This Couple Celebrated Their Love of the Great Outdoors with a French-Inspired Lakeside Wedding
The hardest part of wedding planning for Mia Neagle? The three-week span during which her fiancé, Walter Graber, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with his father. The pre-wedding adventure took place sans cell service right before the main event. "I wasn't able to get a hold of him for any questions or decision-making!" she exclaims.
Luckily, the pair had a two-year engagement, which gave them plenty of time—ahead of the epic hike—to plan the celebration of their dreams. "We wanted our wedding weekend to be a time when our two (very large!) families could come together and experience the glorious nature of the Sierras," says Mia, who together with Walter, settled on Lake Tahoe as the site for their nuptials. "We love the outdoors, so a lakeside ceremony and dinner were important to us," says the groom.
In terms of design, the pair wanted a welcoming, organic, and elegant atmosphere that complemented the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounded them. "Ultimately, we hoped and planned for a celebration that was authentic to us as a couple, where all of our guests could have the best possible time enjoying themselves," Mia shares.
A lauded team of wedding professionals helped organized the details, including Danielle Tolleson of Elise Events; Natasha Kolenko of Golden Fields Floristry; and Lacy Geary of Paper Birch Designs. Working with a color palette of porcelain, flax, pale blue, dusty rose, peach, lavender, and mauve, the vendors worked together to create an event that was romantic and soft with a touch of femininity. "We wanted the overall look to feel light and pretty, but still very approachable and playful," says Danielle, who incorporated a slight French-vintage aesthetic to the overall design.
A Custom Stationery Suite
A variety of materials and printing methods were used to create the custom invitation suite and day-of paper components. "For Mia and Walter's invitations, I was inspired by Danielle's beautiful vision of a fresh take on summer colors over Lake Tahoe, while still being elegant and warm," says Lacy Geary of Paper Birch Designs. "We used a calligraphy font for the invitations and other elements of the day mixed with a classic font."
Thick cotton paper was used for the invitations, which featured letterpress mixed with a silver-foil tree detail. The edges were also trimmed in silver foil. "One of my favorite parts of the invitations were the vellum overlays with a water-colored image of Lake Tahoe in the many shades of blue you see in the landscape," adds Lacy. "The final touch was the handwritten calligraphy addresses on the front of the deep blue envelopes."
All Dressed Up
The couple posed with their wedding party after the ceremony; the bride wore a Daalarna wedding dress, while Walter donned a light gray suit from the Black Tux, paired with a blue tie. "He and his groomsmen also wore socks patterned with pine trees and bears that Walter proudly found himself in a shop near our apartment in San Francisco," says Mia.
Mia's bridesmaids wore green dresses from Acler—complete with modern asymmetrical hemlines—which nodded to the natural surroundings.
Touches of tweedia were incorporated into the romantic, vintage-inspired bouquet of ivory, mauve, purples, and French-blue florals. "The most perfect ruffly garden roses [were used] for that hint of vintage, and clematis vines for French-country vibes," says floral designer Natasha Kolenko of Golden Fields Floristry.
Natasha centered each boutonnière with a small ivory button dahlia as the point of cohesion, surrounded with varying accent flowers such as blue tweedia, local yarrow, and snowberries. The boutonnière tags, created by Lacy, were laser engraved and repurposed as bookmarks for the guys.
Stunning Ceremony Décor
Masses of pastel florals in white ceramic pots decorated the entrance of the ceremony aisle, while additional blooms composed a lovely arch at the altar. "We brought in white bistro-style chairs as a nod to the feel of a French café" says Danielle, "and guests were treated to a spectacular view of the west shore of Lake Tahoe."
One thing that was really important to the groom was having an unplugged ceremony. With the help of family and friends, the pair created "sleeping bags" into which people physically put their phones during the ceremony.
"Flower girls wore white dresses with embroidered starflowers, a cutout back, and tulle overlay by BHLDN," says the bride. "Looking for their dresses was probably one of my favorite parts of the planning process; there are so many adorable dresses to choose from!"
A Sweet Ceremony
The couple exchanged vows they wrote themselves in their non-religious ceremony, which included a pair of readings performed by two of their aunts: an excerpt from My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir and a passage from Every Day by David Levithan.
A Nutty Card Display
Seating assignments were clipped to bags of pecans, which doubled as escort cards; a sign conveyed that the bride and groom were as "nuts" about their guests as they were for each other.
Guests sipped on two signature drinks during the cocktail hour: Mia's fig-and-rosemary "Mountain Mule" and Walter's "Wicked Old Fashioned."
A Light, Airy Reception Vibe
Organic wood tables with white base legs paired with white bistro chairs brightened up the deck space overlooking the water.
"We pulled natural flax linen runners with a feminine viney print to bring the French-inspired theme to life," says Danielle.
Pots of pretty pastel flowers dotted the reception tables. Handmade Portuguese chargers were combined with Heath Ceramics china for the reception pace settings, with soft blue Belgian linen napkins rounding out the tableaux. "We loved the juxtaposition between vintage and modern-organic," says Danielle. "The completed design was fresh, organic, and colorful!"
Guests enjoyed a salad of roasted baby beets, peppered white goat cheese, baby arugula, champagne vinaigrette, and kale for their first course, while entrées were composed of either pistachio-crusted halibut, an herb-crusted filet, or tomato risotto with broccolini and carrots.
An Elegant Dessert Bar
A trio of cakes designed by Paper Heart Patisserie was featured along with French macarons and custom sugar cookies on a charming shelf unit come dessert.
A Joyful First Dance
The couple took their first dance to "I Feel Good" by James Brown. "We wanted an upbeat, classic song that would help us express how happy we felt!" says Mia.
Later on in the evening, a flash mob coordinated by Mia's mom and performed by all the wedding guests took place during the reception, surprising the bride and groom in the best possible way.
A Beautiful Evening
As the sun went down, guests spilled onto the pier, where they could take a respite from dancing.
Looking back, Mia has a great piece of advice to share with other couples who are planning their big days: "Your wedding day can be whatever you want (or don't want) it to be; remind yourself of that throughout the whole planning process!"
Photography, Joel Serrato
Venue, West Shore Café
Event Design and Production, Elise Events
Videography, LoveSpun Films
Flowers, Golden Fields Floristry
Invitations and Stationery, Paper Birch Designs
Bride's Gown, Daalarna
Hair Ornament, Jennifer Behr
Shoes, Ulla Johnson
Hair and Makeup, Seven 31
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Acler
Groom's Attire, The Black Tux
Groomsmen's Attire, The Black Tux
Catering, West Shore Café
Cake, Paper Heart Pattiserie
Rentals, La Tavola Linen; Theoni Collection
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