Dozens of Wigs Took the Party to a New Level at This Small Vineyard Wedding in California
As college students in San Diego in 2006, Caroline Weber and Daniel Gutman met through mutual friends, but it took more than a decade for the friendship that developed to turn to love. After completing his Masters program in Colorado in 2017, Daniel moved back to San Diego, and the couple reconnected at a 5k fundraiser Caroline was hosting. "After the run, we caught up and went surfing together," says Caroline. "From that day forward, we would meet at 6 a.m. every Friday to surf together before work. I really, really looked forward to those mornings, as we always had the best time together." A few months later, Dan showed up—without a date—to Caroline's New Year's Eve party. "When the countdown started, we locked eyes and we finally kissed...after about 11 years of knowing each other," says Caroline. "From then, we were pretty much inseparable—and still are to this day." On a trip to Ireland two years later, Dan surprised Caroline by getting down on one knee to propose on a secluded beach. "I love that our love is built on a foundation of friendship," says Caroline. "It makes for an incredibly fun marriage!"
When Caroline and Dan began planning their wedding, they envisioned a huge party: "We are both 37, neither married before, so we had really waited awhile for this day and wanted it to be a massive celebration of our love," says Caroline. They expected to invite 240 guests to a blowout event in May 2020—until COVID-19 forced a change of plans. The couple chose a new date—August 28, 2020—and cut their guest list to 120, but they soon realized they would need to trim it even further. "We got to a place where we decided to have just our bridal party and family, but then that was even feeling too big," says Caroline. "There really was this juxtaposition of wanting to have the wedding of our dreams, but wanting to be respectful to society and be part of the solution, not the problem."
The couple eventually settled on a family-only wedding, but at the urging of Caroline's mother, invited a handful of friends—for a total of 34 guests—to their ceremony and reception at Summer Sky Vineyard in San Luis Obispo, California. "Our new vision for our wedding became a really intimate, beautiful and intentional dinner party," says Caroline. In 2022, they plan to host the rest of their original group for an anniversary celebration. "We will renew our vows, maybe have a couple taco trucks, and just throw a big dance party," says Caroline. "It will be great to celebrate our love again, but more importantly a way to celebrate friends, family, and the simple pleasure of getting to be all together."
All in the Family
Caroline and Dan personalized their intimate celebration by choosing a family-owned location: The bride's sister-in-law's parents' home at Summer Sky Vineyard in San Luis Obispo. "On the property there is a 'party barn,' which is basically just a big open barn to have events," says Caroline. "They also have stunning views of the San Luis mountains that light up with the sunset. You can't go wrong there!"
Finding the One
Caroline didn't have to look too hard to find her dream wedding dress: "It was actually the first dress I put on at my first appointment," she says. "When I walked out with it and saw my friends' and my mom's jaw drop, I knew I had a good one." While she kept her options open, she tried the same lace Olvi's Bridal frock at another boutique—and still left without purchasing it. "The next day, I Googled a picture of it and found it on Poshmark—the girl happened to live half a mile away from me!" she says. "I went to her house, tried it on, and bought it for a fraction of the price. After cleaning and alterations, it was good as new! It felt good to repurpose a dress and give it a new life." She added a borrowed gold bracelet passed down from her great-great-aunt to her grandmother, and pearl drop earrings from BHLDN.
Caroline carried a bouquet of flowers in shades of cream, burnt orange, copper, and deep green that was loosely tied. "You could see all the stems, different sizes, and shapes of the flowers," she says.
Dan also donned a sentimental heirloom—his grandfather's cuff links—to complement his dark blue Jos. A. Bank suit, rust-colored tie, and dried floral boutonnière.
A Special Moment
Caroline and Dan saved their first look for the ceremony, but the bride did share a private moment with her grandmother before seeing the rest of the guests. "She's the matriarch of our family and it was really special to have that moment with her," says the bride. "It was my grandma, so I wasn't nervous!"
Taking the Long View
The couple chose an open lawn near the venue's barn for their ceremony, and capitalized on the sweeping views by limiting their décor to low, growing floral arrangements from Idlewild Floral that defined the space where they exchanged vows.
