California or France? This Provence-Inspired Wedding, with Mountain and Vineyard Views, Will Leave You Guessing
Although Sarah and Tengbo each worked for the same financial firm, they operated within different business lines, so it wasn't until a mutual colleague hosted a group dinner at his home that the two met in May of 2016. Their friendship blossomed quickly into a romance, and about three years later, Sarah got a birthday surprise she was not expecting: Tengbo booked a trip to Sarah's hometown in Pennsylvania and told her they would celebrate her birthday at the 18th-century stone farmhouse where she grew up. "Although I had moved to San Francisco years ago, my parents still lived there, and I always loved visiting the open fields and rolling hills of home."
On the morning of her birthday, the couple took a quiet walk together through the nearby horse farms. They only made it a few steps before Tengbo knelt down on one knee to pop the question with a unique Art Deco style ring he bought in California. Sarah immediately said yes, and the duo then celebrated the happy moment with her parents.
Since Sarah hails from Pennsylvania and Tengbo is from Michigan, the couple decided to host their wedding in their new home state of California to take advantage of the natural scenery. They invited about a hundred guests to Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley for their countryside wedding with a South-of-France aesthetic. Although the bride had a distinct design vision for the big day and Tengbo had the organization skills to keep them on task, the couple worked with Briana and Krista of Gavita Flora to help bring their floral-focused vision to fruition. They also hired Michaela from Engaged and Inspired as a month-of-coordinator, so that they could spend time with their guests the entire wedding weekend without a worry in the world.
Sarah loves all things vintage, so Tengbo proposed to her with an Art Deco ring, complete with a European cut diamond from the turn of the 19th century.
Invitations with Old-World Charm
The couple wanted their invitation suite to give off an Old-World European vibe. The set incorporated handmade paper, wax seals, and ribbons with frayed edges. Each invite also included a hydrangea leaf sprig, which became a design motif throughout the big day.
The RSVP cards and envelopes were made in hues of blue, while the rest of the suite involved neutral tones as a nod to the eventual palette.
The Picturesque Venue
Carmel is a frequent weekend getaway spot for Sarah and Tengbo, and they wanted to give their guests the same experience. They loved the stunning mountain and vineyard views at Holman Ranch; the fact that the venue was only a few hours away from the couple's home in San Francisco was the icing on the cake.
Bride in Blush
Sarah wanted her bridal look to mimic her everyday style, which tends to combine vintage and modern elements. Her vision for a timeless wedding dress included long sleeves, a high neckline, and lace for texture. The bride flew to New York and met her mom (who is her style icon!) at the Romona Keveza atelier, where they worked with a stylist to pull a few gowns that fit her style. Sarah fell in love with the second dress she tried on, a blush gown with a mock neck, long sleeves, and lots of lace. She calls the search a "beautiful, blissful, and successful (and maybe the world's most expedient!) wedding dress shopping experience."
To complement the romantic ensemble, Sarah held an overgrown garden-style bouquet of white-and-blush roses and rustic greenery tied with flowing silk ribbons. For the ceremony, she paired her blush gown with a vintage chapel-length veil with embroidered lace flowers.
The bride wore pink bell tiered Oscar de la Renta earrings along with a vintage serpentine bracelet from her mother's collection, a bracelet Sarah grew up admiring and was gifted on her wedding day.
Before she even found her dress, Sarah chose these crystal-embellished Dolce and Gabanna kitten heels. "I also switched into pearl-embellished blush high-top Chuck Taylors to dance the night away in after dinner," she says.
The bride's three-year-old niece, Catalina, served as her flower girl; she wore a smocked pink floral dress with a white Peter Pan-style collar. She also donned pink Mary Janes and a white rose floral crown.
Their ring-bearer, five-year-old Jackson, was dressed in a classic navy short set with a blue piped collar shirt. "Jackson took his ring bearing responsibilities very seriously and refused to let our shell-shaped ring box out of his sight for the entire day and night, even after the rings had safely been placed on our fingers during the ceremony!" the bride says.
The First Look
Sarah and Tengbo had their first look under a grove of trees near their ceremony site. "We were both so nervous getting ready for the ceremony, and our first look was a wonderful moment of calm and joy as we locked eyes and officially felt like we were at the start of this incredible day!" Sarah reflects.
