There is nothing about today's real wedding that we don't love.
The style, the setting, the decor, the customs and of course, the pictures, captured by Brittanee Taylor Photography in her dreamy fine art style.
Jess and Mikey's California vineyard wedding was a romantic, fun and super chic affair.
While there's a lot to gush over with this elegant bash, we have to say, it was Jess' ah-may-zing Nicole Miller wedding dress that initially caught our eye.
With its cross-cross back detail and simple shape, it set the tone for her and Mikey's effortlessly stylish and entirely personalised Jewish wedding.
From their intimate veiling ceremony to their sweet first dance, their day was utterly romantic from start to finish.
Add an idyllic California backdrop, pretty decor, and a chic bridal party, and this big day has us non-stop swooning and thoroughly inspired…
Wedding Day Snapshot
Our Love Story
We met in the Summer of 2003 as counselors at our local summer camp. In one of our first interactions, we were paired together in the mandatory first aid class. Although we immediately hit it off, we were friends for about a year before we started dating.
Mikey’s proposal was very personal, and very “us”. My sister was in town from NYC and, unbeknownst to me, had kept me out of our apartment all day long as a distraction.
When we returned home, I walked into a dark apartment with an arrow pointing up our candle-lined stairs.
I followed the trail of candles up to our rooftop deck, where Mikey was waiting for me at sunset. The whole roof deck was lined with candles and pictures from throughout our relationship.
We drank Champagne and watched sunset, and soon our families came up and joined us. It was certainly a night to remember!
Three words to describe our wedding? Unforgettable, personal, love.
We wanted the wedding to feel timeless with a mix of classic and rustic qualities.
Because we got married at this beautiful vineyard that didn’t need a lot of decoration, we kept to mostly neutral, soft colors—taupe, mauve, cream, sage, etc.—to just accent the beautiful surroundings.
I wore a silky dress by Nicole Miller. I fell in love with the criss-cross back detail the moment I put it on.
It was so comfortable, which meant I could dance all night long. There was a red wine spill on the dress towards the end of the night, but luckily all of the important wedding “moments” had already happened (and been photographed).
I had to just go with the flow, so stuck a napkin in the neckline of my dress and kept dancing (and luckily the dry cleaners were able to get the stain out later!).
The bridesmaids wore dusty mauve wrap dresses from BHLDN. I loved the soft color and flow of the dresses—they perfectly fit with the soft look of the wedding.
My husband was in a classic black tux and his groomsmen were in classic dark grey tuxes.
We didn’t know a lot about what we wanted heading into the wedding planning process, but we did know that we wanted to be married outdoors.
We looked at a lot of venues—parks, beaches, vineyards—and nothing felt quite right.
After visiting Triunfo Creek Vineyards, we both left with that “this is it” feeling in our gut.
That was the first time the whole thing felt real. And to top it off, we love our wine so it was a match made in heaven.
It was important to us to have a fairly traditional Jewish wedding. One tradition is called the Tish and Bedekin, which is a pre-ceremony tradition where the bride and groom first see one another and then sign a traditional Jewish wedding “contract” of sorts (it’s a beautiful piece of artwork that now hangs in our home).
We didn’t quite know what this entailed, so we really took the opportunity to make it our own. We invited our closest friends and family to join us before the ceremony in the farmhouse.
Mikey’s groomsmen, friends, and family danced him in to where I was, forming a wall of sorts in front of him. Similarly, my bridesmaids, friends, and family had formed a wall in front of me and when the men reached us, the two groups split, revealing Mikey and I to each other.
It was a really beautiful first look moment.
We then had our Rabbi perform the pre-ceremony, which included some kind words, the signing of the contract, songs, blessings from our parents, and Mikey placing the veil over me.
It was a truly unique part of the day and one we’ll remember forever.
I'd have to say the ceremony was my favorite part of the day and walking down the aisle towards my husband was a moment I will truly never forget.
It was important to us that we incorporate Jewish traditions into our ceremony. Having said that, we hadn't been to many traditional Jewish weddings so didn't quite know what to expect.
We worked closely with our Rabbi to build our ceremony and he did such a great job making it so personal to us and feel really intimate, even with 180 people. I loved how symbolic all of the rituals were.
We really tried to keep ourselves on a tight budget. Our big expenses were the venue, food and drinks, and the rentals. We were able to cut some corners by trying to do as much ourselves as possible.
