This California Micro Wedding Was the Definition of Luxury

wedding couple holding hands for portrait on hill
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Their summer wedding for 120 guests in August 2020 was planned and on track when Shae and Ryan got word that their banquet hall was rescheduling the rest of the year's events due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. "The remainder of the 2021 dates were booked, so the only available dates were fall 2022," Shae shares. "Ryan and I had been engaged for almost two years at that point, so we planned on eloping. However, we felt it was important for at least our parents and siblings to attend, so we opted for a micro wedding, instead." Cordiano Winery in Escondido, California, was available near enough to the couple's original wedding date and boasted a beautiful hilltop vineyard with breathtaking views. "Our vision for an intimate wedding included a romantic sunset ceremony surrounded by our nearest and dearest," explains Shae. "We wanted to have a private dinner reception to follow and as many traditional elements incorporated as possible."

Shifting gears from their formal celebration, the couple focused on creating a timeless event with a hint of modern edge—and reached out to Kimberly Sisti of Sisti & Co. for some help. "Initially, I found Kim's website and loved her designs," says Shae. "I sent an inquiry that included our budget and timeline, and she emailed me shortly after with some design ideas and a quote." Shae's Pinterest boards served as their jumping-off point, and email functioned as their primary source of communication. "The hardest part of the process was corresponding with one another remotely while being cognizant of social distancing," says Shae. "We had a few phone calls but mainly corresponded through email. Thankfully, it all worked out in the end." The easiest part of the process? Selecting from the design options that Kim provided. "She had such a keen ability to gauge what I wanted, that I never felt overwhelmed with the different design elements," says Shae. "She was incredibly personable and made the process fun for me, even in such a time crunch."

The wedding itself was a welcome respite during a profoundly complicated time. "The fact that we all had the ability to forget we were in a global pandemic just for a few hours was a highlight of the wedding," says Shae. "Remember to hold on to the important things you have, such as your significant other and loved ones. It can be devastating to have to reschedule a wedding or start from scratch, but what I have learned is that love transcends all obstacles. Everything will fall into place one way or another."

01 of 16

Beautifully Botanical

peach and white wedding invitations
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Kendall Parisi, the owner of Bijou Creative, designed an incredible stationery suite, which came packaged in vellum overlaid with a botanical pattern. The invitations were bundled with ivory velvet ribbon, and finished with custom oval wax seals of the couple's two cats, Jack and Jassy.

02 of 16

Flowers and Lace

bride holding pink and orange themed wedding bouquet
Carmen Santorelli Photography

The bride's bouquet was composed of blush dahlias, lacecap hydrangea, mini carnations, fresh hops, garden roses, oak leaves, and blackberries. Her Élysée wedding dress was the one she had planned to wear all along (and the lucky number seven out of the seven gowns she tried on before picking it). Composed of two types of lace—baroque and Chantilly—the mermaid number boasted delicate, off-the-shoulder sleeves made of tulle.

03 of 16

Honorable Mention

bride and groom with wedding party on deck
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Their wedding party was a party of two—a matron of honor and best man. The groom donned a blue suit from Macy's.

04 of 16

Sweet Signage

pink wedding sign with flowers
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Guests were welcomed to Cordiano Winery with a pink sign that listed apt lyrics from the song "Everything" by Michael Bublé.

05 of 16

Fresh Favors

round wooden table with box of wedding favors
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Vellum packets of herbs were offered to the couple's loved ones before they took their seats; they showered the newlyweds with them as they shared their first kiss.

06 of 16

Serene Ceremony Site

wedding ceremony location deck overlooking mountains
Carmen Santorelli Photography

With the goal of representing the winery authentically, seasonal hops and coral bells were used to decorate the al fresco ceremony site. Window boxes full of flowers added an Old-World European touch.

07 of 16

Custom Vow Exchange

couple exchanging vows on deck overlooking vineyard
Carmen Santorelli Photography

The couple exchanged heartfelt vows they wrote themselves, focusing on how they felt about each other.

08 of 16

Sealed With a Kiss

bride and groom kiss on deck while being showered in leaves
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Under a shower of fragrant herbs, Shae and Ryan shared a kiss after being pronounced husband and wife.

  • DIY Alternatives to the Traditional Rice Toss Wedding Send-Off
09 of 16

Waterfall Effect

champagne tower on gold cart with calligraphy sign
Carmen Santorelli Photography

A pink Champagne tower was set up for post-ceremony bubbly.

10 of 16

Terrific Textures

elegant wedding long table outdoors with flowers and candles
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Soft yellow velvet linens set the stage for a tactile mix of table details, like delicate flowers, deckle-edged menus, fine china, and silky napkins.

11 of 16

Pretty Presentation

elegant wedding place setting with pink painted napkin
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Each and every place setting was a sensory experience, complete with with rich colors and three layers of china.

12 of 16

Lush Flowers

floral and greenery branches wedding centerpiece
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Luxuriant centerpieces featured florals in shades of mauve, cream, and golden terra-cotta and were rounded out with greenery.

13 of 16

A Trio of Tastes

three simple wedding cakes on cart
Carmen Santorelli Photography

A triad of cakes in different flavors—caramel apple spice, rosewater vanilla, and Valhrona chocolate—stunned on the vintage bar cart first used for the Champagne tower.

14 of 16

Carefully Carved

bride and groom cutting cake together
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Shae and Ryan chose the center cake, which featured tiny sugar buds, for the first cut.

15 of 16

Guest Gifts

ornate olive oil jars with rustic labels and cat seals
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Before the small party retired for the evening, they were gifted small bottles of olive oil featuring the wax seal that appeared on the wedding invitations.

16 of 16


wedding couple portrait on hillside with mountain view
Carmen Santorelli Photography

Photography, Carmen Santorelli Photography
Venue and Catering, Cordiano Winery
Wedding Planning, Event Design, Flowers, Favors, Custom Napkins, and Cake, Sisti & Co.
Videography, Ryan Widjaja
Invitations and Stationery, Bijou Creative
Ribbon, Hey! It's Oh, So Pretty
Wax Seals, Artisaire
Officiant, Angel Bontigao
Bride's Gown, Élysée
Veil, Barogirl
Jewelry, David's Bridal
Hair, Stephanie Wirkus
Makeup, Taylor Haupt
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Windsor
Groom's Attire, Macy's Men
Groomsmen's Attire, Calvin Klein
Bride's Wedding Band, Vera Wang for Zales
Groom's Wedding Band, Manly Bands
Rentals, Bright Rentals; Hostess Haven; La Tavola Linen; TBD Events
Accommodations, Rancho Bernardo Inn

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles