A Gorgeous Garden Party in Napa Valley

This couple pulled together a timeless affair in just a matter of months

Updated 05/08/18

Photo by Sarah Falugo

Lauren Merrigan and Emery Sanford have a true California love story. The pair met at a mutual friend’s birthday party in San Francisco in 2012, got engaged on Lauren’s birthday at her favorite hotel in Inverness in October 2016, and made it official in St. Helena on September 16, 2017. There, their family and friends gathered at Beaulieu Garden in Napa Valley wine country, an area that is close but “feels so far away” from their home in San Francisco. “We wanted this special part of the world to be the backdrop for our wedding weekend, and for our friends and family to experience the place we hold so dearly,” explains the groom.

The location had perfect spaces for each part of their special day—the ceremony by a garden, cocktail hour in another garden, dinner under a natural arbor, and dancing under the stars. Still, they didn’t book the lush, outdoor venue until seven months before the wedding. This, admittedly, left the couple in a bit of a time crunch as far as securing vendors. Thankfully, Ashley Brand of LVL Weddings and Events came on board to plan the perfect garden party–inspired day, and Sarah Falugo was there to capture every single detail.

Keep reading to see more!

green and white invitations
Photo by Sarah Falugo

The couple was inspired by the South of France and introduced their garden party theme with a green-and-white invitation suite.

bride getting ready lipstick makeup champagne
Photo by Sarah Falugo
bridal hairstyle bun
Photo by Sarah Falugo

Lauren’s “something borrowed” was a pair of diamond and pearl drop earrings that one of her closest friends and her friend's mother wore at their weddings. She also donned a lace veil from Jin Wang and embossed silver stilettos by Altuzarra.

bride in strapless wedding dress
Photo by Sarah Falugo
back of bride's dress and veil
Photo by Sarah Falugo

The bride considered the location of their wedding, which can be extremely hot in September, when shopping for her dress. She ultimately selected a light, airy, and ethereal Reem Acra gown that seemed perfect for a late summer garden wedding. She loved its timeless elegance, which was reminiscent of the dress Grace Kelly wears in “To Catch a Thief.”

happy couple smiling
Photo by Sarah Falugo
bride and groom in blue suit
Photo by Sarah Falugo

The groom wanted a blue suit but struggled to find the perfect color. That is, until he saw a Tom Ford option in the ideal shade of royal blue. He finished it off with a pair of brown leather shoes, a white Tom Ford shirt, and a midnight blue tie. The day before the wedding, Lauren gave her husband-to-be a pair of cuff links—the Tiffany & Co. double knot style—as a nod to their shared passion for all things nautical.

outdoor ceremony with parasols
Photo by Sarah Falugo
children at wedding
Photo by Sarah Falugo

The pair fell hard for their stunning venue, Beaulieu Garden. "A long tree-lined drive with vineyards on both sides welcomes you," says the bride. "The ceremony venue is a beautiful garden surrounded by tall trees, with a small pond in the middle.” There, guests were offered white parasols to shield the sun as a string trio greeted everyone with classical music.

father of the bride walking daughter down the aisle
Photo by Sarah Falugo

The bride’s brother walked her down the aisle to “Ave Maria.”

semi-circle of greenery as altar decoration
Photo by Sarah Falugo

Because the ceremony setting was already beautiful, the couple only added subtle decoration in the form of a romantic semicircle of greenery.

bride and groom at altar
Photo by Sarah Falugo
bride and groom at altar
Photo by Sarah Falugo

During the ceremony, two of Lauren’s best friends read poems—one by Mark Twain and another by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

first kiss
Photo by Sarah Falugo
ceremony exit parasol
Photo by Sarah Falugo

After their first kiss and announcement as a couple, the newlyweds recessed to the recorded sounds of Saint Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band playing “Second Line.” Guests walked from there to the cocktail hour in the Italian garden.

garden wedding venue
Photo by Sarah Falugo
escort card table/display
Photo by Sarah Falugo

Emery describes the design of the wedding as a real labor of love—by the bride and groom! Lauren coordinated the flowers, linens, and other stylistic elements, while Emery handled the music, vendor communication, and transportation arrangements.

reception under an arbor with string lights
Photo by Sarah Falugo
white floral centerpieces with lily of the valley
Photo by Sarah Falugo

On tables, tall clear cylinder vases were filled with lush wild green branches and arranged to create a canopy-like feeling. Low centerpieces included an abundance of white blooms alongside the bride’s favorite flower, lily of the valley.

outdoor garden reception
Photo by Sarah Falugo

The seated dinner took place under a verdant natural arbor that was illuminated with strands of twinkling lights to create a magical feel.

serving wine at wedding
Photo by Sarah Falugo

During cocktail hour, “incredible” bartenders made everything guests thought up, even New Orleans iced coffee. Dinner by Paula LeDuc Fine Catering included heirloom tomatoes from the property’s vegetable garden and a choice of wild king salmon, beef filet, or grilled summer squash.

wreath sweetheart chair decorations
Photo by Sarah Falugo

Lauren spent a year studying abroad in Paris and loved the European style of the venue’s gardens, which made her feel like she was back in France.

couple laughing at reception
Photo by Sarah Falugo

During the reception with a nine-piece band, JP Hunten Music, one of Lauren’s best friends, Olivia, joined to sing Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love.” “We both love music and a truly great party so we made live music a big part of our wedding," says the bride.

three-tier wedding cake
Photo by Sarah Falugo; Cake by Paula LeDuc Fine Catering; Planning by LVL Weddings and Events; Florals by Revel Floral
bride and groom cutting cake
Photo by Sarah Falugo

After the couple cut into their cake, servers passed slices around the dance floor. The cake featured two flavors: pound cake with raspberry, and cafe mocha. They also served a Bay Area favorite: Blue Bottle New Orleans iced coffee with paper straws!

send off petal toss
Photo by Sarah Falugo

After Lauren and Emery’s first dance (which they practiced for weeks!), everyone danced late into the night before partying after in the cask room of Merryvale Winery. Two days later, the newlyweds departed for their honeymoon—to Paris, Provence, and the French Riviera, of course!

Venue: Beaulieu Garden || Catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering || Planner: LVL Weddings and Events || Officiant: Richard Meyer || Bride’s Dress: Reem Acra || Bride’s Shoes: Altuzarra || Groom’s Attire: Tom Ford || Hair & Makeup: The Glamourist || Floral Design: Revel Floral || Music: Lawrence Strings, Boutique DJs || Invitations & Paper Products: The Printery, Kelly House || Transportation: Pure Luxury || Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Neil Dahl || Photo Booth: Giggle and Riot || Photography: Sarah Falugo || Videography: Daniel Gruen

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