April 2, 2014


When Karen and Orson first shared their wedding vision with me, it was clear that a wine country wedding was where their hearts were. They were an incredibly laid-back, fun-loving couple with a sense of humor, so we wanted to plan and design not only a gorgeous wedding for them, but one that would be reflective of their personalities and their desire to bring their closest friends and families together for an amazing celebration! 

Though Karen and Orson loved the idea of a wine country wedding, they wanted to find a venue that felt both private and special. I narrowed the list down to just 2 places for them to visit, and as soon as they stepped foot onto the property of Black Swan Lake, a private estate in Calistoga, they knew they had found "the one."

With a wedding date and wedding venue secured, we were ready and excited to begin the rest of the planning. They envisioned a whimsical and festive event that felt classy, yet cozy. Karen loved the idea of a fresh summer color palette with pops of bright here and there, balanced with muted neutrals. This worked out beautifully within the natural setting of Black Swan Lake.

Being big foodies and wine connoisseurs,  the wedding menu was a top priority for Karen and Orson. We brought in Paula Le Duc Fine Catering to devise an amazing, custom menu with them that included some Asian-inspired hors d'oeurves like peking duck bites, an oyster bar for the cocktail hour, and a sumptuous 3 course menu followed by a dessert station, passed ice cream cones, and mini ramen bowls + mini bubble milk tea shots as late night snacks. To add a personal touch, Karen's family shipped over cases of red wine from their family vineyard in France--a deep, rich Chateau Haut Brisson, St. Emilion 2009 that paired wonderfully with the duck confit entree.

Over the course of 13 months, we worked meticulously to plan every aspect of Karen and Orson's wedding. We love working at private estates, but it does require quite a bit of logistical planning. For one, we were not allowed to disclose the venue's address to any guests, so everyone would have to be shuttled in and out of the property. Fortunately, our team is quite the experts when it comes to logistics and production, so we loved the challenge! Gloria and the design team conceptualized a number of brilliant ideas to bring Karen and Orson's vision to live, and we were all extremely excited to see everything come together on their big day.

On the morning of the wedding, we arranged for a luxurious SUV to bring Karen and the ladies from a nearby hotel to Black Swan Lake, where they enjoyed a relaxing morning in the guest house taking turns to have their makeup and hair done by JBeautique's team.

Karen and Orson's first look took place in the shade, under a weeping willow tree next to the lake. Can't really get more romantic than that!

Thirty minutes prior to the ceremony start time, the shuttle buses began arriving with guests. We staggered the arrival time for each bus to prevent a bottleneck at the entryway, which allowed guests to take their time in absorbing the magnificent view in front of them upon their arrival. They picked up their programs and snapped lots of photos while Paula Le Duc's bistro-attired staff tray passed a refreshing minted ice tea drink to welcome each person.

The short, but sweet, ceremony was officiated by one of Karen's best friends. Once pronounced husband and wife, the giddy couple recessed down the aisle as guests tossed small rosemary sprigs on them to celebrate.

The cocktail hour was where we really played things up to make it cozy and comfortable while maintaining the classiness of the overall wedding. In addition to cocktail tables and some vintage furniture for guest seating, we laid down a variety of large, colorful rugs and pillows underneath the weeping willows for guests to truly kick back and relax.

Karen, a collector of cookware and cookbooks, loves to make elaborate meals herself, so we thought it'd be fun to create a small "marketplace" with an assortment of cookware for guests to take home. To ensure that they had something to hold all the goodies, we made escort "totes" in lieu of escort cards, hand-calligraphed by the talented Bianca of Little Miss Press.

After the cocktail hour, we led guests up a short path amongst the vineyards to the dinner area. Long wooden tables with natural linen runners lined up underneath hanging votives, next to the estate pool. Bright, colorful arrangements adorned each dining table, and to encourage a sense of community, guests passed around a menu that was calligraphed on a slate chalkboard. 

As guests dined al fresco, Karen and Orson sneaked away for some gorgeous sunset shots by the vineyards, in one of the vintage cars from the owners of the property.

That evening, guests rocked the dance floor to the performance of live band Big City Revue, while continuing to feast on desserts, cake, and late night snacks. A Photo Booth was available with colorful wigs and googly glasses amongst other fun props for guests to goof around in, and it was such a fantastic party that nearly every guest stayed until the very end!

Immense gratitude to an amazing team who supported us greatly to make this event as beautiful and successful as it was.....

Event Planning + Production: Jubilee Lau Events
Event Design + Styling: Gloria Wong Design
Venue: Private Estate (aka: Black Swan Lake)
Catering: Paula Le Duc Fine Catering
Floral Design: Cherries
Photography: Lisa Lefkowitz Photography
Lighting: Got Light
Calligraphy: Little Miss Press
Paper Goods: Good on Paper
Makeup/Hair: JBeautique
String Quartet: Eloquence String via Bay Music
Band: Big City Revue via Bay Music
Cake: Studio Cake
Transportation: Pure Luxury
Dining Chairs: Blueprint Studio
Linens and Napkins: La Tavola
Ceremony Chairs: Hartmann Studio
Tabletop Rentals and Dining Tables: Classic Party Rentals (Napa)
Vintage Furniture: One True Love
Photo Booth: Snap Yourself!
Cabanas and Iron Lanterns: Wine Country Party Rentals

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