A Colorful, Mediterranean-Inspired Wedding in California
Rory was on the dance floor of a salsa bar, celebrating a friend's birthday. She was dancing with one of the locals, who then spun her around to another guy. That other guy? That was Yiğit. He took over, but then the music stopped. Instead, they spent the night chatting and ultimately exchanged numbers, which was just as Yiğit had hoped for. "Before dancing with Rory, I actually saw her in the bar and knew I needed to find a way to talk to her that night," he explains. "Luckily, I was in the right place at the right time on the dance floor!"
The San Francisco-based couple (she works in corporate philanthropy and he's in venture capital) dated for two years before they went on a vacation to Yiğit's native Turkey with their families. It was there that Yiğit planned his proposal, at a restaurant overlooking the city of Çeşme. Rory had a suspicion that something was going on, as he was pretty quiet in the car ride over. Yiğit and his brother had created a beautiful area with flower-covered tables, and when the waitress arrived, she was carrying their favorite bottle of Alexander Valley, California Chardonnay (which Yiğit had Rory's mom bring over in her luggage). He popped the question after their first sip, and their families later joined them for dinner. Like the night they first met, there was also some happenstance: The day prior, the pair had gone swimming and ran into some of Yiğit's family friends, who congratulated them on their engagement in Turkish. At the time, Rory didn't speak the language, so she had no idea what they were saying.
A year later, on August 5, 2017, back in California in the wine country they love, they made things official. The colorful celebration was a blend of Mediterranean and Californian music, food, and dancing, and was held at a private estate in Healdsburg, where the bride's parents have a summer home. The 230 guests traveled from near and far (representing 10 countries in total) to witness the marriage and experience the beautiful blend of cultures.
The Stationery Suite
Rory says she probably tried on 75 wedding dresses. "I thought I knew what I wanted, but realized they just weren't right," she says of the search. Luckily, she found a winner by Amy Kuschel—a local San Francisco designer. The silk crepe gown with a lace topper was truly elegant.
Yiğit wore a white Armani jacket with piping along the lapel for the ceremony—later changing into a black jacket by the same designer for dinner and dancing. "It was fun to change my look throughout the day," he says. "The white was great for the outdoor, daytime ceremony, and then the black jacket gave a great tuxedo feel." A black bow tie and suspenders rounded out his ensemble.
A Preceremony Welcome
Before things got underway, guests were treated to refreshing beverages (minted lemonade and agua fresca) and small bites (like these summer corn fritters and chilled heirloom tomato soup) courtesy of Sage Catering.
The Ceremony Setting
The ceremony took place on a hilltop overlooking the Alexander Valley. Because the view is so dramatic, the setup was minimal, with just some bright flowers on the ground to frame the couple. Rugs were also used throughout the wedding to make the setting feel warm and comfortable, starting with this vintage Turkish number, which the bride and groom stood on as they became husband and wife.
A Balkan band played an acoustic version of "In My Life" by the Beatles for the processional, followed by their rendition of "Ave Maria" as the bride entered. The couple wrote their vows together, which they note was one of the most fun parts of planning. Their uncles performed the bilingual ceremony, with Rory reciting her vows in Turkish and Yiğit reading his in English.
Let the Music Play
The musicians led the guests to the poolside cocktail hour while playing "Tchavolo Swing."
Multiple lounge areas provided a Mediterranean-tinged, wine-country feel and ample spots for guests to sit down and relax.
Sage Catering set out a station of artisan and farmstead cheeses and charcuterie, with almonds, figs, olives, crackers, and grissini. Trays of tuna tartare, grilled lamb brochettes, and pan-seared prawns were also passed.
As the evening progressed, everyone moved into the tent on the lower lawn, next to the vineyard.
Please Be Seated
As guests entered, they found their names and table assignments on a pair of seating charts that were framed and leaned against the tent's poles.
Long farm tables provided a great canvas for the bright flowers, lemons, and gold votives that adorned them.
The Place Settings
Each plate was topped with a tile coaster from Turkey that doubled as a place card and a favor. According to wedding planner Kathryn Kalabokes, of Dream A Little Dream Events, Encore Events Rentals had just released a new collection of plates called the "Boho" line, which ended up being a perfect fit. The decorative blue plate was used for the mezze course, with a white plate underneath and a patterned copper charger at the base.
Soulflower incorporated vibrant garden roses, dahlias, and bougainvillea, with protea, olive, and vines into the centerpieces, which adorned the tables along with loose gilded pomegranates and citrus fruits.
Light It Up
A variety of Mediterranean-style lanterns hung over the dance floor, and cast a warm glow once the sun set.
A Night to Remember
Guests dined on a family-style meal influenced by Mediterranean flavors, including grilled hanger steak, halibut with lemon and fennel, and yellow wax and French beans.
Pot de crème two ways (salted caramel or Turkish coffee), mixed berry crisp, and fallen chocolate with mascarpone cream and raspberries were served for dessert. And later in to the evening came more savory snacks—like sliders and herbed fries.
The First Dance
Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" played during the happy couple's first dance.
Everybody Dance Now
"Dancing all night was important to us, and we had the most epic dance floor," Rory says. "Our DJ played a mix of Motown, top hits, Turkish music—the dance floor was packed all night. It was beyond our expectations."
The crowd also went wild during Rory's father's toast. "My dad had secretly taken Turkish lessons and gave half of his speech in Turkish," Rory says. "It was crazy."
"When Rory's dad started speaking in Turkish, my family and friends went crazy," Yiğit adds. "Literally, they were jumping out of their chairs. It was so cool."
The Wedding Cake
The newlyweds opted for a simple, two-tiered wedding cake by Moustache Baked Goods enrobed in vanilla frosting. One tier was carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and the other was lemon cake with lemon curd. A few of the day's signature blooms dressed it up.
Photography, Larissa Cleveland Photography
Event planning, Dream A Little Dream Events
Catering, Sage Catering
Flowers, Soulflower Design Studio
Videography, Elysium Productions
Stationery, Lena Tramutola
Cake, Moustache Baked Goods
Bride's gown and veil, Amy Kuschel
Bride's shoes, Loeffler Randall
Hair and Makeup, Wash & Brushup Co.
Groom's jackets, Armani
Lighting, Got Light
Transportation, Pure Luxury
Bar Catering, Bar Car
Restrooms, The Water Cottage
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