A Barn Wedding at California's Healdsburg Country Gardens

Real Weddings

When Kristen, now 32, took a job as a waitress in a skybox at Chicago's Soldier Field, she didn't think she'd get anything out of the gig but a little extra cash and an unfortunate polyester uniform. But one day, she got much more than she bargained for when Tim, now 31, sat in a box she was serving for a football game and asked her out. Their first date was so amazing, Kristen later gifted Tim collar stays engraved to say "9/12/07. Best. Date. Ever." "It really was the best date ever," Kristen says. "Our first date ended up lasting for hours!"

It's no surprise, then, that these two were in it for the long haul. After a romantic oceanside proposal in Mexico, Kristen and Tim tied the knot on July 28th, 2013, in a barn wedding in Sonoma, California wine country. They filled out their woodsy venue with plenty of lush flowers, playful details, and a bring-down-the-house nine-piece swing band, plus incredible local wines, and a the three-layer cake, each with a different flavor and filling. Check out Rebecca Gosselin's photos of this totally unique bash below.

Kristen's Tara Keely dress was the very first one she tried on. "I knew I wanted something romantic with tulle and lace, and this one just felt right," she says. "The entire process took less time than it takes me to select a restaurant for dinner some nights!" She wrapped two handkerchiefs around her bouquet: one from her own baptism, and one that used to belong to her late grandmother.

Kristen's bridesmaids all wore long chiffon dresses by Jenny Yoo, and each styled her gown with different hairstyles, jewelry and shoes.

The couple's ceremony included a reading of "Love," a poem by Roy Croft. The words were even more meaningful, Kristen says, because Tim's grandmother read it — she's been married to his grandfather for over 50 years! Kristen walked down the aisle to Elvis Presley's "Fools Rush In," played on the ukulele. After they said "I Do," a bagpiper led Kristen and Tim back down the aisle and the guests to the garden for cocktail hour.

Tim took Kristen to Healdsburg Country Gardens for her 30th birthday, and they both fell in love with the venue at first sight. They saw their dream wedding come together in front of their eyes: a ceremony in front of a huge oak tree, overlooking acres of vineyards; cocktails in the lush garden; and a huge barn to host the Motown brass band they'd been fantasizing about for months.

Kristen's dad, who's great with his hands, created a signpost that displayed the cities Kristen and Tim's 115 guests came from and how far they traveled. Escort cards were displayed in corks that Kristen collected for months from friends and family.

Kristen's brother hand-painted each table number to match the blush, mauve and ivory centerpieces, displayed in an eclectic mix of vases and jars and surrounded by candles.

Kristen and Tim skipped signature cocktails in favor of local wines selected by a sommelier to complement their incredible meal. Some highlights? Ahi tuna cones as hors d'ouvres, and mini grilled cheese with shots of tomato soup as a late night snack. Their white three-tiered cake was deceptively simple: inside, each layer had a different flavor and filling!

Kristen has two must-know nuggets of advice for future brides. First, she says, hire a videographer. "We're so grateful we were able to have the day captured on video," she says. And don't be afraid to write your own vows! Turns out, you can find templates online that give you a good idea of word count and structure, and the rest is a cinch.

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Healdsburg Country Gardens || Bride's Wedding Dress: Tara Keely || Jewelry: Nadri || Hair and Makeup: It's a Date at the Powder Room || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo || Groom's Attire: Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss || Groomsmen's Attire: Perry Ellis || Wedding Bands: Rahmanim's Imports || Florist: Vanda Floral || Invitations: Spilled Ink Press || Other Paper Goods: Linda Poppy Designs || Music: The Alegre Sisters || Catering: Elaine Bell || Cake: Giorgi's Wedding Cakes || Videography: Twelve Twelve Studios || Photography: Rebecca Gosselin Photography

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from brides.com