"We both connected over our love for food, wine, hospitality, and family," says Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel of meeting now-husband Arjav Ezekiel. The pair met while opening Danny Meyer's Untitled at the Whitney in New York City in April 2015. Tracy was the sous chef, Arjav was the dining room manager—and their relationship has been about food, wine, hospitality, and family ever since.
Naturally, these shared values were essential at the couple's elegant wine country wedding at Calistoga Ranch in Calistoga, California. "Being food and wine fanatics, we love the Napa Valley," Tracy says. "We were busy working in New York and didn’t have time to travel there before we booked it! We just heard awesome things about the property and the rugged beauty of the property." Upon arrival, she admits that they were blown away by the resort's hospitality, views, and activities available to guests. "We thought Napa would be a nice treat for our friends and family, several of whom work long hours in kitchens and dining rooms," she adds.
For the celebration, the couple leaned on the property's natural beauty—along with those values we mentioned above—to host an intimate ceremony before the vineyards and an elegant, wine-fueled reception below bistro lights. "We had dinner outside by the lake, in what felt like a valley between mountains," Tracy recalls.
"Honestly, I had no idea of all of the details that comprise a wedding," Tracy admits. "Arjav and I feel like we are detail-oriented but were both very surprised with all of the decisions that go into planning a wedding." For this reason, they trusted a creative team to bring their vision, which the bride describes as a "modern version of classic elegance with wild and natural elements," to life.
To start, Shine Wedding Invitations printed an invitation suite that paired a beautiful script with a serif font for a modern take on the traditional presentation. Photographer Caroline Yoon also captured the stationery beautifully, pairing it with floral blooms, the couple's rings, and gold ring dishes. "We really loved Caroline Yoon’s style and her ability to capture the personalities of couples," Tracy says. "We also love that she photographs with her husband, John."
This was the third dress I tried on! I felt this magical feeling like I was royalty—a feeling I’ve absolutely never felt.
Caroline's mother and bridesmaids helped her into her long-sleeved, lace gown by Sachin and Babi. "This was the third dress I tried on! I felt this magical feeling like I was royalty—a feeling I’ve absolutely never felt," she recalls. "Growing up, I was kind of a tomboy. I didn’t really dream about my 'big day.' I certainly never thought I would have this grand moment when trying on the dress but it definitely happened."
Tracy says she was "pretty low key" about dress shopping, dropping into Kleinfeld one Saturday morning—alone! However, she wasn't alone when she said: "yes" to her dress. "My sales associate took me out to the elevated platform by the full-length mirror to see the entire dress," she recalls. "When I said 'yes,' a bunch of strangers sitting in chairs around me started clapping in unison. It was this amazing, kind of hilarious, New York City moment where I was bonding with strangers." Don't worry: She brought her mother and mother-in-law back to find the veil.
After buying her dress, Tracy discovered some facts about designers Sachin and Babi that made the purchase almost feel serendipitous. "My dress was made in Brooklyn, where we lived together right before we left NYC," she explains. "Also, the designers are from India where Arjav was born, and they are a husband and wife business partners, like us." (The couple owns Birdie’s Luncheonette in Austin, Texas.)
Tracy carried a petite bouquet by Rion Designs, which she draped with an aquamarine bracelet (her birthstone!) that served as her "something blue." "My grandparents gave it to me when I was 12 years old," she says. "None of my grandparents were able to attend so that was a special memento."
Bridesmaids dressed in blush gowns, while the groomsmen wore a mix of midnight blue and black tuxedos. Arjav (and his ring bearer!) stood out in a white dinner jacket. "It was after Labor Day, but that’s a rule I’m glad we broke," Tracy adds with a laugh.
The couple wrote the ceremony together but kept their vows a secret from one another. "Arjav told the story of how we met and some personal stories, and I definitely teared up," Tracy recalls. "I had a more classic and sentimental approach to writing my vows."
During the ceremony, the couple's flower girl Lilly ran down the aisle to grab a chocolate chip cookie from her dad. "Then, she returned to my sisters—my co matron of honors—by the altar, and my sisters were trying to make sure she didn’t get the cookie on my dress," Tracy recalls with a laugh.
We collaborated on the look and feel of the wedding. That day was the best version of us.
"We planned all of it together! Arjav was very involved creatively and we collaborated on the look and feel of the wedding. That day was the best version of us," Tracy says. "As hospitality professionals, we took the idea of makings sure everyone who was at the wedding, left feeling special really important."
Dinner took place outside, where farm tables were topped with tousled, ivory runners, and centerpieces of varying heights featuring ranunculus, hydrangea, and peonies.
In addition to wowing their guests with a special menu at the reception, Tracy and Arjav left wine, and a little wine key, in each of their guests' hotel rooms. "It was a small way of saying thank you and welcome to the Napa Valley," Tracy says.
At dinner, each place setting featured a white, rimless plate, a personalized menu, and a sprig of veronica wrapped with ivory ribbon.
Looking back on the wedding, Tracy notes the reception toasts (from her father, sisters, and best man), "getting ready with the amazing women in my life," and "dancing the entire night away in the wine cave with our loved ones" as highlights. In terms of advice, she had this to share: "Stay organized, don’t take yourselves too seriously, and remember to have fun with the entire process. Make sure that the wedding is a reflection of you both—it's more fun that way!"
Venue, Accommodations & Catering Calistoga Ranch
Wedding Planner Emily Coyne Events
Officiant Reverend Peadar Dalton of Your Ceremony Matters
Bridal Gown Sachin and Babi, from Kleinfeld Bridal
Veil Belaire Bridal
Shoes Jimmy Choo
Hair & Makeup Christi Reynolds
Bridesmaid Dresses BHLDN
Groomsmen Attire The Black Tux
Engagement Ring & Wedding Band Maggi Simpkins Fine Jewelry
Floral Design by Rion Designs
Invitations & Paper Goods Shine Wedding Invitations
Music Boutique DJs
Cake Branching Out Cakes
Rentals Encore Event Rentals
Transportation Napa Valley Tour & Transportation
Photography Caroline Yoon