A Ceremony with a View
The couple's outdoor ceremony took place overlooking the mountains of Carmel Valley and the vines of Holman Ranch. The aisle was lined with green topiaries of varying heights.
White petals led the way to the ceremony's focal point: An eight-foot arch, embellished with lush greenery and on-palette flowers.
The String Trio
The ceremony's music came from a string trio that played "Moon River" as the bride made her way down the aisle, along with "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys during the recessional. The ensemble also played instrumental versions of the couple's favorite songs during the cocktail hour.
Sarah's dad escorted her to the aisle, telling her jokes the whole way down to ease her jitters and encourage her to smile. "My dad has always been the greatest luminary and role model of mine and I felt so proud and overwhelmingly joyous to be on his arm," she says. The couple had a Christian ceremony facilitated by their friend and spiritual mentor, Shavon, who made it a deeply personal experience for them.
Tengbo and Sarah wanted their mothers included in the ceremony, so they each had special readings. Sarah's mom read a passage from Captain Corelli's Mandolin (this had guests in tears!), and Tengbo's mom gave her Walt Whitman reading in both English and Mandarin to include all guests.
The couple offered three signature cocktails: an old fashioned served with maraschino cherries, a rosemary fizz with vodka and grapefruit, and a "Bee's Knees" featuring gin, lemon juice, agave nectar, and fresh lemons.
During the cocktail hour, guests enjoyed passed appetizers like vegan rainbow rolls, ahi poke tostada, and Grand Marnier muffins with smoked duck and hoisin sauce.
The newlyweds took advantage of the sunset and mountain scenery before the dancing began. Sarah considers their golden hour portraits "a perfect, stolen moment of calm and beauty in the midst of such a fleetingly wonderful day."
Find Your Seat
A seating assignment board was embellished with white-and-blush roses and greenery. Single blooms and leaves were pinned to each card, which listed guests' names and table numbers alphabetically.
Dinner took place on the Rose Patio, where several farmhouse tables were paired with cushioned Versailles-style chairs from Theoni Collection to create the upscale South-of-France aesthetic the pair envisioned. Guests were served local California dishes for dinner, including seared salmon filets with chimichurri sauce and boneless braised beef short ribs with mushroom gorgonzola bread pudding.
The Tabletop Details
Tables were topped with white hemstitch runners from La Tavola. Several lush centerpieces of varying heights were placed down the center of each table, following the floral color scheme of white and blush.
The Place Settings
Sarah's father charmed the couple and guests with a speech during dinner.
After dinner, the celebrants were led to the carriage house where a band from San Francisco greeted them on the dance floor. The ceiling was covered in greenery, fairy lights, and draped fabrics. A large floral chandelier hung from the rafters, creating a focal point for the space.
The pair shared their first dance to Ben E. King's "Stand by Me," since both Sarah and Tengbo love music from the '60s. "It has always captured our simple hopes for what we envision a successful life together to look like and never fails to draw us up and in for a slow dance together," Sarah says.
The Cake with Four Flavors
Sarah and Tengbo struggled to choose just one cake flavor, so they asked the bride's mom to be the tiebreaker. When she suggested they serve all four finalist flavors so that guests could choose what they wanted, the couple was sold. The flavors included Meyer lemon with strawberry buttercream and lemon curd, pumpkin with dark chocolate ganache, carrot with cream cheese buttercream, and chocolate with salted caramel buttercream.
Photography, Carlie Statsky
Venue, Holman Ranch
Event Design and Flowers, Gavita Flora
Event Coordination, Engaged and Inspired
Invitations, JK Design
Bride's Gown, Romona Keveza
Bride's Accessories, Oscar de la Renta; Dolce and Gabbana
Hair and Makeup, The Glamourist
Groom's Attire, Isaia
Groom's Accessories, Tom Ford; Cartier
Music, Montage Classical Trio; Notorious - Jay Siegan Presents
Catering, Paradise Catering
Cake, Edith Meyer Cakes
Rentals, Theoni Collection; Chic Event Rentals; La Tavola Linen
Transportation, Main Event Transportation
Lighting, Chic Event Rentals