For instance, we decided to skip out on the formal save-the-dates and designed our own invites and got them printed at a local printer.
We also subbed in our favorite dessert (cookies and ice cream) for the cake.
We did the delayed honeymoon—got married in September and honeymooned in February.
We loved being able to unwind after the wedding, take our time planning the honeymoon, and have that big trip to look forward to.
We went to Thailand and Vietnam—both were absolutely breathtaking. Thailiand (Krabi and the Phi Phi Islands) was the most beautiful place we’ve ever seen with the most amazing sunsets. Vietnam (Hanoi and Halong Bay) was so culturally rich and unique.
We had never been to that part of the world, so it was so fun to be able to experience such a different place together for the first time. We would highly recommend it!
We had actually met Brittanee at a social event and really liked her. When we started thinking about a photographer for our wedding, she was the first person who came to mind.
We looked at her portfolio and LOVED the way she was able to capture light outside, the soft look of the pictures, and her overall style. She was fantastic.
The Decor & Details
I loved the existing decorations/decor at the venue—a beautiful, rustic farmhouse with an aged brick fireplace, chandeliers, big French doors, and shabby-chic accents; oaks trees and the hillside vineyard; wine barrels and a free-standing wine bar.
We just brought in a few things to complement the surroundings, but it didn’t need much.
We loved the idea of hanging bistro lights from the trees over the tables and dance floor.
We had my amazingly talented friend, Kaitlin Cullum with Fours Are Yellow, design a bunch of chalkboard signs that we placed around the venue. We also had flowers and candles everywhere.
For favors, we had great little fans that were handed out at the ceremony, they were functional and added to the décor, wine corks with our names and wedding date that held the table assignments, and grey kippahs for the men.
Our florist put together a beautiful chuppah with white hydrangeas, blush roses, white ranunculus, dusty miller, seeded eucalyptus and olive branches.
The bouquets included white hydrangeas, blush dahlias, white ranunculus, dusty miller & blush roses.
Centerpieces included a combination of white hydrangeas, blush dahlias, blush roses, pink wax flower, dusty miller, seeded eucalyptus, and olive branches. We loved having the flowers in rustic wooden box planters—they definitely fit with the look of the venue.
We had passed appetizers followed by a buffet with chicken, fish, veggie, and meat options. We opted to skip out on the cake (neither of us love cake) and go for warm cookies and ice cream instead.
It was important to my dad that we have good wine, so he was in charge of that detail and did not disappoint—both the red and the white were amazing. We had a full bar as well.
For the ceremony, we had a family friend, Sam Sugarman, and a few of his friends play acoustic music.
Mikey and his parents walked down to Jason Mraz’s ‘I Won’t Give Up', we had the bridal party walk down to The Beatles’ ‘With a Little Help from My Friends', and I walked down to Etta James’ “At Last”.
After the ceremony, we walked back down the aisle to Jack Johnson’s ‘Better Together'. The musicians nailed every song and that acoustic music ended up being one of my favorite details! They stayed and played music for the cocktail hour as well.
For the reception, we hired the DJ my sister had used for her wedding because we liked him so much. He did a great job keeping the energy up and playing a mix of today’s hits and classics.
Because we got married on September 21, we had to use Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” as the entrance song. Then we did the hora (the song/dance where they lift you up in the chairs) and went right into our first dance to Ray Lamontagne’s ‘You Are the Best Thing'.
Advice for Other Couples
I would tell them to keep the big picture in mind and try not to get caught up in the small stuff.
Inevitably, some things won't go exactly as planned…in fact, we encountered our fair share of bumps along the way. But at the end of the day, no matter what else happens, you will be marrying your best friend and that's the most important thing.
That and the fact that this is possibly the one time in your life when you will have people from all facets of your life (and your future hubby's life) come together in celebration. It's pretty amazing.
These two things fill the day with so much love and emotion – those are the things to focus on.
Isn't it just stunning! That dress – it just goes perfectly with the whole effortless, stylish and romantic feel of the day, don't you think?
I love hearing a little more about all the Jewish wedding traditions too, stay tuned for a post on Jewish wedding customs coming soon!
Thanks so much to Brittanee Taylor Photography and of course, Jess and Mikey for sharing their beautiful winery wedding with us.
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