Rustic Wine Country Wedding with Barn Dance Party

Rustic Wine Country Wedding with Barn Dance Party


Photography by The Nichols.

This wedding is all about the couple's love for nature - a lakeside ceremony, relaxed picnic-style cocktail hour, and dinner in a field in the late summer sunshine. The night ended with a huge dance party in a barn decorated with mismatched vintage furniture and twinkling lights. The way the bride and groom incorporated 'nature' here definitely stole my heart - they included their sweet pup in their first dance!

Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? We met on Martha's Vineyard. Andrew is a 13th generation islander and I was a "summer girl", who waited excitedly for the days to get longer and warmer so I could board the ferry to cross the sound. Although we have spent hours trying to work out when and where our paths may have crossed during the decades we shared this 90 square mile island, we both remember vividly the summer when they did. The island quickly became the backdrop for our life together - foraging our meals, camping under the stars, picnicking on the wind whipped bluffs, adventuring out into winter swells.

Later, we spent many years loving each other over long distances, trying hard to find a place where we could make a home together. We knew we found it when, like the island, the Bay Area became a place that nurtured the spark of wild that has always existed in our relationship. We quickly created our own little backyard farm with some gardens, a bevy of animals, and days full of dirty hands, cooking, and outdoor adventures. Maybe it was the familiar pastoral landscape, maybe it was the fact that it was a working farm like the one Andrew grew up on or that it fueled dreams of our future together, but Olympia's Valley Estate felt like a perfect homage to our life and home on the island and the new one we have created in Marin County.

Your ceremony in three words. Intimate, purposeful, relaxed.

Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? A close friend blew a trident conch shell to open the ceremony, a nod to andrew's island roots, and we were married under a chuppah, a symbol from my Jewish heritage.

How did you go about planning your ceremony? We looked at readings, quotes, and examples of ceremonies to figure out what length, tone, and flow resonated with us. Snippet & Ink was a great resource!

Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Andrew's childhood friend, Wes, was our officiant. He has a wonderful mix of intellect and spirituality, and draws inspiration from nature. We both think so much of him and he felt like the right person to represent the things we value as individuals and as a couple.

What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows. We spent months trying to find the space to write them and the right words to represent what we wanted to say. Ultimately, we both procrastinated until the week before. I ended up taking a hike to a lake near our house and Andrew went to the ocean to write his. Being intentional about the time we carved out to write them and finding an inspiring space in which to do it, was the key for both of us.

What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Neither of us likes to be the center of attention, so we both had nerves about being in front of a large group of people, even if it was everyone we love. From the moment we saw each other during the walk down the aisle, our eyes were locked. It was such a unique feeling to be so present, connected and intimate with one person in the midst of a crowd. We have felt a lot in our years together but the depth of emotion during our ceremony was something we won't forget and will continue to try to cultivate in our marriage.

The Reception

How would you describe your reception? Keeping it casual and relaxed was most important to us. Giving people the opportunity to interact across different settings was the best way we could think to unlock the fun and chemistry we knew our crowd would have. The reception started with a picnic-style cocktail hour, then an outdoor family-style dinner overlooking the rolling hills, and ended with dessert and dancing under the twinkling lights of the barn.

What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? I think the most vivid memories of the day were the ones where we found ourselves most present in the moment, sharing an experience together and recognizing the love around us. One that stands out: always keen to embrace adventure, we paddled a canoe out to the middle of the pond for a moment of peace together. As we were returned to the dock, we watched guests, from all different places and times in our lives, mingle on picnic blankets and bask in the warmth of the sun. We were overwhelmed with happiness!

What was your wedding menu? Food has been a major theme in our life together, from early dates cooking paella in the fireplace and learning to make bread together, to digging for clams and starting our own gardens to support our cooking experimentations. In addition, both of our families have strong traditions of eating meals together and using the time to connect. These things influenced our choices about menu and the way in which the meal was shared. We enjoyed the meal outside surrounded by views of the land that provided the ingredients. The dishes we served from communal family style platters encouraging interaction and a sense of familiarity.

Tell us about another favorite moment of the evening. After dinner we walked through a hidden tunnel of willows and made our way to the top of a hill overlooking the venue. Guests were finishing their dinner below as we watched the fog roll into the valley from the coast (and took selfies with the cows). We felt like there was love radiating around us.

What was the best advice you received as a bride? Pause and record moments for yourself. Consciously take them in because the pass by quickly.

What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Salted caramels, pies, cookies and dessert bars.

If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We would have hired a videographer. We put a GoPro on our dog, Frankie, but she dove into the pond during the ceremony and we ended up losing it! Seeing her view of our first dance would have been amazing, too, but at least we had her there, even without her camera!

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