This California Couple's Wedding Weekend Was Inspired by "Dirty Dancing"
Kendall and Jackson were friends in college, and thanks to the internet, reconnected when she moved to Los Angeles in 2013. One little Instagram comment sparked them to grab a drink and the rest is history. Two years later, right before the holidays, the couple was in their first apartment together in front of their very first Christmas tree. Jackson had spent hours wrapping up the engagement ring in glittered paper so he could give it to Kendall as an early present. When he asked her if she wanted to open the gift, she said no because it wasn't Christmas yet. So he probed again, noting that he thought she'd like it, but she still refused. Jackson went silent, Kendall questioned him, and he once again told her she'd like what was in the box. She reluctantly opened it, which resulted in three hours of happy tears, some mild black-outs, and one big "yes."
A year-and-a-half later, on May 20, 2017, the now San Francisco-based pair (she is a lead product developer for Lolli and Pops candy company and he works in partnerships at the very social media platform that brought them back together) had a fashionable destination wedding weekend with more happy tears and plenty of celebrating. For the couple and their 135 guests, the festivities began with a welcome dinner the night before the wedding where everyone dug into fried chicken and Champagne. The big day was all about the setting, having fun, and being surrounded by the couple's favorite people.
The couple's videographers, Gold & Gumption, filmed their save-the-date, which was sent out to loved ones to set the tone and get calendars marked.
Kendall's graphic designer cousin created the couple's stationery suite, beginning with the logo that was incorporated into many of their printed pieces and website. The square invite showcased the green that is so prevalent on Dawn Ranch, the property where the couple chose to wed, and a dusty tan color. A redwood tree ring was gold-foiled on the back. At the bottom, it simply stated, "Dress up—Dine—Dance—Drink."
The back of the itinerary card had the logo blind debossed, and the response card was a postcard on which everyone was prompted to write a song they'd promise to dance to if it was played at the reception. Addresses were printed on stickers that wrapped around the envelopes.
Kendall loves curating gift boxes, so she was game to tackle the welcome goodies for the guests. Green boxes were stamped with the pair's logo on the front and the wedding date on the bottom. A can of Field Recordings rosé (a wine discovered when Kendall and Jackson started dating), a deck of cards (Jackson's family loves to play euchre), Champagne gummy bears in monogrammed tubes, chips (to balance the sweet), ibuprofen (to combat the aftermath of too many cocktails), and water were included in the packages which were delivered to cabins before friends and family arrived.
Dawn Ranch was the first venue the couple visited, and though they checked out several other options, they returned to it for its beauty, charm, and overall Dirty Dancing vibes. The river, the redwoods, and the cottages all caught the bride's eye, and the town of Guerneville offers great restaurants and its own quirky vibe. Most of the guest list stayed on-site for the duration of the wedding weekend, maximizing the time spent together, with good food and wine to boot.
Ready to Celebrate
"We wanted to host the best party ever," says Kendall, of the weekend. "The dinner party you never wanted to leave." So, a welcome dinner kicked things off on Friday, May 19, 2017. For the more casual affair, Kendall wore an Adam Lippes dress and Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes, while Jackson sported a J.Crew shirt, Bonobos pants, and Barneys shoes.
Borrowed from Mom
Kendall's mom has an acrylic purse collection, and lent her this vintage number to carry for the evening. She stashed her room key, cell phone, and lipstick inside.
The Theme of the Night
Since the couple wanted the gathering to be casual but celebratory, they went with a fried-chicken-and-Champagne theme, and even spelled it out on a lightbox (it now has a welcoming message and lives in their apartment) on the buffet. Dawn Ranch prepared buttermilk fried chicken, traditional coleslaw, and a spring salad of fingerling potatoes, peas, asparagus, baby spinach, radishes, onions, and fill tossed with an apple cider vinaigrette. And bottles of Kendall and Jackson's favorite bubblies (and wines) were popped.
The Tables Are Set
Tables were set with a chic backyard BBQ vibe. White runners, leather-wrapped vases with arrangements made by the mother-of-the-bride, white candles, bottles of water, and enamelware brought it all to life.
A Pop of Color
The venue's red enamelware plates and cups added a bold accent to the otherwise minimal and neutral setup.
Lawn games and a fire-pit made for fun and conversation, with blankets on hand as the temps dropped. Kendall's stepmom, a few bridesmaids, and one of Jackson's groomsmen gave speeches, and after dinner, there was karaoke in the boathouse.
Treats to Go
Pop-Tart-style treats from Black Jet Baking Company in San Francisco were served for dessert. The couple wanted something fun and playful, but still delicious and local. The flavors weren't the basic ones: guests dug into jalapeño cream cheese, apricot, or Nutella-and-salty-hazelnut treats.
The second Kendall tried on this ivory silk crepe wedding dress from Galia Lahav, she knew it was the one. "I must have tried on 100 dresses in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City," says the bride. "I was exhausted, but this dress was definitely worth the wait!" Kendall asked Aubriana MacNiven of Marigold to incorporate Koko Loko roses because she loves their unique color (which has hints of earthy taupes and a hint of lavender).
Kendall wanted each bridesmaid to pick their own outfit so they were comfortable and their personal style was reflected. So, she gave them a color palette to start with, and helped along the way. Jumpsuits were highly encouraged. "I think they nailed it," she says. "The neutral tones looked beautiful against the green backdrop. They all looked gorgeous that day." Each of her friends carried bouquets featuring either roses or peonies, accented by greenery.