At the Altar
Two of Caroline's cousins played a trumpet and cello duet as the bridal party processed down the aisle. "I have three brothers and, since I didn't have any bridesmaids, I had two of them be the flower girls," says Caroline. "It was pretty hilarious to have two grown men throwing petals!" Dan waited at the front of the ceremony space for his bride as Caroline's father escorted her toward the altar area. "Dan didn't see me until I walked down the aisle—we both wanted that to be the first moment we saw each other," says Caroline.
In Their Own Words
Dan's brother officiated the couple's ceremony—the couple's favorite part of the day—which included vows Caroline and Dan wrote themselves. "There was something so special and intimate about exchanging vows in front of the ones you love," says Caroline. "I don't know if that would have felt different had it been larger, but I think we both felt especially at peace and present during the entire ceremony. After such a difficult year of trying to plan a wedding, I finally felt like I was at the finish line."
Making It Count
Reworking their wedding during a pandemic helped Caroline and Dan focus on the true meaning of the day. "I think if there is one thing COVID has taught all of us, it is that life can change in an instant—what we know today might not be what we know tomorrow," says Caroline. "For us, it placed a sense of urgency on life. It stripped away many of the things we love about weddings—big parties, dancing—and had us really focus on why we wanted to get married. After all our plans had fallen through, I knew I would be happy if I was just standing at an altar with my husband. Life is too short to put things off!"
Near and Far
Although they didn't have an official bridal party, the bride and groom invited a few friends to join their family at the ceremony and reception; the women chose dresses that matched the day's warm color palette, and the men had no dress code. "When we decided to have a really small wedding and not all of our bridal party could be there, we decided to not have anybody standing or walking down the aisle," says Caroline. They had the wedding livestreamed by Loveridge for friends and family who couldn't join in person. "This was much smoother than Zoom—he had two different camera angles going, the quality was HD, there was a virtual guest book, and it also saved our recorded event for a year so people that didn't make it could watch it at a later time," says Caroline. "We got plenty of pictures of friends dressed up in wedding attire and watching it from afar. It was so cool to see people making an event out of it."
The Great Outdoors
After the ceremony, the couple and their guests took in the views during an outdoor cocktail hour. Valencia cocktail tables draped in white linens were topped with petite, architectural floral arrangements.
Cozy and Chic
A white table and light wood chairs created a neutral backdrop for the colorful tablescape, while rattan pendants added a comfortable, coastal feel. The décor brought to life Caroline's vision for "a really beautiful and delicious dinner party," she says. "Since the dancing and party wasn't the emphasis anymore, we decided to make the meal, the food, and the small details the focus. It allowed us to be more intentional and really put effort into all the little details."
Floral arrangements in warm tones complemented amber glassware, gold flatware, and custom place cards with slim leather ties.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Caroline and Dan incorporated their love of food into the day with a thoughtful menu from Farm to Table that included kale Caesar salad with almonds and avocado, a surf and turf main course of braised short rib sliders, calamari, grilled beef filet, and salmon, and a dessert of vanilla bean panna cotta (instead of cake).
The couple chose Steve Winwood's "The Finer Things" for their first dance in a nod to the groom's love of '80s music—but put their own spin on the performance. "That song was just so fun, so we choreographed a cheesy dance to it—think Napoleon Dynamite-style—that included high kicks and everything. At the end of the song, we called everyone onto the dance floor and that started the party," says Caroline. "It was a total surprise to everyone and it was completely hilarious and 'us.' I loved having that time to practice together prior to the wedding and it made that moment incredibly special. It was definitely a highlight!"
Plans for the original wedding included a silent disco, ice cream truck, and a wig party—and though Caroline and Dan put many of those details on hold, they did go through with one favorite element. "We brought out about 40 wigs for our intimate dance party," says Caroline. "I have always loved costumes as I think they bring people out of their shells, and this element took it to the next level."
Photography, Ashley Ludaescher
Venue, Summer Sky Vineyard
Event Planning, Vanessa Noel Events
Catering, Field to Table
Flowers, Idlewild Floral
Videography, Steelhead Cinema
Stationery, Mark Warren Jacques; Minted
Music, DJ Malik Miko Thorne
Rentals, All About Events; Avenue Twelve
Bride's Gown, Olivi's Lace
Bride's Accessories, Chinese Laundry shoes; BHLDN jewelry
Hair and Makeup, The Queen's Bees
Groom's Suit, Jos. A Bank
Lighting, Avenue Twelve
Transportation, SLO Safe Ride
Bride's Rings, Eden Philippa
Live-Streaming Videographer, Loveridge
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