Oh my! I have a sneaking suspicion that you are going to fall in love with this morning’s California vineyard wedding. To Natalya and Alex (both originally from Russia), their big day was particularly special to them, as their parents didn’t get a chance to get married in a traditional Jewish ceremony, under a chuppah, in the former Soviet Union.
Natalya is BEAUTIFUL with delicious bridal accessories to match — I mean you just can’t help but gawp at her super sparkly Jimmy Choo shoes and that divine necklace on her bare back.
It’s s perhaps one of the most eloquently executed themed wedding I’ve seen on these pages from the grapevine-themed stationery to the wine bottle cork place cards to the olive oil favours. I also love all the vintage-glam touches, particularly the EPIC portrait shots by in that super sexy 1962 Buick Electra .
Also, I must add that I love that Natalya’s niece wrote her toast on Jenga pieces, as Natalya and Alex met playing Jenga…
OK enough from me, take it away you gorgeous pair!
A BEAUTIFUL VINEYARD VENUE
Natalya, the Bride: Our wedding was in Sonoma, CA at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. We knew we wanted to get married in the wine country. It is a place we love coming to any time of year. We also wanted our guests to have a relaxing weekend with us away from the busy city life. As our wedding was in April, we chose a venue with options for both indoor and outdoor events. The building at Jacuzzi Winery is beautiful from an architectural standpoint, and the property has what seems like a never-ending vineyard in the back.
A VINTAGE FEEL…
The theme was a bit vintage (mercury glass, old picture frames, a retro car that Alex drove with his groomsmen to the wedding, which was the same car we used at the end of the night as our getaway car – a gorgeous 1962 Buick Electra! ). The main colours were blush pink and navy, with some silver.
…AND A WINE THEME
We combined Jewish tradition (with our Hebrew names, a drawing of a chuppah with words “meet us under the chuppah,” and the words “I’m my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” at the bottom) with a wine theme – subtle grapevine wallpaper on the invitation, grape motifs on the additional card and the envelope.
We carried the chuppah image as a common thread throughout the wedding. We made a chuppah stamp for the welcome bags and stamped each bag with this image on the outside, and we used the chuppah image as background in the photos at our photo booth. The green screen for the photobooth was the silver grapevine pattern, same as on the invitation, and we used wine bottle corks for place cards.
My dress was by Alvina Valenta. I love the A-line design and the raw silk. It was a full dress but very light, and I felt I could dance all night in it. I didn’t want a strapless dress and loved the barely there thin straps, as well as the scoop neck. It also worked perfectly with the lace bolero we designed later for the religious ceremony.
I borrowed the veil from a friend, and it felt very special.
The necklace I wore was from BHLDN. It was very short in the front and very long in the back; it looked great on my bare back.
I wore diamond and sapphire earrings from the same San Francisco Jeweler (Ben Shemano), who helped us design our wedding bands.
JIMMY CHOO GLITTERY HEELS
One of the hardest tasks for me was finding shoes. I ended up splurging on Jimmy Choo glitter pumps. The heels were only 2 and 3/4″, so I knew I could get the benefit of wearing heels and last all night.
FLOWERS IN MY HAIR
I’m very happy with the look Meaganne McCandess created for me both for the engagement shoot and the wedding. Her suggestion to incorporate live flowers worked so well! She was recommended to me by a friend who worked with her for her wedding.
THE UBER-STYLISH GROOM
The groom (Alex) wore a modern navy tux from JCrew we picked together. It fitted him like a glove – a perfect trim fit that worked so well for him! Somewhat untraditionally, he wore a thin navy tie and black Hugo Boss shoes with navy shoe laces. He also wore a slim fit Hugo Boss white shirt and navy braces. Of course, he also had fun navy and blush pink socks, which he distributed to his groomsmen, as well. He also wore his usual stylish but simple Warby Parker glasses.
FOUR BRIDESMAIDS FROM DIFFERENT CORNERS OF THE WORLD
I had four bridesmaids from all over the world: Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Moscow. They wore satin navy dresses. I chose a style they could easily wear again after the wedding and that worked well for all of them. The dresses and the suits the groomsmen wore were navy and the flowers they were wearing were soft/blush pink.
We were very surprised at how special the badeken was to us.. it left us both shaking.
our chuppah design came about with a lot of Pinterest brainstorming and the magic hand of our florist (Meredith from M. Design).
Being a Russian couple, we liked the fact that our chuppah was made out of a birch tree, which is a very common tree in Russia The chuppah was decorated with flowers to match the them, and the canopy itself was a talit I gave my husband as a wedding present.
My husband wore his late grandfather’s gold watch, while the rings were brought in my late grandmother’s shell powder box.
We had an orthodox ceremony, which we both dreamed about. It was very special, as our parents didn’t get a chance to get married under a chuppah in the former Soviet Union where they got married.
One of our favourite parts of that whole day was when Alex was brought out to me by our fathers to the sound of a melancholy klezmer melody, right into the piazza where I was sitting, surrounded by a shelf with black and white photos of family members (alive and those who passed away) and by friends and family who were gathered in the piazza.
