A Surf-Inspired Wedding in Northern California's Wine Country

Real Weddings

Wine meets surf board in Besse and Michael's wine country wedding, a blend of the couple's Venice Beach surf culture and Sonoma's natural beauty. "There was never a look or a goal that we were aiming toward," the bride says of their September nuptials. "We naturally just chose things that felt right, and felt like us—a good mix of beach and city, sophisticated and creative."

"Things felt very handmade, too," the bride continues, "starting with our save-the-date to our playbill programs." A piece of surf art hung in the couple's living room inspired their painted save-the-date, which Michael designed with the help of a friend. "We never wanted to do anything that felt ordinary or expected," Besse says.

Bright Mexican blankets covered hay bales that served as seats for the couple's outdoor ceremony, held at the bride's family home. An altar adorned by a surf board "allowed us to add some waves to the country," Besse says.

Besse's wedding dress—a simple white chiffon sheath with plunging back detail—was a custom creation by the bride and a lead seamstress at Vera Wang. "I was inspired by a Roberto Cavalli gown I spotted in Florence circa 2007," the bride says. "We worked for about nine months to refine the dress into something completely me and one of a kind."

The bride did not wear a veil. Instead, "my mom, sister and I all wore gardenias in our hair—our favorite flower," she says.

Besse carried an all-sunflower bouquet, which was wrapped with her great-grandmother's lace handkerchief.

Bridesmaids chose their own white cocktail-length dresses, then accessorized with an eclectic smattering of "freshwater pearls, neon pashminas, heart-shaped sunglasses, and baby's breath in their hair," the bride says.

The groom wore a white linen Tallia Orange suit with a lavender gingham shirt and striped tie. Groomsmen paired blue blazers with "American flag pocket squares that ended up anywhere but their coat pockets," the bride says.

"I couldn't wrap my head around spending so much on flowers that would soon die ... so we stuck to all different types of plants that we could replant later," Besse explains. Flower, herb, and vegetable plants were placed in vintage containers, while the couple "added antique touches" to their reception decor with chandeliers hung from the trees and mismatched china at each place setting.

At bars made of surf boards, the couple served margaritas and greyhounds beside "an antique tub filled of Sol beer," Besse says. Hors d'oeuvres were passed as guests mingled among a raw shrimp bar and cheese table.

Guests nibbled on chips and salsa as they sat at banquet-style tables and awaited dinner—a kale and burrata salad served with rib-eye steak and bread knots.

"Dessert was especially exciting," the bride says. The couple ordered every cake flavor that Susie Cakes offers, "which turned out to be eight different cakes that we displayed on a bunch of cake stands I collected." And because Besse so adores the baker's frosting, "we also had four different types of frosting piped into shot glasses for frosting shots," she says.

Before Besse and Michael hit the dance floor to Pete Townsend's Let My Love Open The Door, the bride slipped into a shorter dress—which was her mother's from 1979. The dress, which her mother purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue, was tailored to "become a cocktail dress for dancing at the reception," the bride explains. "Music played a huge role—in many forms—throughout the weekend acting as a soundtrack to our relationship."

—Jillian Kramer

Wedding Planner: MAP Wedding & Events || Ceremony and Reception Venue: Bride's family home || Bride's Wedding Dress: Custom Vera Wang || Bride's Shoes: Stuart Weitzman || Bride's Wedding Ring: Tiffany & Co. || Groom's Tux: Tallia Orange || Groom's Shoes: Barney's New York || Hair and Makeup: Sarah E. Hyde || Florist: La Fleuriste || Caterer: The Girl & the Fig || Stationery: Night Owl Paper Goods || Calligraphy: Papineau Calligraphy || Cake Baker: Susie Cakes || Entertainment: DJ Bouji || Videography: Toby Burditt Photography || Photography: Noah Hawthorne Photography

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