A Casual Garden Party Wedding in Northern California
Julia and Dave
When you marry a distiller, there's no doubt your big day will be spirited in many ways. For Julia Cianci and Dave Smith (who works for St. George Spirits), their August 24, 2013, wedding was a carefree, boozy garden party surrounded by what the bride refers to as "a tidal wave of genuine love and joy." With great food, great company, and of course great drinks, they committed themselves to one another and then celebrated under the summer stars in Northern California, just over six years after their paths initially crossed.
The letterpressed invite was designed by Aerialist Press and featured a flourished two-color design. Included in the suite was a Mad Libs style response card. Both the bride and groom have degrees in writing and love to read, so it was a fun and personal way to customize the RSVPs.
Julia and Dave tied the knot at Campovida, an organic winery, garden, and venue in Hopland, California, about two hours from their home in Oakland. "We liked the idea of getting married amongst all these herbs, flowers, and other botanical plants," Julia said. "And we really wanted our out-of-town guests to experience what we love most in the region."
The Bridal Bouquet
Julia's seasonal bouquet, designed by The Monkey Flower Group was composed of roses, garden roses, wheat, exploding grass, stock, scabiosa blooms, and bay laurel. The flowers for the day were mostly soft whites, pinks, and peaches, anchored by dark burgundy and bolder pink accents.
The guys' lapels were dressed up with aromatic boutonnieres with herbs and ingredients found in spirits like gin, such as rosemary, juniper, bay laurel, hops, grains, Douglas fir, and cinnamon.
The bride and her 'maids all wore hair combs laden with flowers and herbs, tied off with rustic twine.
The Ceremony Spot
Long-stalked wheat, lavender, hops, rosemary, Douglas fir, and bay laurel—all elements Dave works with regularly—decorated the aisles of the ceremony, which took place under a canopy of grape vines.
A Noteworthy Book
The service was officiated by Lance Winters, the master distiller and owner of St. George Spirits—and also Dave's boss, mentor, and best friend. Dave officiated Lance's wedding a few years prior. Both men held a rare original 1871 English edition of Pierre Duplais's "Treatise on the Manufacture and Distillation of Alcoholic Liquors"—a book from which many distillers draw inspiration and insight.
Julia and Dave crafted their wedding ceremony with help from many of their favorite writers. It was wrapped around the loving insights of S. Morgenstern, Tom Robbins, C.S. Lewis, Diana Gabaldon, W.H. Auden, and e.e. cummings. The pair exchanged wedding bands they made together at an all-day workshop through A Wedding Ring Experience.
The moment the couple kissed as husband and wife, a jazz band started to play and kicked off a New Orleans-style second-line processional from the ceremony garden to the cocktail-hour garden. They continued to play until it was time to once again guide the 155 guests to their next destination: dinner. The musicians were a festive touch and a nod to the city in which Julia and Dave first met.
Scott Beattie, a friend and cocktail connoisseur, modified a few classic drinks to fit with the late summer season and the couple's preferred ingredients. The libations were twists on an Aviation, an Old Fashioned, and a Corpse Reviver. "We totally overlooked the idea about renaming the drinks," Julia recalled. "So much, to the chagrin of our mothers, we actually had the word 'corpse' featured on the chalkboard!"
The Cocktail Hour Menu
During cocktail hour, guests enjoyed Point Reyes Kumamoto oysters with citrus-pepper mignonette. Other passed hors d'oeuvres included tuna tartare and watermelon radish, savory gougeres, and chanterelles with Brie. Fresh minted lemonade and citrus iced tea kept guests cool and refreshed during the late-afternoon soiree.
Wood tables and chairs were set in another garden for the seated dinner.
Inspired by the colors of a fresh peach, centerpieces were a mix of bud vases holding wild and loose arrangements of dahlias, roses, stock, scabiosa, delphinium, and ranunculus. The centerpieces were grouped down the long tables dressed with white table runners, and wild or edible accents such as passion vine, lichen branches, star anise, and peaches (which grow throughout the property) filled the spaces between. To mirror the surroundings even further, green water glasses and napkins were the finishing touches.
A Fun Display
The Mad Lib response cards were tacked up for guests to peruse, next to an oversize chalkboard sign outlining the evening's menu.
The dinner kicked off with an amuse-bouche of ricotta ravioli with snap peas, asparagus, lemon, and grana padano. A salad of heirloom tomatoes and burrata followed, as well as a trio of entree options. The seasonal feast was prepared by Sage Catering.
The Wedding Cake
The four-tiered wedding cake boasted layers of coconut cake with passion-fruit-rum filling and chocolate cake with chocolate-bourbon mousse filling. It was covered in vanilla-bean buttercream and topped with lavender sprigs.
Dave surprised Julia by crafting a custom wedding gin based on her favorite scents and flavors. She affectionately describes it as a "lady's delicate lace dress." Dave packaged up the custom spirit, inspired by orange blossoms, lemon, juniper, coriander, and lavender (which was actually sourced directly from the wedding venue), in personalized petite glass bottles designed by the bride's sister, which were etched by a friend of the groom through his company, Reclamation Etchworks.
Photography: Meg Perotti
Event Planning: Courtney Cargile
Catering: Sage Catering
Flowers: The Monkey Flower Group
Videography: Thomas Hughes Films
Cake: Crisp Bakeshop
Music: The KJ All Stars
Rentals and Lighting: Wine Country Party & Events
Hair and Bridesmaids' Makeup: It's a Date
Bride's Makeup: Elizabeth Cantore Makeup Artist