This Modern Vineyard Wedding in Santa Ynez, California, Was Inspired by Nature
For event coordinator Kiersten Anderson and her fiancé, Ruairi Rooney, coordinating their own big day was a happy mix of business and pleasure. The couple, who started dating as freshmen at Pepperdine University after a chance meeting in the library during finals week, had made Grassini Family Vineyards one of their go-to spots for wine tasting by the time their six-year dating anniversary came around. They celebrated with a glass of their favorite Sauvignon Blanc and a walk around the lake, and after Ruairi snapped an impromptu selfie of the two of them, Kiersten was stunned to see him get down on one knee. Her three "simple" proposal requests were met in quick succession: Ruairi proposed using her full name; enlisted a photographer friend to hide nearby and capture the moment; and then surprised Kiersten back at the tasting room with 25 guests at a festive engagement party. Ruairi, a sales manager at a scientific recruiting company, had even booked accommodations for everyone in a nearby town and worked with Kiersten's boss to give her the next day off. "I did not think it could get better," Kiersten says, "but our wedding day beat that by one million percent."
On October 28, 2017, the couple returned to that very vineyard to exchange vows in front of about 160 guests during a chic outdoor ceremony. They chose black as a core color, accenting it with shades of berry, green, and blue, and incorporated diverse natural elements including butterflies and the moon. But for both of them, the best part was not seeing the vision come to life; instead, it was dancing under the stars with their loved ones. "Everybody got out of their seats to join us—we felt completely surrounded and consumed by love," says Kiersten. "It was euphoric."
An Eye-Catching Invite
Black and white invitations from Prim and Pixie set the mood with a simple graphic monogram and high-contrast print. Triple thick cotton paper with black text and mauve painted edges incorporated the wedding's main colors, while the back of the invite was digitally printed with black foil in an abstract shape that suggested a vineyard valley. A vellum envelope allowed guests to see the graphic before opening the invitation, and custom stamps added another personal touch. Kiersten and Ruairi also included fashion suggestions with a note reading, "We invited you, stylish comrades, for a reason. Dress in berry tones, think blueberries and blackberries, as well as wine tones."
Rustic and Romantic
For Kiersten and Ruairi choosing a venue was easy: They returned to Grassini Family Vineyards. "It combines our love of wine, nature, and peace all in one," says Kiersten. They were even able to pick a reception location with an added dose of romance: It was the same spot where Ruairi had proposed.
An Emotional Greeting
Kiersten had been anticipating the first look during the entire planning process—and it didn't disappoint. "I know it's such a high point of the day, and it is the exact moment that kicks off the rest of your life together," she says. "Ruairi cried like a baby and I loved that he was so raw in his emotion. It sealed the deal even more."
Her Gorgeous Gown
When she started looking for her wedding dress, Kiersten pictured a form-fitting mermaid style. But she, her mother, and sister went to The White Dress in Newport Beach with open minds—except for her mother's one firm rule: "My mom told me before we walked in that we would not be leaving without a dress, so I knew I had to make a decision!" The last dress the salesperson brought in an Alyne by Rita Vinieris ball gown, and Kiersten was smitten: "I loved the detail in the bodice and the softness of the skirt yet drama in the train."
Old, New, and Borrowed
Two family heirlooms were carried down the aisle. The first, by the bride: a Cameo brooch, a gift from Ruairi's mom that had belonged to his godfather. Ruairi tucked a pocket watch that had been his grandfather's into his pocket. Her BHLDN shoes were new, and her earrings were borrowed—but accidentally: "I forgot mine at home!"
For his wedding-day look, Ruairi turned to Michael Lattucca of Tom James—his usual custom suitmaker—for a bespoke pair of pants and jacket. Opting for a colored jacket was part of the couple's effort to give timeless elements a modern edge, and the green was a nod to Ruairi's grandparents. "My grandmother's engagement ring has an emerald as the main stone, and my grandparents' marriage is an amazing example of what a marriage should be," says Ruairi. "The green jacket was really done in reverence to their relationship, and in a way I thought it might bring good fortune to our marriage." He finished the look with a shirt and tie from Brooks Brothers and shoes from Magnanni.
Kiersten turned to her friend Amy Jordan from Stella Bloom for floral design, but after going over her vision for the day, Kiersten left many of the flower choices up to Amy. "She sat down with me on a plane ride from L.A. to New York and we chatted through the flowers," says Kiersten. "She pretty much surprised me!" Neutral blooms were accented with darker flowers, berries, and greens in the bride's and bridesmaids' bouquets, the boutonniéres, and the centerpieces.
At the Entrance
As guests entered the space, they were greeted by a standing welcome sign that was part purchased, part custom: the mirror was a CB2 find that Prim and Pixie personalized with a decal featuring the bride's and groom's names. A wooden bar held a copy of Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People, a coffee table book that the newlyweds used as a guestbook and now keep in their living room.
