An Intimate Outdoor Napa Valley Wedding

Real Weddings
Bride and Groom in Napa, California

Photo: Jen Philips

Chicago-dwellers Rachel Audrey, 27, and Charles (Mike) Portell, 32, dated for three years before he popped the question at their favorite spot in the city: The Kinzie Street Railroad Bridge. And though they love living in the Windy City, their wedding plans took them west, to California's Napa Valley. On September 1, 2013, the two tied the knot at a destination wedding in wine country surrounded by 90 of their closest friends and family. Captured by Jen Philips and coordinated by Sharon Burns, the Labor Day nuptials were effortless for both bride and groom. "We had limited knowledge of Napa but, with some help, our dreams became a beautiful reality," Rachel says.

Coral and Grey Destination Wedding Invitation

Photo: Jen Philips

Minimal and modern invitations in bold coral and soft grey welcomed guests to an intimate getaway at Brix Restaurant and Gardens in Napa Valley's Yountville, California

Sandals with a Bow Embroidered Pocket Square

Photo: Jen Philips

Rachel added an ornate touch to her wedding-day attire with embellished sandals. Mike carried a pocket square, embroidered by his mother, to wipe his brow on the 90-degree day.

Bride in an Augusta Jones Wedding Dress Augusta Jones Wedding Gown

Photo: Jen Philips

While shopping for her gown, Rachel fell in love with two dresses from the same designer, Augusta Jones. "Fortunately, they were very accommodating and worked with me to custom-make a combination gown, with both the lace appliqué and sweetheart neckline I wanted," she says. "I knew I had picked a winner when it brought everyone to tears!" To honor her late grandmothers, Rachel wore a necklace crafted from three of their diamonds.

Peach Rose Boutonniere Coral and White Garden Rose Bouquet Rustic Flower Girl Basket

Photo: Jen Philips

The groom's boutonniere was crafted from greens and a peach rose, and tied with raffia. His slate grey suit, crisp white shirt, and patterned tie created a classic but comfortable look.

Rachel's bouquet reflected her rustic and bright theme. Cream, coral, and peach roses were clustered organically alongside sprigs of greenery and finished with buttons to match her dress. "I prefer a natural look to perfectly manicured arrangements," she says of her bouquet.

The flower girl's long peach tulle dress was a fun Etsy find that paired well with tan wedges and coral hair bow. "As she walked down the aisle, she placed each peal 'just so', taking her job very seriously," Rachel says. She carried a natural basket full of rose petals that matched her dress.

Bridesmaids in Coral Chiffon Dresses Wedding Party in Coral and Gray

Photo: Jen Philips

Bridesmaids donned floor-length coral gowns with various detailed necklines. The groomsmen kept cool in grey suits sans jackets, in a shade slightly lighter than Mike's. "He wanted it to be clear who the groom was in photos!" Rachel says.

Outdoor Vineyard Wedding Ceremony

Photo: Jen Philips

The ceremony was arranged under café lighting, with sweeping views of the vineyard. "The setting was so pretty, so we kept decorations really simple," Rachel says.

Aisle Decorations Burlap Dahlias

Photo: Jen Philips

Burlap-wrapped mason jars filled with fresh greens and soft pink dahlias hung from aisle seats during the ceremony.

Wedding Seating Chart

Photo: Jen Philips

An old windowpane let guests know here to take their seat. Along side the table assignments were succulents, the couple's engagement photos—and their wedding hash tag.

Reception Table with Blush and Cream Flowers

Photo: Jen Philips

The newlyweds wanted their head table to feel more connected with guests, so they chose to seat their wedding party at a long table in the middle of the reception space. Burlap table runners and jars with floating candles added warmth to the outdoor celebration. Rachel also placed empty mason jars down the table to hold her and her bridesmaids' bouquets, serving as dramatic centerpieces and keeping their flowers fresh.

Blush Dahlia and Hydrangea Centerpiece Personal Photo Wedding Placecards

Photo: Jen Philips

Low wooden boxes and jars overflowed with hydrangeas, dahlias, and garden roses in a fresh, soft color palette. The couple framed nostalgic images of themselves with each guest, ranging from childhood to college and beyond, in lieu of traditional place cards. "That was my favorite DIY project," Rachel says. "I wanted to add a unique item that felt personal to each person."

Outdoor Napa Wedding Reception

Photo: Jen Philips

"We don't like the spotlight and wanted a more welcoming, rustic feel," says Rachel, who loved being surrounded by guests as the evening went on.

Wine Bottle Guest Book

Photo: Jen Philips

A close friend gave Rachel and Mike a non-traditional guest book: an engraved wine bottle. Guests wrote well wishes on the keepsake with silver metallic markers.

Cheese Cake with Flowers

Photo: Jen Philips

Playing up the classic pairing, the couple ordered a custom "cake" made from four layers of cheese wheels, topped with coral and white roses.

Bride and Groom Cheese Guests Dancing in Napa

Photo: Jen Philips

"We had fun 'cutting the cheese,'" Rachel laughs. "Plus, it was a great addition to dessert and obviously complemented the wine."

The flower girl, Rachel's niece, kicked off the dancing with a choreographed number that she taught the bridesmaids. "It was dubbed the 'Bry-Pa,' after my brother Bryan and my father, because she imitated their quirky dance moves," Rachel says. After the dance-floor icebreaker, the party began—and continued well into the night.

Bride and Groom in Napa, California

Photo: Jen Philips

Though the newlyweds have yet to take their honeymoon, they have been more than content with focusing on their new life together. "As much as I'd like to relive our wedding day, it's great to have the memory and move forward," Rachel says. "We're building our new life and family now." Her word to the wise for brides-to-be echoes the same sentiment: "Soak up the entire day, have no regrets, and just be present in every moment."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Brix Restaurant and Gardens || Wedding Planner: Napa Valley Custom Events by Sharon Burns || Officiant: Kimberly Thompson of A Beautiful Ceremony Napa Valley || Bride's Wedding Dress: Augusta Jones || Mother of the Bride's Dress: Cameron Blake || Hair: Maria Aguilar of Sage Salon || Makeup: Makeup Artistry by Alan || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Allure Bridesmaids || Groom's Suit: Hugo Boss || Groomsmen's Suits: J.Crew || Florist: Julie Stevens Design || Invitations & Paper Goods: Stationery Station, Dauphine Press || Music: Steven LeFlar || Catering & Cake: Brix Restaurant and Gardens || Rentals: Wine Country Party || Transportation: California Wine Tours || Accommodations: Silverado Resort || Photography: Jen Philips

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