A secluded country club and local wines lead to an unforgettable wedding

Nearly a year to the day that Paul Grover fell in love with Nicole DiRienzo on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, the southern California couple said "I do" at Meadowood, a country club near the Silverado Trail in St. Helena, CA. "We loved that this club was off the beaten path," says the bride of the expansive grounds, which include a spa, golf course and private bungalows (where many of the couple's 130 guests stayed). Nicole and Paul envisioned a full weekend of wedding events, so they enlisted Bay Area planner Kristi Amoroso to help. She coordinated all the details, from the weekend's big start—a vineyard rehearsal dinner featuring Spanish guitarists—to a 1920s-style farewell brunch. "Each event had its own wow factor," says Nicole. "Guests couldn't pick a favorite."

Just before the August 27, 2005, ceremony, Nicole and Paul's guests sipped lemonade and sparkling water beneath white parasols as they waited for the bride to meet her groom under an untamed arbor of vines, white roses and hydrangeas. A garland of the same blooms, by San Francisco–based floral designer Kathleen Deery, lined the grassy aisle. After the two exchanged traditional vows, they reconvened with guests for a glass of champagne across the lawn, which was illuminated by miniature teardrop-crystal chandeliers suspended by wires over the reception area. The "floating" lights gave the space an enclosed, intimate feel, says Nicole, but with the stars in sight, the look was also bright and airy.

Dinner, though, was far from light; guests enjoyed a variety of rich dishes, such as wild mushroom pappardelle and filet mignon. They also indulged in an assortment of local wines, leading one guest to make an innocent wager—that he could bike 10 miles along the hilly Silverado Trail in less than an hour—that quickly turned into a full-blown event the following day. With guests cheering him on from their cars, the biker beat the clock and won the $1,000 pot. The morning's excitement continued at Nicole and Paul's final event, a goodbye brunch, where the 80 guests were dressed entirely in white and learned from a pro how to play croquet. Pale-yellow tablecloths accented the crisp white centerpieces and umbrellas, a subdued palette for an otherwise very colorful wedding weekend.

Learn From Nicole and Paul
Involve friends and family: As a meaningful touch, Nicole asked her friend Lisa Lofthouse, a pianist and singer, to perform at their ceremony.
Consider guestbook alternatives: Guests expressed their good wishes for Nicole and Paul's marriage on small cards inscribed with the bride and groom's names, then dropped the cards into a large glass hurricane.
Punch up a simple palette: Nicole and Paul added a few touches of papaya-orange to their natural scheme of espresso brown, sage and white. "I like to keep things simple, but we also wanted a pop of color," says Nicole.
Create a comfort zone: At the reception, an outdoor lounge with plush sofas gave guests a place to kick back and chat with one another between dances.

The newlyweds and their guests dined at square and round tables beneath the glow of chandeliers and the evening's star-studded sky. "We loved the elegant ambience the lights created," says the bride.

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