Married Under the Moon
Kiersten and Ruairi's vision for their ceremony site started with Block 14 on the vineyard, "where the best Sauvignon Blanc grows," says Kiersten. "Without a vision it's straight up a dirt pad. But with vision, it's the most beautiful ceremony site you could imagine." They commissioned a friend to "build something abstract" to serve as a backdrop, and settled on the open circle design. "A running theme in our wedding became the moon," Kiersten says. "The incomplete circle represents a crescent moon." Acrylic chairs kept the focus on the scenery, while custom decals assigned seats in the first to rows to VIPs.
A Last-Minute Addition
Kiersten's father walked her down the aisle to "The Intro" by XX. The ceremony—a Christian service officiated by Kiersten's brother-in-law—included two Bible verses read by family members, and Kiersten and Ruairi exchanging their own vows. Kiersten's event planning background paid off when she snuck a leftover smoke bomb from a previous photo shoot to a groomsman with instructions for him to set it off as the couple shared their first kiss. "It was our little secret," Kiersten says. "It definitely surprised everyone!"
Cozy Cocktail Lounges
After the ceremony, guests sipped specialty cocktails—The Eastern Standard and spiked hot apple cider—in outdoor lounge areas furnished by Found Vintage Rentals. "The main theme for the music was French, with an emphasis on the 'Life Aquatic' soundtrack with Seu Jorge. Our friend group listens to a lot of French music so it was fitting," explains the groom.
Stir and Sip
Personalized touches at the bar included stirrers that incorporated the moon theme and the couple's monogram, along with cocktail napkins in berry and black that offered cheeky custom messages.
Simple, low floral arrangements coordinated with black-and-white butterfly print linens on the cocktail hour tables—cloths Kiersten picked "for no particular reason other than they are beautiful!" The butterfly motif reappeared in the place settings at dinner and, along with the looming moon theme and the rich color palette, became a recurring design that the couple felt made their day even more unique. "When you saw it all together in person, it just made sense," Kiersten says. "It did not feel overwhelming or awkward—it was beautiful and enchanting because of the oddities."
Sampling and Snacking
The cocktail hour also offered a wine tasting bar that paired three of the vineyard's best reserves with carefully chosen cheeses: a 2016 Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc with Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog; a 2014 Articondo Bordeaux Blend with Spanish Drunken goat cheese; and a 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon with Point Reyes Toma.
A Geometric Seating Chart
The couple's seating chart installation was inspired by a display of velvet boxes Kiersten spotted in a store window. "We build a lot of our escort cards on walls and get a little tired of the same old straight 8' x 8' wall," she says. "I wanted some texture and some dimension." She enlisted her bridesmaids for a "Pizza and Production" dinner to help assemble the chart before the big day. A sign saying "Wine + Dine Round the Moon" incorporated the lunar theme.
Names and Numbers
The custom cards were created from four different colors that matched the wedding's overall look. "Prim and Pixie helped me come up with a special die cut for the paper," says Kiersten, while Calligraphy Nerd wrote the names and table numbers.
The seated dinner took place outside. Tablescapes were created for round and rectangular tables in four different colors: sage, navy, black, and pink. "I wanted to see dimension in the design, and what better way than to really mix it up with colors," Kiersten says.
Longer tables were draped with layered pink and deep berry runners from La Tavola Fine Linen Rental and corresponding blush taper candles.
The Golden Touch
Gold flatware and chargers from Borrowed Blu were offset by the rich colors of the linens. Each place setting had two die-cut butterfly tags—a black one acting as the place card on the rim of the glass and a second one in a different color to indicate the guest's meal choice at the base of it: Zinfandel braised short ribs, Chilean sea bass, or striped butternut squash ravioli from Command Performance Catering. Diamond-shaped menus on top of the bread plate matched the table linens.
And when it was time for dessert, the couple cut into a small carrot cake, and guests enjoyed autumnal sweets: mini pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies.
All Night Long
The "Dance all night" neon sign hanging over the DJ was a shoutout to the couple's recessional song, "Round the Moon" by Summer Camp.
Another celestial touch? The couple chose Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" for their first dance song, which was played by their friend on his guitar. "Our first dance as husband and wife was one of the moments that is engrained in my heart and memory," Ruairi says. "To be in our favorite place, surrounded by the people that we love most, and dancing to our best friend singing the same song that he sang to us after celebrating the night of our engagement… I can remember every detail of that moment, yet I can't begin to describe what it felt like."
A lineup of '80s favorites, from "Tainted Love" as the second song of the night to "Come on Eileen" as the last, kept guests partying late into the evening. "We are a very heavy '80s music crowd, and people loved it," says Kiersten. "It felt like everyone danced the entire time."
Photography, Anna Delores Photography
Location, Grassini Family Vineyards
Event planning, LB Event Planning + Design
Catering, Command Performance Catering
Flowers, Stella Bloom Designs
Videography, Wes Films
Stationery, Prim and Pixie
Calligraphy, Calligraphy Nerd
Cake, MJB Cakes
Bride's gown, Alyne by Rita Vinieris
Bride's shoes, BHLDN
Hair and Makeup, Emily Dawn Artistry
Groom's suit, Tom James
Menswear, The Black Tux Rentals
Transportation, Modern Classic Limo
Linens, La Tavola