Bright, bold colors and festive Latin touches make for one fiery fete

Erica Galos and Joseph Alioto Jr. loved all things Latin; she had spent time studying in Spain, and they had traveled together to Brazil. So when it was time to plan their wedding, they knew exactly what they wanted: "We felt it was important to replicate the warm, festive feeling we received from those countries," the bride says. To achieve this, the San Francisco–based couple recruited wedding planner Kathy Higgins, who helped them transform a private Napa estate into a vibrant venue for their big day. To start, they settled on bright shades of red, orange and yellow for the reception decor and had large paper lanterns suspended from an arbor over the dining area in the outdoor garden.

On May 28, 2005, Erica and Joseph were married at St. Helena Cathedral. For the traditional Catholic ceremony, Erica wore a floor-length Monique Lhuillier gown, but decided to switch it up for the outdoor cocktail hour and reception by changing into a shorter party dress by Sue Wong. Upon arriving at the garden reception, everyone was handed a caipirinha, the traditional Brazilian cocktail, and relaxed in a custom-designed lounge filled with plush couches. Guests then snacked on lamb skewers as a flamenco guitarist played nearby. The dinner menu consisted of beef tenderloin with truffle-infused potatoes and vegetables. After the meal, a local pop band, Napata and the Kisses, kept the dance floor packed, and even incited spontaneous onstage dances from some enthusiastic guests. The couple ended the evening on a bright note: Each guest was given a personalized matchbox along with sparklers to light up the night.

Learn From Erica and Joseph
Offer fun desserts: Along with their wedding cake, created by 2005 Modern Bride Trendsetter Sam Godfrey of Perfect Endings, the couple offered chocolate-fondue fountains with fresh fruit slices and Rice Krispies Treats for dipping.
Layer your colors: For their boldly hued reception, Erica and Joseph had each table dressed with orange linens and topped with a sheer red overlay and a vase filled with bright blooms. This allowed the colors to pop and added another dimension to the decor.
Reflect your heritage in the menu: The couple gave a nod to Joseph's Italian background by serving risotto balls during the cocktail hour and starting the meal with rustic bread and small bowls of olive oil. —Cristi L. Hansen

Bright napkins bound by beaded rings embellished each setting.

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