Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Elizabeth and Darren, Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Saint Helena

(Click on the image above for the slideshow!)

Things have been crazy busy here in wedding season land, so unfortunately blog land has had to be a little more concise than usual. But I have this beautiful wedding from July to make up for it! Elizabeth and Darren came all the way to Napa from the D.C. area to celebrate their wedding with 40 of their closest loved ones, all from out of town. Elizabeth really planned beautiful, thoughtful details for their guests, inspired by their meeting place (Paris). They originally planned to marry in France, but then decided Napa would just have to do ;), with lots of chic and delicious touches for the perfect combination of French and Californian. I know that I'm gushing, but with good reason! Everything was simply, elegantly beautiful.

One of Elizabeth's best friends, Kelly, happens to be a very talented graphic designer - so she put together some of the best invitation, RSVP, and other paper good collections I've seen yet.

I liked this lovely gift Elizabeth got for Darren - little fox cufflinks, to honor his mother's maiden name, Fox!

The wedding took place at the Holy Family Mission Church in Rutherford - a very cool little church with a Spanish colonial feel.

Here's the bride sharing a beautiful moment with her father - who donated a kidney to Elizabeth to save her life in 2005. I'm getting teary just thinking about it! Liz says, "He is my hero, and having him walk me down the aisle was an honor and a memory we will both cherish forever." Even if there hadn't been so many cool things to photograph, this might be one of my favorite weddings for that beautiful reason alone!

Elizabeth and Darren's ceremony was officiated by Deacon Bob Little, who unfortunately recently died unexpectedly after a motorcycle accident. He was a thoughtful, caring officiant, and I could tell the couple had a special bond with him. I'm so glad I got to meet and hear him before he passed away, and my heart goes out to his family and congregation.

Elizabeth's nephew, Noah, is so sweet (and properly doted on by his aunt!).

After the ceremony and some family photos, we did lots of couple shots in and around the church. It was probably in the low 70s inside, the high 90s outside, but I had fun playing with the variable light for some different looks:

Darren might not like that I'm posting this - but it is just too cute not to share!

And some more at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), where the reception was held:

Such pretty bridesmaids!

I LOOOOVE this venue. Some people think it's hard to shoot in (since the barrel room is almost completely dark), but I find it moody and romantic and fun. Plus, it stays cool, it looks like a castle from the outside (!), and the lighting and decorations can really vary from wedding to wedding. If those reasons weren't enough, the FOOD. Oh, my. They can customize all kinds of menus, but I've been lucky enough to have sampled their divine, rich yet fresh French and Californian cuisine, since they serve their vendors exactly what the guests receive. My assistant and I ate until we couldn't fit in another bite... and I wish I could eat that meal all over again right now. Heavenly!

These, I believe, are profiteroles, with sugar strands forming a little flag. There was also cream of corn soup (with a mind blowing corn fritter), some kind of filet mignon in a burgundy-mushroom sauce (if memory serves) with mini sautéed seasonal vegetables and an individual soufflé - and, of course, wedding cake, and the best macarons in Napa for favors. I'm surprised I could stand after dinner!

Bustling is an art:

Other touches included a sparkler send off, a beautiful wedding cake made in house, and a kids' activity table (complete with Etch-A-Sketches, gumballs, jacks, coloring supplies, and much more).

And some kind words from Elizabeth:

"Just gorgeous! You did such a FABULOUS job! I can't get over how beautiful these shots are. :) Can't wait to see the rest and to share these with our friends and family. Thank you, thank you, thank you!... I really can't thank you enough. I will say it until I'm blue in the face - you are an amazing photographer! Everyone that sees the photos RAVES about how gorgeous they are."

I am so lucky to have the best, kindest, and most creative clients. Thank YOU!

Here are some of the fabulous vendors from this wedding:

Ceremony location - Holy Family Mission Church in Rutherford
Accomodations - Napa Marriott in Napa
Reception venue - Culinary Institute of America in Saint Helena
Macaron favors - Bouchon Bakery in Yountville
Invitations, menus, signs, and all paper goods - Goodies Designs
Hair and Makeup - It's a Date at the Powder Room
Cake - Chef Laura at the CIA

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