Back it Up
Kendall's wedding dress featured a sheer back with crystallized net hand-embroidered in a geometric pattern. Since it was so ornate, she kept her jewelry simple and just wore one of her grandmother's bracelets.
The First Look
Jackson says the first look was his most memorable moment of the day. "The ceremony and reception is almost a blur, but time stood still during the first look," he says. "I will remember those few minutes for the rest of my life."
Everyone gathered in the meadow at the base of some redwood trees for the ceremony. The trees are part of the reason Kendall, whose father has also been growing redwoods for the past five years, was so drawn to Dawn Ranch—named after the Dawn redwood. Kendall's dad offered to grow some from seed to have at the wedding, and so, the saplings were potted and put on display. He also walked her down the aisle, as an acoustic version Adele's "Sweetest Devotion" played. Her soon-to-be-husband and his mother had entered to an instrumental version of "Coming Home" by Leon Bridges.
Jackson's brother officiated. "He's five years younger, but you'd think he's twice my age the way he handled his duties," says the groom. "I couldn't have imagined anyone else marrying Kendall and me." The couple's best friend Sebastian had picked out a poem to read but unbeknownst to his pals, decided to scrap it and write his own passage to commemorate the day. In addition to that incredible gesture, bridesmaid Leslie read a few food-related entries from the book "Life is Meals" by James and Kay Salter.
Personalized vows and matching Erstwhile bands were exchanged before the couple was declared husband and wife.
The newlyweds recessed up the aisle to an instrumental version of Beyoncé's "Love on Top" as onlookers tossed petals in celebration. "I loved the idea of a petal toss and my mom and bridesmaids made it happen," says Kendall. "It was very last minute so Jackson didn't know. The smile on his face as it happened was priceless."
A Quick Selfie
Jackson had his own surprise up his sleeve. "I didn't have it in me to completely spring the selfie on Kendall, so during the first look I mentioned that I had it planned," he says, of pausing at the top of the aisle to capture their bliss. "Not gonna lie, it's my favorite picture from the weekend."
Everyone walked across the bridge to the orchard for cocktail hour, where a live band played music, and a pair of signature drinks curated by friends were served. The tree ring pattern that first appeared on the invites was stamped on to the napkins, which came in handy at the antipasto table, and with the passed appetizers of lamb meatballs with Greek yogurt sauce; Dungeness crab crostini with avocado, fennel, and Fresno chili; and bagel bombs with everything seasoning and scallion cream cheese fillings.
Large signage guided guests around the large property and also outlined the drink menu. The specialty cocktails included a "Close to Home" which was 209 gin, orange juice, Bruto Americano, Napa Valley sherry vinegar, sparkling wine, and soda water; and the "Russian Riverita" made with tequila, cucumber, sage, and lime juice. A half-dozen wines from Durant & Booth were also on offer, in addition to a selection of beers.
The first of a handful of neon signs was propped against the bar, and it read, "Time for Another." The others appeared at the bathroom, on the dance floor, and by the candy table.
Find Your Seat
The bride and groom were overwhelmed with gratitude the whole weekend and wanted their loved ones to know it, so they topped the seating chart with "Our Favorite People" as a way of sharing their feelings.
Three long rows of farm tables with modern wood chairs were set on the lawn of the orchard. In addition to brass vessels holding medium-sized floral arrangements and plenty of candles, bottles of Durant & Booth wine were opened and set out along the center of the tables.
A Touch of Citrus
Small bowls of kumquats added a pop of color and texture.
The Place Settings
The tables were set with matte ivory stoneware plates, a forest green linen napkin, brushed gold flatware, and simple glassware. Under each place card was a personalized note for each attendee, which as another token of gratitude from the couple for them being part of their lives and the marriage.
The family-style meal began with a warm, roasted cauliflower salad with arugula, golden raisins, capers, and ricotta. A farro salad, wilted kale with chili and garlic, skirt steak with charred leaks and harissa, roasted salmon topped with lemon and dill, and grilled bread with a smear of ricotta, peas, lemon, and mint followed.
The Cone Zone
Neither Kendall nor Jackson are cake fans, but they do love ice cream. They had the cute local ice cream shop, Nimble and Finn's, bring their cart, and served four flavors: mint chip, vanilla hazelnut brittle, nectarine cherry sorbet, and strawberry rose geranium.
A mountain of nostalgic candy was set out, with a neon "sweets" sign on top and bags stamped with the day's logo on-hand to stuff.
Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" played as the couple unleashed their natural, unadulterated dancing skills. There was no choreography or lessons to prepare; they were just so unbelievably happy in the moment, and went for it with moves like this dip.
As guests requested songs when they RSVP-ed for the wedding, there were some great choices, including the song the couple shared their first dance to—so it was played twice. When it was time for the final spin on the dancefloor, another Beyoncé track filled the air. "XO" sounded through the speakers as everyone created a circle around the newlyweds.
After dancing, popping in the photo booth, and grabbing candy, the crowd migrated up to the restaurant bar for the afterparty, where the drinks kept flowing and grilled cheese, sliders, and fries fueled the fun for a little longer.
Photography, Jenn Emerling
Location and Catering, Dawn Ranch
Event planning, Ashley Smith Events
Videography, Gold & Gumption
Ice cream, Nimble & Finn's
Bride's gown, Galia Lahav
Hair, The Pine (welcome dinner and wedding)
Makeup, Primp Skin Studio
Groom's suit and shirt, Ralph Lauren Purple Label
Menswear, The Black Tux
Wine, Durant & Booth
Photo booth, Flipbooth