When you get engaged in Hawaii, have guests coming in from all over the world, and called London, Florida, and Dallas home over the course of your wedding planning process, where in the world do you get married? In Napa Valley, of course! "We both love wine, and wanted to pick a destination that would be easy for our guests to visit," says Nicole. She and Chris dated for three years after meeting at a friend's dinner party before he popped the question — though it took him three tries before he pulled it off! "Chris surprised me with a trip to Hawaii, and told me I had 45 minutes to pack before we left. When we arrived, the room was covered in roses and there was a bottle of champagne, but I was so tired I fell asleep on the sofa before he had a chance to ask. The next day, he tried to propose on the beach at sunset after swimming with dolphins, but I was too cold," says Nicole. Thankfully, the third time was the charm. "We headed back up to our hotel room, and he finally proposed on our terrace at sunset."
After deciding to wed in wine country, the pair chose Beaulieu Gardens as the venue for their May 23, 2015, wedding with 120 guests. "We chose a holiday weekend so our guests could take a vacation and have time to travel," Nicole says. They opted for a classic, elegant affair with a garden vibe, marrying in a manicured garden and covering the dinner tables with lush flowers. This formal take on a vineyard wedding is the stuff of dreams — all photographed by Larissa Cleveland.
The invitation suite featured traditional calligraphy, subtle cutouts, and a modern white and gray color scheme. Nicole stuck with the contemporary trend when it came to her footwear, donning gold and rose gold Jimmy Choo sandals with geometric shapes and ankle straps.
The bride's Pronovias wedding dress was actually her third she purchased! "I think I tried on too many dresses," she says. "I thought I found the perfect Vera Wang gown, but my sister-in-law later picked the same one and her wedding was six months before ours. Then, I custom-ordered a second dress, but the extended train I'd ordered wasn't what we'd asked for, so we sent it back. That left me with two weeks to find dress number three, but it ended up being perfect!" The gown had a fitted bodice and a full skirt featuring swirls of softly pleated tulle.
Nicole's necklace was a meaningful family heirloom. "It's a family antique, and all the women in my family have worn it on their wedding day," she says. Her classic bouquet combined blush and ivory roses, interspersed with dark green leaves.
Chris donned a classic tuxedo for the open-air celebration. Nicole's cathedral-length veil had lace detailing around the edges, a beautiful complement to her soft waves and ornate headpiece.
Instead of choosing bridesmaids' dresses, Nicole asked her bridal party to wear any black gown they loved. "I told them to pull out the dress they'd been saving for a special occasion, or to splurge on a fancy gown they knew they would wear again," she says.
The garden altar, in front of a traditional fountain, was flanked by two stone urns overflowing with hydrangeas and roses.
"We kept our ceremony traditional, short, and sweet," says Nicole.
Guests were greeted with champagne and white wine as they headed toward cocktail hour, where a block of ice was shaved-to-order at the bar for custom drinks.
Escort cards were displayed on a table decorated with mauve roses, blush peonies, white hydrangeas, and peach sweet peas.
At the reception, long tables were topped with low arrangements of the same blooms, all lit by hanging chandeliers and café lights. Places were set with gold-rimmed glasses, gold silverware, and ornate gold chargers. Dinner featured a wine pairing, with an amuse bouche served with sauvignon blanc, herb-crusted chevre salad with rosé, sautéed salmon with pinot noir, and boursin-stuffed filet with cabernet.
The five-tiered cake, covered in smooth fondant and topped with a cascade of fresh flowers, had tiers of milk & cookies cake, chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate ganache, and strawberry-basil cake.
Chris and Nicole's first dance was to "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran. "It was so special to have all of our friends and family members in one place. It was the first time they've all been together, and it was magical how well they got along," remembers the bride. She and Chris also treated guests to an expertly-poured champagne tower later in the evening.
Everyone blew bubbles as the newlyweds headed to their getaway car. "Don't overthink things," says Nicole. "Have fun with the process and enjoy!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Beaulieu Gardens || Wedding Planner: Persia Inc. || Bride's Wedding Dress: Pronovias || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Groom's Attire: Armani || Engagement Ring: Bachendorf's || Florist: Asiel Design || Invitations & Paper Goods: Creative Works Designs || Music: Mia Bella D'Augelli || Catering: Paula Le Duc || Cake: Sweet on Cake || Videographer: Justin Fone Productions || Photographer: Larissa Cleveland
Did you love this wine country wedding? Then watch another couple say "I do" in Napa in the video below.