Alison and Markus’s Intimate Rainy-Day California Wedding
As a wedding planner for the last 13 years, Alison Hotchkiss worked with brides who were terrified that it would rain on their day. But when the morning of her own started off with a downpour, she and her fiancé, Markus Rinderknecht, thought it was a good thing; rain brings in a fog that creates a cozy, romantic mist over the cape of Point Reyes, in Northern California, and it was just the mood they wanted. “I was aware showers were likely when I strategically chose a Thursday in February—the rainy season—as our date,” Alison says. She also knew booking an event midweek and off-season means you can get discounts on your dream locale. In the end, they lucked out: At four o’clock on February 6, 2014, with 19 loved ones watching, the duo exchanged vows they’d written themselves on the beautifully hazy, but momentarily dry, dock of a private 1920s boathouse.
That perfect moment was 18 years in the making. Markus, who now works as a senior sales account executive for Levi’s, and Alison met in 1996 when they were 19. He’s from Switzerland and was on holiday in San Diego before enlisting in the Swiss army; she was on break from college. They had a great summer romance, kept in touch, and even rekindled the flame when he returned to California a few years later. At that point, the pair dated and, when he had to return to Switzerland, visited back and forth. Eventually Alison and Markus realized long-distance wasn’t working and broke up, not talking for 10 years. Then, in 2012, he took a trip to San Francisco, where Alison now lives, and he asked her to dinner. Sparks flew once again—and six months later he proposed on a beach near the bride’s hometown in Connecticut.
Wanting an intimate wedding, they invited just family and four close friends. Picking the location was easy; Point Reyes has a woodsy-watery landscape they love, and they found a private venue with a boathouse that was the ideal size for the reception. It certainly came in handy after vows and cocktails when everyone headed inside for dinner just as the showers became torrential. One of the first things eaten was cracked crab, with the crowd all wearing bibs over their formal wear, digging in, and not taking themselves too seriously. “It was amazing to see the people we’re closest to so happy and to enjoy the blessings raining down on us,” Alison says.
The bride’s best friend, Charlotte Osterman, a textile designer, dreamed up the invitations and paper goods. Since the couple knew all 19 of their guests could come, they didn’t give them the option to say no!
A Poster to Hold On To
The flat-printed invitation suite featured a keepsake poster in the event’s slate-blue and neutral palette with a motif of eucalyptus leaves.
No cold feet here! “I was glad I had my Wellies in my car so I didn’t have to wear heels on this dock when it started to rain,” Alison says. “I chose a gown by Mery’s Couture in Zurich, Switzerland, and kept it bustled because it made it easier to walk, and I liked the way it looked.”
Danielle Rowe, a friend and florist, created Alison’s floral crown.
Markus’s attire came from The Black Tux. “I love that he didn’t wear socks,” Alison says.
A Wreath to Remember
Alison’s headpiece featured white Icelandic poppies, passion vines, and eucalyptus; the shawl protecting her from the sea breeze came from Zara.
Alison carried a bouquet of hellebores and wore a gold heart pendant around her neck. The charm had belonged to Markus’s late mother; he gave it to Alison before they got engaged.
A Family Memento
Alison offered a glimpse of her “something blue,” the garter her mother wore at her own wedding in 1969.
A Stitched Something
Inside Alison’s dress, wedding detailer Heidi Johnson embroidered the couple’s initials and their eucalyptus motif in lucky blue thread.
Kissing the Day Away
The couple started smooching way before the officiant told Markus he could kiss his bride. They got ready together, with frequent breaks to kiss, and continued on through the ceremony and reception.
“Getting ready together is a different approach, but it’s nice to have time alone with your fiancé before the ceremony,” Alison says. “It allows you not to be so nervous during the vows. Plus, it was so fun to take time out and kiss in between getting ready!”
Dressed to Impress
The invitation requested black-tie attire, and everyone just happened to wear black or navy.
The Wedding Arch
The ceremony marker, a structure made of birch branches and eucalyptus, overlooked Tomales Bay.
Alison’s father, wearing a hellebore and passion-vine boutonniere, walked her down the dock to the ceremony.
When Alison first started planning weddings, a nondenominational officiant named Hank Basayne became her go-to recommendation and a close friend. He passed away, but his daughter, Lisa Francesca, started officiating in his place; it was extra-special that she agreed to preside over the ceremony.
“Being Swiss, it was cool to hear the officiant say, ‘by the power vested in me by the state of California, I pronounce you husband and wife,’” Markus says of his most memorable moment.
The Wedding Rings
The wedding bands were made in Switzerland by Yves Betschmann. They were displayed on one of several glass trays that adorned the reception table and featured a map of Point Reyes and the Johann von Goethe quote, “Nothing is worth more than this day.” Alison has the same phrase tattooed on her side.
The Little Ones
The bundles of eucalyptus that flanked the ceremony arch were quickly shanghaied by the flower girl and ring bearer.
The Flower Girl
Cheers to the Newlyweds!
Trays of Champagne (both pink and standard) were passed during the cocktail hour on the dock.
These linen napkins, embroidered with the couple’s married initial, were a gift from a friend and were used during the cocktail hour.
The groom and his best man got into the party spirit.
Gifts for the Guys
To help fight the seaside chill, men in the group were given flasks engraved with the phrase “California Dreaming,” which was the song that played as the newlyweds recessed. The flasks were filled with their favorite Scotch.
The Escort Cards
The Reception Menu
The five-course dinner consisted of wild greens, local crab, foraged salads, filet mignon, and mashed potatoes, and then cake, with dancing between courses—and a kiss or two.
A friend of Alison’s worked with their florist to design the tabletops as a surprise to the newlyweds.
The Table Setup
Inside the boathouse, one long table (formed by pushing two 8-foot-by-40-inch tables together) accommodated all 19 guests for the five-course dinner. Centerpieces and chairbacks were made of eucalyptus leaves and pods, scabiosa pods, and white Icelandic poppies.
Fun and Games
It was a longer-than-average dinner, so Alison and Markus included icebreakers on the menu: 11 trivia questions about the couple, America, and Switzerland.
The First Dance
The newlyweds twirled to Sam Cooke’s “Win Your Love for Me.” It wasn’t the song they chose and rehearsed (that was Cooke’s “You Send Me”), but they kept smiling nonetheless when the band started playing the unexpected tune! (Alison had mistakenly told them the wrong song.)
Because Alison’s been working with Perfect Endings bakery since she started in the wedding industry, she knew she wanted the owner, Sam Godfrey, to make the wedding cake, a genoise with white chocolate, orange liqueur, and apricots.
Along with the wedding cake, there was a red velvet groom’s version in the shape of a skateboard.
A Sweet Ride
The pair’s getaway ride was adorned with a sign reading “Just Married” in Swiss German calligraphed by Michele Papineau. Their friend spray-painted the cans red to match the car.