Junko Yoshioka, junkoyoshioka.com
Ceremony and Reception Site
Carneros Inn, thecarnerosinn.com
Alison Events, alisonevents.com
Jesse Leake Photography, jesseleake.com
Wine lovers Melissa Singer and Adam Bernard fell in love and made their home in New York City, but when it came time to plan their big day, they booked it to the other coast, trading metropolitan glitz for the refined charm of wine country. They chose the Carneros Inn, a resort in California’s Napa Valley that offered these vino connoisseurs a chance to create pairings for the reception meal from the area’s vast number of vineyards. The inn, located on 27 acres, also provided the right ratio of rustic allure and cushiness. "We appreciated the natural landscape but also wanted luxurious accommodations," says Melissa. "It was like being on a farm—but one with chic interiors!" —Anna Jane Grossman
Beyond the Pail: Instead of an escort card, each guest received a small galvanized bucket filled with jelly beans; his or her name and the table assignment was on a tag tied to the handle. The place cards were pinned to limes.
Bottle It Up: Melissa and Adam had a clever "guest book": using a glass marker, everyone signed a six-liter bottle of cabernet from 2001, the year the bride and groom met. Continuing the wine theme, the twosome named each table after a variety of grape, from pinot noir to sauvignon blanc.
Moonstruck: For maximum drama, the couple timed their big night to coincide with an almost-full moon. After the moon was up, Adam doled out cigars, guests indulged in dessert, and one inspired group hopped in the hot tub.
Best Money Savers
Powerful Petals: Rather than splurge on ornate flower arrangements, Melissa chose affordable, full-bodied blooms, including brightly colored chrysanthemums and spider mums, and had them arranged by single shades in vases. "Not mixing colors gave each a bolder look," she explains.
Less Is Less: Having a wedding so far away from home meant a manageable number of "yes" RSVPs. A smaller guest count also kept overall costs down—Melissa and Adam needed fewer centerpieces, meals, and favors.
Pick of the Week: The couple’s wedding consultant at Alison Events in San Francisco suggested filling simple glass vases with green and red apples as an easy, inexpensive way to decorate the drinks table at the orchard ceremony site.
Instead of a classic, multitiered cake, the couple opted for a dessert buffet with berries, cupcakes, and strawberry shortcake.