Sonoma County Vows
Tell us your love story!
The day was August 24, 2012. We were both attending orientation for the graduate program we were beginning that fall at American University. Taylor’s birthday was several days later and being new to the city, her celebration plan most likely consisted of Netflix and ice cream. Upon learning of this considerably sad birthday celebration, Kaitlin rallied the troops and threw Taylor a bash to remember that welcomed her to the District of Columbia and brought her many close friends. Through months of graduate study, many post-class drinks and weekend adventures they quickly became inseparable. The rest, as they say, is history.
What about the proposal?
We planned a camping trip one weekend, out on the Craig Family Farm in eastern Ohio, where Taylor’s grandfather grew up and where she spent every summer as a kid. A hurricane was heading toward the East Coast and the rainfall in Ohio wasn’t ideal for camping. Taylor desperately did not want to drive for five hours, only to sit in a tent all weekend. With a little help from Taylor’s mother, Kaitlin somehow convinced Taylor to make the drive. Once there, we set out building the tent in the rain and soon realized that Taylor forgot the tent poles! Luckily, tent poles were scavenged from the house and everything worked out fine. The next day, Kaitlin proposed as we were waking up in our tent. We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating, during what turned out to be a sun-filled span of days!
Going into the wedding planning, what did you definitely know?
We knew that we wanted our wedding to be at a place that was meaningful to us, that had history and nostalgia wrapped in and all around it. We wanted our wedding to be outside and in one location, where folks could dance all night, rather than getting the boot at 10pm.
What surprised you during planning?
Finding Taylor’s dress was surprisingly easy. It was literally the first one she tried on. On the other hand, finding Kaitlin’s outfit took many trips to various stores and often navigating unfriendly “male clothing departments”. We anticipated this but were still surprised by the reaction we got from many salespeople.
What surprised us the most, and quite frankly shouldn’t have, was the generosity of our friends and family. We were married in wine country, Santa Rosa, CA, in the backyard of Kaitlin’s parent’s home. The very home she grew up in. The vineyards surrounding their place led our wedding toward that theme. We planned for cocktail tables made of wine barrels and to serve local, Sonoma County wine. We were taken away when Kaitlin’s father hand-built two stunning bars out of reclaimed wine barrels and cut and stained centerpieces made from the tops of the barrels. It was more beautiful than we’d ever imagined.
Taylor’s Aunt who has a love of flowers and a talent at arranging them spent an entire day making incredible arrangements. Our day would not have looked beautiful without her creativity. For some reason, Taylor desperately wanted dried flowers to be thrown as they walked back down the aisle as a married couple. Kaitlin’s mother spent months collecting petals from her own garden and asking her friends to contribute to the common good. When we arrived the week of the wedding and saw the amount of beautiful petals she had collected, we were amazed and humbled.
We had planned a breakfast for the morning after the wedding. Coffee and bagels, literally. Our plan: to order cardboard carafes of coffee and boxes of bagels to place on a table the next morning. A family friend generously offered to take on the coordination of this to help out. Help out she did! Along with her family, they made homemade bloody mary mix and had an incredible spread to remember. It made the morning so lovely and we couldn’t believe how much she and her family had done for us.
Taylor spent her early childhood years in Baton Rouge, LA and it forever has a special place in her heart. As we were planning the wedding, Taylor once mentioned to her mother that she wished she was cajun enough to have a second line at her wedding. So, sure enough her mother stops the music at 10pm, having handed out white napkins to all the guests and announces that we were going to have a second line! We paraded around the yard with our parasols and napkins to the sound of New Orleans jazz. It was truly remarkable and a complete surprise! These moments, along with so many more and the work that our friends and families put in to make this weekend incredible, are some that we hold the most dear.
Is there anything you wish you knew while you were planning your wedding that you know now?
We both plan big events for our jobs. Ones that are for VIPs around the world; often in places we’ve never been. So, we set out on this planning journey, with a lot of experience and knowledge under our belts. It served us well. However, we really planned the entire thing ourselves and this led to some knowledge transfer problems during crunch time. Leading up to the celebration, we had everything organized. But there’s always a million last minute details that pop up.
We think, similarly to the surprises mentioned above, that we can forget how much people truly want to help and feel a part of this event in your lives. All this to say, ask for help where you need it and even where you’re not sure. You never know who knows someone that knows someone. Similarly, and maybe the most important, let people do things for you if they offer. They want to and it will help your stress level severely.
Any advice for couples planning weddings now?
Our practical piece of advice (for the budget friendly wedding) is to:
1. Be aware of the “hidden costs.” Dress/suit alterations are more expensive than you think and that should be included in the price you want to pay for your outfit.
2. Decide what is most important to YOU (food, photography, music, etc.) and focus on that. Essentially, know where you want the most money to be spent and cut where it’s not as important.
Our unpractical advice is to enjoy the moments of planning. The day goes by so quickly (we know you’ve heard this before), you hardly even notice those details you fawned over, so enjoy the making of them with friends, the looking at photos together on Pinterest and the moments laughing at what might be.
Our activist advice is to not be afraid to educate. It’s no surprise that the wedding industry is built around the long-standing tradition of seeing marriage as only between man and woman. You will come into contact with exclusionary people, business and forms. We chose to confront vendors we liked about their (intentional or unintentional) exclusionary practices and to educate those that weren’t sure how to respond to us. We encourage you to do the same so in the future all vendors are as inclusive and incredible as our photographer was.
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
Our favorite part was truly seeing two families come together. To see a cousin on one side dancing with a friend from college on the other side is remarkable. Getting all of these people from various walks of life together in a place that means so much to us, will likely never happen again in our lifetimes and it was a beautiful feat. If we have to pick a favorite moment, we think it is a toss up between: 1. The comments about our playlists (yes, we did spend hours perfectly curating them), some of which include: “How can I get this to listen to at home?” and “I’ve never heard so much Jack White at a wedding before and it’s perfect.” 2. The reactions to our vows, which included clapping and shouting, notably at the moment where one of us (Taylor) vowed not to obey the other. 3. When Kaitlin’s father came out in a Darth Vader mask saying, “Kaitlin, I am your father…. Taylor, I am you father in law.”