I truly wish there was a different word for “beautiful”…something more powerful (ugh, NO that was not a line from the most recent episode of Nashville, how dare you suggest that…but seriously though, #teamlayla). So anyways, if there were, and heck maybe there is, I would use it to describe this past weekend’s wedding weekend extravaganza for my brother AJ and his now-wife, Vanessa. I’ll get into the festivities before the ceremony here in a second…but the wedding day was as if ‘Home & Garden’, ‘The Knot’, ‘Restoration Hardware’ and I dunno, give me some horse magazine, had a baby and it won a cute baby contest…aka absolutely exquisite.
The wedding was at K2 Ranch in Glen Ellen (Sonoma), but the weekend really began on Thursday, when all of the families (this is about 100+ people total…insanity right?), and many of the friends attending came up to enjoy the gorgeous area…you may as well, right? The neat thing is that everyone grouped up and went in on big houses together, in lieu of hotels; it really gave the wedding a sense of relaxation and was a vacation for all. So, what do you do when you are the single sister with family and friends spread out everywhere, from all over, that you, too, are obligated to see? You house bounce.
I began the day visiting my dad & Jeanene’s mansion (I actually don’t use that term lightly, these houses were all MANSIONS), clad with an outdoor pool, a private chef, multiple levels of rooms, margaritas, out of town cattle friends, and a father so happy to be there he was goofy smiling the entire time. After hanging out with them for a while, I trekked over to the Dal Porto cousin’s house. We sat on the deck, drank prosecco, cooked a peasant’s meal of steak and lobster…
…fed my cousin’s 1 year old son some wine (just kidding, but how cute is he?! That’s Hunter, my cousin Matt’s son)
…and then later I headed over to a house a few of the bridesmaids were staying at to say hi and have a drink. ‘Sheesh Lindsey, really?’ you’re all thinking. But hey, when in wine country…and it was only Thursday.
Knowing that I needed to get SOME training in, I selfishly took off on Friday morning on my bike and did a stunning 45 mile ride around Sonoma/Santa Rosa, but not before I stopped over at my mom’s big family’s mansion (that we later dubbed the Adult Castle)…
…then met my mom’s side of the family for lunch and more wine (duh) at VJB Winery – a fan favorite of myself, mom, and Dave. That night was the rehearsal dinner, so I took off and checked into my 4th house of the trip, the cottage on the property of the rehearsal dinner site, Landmark Vineyards, where I was to finally make a home for the next 2 nights. After getting prettied up, we headed to the wedding venue for rehearsal, to go over the logistics of how to walk down the aisle as a bridal party without screwing up and embarrassing Aj and Vanessa. Back at Landmark for the Rehearsal Dinner (we’re calling this wedding #1 because it was like, 90 people or something and absolutely gorgeous – good job, parents!), the wine was flowing, the bbq was tasty, and the speeches were tear inducing. I spoke a bit to the couple over microphone myself, and I did it without offending anyone or fumbling, and got a few praises for it. Go me!
We kept it relatively calm that night – ok, that is a lie, we partied with the cousins until probably midnight, and then tucked away in a sleepless excitement for the big day (sheesh you’d think this was my wedding day, wouldn’t you?)
Early Saturday morning called all of the bridesmaids to gather and get ready together, and we had an entire crew ready and set to make us beautiful on the property of Vanessa’s parents rental…and it was so picturesque you’d think you were walking through a magazine (again).
After photos in our darling robes, sitting through eyeliner being scratched onto our eyelids and mounds hairspray applied to keep our gorgeous hair-do’s…we headed out! The first thing Vanessa’s sister and I did upon arrival…was get a beer…fitting, eh? We did family photos before the ceremony, as Aj and Vanessa really wanted to enjoy their cocktail hour and wedding without having to forcefully rope family away from the bar and into forced smiling for ungodly amounts of time after they said “I do.” I was quite thankful, because the smiles were actually genuine. 🙂
Ahhh, the ceremony. A very dear friend of my family’s, Larry Stonebarger, officiated the nuptials, and he did such a good job that I am pretty sure my eyes were teared up, oh, 99.5% of the time. He really made it about the history of my family, as well as Vanessa’s, and told many stories that referenced relatives who have passed and how beautifully integrated our two families were. It truly is a special bond those two have, as both come from long standing farming families in the bay area, and Larry did a fantastic job of highlighting their love.
After we all got “off stage”, it was time to party…and boyyyyyy did we party. The reception had a live band, an open bar, more tear-inducing speeches, lots of dancing, and of course, a homemade donut stand (?!?!? yeah, I’m taking notes here…). Every single person was in one of the best moods I have ever seen, and Aj was just glowing. As a friend described it, you could just FEEL the love all around. It will forever in my mind go down as one of the most well put together, fantastical, gorgoeous, joyous events I have ever been to (well done, Ness!).
Coming home from such an amazing weekend is always hard, as I have talked about before, but it’s important to remember how blessed I am to have such incredible people in my family and in my life. Back to training reality, sigh…so what’s next?