding's theme. "The save-the-date was inspired by a vintage Gucci print, which really drove the entire wedding design," says Alessa. "We had the little bugs on a variety of printed materials, and it tied everything together." Janis Anzalone calligraphed the paper elements.
The Welcome Boxes
"We felt that our guests, some of whom traveled far, should be greeted with something to set the tone for the weekend," says Alessa. They gifted everyone a welcome box with a few essentials including maps of the region, bottled water, local baked goods, nuts, and snacks.
The Bride's Dress
Alessa originally envisioned herself in a simple crepe or silk wedding dress, but went with a strapless A-line number from Carolina Herrera with a detachable skirt. "After trying on maybe 50 dresses, this was the last one I tried, and I knew instantly," she says. "I had no idea I would be in a dress like this! I loved the small format flowers, and how it was a modern version of a lace dress. It made me feel like a bride, but also like myself."
She accessorized with a veil from the same designer—"although it got caught on a guest's chair as I was turning to walk down the aisle, so I was without it for the ceremony," she adds. Aldo shoes, her emerald-cut engagement ring, diamond studs, and a diamond necklace made from her great grandmother's ring rounded out her look.
The Groom's Classic Ensemble
Andrew wore a midnight-blue tuxedo by Tom Ford. "I wanted something very classic that would be respectful and timeless, but also has a little bit of flare," he says. He also sported a tuxedo shirt and velvet bow tie from Turnbull & Asser and Stubbs and Wootton shoes. "My bow tie was where I went a little non-traditional and had a bit of fun!" he explains. To match his bow tie, he wore dark navy velvet slippers with no socks.
Jenna Lam Events arranged Alessa's simple bouquet of white flowers with some dark accents thanks to the centers of the anemones and some chocolate cosmos.
Alessa's sister was her maid of honor, and the rest of her bridal party consisted of her best friends from college and one childhood friend. They wore coral strapless dresses from Halston Heritage, paired with nude shoes and simple jewelry. "I wanted something that didn't feel overly bridal, and that all the girls would look great in and feel pretty in," explains Alessa. Gold hair accessories tied everyone's look together.
Andrew's college friend served as best man, while his cousin, childhood playmate, high school buddy, and two post-college friends comprised the remainder of his wedding party. "All the groomsmen have been there to support me at various points in my life, and I know they will continue to do so," says Andrew. The men wore dark navy J.Crew suits with a white shirt. Andrew also gifted the groomsmen matching dark navy-and-white polka dot ties from Turnbull and Asser.
The Flower Girls
Andrew's cousin's daughters served as flower girls and wore gowns picked out by their parents. "They are very sweet girls and always dressed adorably!" says Alessa.
A Beautiful Backdrop
The ceremony took place on Meadowood's golf course. A small lake created a picturesque backdrop, while white hydrangea along the aisle added a romantic touch. Two large trees anchored the site; one of them contained a flower arrangement by Jenna Lam Events. "The flowers were something I really wanted to frame the ceremony, and something for people who weren't sitting near the aisle to see," says Alessa. "I love organic arrangements and thought it would be beautiful to have them climbing up the crooked tree and flowing onto the grass."
Andrew, his mom, and the groomsmen processed to "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. The bridesmaids followed to "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. Finally, Alessa's Uncle Bob, who is her dad's youngest brother and her godfather, walked her down the aisle to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.
Since Alessa and Andrew are both Presbyterian and have minister grandfathers, they opted for a traditional ceremony. "My uncle is a judge, and he has been married to my Aunt Laura for over 30 years. They have a marriage that we aspire to, and we were thrilled when he agreed to marry us," says Alessa. The couple chose to recite traditional vows, but they also shared personal handwritten ones, too, which was their favorite moment of the day. According to the bride, "I'm not a very gushy person, so being able to speak my vows to Andrew with all our friends and family bearing witness was a really meaningful moment for me." Guests also took a few moments to remember the bride's and groom's fathers, who both passed away in 2014.
Guests were given patterned, paper cones filled with dried flowers to toss during the recessional.
The newlyweds recessed to "All You Need Is Love" by the Beatles.
After the ceremony, guests attended cocktail hour on the lawn.
Four signature drinks were available: a cucumber Collins, Aperol spritz, skinny and spicy margarita, and a turmeric mule.
Cocktail Hour Setup
While enjoying passed hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, guests sat at tables covered with blue floral linens. Coordinating floral arrangements completed the look.
Meg Smith photographed the couple (and their newlywed glow) near the ceremony site before dinner.
The Escort Cards
PS Paper designed the escort cards with the bug and flower illustrations from the invitation. The cards were calligraphed by Janis Anzalone and placed on a table with moss and greenery. "These tied in the bug theme, and then we had a very organic, overgrown-looking table to house them. It was almost like plucking your name from a garden," says Alessa.
Andrew's mom wore for a custom-made gown from a San Francisco designer while Alessa's mom wore a Dolce & Gabbana dress. "Our parents both had strong marriages, which has provided us a strong foundation for our own marriage," says Alessa. "I think the best advice I received was to always put the other person first in your mind." Prior to the wedding, Alessa gave the mothers (and her bridesmaids) silk pajamas from Olivia Von Halle.
The reception took place on the lawn. Alessa used her interior design background to determine the theme: bright, patterned, and layered. "We ultimately went with a playful concept because it felt true to us," says the bride. "We wanted a sophisticated and timeless ceremony, and then an irreverent reception, and I think we really got exactly that!" Coral linens topped the tables in their various shapes, which were set with elegant but modern wooden chairs.
The Place Settings
Each place setting had white plates, gold flatware, coral napkins, and circular menus, which were designed by PS Paper to resemble the stationery suite. The meal began with roasted corn soup then followed with a choice of risotto, lobster, or roasted rack of lamb. Guests also enjoyed a wine pairing with each course.
Jenna Lam Events arranged the centerpieces with bright flowers in shades of orange and pinks.
Meadowood baked a five-tiered lemon and raspberry cake and covered it with colorful sugar flowers. "We wanted the cake to be a fun moment, and little did Andrew know when we picked it that he was getting a sneak peak of my dress!" says Alessa. "We're looking forward to having the top tier on our first anniversary."
Dance Floor Decorations
Pink carnations strung above the dance floor added a colorful and fun touch to the party room.
The First Dance
The newlyweds danced to "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. According to Andrew, "We're both goofy but are also a bit shy of crowds. Dancing to that song (without practicing) was a chance to be a goof." Rembrandt Band also played lots of Motown music throughout the night.
Afterwards, the newlyweds spent a few days relaxing in Napa Valley before honeymooning to Lanai, Hawaii. They took some time to reminisce about their big day. "We wanted it to be a celebration of love, friendships, and strong bonds, which is what draws us together as a couple. We think that our guests felt that," says Alessa.
Photography, Meg Smith Photography
Location, catering, and cake, Meadowood
Event planning, flowers, and linen rentals, Jenna Lam Events
Videography, Elysium Productions
Stationery, PS Paper
Calligraphy, Janis Anzalone
Bride's gown, Carolina Herrera
Bride's shoes, Aldo
Hair, Gabriel Mendoza
Makeup, Kimberly MacPhee
Bridesmaids' dresses, Halston Heritage
Groom's tuxedo, Tom Ford
Lighting, Illusions Lighting Design
Transportation, Pure Luxury Transportation