MUSIC FOR THE CEREMONY
We chose a Klezmer Band (Kugelplex) for our wedding, as we both love this style of music and thought the band could bring the right tone to the both the serious and the fun parts of the wedding.
BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS AND A ROMANTIC DECOR
For my bouquet I had Peonies… a lush simple bouquet of all peonies in different shades of pink, with pewter ribbon wrap with stems exposed. I knew I wanted peonies as I adore their gentleness, beauty and fragrance.
I had pink ranunculus cradled in dusty miller leaves for my bridesmaids and the centrepieces were different combinations of candles and flowers in mercury glass.
Meredith from M. Design has a wonderful eye for design – she understood the theme we wanted to create and we trusted her with choosing the right details. She did a spectacular job with the chuppah design and the welcome area – a Vignette with a chair on which I was seating and greeting guests, with a shelf with the pictures of our living and deceased ancestors. The area was also decorated with lanterns and flowers.
OUR FABULOUS PHOTOGRAPHER
We knew we wanted to work with Christina right away. A couple of years ago, I saw a friend’s engagement photo shoot by Christina Hernandez (Nightingale Photography) and fell in love with her style. Then my friend posted her wedding photos and they were just stunning. When my husband and I got engaged, Christina was the first vendor to whom we reached out, even before we chose the venue. We looked at other great photographers too, but we quickly realised we couldn’t go with anyone else.
We are very happy we worked with Christina. She is not only a very creative and talented photographer, but also a very positive and wonderful person, with whom it was so easy to work. The slideshow she sent to us soon after the wedding made me tear up again (she chose a great song, too!). Some of our favourite wedding photos, that we just can’t stop looking at, were completely choreographed by her. They were simple poses but so timeless and right on. We hope to have an opportunity to work with Christina again.
A PINK MACARON AND WINE-THEMED WEDDING CAKE!
My husband and I don’t like cakes very much, so we didn’t think we were going to find one we liked. We are very happy someone recommended that we reach out to Andrea Koweek (Crisp Bakery in Sonoma – what a gem). She was able to create a butter cream cake without fondant that both our husband and I enjoyed. The design incorporated the wine theme with a delicate vineyard and grape pattern, and the cake was also fun because it had pink macaroons around the bottom layer. It was a ceremony cake, and we also had a dessert table.
The catering was done by Park Avenue Catering. We were very happy with our choice and very grateful for the basket they packed for us to take to the hotel – that was the first time we were able to eat that evening, drink some champagne and enjoy our wedding cake. Sharon Misaka-Van Giesen was so wonderful – very responsive, always positive and patient.
Our first dance was Dance Me To The End of Love by Leonard Cohen (we even got a special hat for Alex similar to what Leonard Cohen wore at the concert we saw together, and we had a choreographed dance that stressed us out but turned out well). We both like the artist and the song really touched us.
We had a klezmer band called Kugelplex, a a photo booth and a cigar and cognac area. The Klezmer band also turned DJ at the end of the evening!
BOTTLES OF OLIVE OIL FAVOURS
The venue we chose also had an olive press, so our favours were olive oil bottles produced at the venue.
OUR WEDDING WEBSITE
Our wedding website was a very fun project for us. We spent a lot of time building it and used it to share a lot of useful information with our guests, most of whom were traveling from far away.
A FAMILY SEDER FOR PASSOVER THE NEXT DAY
Alex and I kept in mind that the most important part for us was the ceremony and bringing the Jewish traditions to our families. The day after the wedding was the first day of Passover and we hosted a Seder for our now joined families.
OUR OVER-RIDING MEMORIES OF THE DAY
You expect your wedding day to be special. Your friends warn you that some things will go wrong and that it will not matter in the grand scheme of things. You are rarely told that many more things will pleasantly surprise you in beautiful and unexpected ways. You don’t expect to be more emotional before the ceremony than during. You don’t expect to smile through the entire ceremony, when you have tissues ready. If you’ve been to a Jewish wedding and you know our friends, you do, however, expect to see many circles of high-energy, dizzying, sweat-inducing hora dancing.
Surprising our photographer, Christina, our friends and family roared with enthusiasm through the most joyous dance of our now united lives. When Alex and I think back to our wedding day, we remember overwhelming emotions we felt as our fathers brought Alex down the stairs to see me for the first time that day and to veil me as a part of Jewish tradition. The scene was accompanied by the melodic and somewhat somber sounds of Klezmer music and the black & white photographs of family members, some alive and others who have passed away. We were surrounded by our family, friends and tradition, re-enacting the ways of our ancestors. What a special way to start our lives together.
NATALYA + ALEX’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Venue — Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
Photography — Nightingale Photography
Bride’s dress — Alvina Valenta
Bride’s shoes — Jimmy Choo
Bride’s necklace — BHLDN
Bride’s earrings — Ben Shemano
Wedding C0-ordinator — Stephanie Cole from Cole Drake Events
Hair + Make up — Meaganne McCandess
Groom — JCrew and Hugo Boss
Florals — Meredith from M. Design
Catering — Park Avenue Catering
Wedding Cake — Crisp Bakery
Klezmer Band — Kugelplex