After five years of dating, Robert Bonanno was sure Julia Lanham, who he had first met at a business-networking event in 2006, was the one. So when the pair planned to visit Stuhlmuller Vineyards in July of 2013, Bob knew the couple would remember the day for more than just a delicious wine tasting. "Bob prepared a little picnic and played one of my favorite songs before he got down on his knee and asked me to be his wife," Julia says. Naturally, she said yes, and the couple knew they'd return to the winery where they got engaged to become husband and wife.
Julia and Bob wanted a whimsical, romantic, and natural look for their August 23, 2014, wedding, and entrusted Jesi Haack Design and The Love Riot to help bring their vision to life. With an unexpected color palette, including hues like sage, blush, ivory, mustard, wine, and gold, and dreams of big, beautiful flowers studding every part of their celebration, the couple planned a personalized evening in California's Orange Country. Keep reading to see all the stunning photos, as captured by Jen Huang.
"Stuhlmuller Vineyards is a private, family-owned vineyard that does not traditionally hold weddings," Julia says. "Because of this, our wedding team had to create the entire reception and wedding scene from the ground up. We were provided a beautiful field to host our event, but our team had to bring in everything to create our magical, fairytale wedding look."
Julia wore a strapless French Chantilly lace and silk wedding dress from Anna Maier Couture. "I loved the boning in the corset," she says of the strapless silhouette. "The beautiful lace and the history behind it made it so special." The history, she explains, is that the fabric was crafted on an antique lace machine that is over 200 years old. She completed her stunning look with a cathedral-length veil, Jimmy Choo sandals, and rose gold jewelry.
In addition to her bridal bangle and earrings, Julia wore her diamond engagement ring and wedding band, along with a lace garter.
Julia had just two bridesmaids and two junior bridesmaids as her attendants. Her sister Diana, and then 15-year-old step-daughter, Alexa, wore crinkle chiffon gowns from Amsale, while the bride's younger step-daughters, Ella and Sofia, then 9, donned peach dresses from Watters. All four of the important women wore olive leaf, blackberry, and garden rose flower crowns.
"I wanted to have a beautiful bouquet that was not structured and felt as wild and beautiful as our surroundings," Julia says. "Our floral team executed this perfectly. I was so in love with all of the flowers." Her bridal arrangement consisted of garden roses, scabiosa, jasmine vine, blackberries, and spray roses in a variety of bright hues. Her attendants all carried smaller versions of this same bold mix.
Bob wore a blue Kenneth Cole suit and had just one groomsmen: his then 11-year-old son, Blake. Both men wore garden rose and olive leaf boutonnieres.
The newly blended family looked nothing short of an ethereal dream as they posed for portraits in a woody space before the ceremony.
As guests arrived for the 5 P.M. ceremony, they were greeted with a grilled beef slider and a flute of sparkling wine — talk about a warm welcome! The couple exchanged vows beneath a peaked tent with hanging flowers as the backdrop. "We were both raised Catholic, so our ceremony had religious undertones," the bride says. The couple and the groom's four children all lit unity candles.
The couple's reception took place on the same lawn as the ceremony. "Everything was centrally located and I could not imagine a more beautiful place to dine under the stars," Julia says.
Instead of traditional escort cards, the couple filled fruit baskets with grapes and berries and affixed a watercolor card to each front. The tasty seating assignments were arranged beneath a rustic wooden sign reading, "Be Seated."
Vineyard-style tables were arranged on the property's lawn for dinner. Each elegant seat was set with vintage dinnerware and a handwritten menu card created by Blot & Dot. Guests also found a mini bottle of wine from the vineyard at this seat as a gift from the bride and groom.
As beautiful as the surrounding property was, Julia and Bob's floral centerpieces stole the show. "Everything was just so lovely," the bride says. "The tables were drenches with breathtaking flowers and stone fruits." Cement urns and antique brass vases were filled with colorful mixes of blooms like garden roses, scabiosa, jasmine vine, pieris japonica, lilies, spray roses, and dahlias, and were accents with blackberries, cherries, and other fruits.
Dinner was served family style with most of the food sourced locally. Guests enjoyed their fill of heirloom tomato salad, ratatouille, arugula with diced watermelon and goat cheese, gnocchi with summer squash, filet mignon, and chicken breast with pesto.
For dessert, the couple served a light pink ombre cake from Susie Cakes. Layers of vanilla and lemon were covered with classic buttercream. The beautiful confection was topped with two hand-painted flamingos.
The groom's vanilla and strawberry-velvet cake was decorated with two clothespins.
Julia and Bob shared their first dance to an acoustic version of Ziggy Marley's "Love Is My Religion" before opening up the dance floor to their guests. "Everyone danced and danced and danced until the very end of the reception." But that wasn't the end of the night. The group started an impromptu after-party at the vineyard's guest house, fueled by plenty of local wine.
"Focus on what's most important to you and your husband," the bride advises. "Spend your money on what you love first, and try to source locally if you can. We saved quite a bit of money by finding furniture rentals and event vendors local to town."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Stuhlmuller Vineyards || Wedding Planner: The Love Riot || Wedding Designer Jesi Haack Design || Bride's Wedding Dress: Anna Maier Couture || Wedding Invitations & Save-the-Dates: Allie Ruth Design || Escort Cards, Menus & Signage: designed by Jesi Haack Design, created by Blot & Dot || Flowers: Shotgun Floral Studio || Rentals: Encore Event Rentals; Wine Country Party and Events || Caterer: DL Catering || Cake: SusieCakes || Music: Dart DJ; The Get Down Boys || Photographer: Jen Huang Photography
Want to see more weddings just like this? Then check out another couple's outdoor wedding in California in the video below.