A Sweeping Vineyard Served as the Backdrop for This Rehearsal Dinner in Carmel Valley, California
Amber and Brian met in February 2015 at a Goldroom concert overlooking the San Francisco Bay. They had their first date a few days later at Nopa, which is now one of their favorite restaurants in San Francisco. When they first started dating, Amber's job sent her from San Francisco to China every month, and Brian went to school in Pittsburgh before moving back to the Bay Area. Three years into their relationship, had been commuting between San Francisco and Los Angeles; she accepted a job offer to work full time in San Francisco to be able to spend more time with Brian.
As soon as she arrived, Brian popped the question right there at the front door. The pair relished in their engagement with Champagne and a trip to another one of their favorite restaurants before telling friends and family the next day. After sharing the happy news, they embarked on a trip to Big Sur, California, to celebrate the engagement in a yurt off the grid.
The couple planned a wedding weekend that kicked off with a rehearsal dinner at Folktale Winery and Vineyards in Carmel Valley, California, for 95 guests. "Even though everyone was coming from out of town, the home-like setting at The Vineyard House made it feel warm and welcoming, as if we had convened in a family home," the bride says. They incorporated the theme of their wedding—ethereal—by striking a balance of natural elements and upscale refinement in the design details.
Welcome to California
Amber is from the Midwest while Brian hails from the East Coast, so they wanted to give their guests an opportunity to spend time in a lesser-known territory: California, their home. "Because they'd be making such a big trip, we wanted to show them the absolute best of the land and give them a truly local experience," Amber says. They selected Folktale Winery and Vineyards, a place that became a favorite spot over the years, and a venue Amber once dreamed of getting married at. "Tucked away in the valley, it is lush in its architecture, natural surroundings, and culinary abilities," Amber says. "We also loved the outdoor spaces which allowed us to host cocktail hour and dinner amongst the vineyards."
The Dashing Couple
The bride-to-be donned a floral GANNI midi wrap dress with sleeves and ruffles. The dress incorporated the color scheme of the wedding day, which was blush, ivory, cinnamon, clay, and goldenrod.
Amber accessorized with pearl earrings, nude strappy heels, and a necklace by Helen Ficoalora that Brian gifted her on their first anniversary. She also carried a vintage purse that was gifted to her by Brian's grandmother, Lenore, who passed away just a few months before the big day.
The Wine Was Flowing
The couple hosted a cocktail hour on the venue's front patio, where guests were served wine and passed canapes. They opted to only serve beer and wine at the rehearsal dinner to encourage guests to enjoy the local libations.
Curated Wine List
They curated a list of five wines from Folktale Winery to offer, including their sparkling brut, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc.
The Passed Canapes
During the planning phase, the couple enjoyed their tasting at Folktale Winery, where they received recommendations on food and wine pairings in incredible detail. For the passed canapes, they went with ahi tuna poke on taro chips, fresh shucked Miyagi oysters with rose mignonette, and cauliflower basil and quinoa radicchio cups.
Find Your Table
Guests found their table numbers at a gold-framed seating chart that was custom-made with recycled paper from their invitation suite by Amber's mother, who is head of Olive Teapot Designs. They even replicated the design with a different color palette the next day at the wedding. The handmade paper was adhered to the seating chart with a gold wax seal, which featured a heart design.
The Dinner Setup
The celebrants moved from the front patio to the back for dinner, where several round tables were topped with pale blue linens. Choosing these linens was one of the hardest parts of planning the rehearsal dinner, says the couple. "It's hard to get a feel for texture and color from social media and website images, especially given that photo editing can really change a look," the bride says. "I'm so happy we ended up going with La Tavola's 'Tuscany Ocean' for the tablecloths and 'Nuovo Ivory' for the napkins."
The Table Details
Several bud vases and votive candles were placed in the center of each table as a focal point. "The space was already so beautiful with its natural surroundings, gorgeous architecture, and string lights," the bride says. "We just wanted to enhance, rather than engulf with décor." The couple was thoughtful in their color selection throughout the day, using colors, materials, and textures that exist in nature.
Everyone in One Place
The rehearsal dinner was the first time during the wedding weekend that Amber and Brian were able to see all of their guests together in one place. "It was really special to see how many people showed up for us and to have a special night with them before the big day," Amber says.
Dinner began with bread service, followed by an amuse-bouche of burrata with 25-year white balsamic and tomato confit. Next, guests were served a raw vegetable and Brussel sprout salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette, crushed pine nuts, and pecorino cheese. Guests chose from three options of entrées, including braised prime short rib with potato purée, peas, and carrots, Meyer lemon and rosemary roasted chicken breast with crispy skin and parsley potatoes, or spring onion crusted salmon with cauliflower risotto.
The Heartfelt Speeches
The mother and father of the groom kicked off the evening's speeches. Brian's mom shared that Amber had brought them a bottle of Folktale's Le Mistral Grenache when she met them for the first time in Sag Harbor, New York. She kept the label from the wine all those years and pulled it out at the rehearsal dinner.
Amber and Brian say that hiring Andrew and Anna, the married duo behind Dear Lovers Photo, was one of the best decisions they made while planning their entire celebration. The duo snapped portraits and group photos of the guests and the happy couple throughout the event.
"Make sure you add on the package for your photographers to capture the rehearsal dinner, as well as your wedding," Amber says. "Whether you're hosting a small or large group, it'll be a night to remember and you'll cherish those photos!"
Photography, Dear Lovers Photography
Venue and Catering, The Vineyard House at Folktale Winery
Coordination, Cara Kinsey, Folktale Winery
Flowers, Oak + Ash
Invitations and Paper Products, Olive Teapot Designs
Bride's Dress, GANNI
Bride's Jewelry, Helen Ficalora
Bride's Shoes, Sam Edelman
Groom's Suit, Suit Supply
Groom's Shirt, Proper Cloth
Groom's Shoes, Carmina
Rentals, La Tavola Linen