A Rustic Vineyard Wedding 15 Years in the Making

California, Gay Marriage, Real Weddings

Wendy Schwartz and Amy Weber were together for 15 years before deciding it was time to say "I do." "Wendy had just recovered from breast cancer, and her brother passed away, so we decided our family needed a celebration of life," says Amy. "Getting everyone together in California for a wedding on a gorgeous vineyard was just the thing."

The brides befriended the owner of one of their favorite wineries and convinced him to set aside his family-weddings-only rule just this once. "We fell in love with the breathtaking space and the valley views — as well as the chance to dance under the stars in the vineyard's 19th century ruins," says Wendy. For their July 26th, 2014 celebration — the brides' 15th anniversary! — they invited 75 guests to St. Helena, California to celebration with a rustic bash, seafood paella, and lots of local wine, coordinated by Amy Nichols Special Events and photographed by Christophe Genty.

The brides shopped together and were nervous that they wouldn't find something they loved and were comfortable in, but both struck gold, choosing short dresses perfect for a summer afternoon, with Wendy in a black tailored dress with an eyelet neckline and a bow at the waist and Amy in light blue. "My late father loved to wear bow ties, so the bow was a way for me to have him with me," says Wendy. In honor of her late mother, Amy wore a charm bracelet her mother had given her.

Both brides carried soft bouquets of garden roses, sweet peas, and dusty miller in white, pale yellow, and light blue. Their ring bearer was their dog, Harper, who carried the brides' wedding bands in a pouch attached to her collar.

The ceremony took place near the ruins of Rancho Caymus, a ranch and wine producer from the 1800s. Amy and Wendy wrote their own vows, touching on the meaning of being able to marry in front of their families, getting guests laughing and crying, and ending with a surprise song ("Naïve Melody" by the Talking Heads) performed by Wendy on ukelele, accompanied by a friend on the guitar. "Our guests all said that they'd never been so emotional during a wedding before," says Amy.

Escort cards were tucked into wine corks printed with the brides' names and wedding date, a nod to their venue. In the open-air courtyard, wooden tables were topped with White, blue, and yellow centerpieces, as well as rustic baguettes ready for an evening of delicious food and wine.

"The logistics of having an outdoor wedding were a challenge," says Wendy, "but the weather was beautiful. We were happy to have a little cloud cover to take away from the heat."

Guests dined on vegetarian and seafood paella and sipped the vineyard's wines, in addition to Pliny the Elder beers, which can be hard to find. "At the store near us, you can only buy two per customer. We went back every day until they ran out!" says Amy.

Amy and Wendy served a classic white cake with raspberry filling, as well as a spread of cupcakes and cookies. "The adults may have eaten more cupcakes than the kids did!" laughs Wendy. Her nephew performed an a cappella version of "Stand by Me" before guests took to the dance floor to a playlist the brides spent days assembling — and they stayed there all night!

The newlyweds stayed in Napa for a week after their wedding, and are planning a honeymoon trip this fall. "We're so glad we hired a wedding coordinator," says Wendy. "Even if you just have help for the day or month of your wedding, it will go so much more smoothly with someone else in charge."

Wedding Coordinator: Amy Nichols Special Events || Wendy's Wedding Dress: Aidan by Aidan Mattox || Amy's Wedding Dress: Shoshanna || Makeup: Audrey Crandell || Wedding Bands: XIV Karats || Florist: The Monkey Flower Group || Invitations & Paper Goods: Paperless Post, Corkey Creations || Music: Chris "The Rebel" Debol of Mix Different || Catering: Cuisine GP || Cake: Pink Posy || Rentals: Wine Country Party & Events || Linens: La Tavola Linen || Transportation: California Wine Tours || Photography: Christophe Genty Photography

Did you love this beautiful vineyard wedding? Then watch another couple exchange vows at a winery in the video below!

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