A Giant Oak Tree Was the Perfect Ceremony Backdrop at This Intimate California Wedding

Real Weddings

In July of 2014, two years after they started dating and four years after becoming friends at pharmacy school at the University of Colorado, Denver, Anna and Derek headed from the mountains to Pennsylvania to visit Anna's family for the 4th of July. The ring had been burning a hole in Derek's pocket for months, but he was waiting for the perfect opportunity to pop the question — and for an opportunity to include Anna's parents. "I was so worried someone would search my bag while we were going through security at the airport!" Derek remembers. He'd planned to propose on her parents' lakeside dock, but a thunderstorm rolled in and changed the plans. So with Anna's mom armed with a camera and her dad helping to guide the unknowing bride-to-be to a more picturesque spot in front of the windows, Derek got down on one knee.

So how did a mountain couple with East Coast roots end up on a vineyard in California? "We love to travel and we knew we wanted a destination wedding," says Anna. "We chose B.R. Cohn for their stunning property, enough space to have both our ceremony and reception on-site, and the perfect spot in the middle of the vineyard, beneath an ancient oak tree, for the ceremony." They let the beauty of the property speak for itself, opting for a rustic and natural theme with a relaxed vibe on September 18, 2015. Check out the beautiful details, photographed by Christine Chang Photography, below!

Though Anna was torn between two gowns (and took a few weeks of trying and re-trying to make a decision), she settled on this gorgeous Maggie Sottero wedding dress with a lace overlay, a sweetheart neckline, and full skirt. She paired it with a soft updo, a flowing veil, and a bright bouquet of garden roses and ranunculus.

Her bridesmaids wore apricot-hued Dessy gowns, each sporting a different neckline for a modern, mismatched look. Their smaller nosegays were tied with perfectly matching pink ribbons.

We totally love Anna's round diamond engagement ring, with the channel-set band to match! Her groom wore a gray three-piece suit, going away from classic black to better fit the couple's wedding's relaxed vibe.

"I had actually been to the vineyard once before," says Anna, who stopped into B.R. Cohn's tasting room with her parents five years earlier, around the same time she and Derek first started dating.

The ceremony took place in the vineyard beneath an oak tree, with rows of vines in the background. "We didn't have to decorate anything at all," says the bride. She and Derek wrote their own vows, combining traditional phrases with lines specific to their relationship. Anna's parents' minister from Pennsylvania came to California to perform the ceremony, meeting with the couple in advance via FaceTime to personalize every detail.

The groomsmen matched Derek in charcoal three-piece suits, adding a pop of color with plaid ties that coordinated with the bridesmaids' dresses.

The reception took place on the property's lawn, alongside the barreling facility. Café lights were strung from the trees and wrapped around the trunks to light the space as the sun went down.

Farm tables were topped simply with raw-edged runners (made by the bride!) and low arrangements of hydrangeas, proteas, and lilies. An olive branch was placed at each guest's seat.

Tables were named after states the couple had visited together, and Anna created a DIY seating chart using a map of the United States, complete with colorful pushpins to help guests find their destination.

After hors d'oeuvres that included bacon-wrapped chorizo-filled dates and miniature barbecue pulled pork sandwiches and a meal of tri-tip beef with pinot noir reduction and saffron risotto cakes, the couple cut into an elegantly-frosted wedding cake with layers of carrot cake and cream cheese icing.

"We knew we wanted to do a cake cutting, but also wanted to offer a variety of bite-sized dessert options," says Anna. They served brown butter cupcakes with salted caramel frosting, malted cupcakes with Nutella frosting, and chocolate cups full of espresso cheesecake.

After their first dance to "Loving You Easy" by Zac Brown Band, the guests hit the dance floor. "It was actually hard to get people to leave at the end of the night!" the bride remembers. As she and her groom made their getaway, they were presented with a book full of photo strips from their photo booth — including a shot of two of their bridesmaids mooning the camera! "There was no lack of fun at our wedding," says Anna.

After a mini-moon in California, touring vineyards with friends, the pair headed to New Zealand for three weeks of kayaking, hiking, and exploring. "My advice is to definitely hire a coordinator," says Anna. "It will make your wedding day so much more enjoyable and stress-free!"

Ceremony & Reception Venue: B.R. Cohn Winery || Day-Of Coordinator: Lovely Day Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero || Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Hair & Makeup: Heart Amonos || Bridesmaids' Dresses: The Dessy Group || Groom & Groomsmen's Attire: Jos. A. Bank || Engagement Ring: Ritani || Florist: Anne Appleman Flowers || Invitations: Minted || Music: Patrick Connor Smith; DJ Dave Tutton || Catering & Rentals: Park Avenue Catering || Cake: Crisp Bake Shop || Photo Booth: Sonoma Photo Booth Company || Photographer: Christine Chang Photography

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Searching for more inspiration just like this? You're in luck! We've got another beautiful winery wedding in the video below.

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