This Couple's Sonoma, California, Wedding Felt Like a Tuscan Celebration
Erika Besthoff and Evan Kobziak didn't exactly meet at band camp—but their participation in their high schools' marching bands did bring them together. As Erika explains, her high school hosted a marching band competition in May 2008—and that was how the couple met. "After weeks of talking on the phone on school nights until midnight, Evan asked me to be his girlfriend on my 16th birthday," she says.
Eight years later—over the Christmas holiday—Evan popped the question during a wine-tasting trip in Napa Valley. And 18 months after that, the couple was wed on June 3, 2018, with a ceremony held at the chapel at St. Vincent's School for Boys in San Rafael; the reception took place at Ramekins Culinary School in Sonoma, California.
As for the wedding itself? "Our wedding was the most flawless, spectacular moment I will ever experience in my life," the groom describes. The couple created that flawless experience through romantic Old-World décor with a touch of Tuscan influence—they also showcased their love of food and honored family traditions, says Erika. "That is why I chose Sonoma, California, as the destination for my wedding—a place that prides itself on producing the freshest ingredients and creating culinary delicacies," she says. The couple's color palette drove home their theme—hues like olive green, terra-cotta, and hints of merlot all played up their food focus (and Tuscan vibe!). "We were inspired by the tones of Italian landscape and architecture," Erika explains, "but also incorporated hints of merlot since we were in wine country!"
The wedding wasn't just special because of its carefully crafted design—most of which the bride, a wedding experience designer, created herself. "Even though personalized design was extremely important to us, ultimately our wedding brought people together for a weekend of laughter, singing, and intimate conversations," Erika says of the event, which was attended by 92 guests. "It was a dream come true and afterwards everyone kept asking when we were going back!"
Erika chose her engagement ring, a classic round-cut diamond, and her two wedding bands, both rimmed with diamonds. "I wear three rings," she explains. "Evan and I were together for 10 years prior to our wedding day and we wanted one band to symbolize our past, one to symbolize the present, and one to symbolize the future."
Owl Post Calligraphy created a custom invitation suite that included a save-the-date with a hand-sketched drawing of St. Vincent's Church—where the couple wed. The bride and groom asked the designer to use roman numerals in place of western numeric dates. And because they share the same first initial, Erika and Evan asked their stationer to include an "E" crest enclosed in olive branches—a sign of peace, Erika explains—that would "remind my guests of our union and a life that will be full of harmony together."
For her wedding dress, Erika says she "always pictured a sweet romantic look"—and that is exactly what she got with her Essense of Australia gown, with lace long sleeves and tulle. "I tried on about 15 dresses before selecting my dream dress," says Erika. "My favorite part about it was the texture of the layers and how they flowed romantically as I walked." As an extra-sweet detail, her mom sewed a piece of the lace from her wedding dress onto the inside of Erika's gown.
Neither white nor ivory, Erika's dress was the color "moscato," making it perfect for a wine country wedding inspired by Italy's Tuscany region. The bride tied a gold beaded belt around her waist at the reception, adding a little crystal sparkle to her look.
Erika's Badgley Mischka heels matched her dress perfectly thanks to their soft champagne color and coordinated with her belt through the crystal detailing on the ankles.
Evan's light navy suit was custom made by Parker & Schmidt Clothiers, as were the groomsmen's suits. The groom's suit also featured brown wooden buttons "to give [it] an Old-World, Tuscan aesthetic," Erika says.He completed his look with brown leather shoes and a Fossil watch "engraved with '88,656 hours of loving you,'" describes Erika, "which was the exact number of hours from the day we started dating to our wedding date."
When curating blooms for her bouquet, Erika asked for olive branches—a nod to her invitation suite—and "foraged, local greenery," ivory garden roses, and peonies.
Olive leaves were used to create the groom's and groomsmen's boutonnières, which helped them coordinate with Erika and her bridesmaids' bouquets.
Their two flower girls donned white knee-length dresses with ruffled sleeve detailing.
St. Vincent's School for Boys Catholic Church, where Erika and Evan held their wedding ceremony, is stunning—and looks as if it was plucked straight from Europe.
Welcome to the Ceremony
Guests were greeted at the church by a welcome sign emblazoned with the couple's monogram.
Tears of Joy
Anticipating a few tears during their ceremony, Erika handmade "tears of joy" tissue packets—wrapped in vellum and embellished with the couple's monogram—for her guests. "The church is a special place of worship, and I know my family—who is so full of life and love—witnessing my dad and I walking down the aisle would bring on the tears," Erika says.
Walking Down the Aisle
Evan was overcome with emotion when he saw Erika, who was escorted down the aisle by her dad. In fact, he says "waiting at the altar, trying to hold back tears as my beautiful bride walked to me" was one of the best moments of the entire wedding day.
Erika made the couple's escort cards, putting a twist on tradition by creating one card per table rather than one card per guest. (Then, at each table, guests found their respective place cards at their seats). Escort cards were printed on textured watercolor paper and placed in a brass leaf cardholder on top of an antique French sideboard.
The couple's reception was also held in the courtyard at Ramekins Culinary School, "with bistro lines and fabric draping above us," Erika describes. Along with their bridal party, the bride and groom sat at a long rectangular table, while guests were seated at three connected tables. "We wanted to create the feeling of unity and create a sense of intimacy," Erika says. "Family was able to talk amongst each other and sing classic Italian songs while dining."
Each banquet table was adorned with Italian vines, greenery, and arrangements made from soft peach and cream blooms. More than 100 brass candlesticks—which Erika foraged herself—lined the tabletops, which were covered in gray linens.
Bride and Groom Chairs
To designate their seats, Erika and Evan hung custom linen banners with their monogram and the Italian words "Lo Sposo" for "groom" and "La Sposa" for "bride."
Best Day Ever
Looking back on their wedding day, Evan says, "I honestly cannot think of a single part of the entire day where I think to myself, 'I wish that were different' or 'I wish that ended up happening.' It is a day that I will forever wish I could rewind and live through again."
Photography, Andrew & Ada
Location, Ramekins Culinary School, Events & Inn
Catering, Ramekins Culinary School, Events & Inn
Flowers, Flowers by Rebekah
Videography, Ben and Bluebird Films
Officiant, Fr. Mark
Stationery and calligraphy, Owl Post Calligraphy
Cake, Forget Me Not Cakes
Music, AMS Entertainment
Bride's gown, Essense of Australia
Wedding Dress Shop, Uptown Bridal
Bride's hairpiece, Corbielle
Hair, Amber Patterson at Salon Bijou
Makeup, April Lopes
Bridesmaids' dresses, Watters
Menswear, Parker & Schmidt Clothiers
Linens, La Tavola Linen