A Classic Winery Wedding at California's Carmel Valley Ranch

California, Real Weddings

For most of us, a Spring Break college fling fades somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on the flight home. But for Kristen and Peter, a week of long walks on the beach and tequila cocktails in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, led to something more. The two University of Arizona students originally left their romance south of the border, but years after graduating they reconnected at a friend's Fourth of July party. "Neither one of us knew one another would be there, but we had an instant connection. The scene was set for us to rekindle our friendship." The two lived in different cities, but Peter found ways to visit his former fling again and again, whether it meant driving up for the day or taking her to see Wicked. Finally, at a party in Santa Monica, Kristen grabbed Peter's hand and gave him a second chance—and the rest was history!

Four years later, on October 5th, 2013, Kristen and Peter tied the knot in a traditional Catholic ceremony, then followed it with their dream reception at Carmel Valley Ranch. Throw in beautiful stationery from Holly Hollon Design, a breathtaking Vera Wang gown, and a killer wine list, and you've got an affair to remember. Check out David Kepner Photography's photos of their wedding below!

When Kristen planned a wine tasting in Napa for Peter's 30th birthday in summer 2012, she had no idea the biggest surprise would be on her. After two hours of sampling local wines, Kristen was ready to head to Peter's birthday party when he told her they had one more tasting. One more bottle was brought out—with a ring tied to it! "Peter's 30th birthday night turned out to be such an unforgettable celebration," Kristen says, "since our nearest and dearest could all celebrate our engagement with us."

Kristen had been tearing out dresses from magazines for months, without realizing that every dress she chose was designed by Vera Wang. Sounds like fate to us! When she visited the salon in person, the first layered tulle dress she tried on was perfection. "I treasured every moment of wearing it on my wedding day, and constantly joke about how much I wish I could wear it all over again," Kristen says. She paired it with a classic black d'Orsay pump from Manolo Blahnik, and drop earrings she found at a friend's jewelry store in Carmel.

Kristen was set on having her best friend's daughter, Blake, act as flower girl in her wedding. Only problem? For most of their engagement, she didn't know how to walk yet! Luckily, Blake took her first steps just weeks before she had to make it down the aisle, and the ceremony went off without a hitch. Her white dress looked like a mini-version of Kristen's, while Kristen's bridesmaids went with simple black options from Jenny Yoo.

Kristen and Peter knew they wanted to have a traditional Catholic ceremony. They chose the Rosary Chapel at Santa Catalina not just for its gorgeous Spanish architecture, but because Peter, his three sisters, his mother and her four sisters all attended school there. "To be able to stand in front of God and our closest family and friends and commit ourselves to one another is something that neither of us will ever forget," Kristen says." They stuck with traditional readings and vows, and decorated the church with candelabras to match the formal vibe.

Kristen's mother and Peter's parents both grew up on California's Monterey Peninsula, so Carmel has always held a special place in their hearts, Kristen says. But they also wanted a winery wedding, more typical of Northern California. Carmel Valley Ranch, a resort and vineyard in Carmel, was the perfect marriage between the two. Kristen adored the lavender fields stretching to the Santa Lucia Mountains, while Peter fell in love at first sight with the golf course. The best of both worlds!

Kristen and Peter decided to divvy up the planning: Peter was in charge of food, wine, and music, while Kristen tackled flowers, invitations and décor. They chose a black and white color theme, with touches of silver and organic elements like lavender and exposed wood tables. Holly Hollon helped them design a custom logo for their wedding, which appeared on their invitations, welcome trifold, matches, and napkins. The "La Dolce Vita" banner she helped them create—a nod to Peter's Italian heritage—now hangs above their bed!

On each long wooden table sat green and white flower arrangements full of dahlias, garden roses and greenery. They were alternated with smaller vintage hobnal bud vases arrangements and mercury glass votives—so romantic!

Kristen and Peter, both huge foodies, chose Carmel Valley Ranch because of their incredible farm-to-table options, sourced from their organic garden, Italian honey bee farm, and vineyard. Their favorite item on the menu: an organic heirloom tomato and burrata salad. "Not only was the basil freshly picked from their garden that day, but the other ingredients were all local to Carmel Valley," Kristen says. They topped it off with a cake from California-based SusieCakes, which has provided sweet treats for every celebration in Kristen's family for decades.

Wedding planning is stressful, Kristen says, but don't forget you're not going through it alone. "Remember to lean on your fiancé (and vice versa) throughout the process." She says. "Peter was my biggest supporter and cheerleader while we were planning the wedding. Anytime things got stressful, we tried to take a step back and remember how lucky we are to have each other."

Ceremony Venue: The Rosary Chapel at Santa Catalina School || Reception Venue: The Golf Clubhouse at Carmel Valley Ranch || Coordinator: Tiffani Munsey of Carmel Valley Ranch || Gown: Vera Wang || Shoes: Manolo Blahnik || Jewelry: Fourtané || Hair: Anabelle Ruiz from Salon Sessions || Makeup: Beauty by AWR, (615) 829-4909 || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo || Groom's Attire: Ike Behar || Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands: Solomon Brothers || Invitations and Paper Goods: Holly Hollon Design and Calligraphy || Florist: Brown Paper Design || Catering: Carmel Valley Ranch || Cake: SusieCakes || Music: Belmont Entertainment || Rentals: Pretty Vintage Table || Photographer: David Kepner Photography

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