Franny and Alex’s wedding was all about color and joy. Using the historic The Depot Hotel Restaurant and Garden in Sonoma, California as a backdrop, they were able to create the “casual but elegant California garden party” they were hoping for.
When Megan Reeves Photography sent over today’s wedding, the first thing that came to mind was how lovely it would be to have this pretty celebration in the first of the year line-up of featured weddings. I mean, what better way to celebrate the start of a brand new year than with a soiree as colorful and lively as this? And don’t you just love Franny’s floral crown? It’s unique to see one with the flowers only at the back. I love it!
A few thoughts from the bride Franny:
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Having worked in events and weddings for many years, I felt as if I had 30 weddings planned in my head before I was even engaged! I had weddings for every season and in every location that could make sense. When it came down to making a decision based in reality, it was difficult to narrow down my ideas and, in the end, it felt overwhelming finding our voice in a sea of Pinterest. The only words I was able to pin down were “un-fussy” and fun, and that ended up helping me find what represented my fiancé and I best. By judging every decision against our un-fussy and fun metric, we were able to have a wedding that was 100% us. Once we found our venue, everything really snapped into focus. We had wanted something that resembled a pretty garden wedding but were missing the backyard! By deciding on The Depot Hotel we were able to have the casual but elegant California garden party we were hoping for!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Relax! Any time I would start to panic over paper fan colors or dress hems, I would remind myself that we were just throwing a party for our favorite people, and the wedding at the beginning was a bonus. I never had any real “Bridezilla” moments, but there were moments of amped anxiety where a little perspective was exactly what I needed.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Take a night off and talk about something, anything, besides the wedding plans. All parties involved deserve a night off from wedding planning chatter.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We have a lot of teachers and children in our families, so summer vacation seemed like an obvious time to get married. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones, and hotel blocks + travel accommodations started climbing through the roof! We scrambled and were able to get everyone taken care of, but that was the biggest (and only) serious stress of the wedding planning process.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We were on the fence about our ceremony. Neither of us are very religious and were pretty adamant about leaving religion out of it. We did our research and were not feeling inspired or moved by anyone we met. One day, I was introduced to a friend of a coworker who was an American Catholic Priest. Despite being a little skeptical at first, once we met him everything clicked. He was the perfect amount of serious and comedic, reverent and casual, and He created the perfect ceremony for us full of personal details and honest advice.
What was your ceremony music? The only music used in our ceremony was “Unto the Resplendent” by The Mermen, which I entered to, and “Exactly Like You” by Rebirth Brass Band for our recessional.
What were your ceremony readings? John Steinbeck on Falling in Love: a 1958 Letter, and an excerpt from my favorite book, The Prophet, on Love.
What was favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Watching Alex’s face throughout the whole thing.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? It had the feeling of a nice, backyard garden party. Very elegant and casual. I am originally from Napa, but Sonoma felt more intimate and felt like a comfortable, small town that I wanted everyone to experience.
Tell us about your wedding decor. We booked our venue because of the back patio. It is a big brick patio, with lots of lights strung in bushes and trees. There were big beautiful trees and flowers and it hardly needed anything else! We ended up going with vibrant, summery colors to accent the already beautiful, lush patio and neutrals like cream and gray to keep things simple. We chose elements that were festive and fun, like our Flamingo cake toppers and my matching shoes, that kept the feel of the day light and true to us; never fussy or formal.
Did you have a signature cocktail? Wine! Since most of our guests were coming to wine country for the first time, we wanted them to have the full experience. We ended up having a selection of red, white, rose (perfect for summer!), and sparkling from the area. In addition, we made sure to select a couple local beers for our guests to try.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Looking out over the whole venue, at all the tables, when we all sat down for dinner. Seeing all of our friends and family mingling and laughing in a beautiful setting at dusk was a pretty special moment. Also, our final song was “We’ll Meet Again” by She & Him and it was so heartwarming sharing one last slow dance with everyone. It was a perfect finish to a fantastic evening.
What was your first dance song? Into the Mystic by The Swell Season.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? No. We took out more than we included. We omitted parent dances, bridal dances, bouquet toss, and garter toss. Those traditions would feel phony to us, and many guests told us how much they enjoyed that we were doing things “our way.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? An amazing 3-tiered cake from a local Sonoma bakery. It was the most delicious cake I have ever had! Lemon Verbena with Honey Buttercream for me, and Red Velvet with Cream Cheese icing for Alex.
Tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. We snuck out to capture some special twilight portraits in a beautiful field with our photographer after dinner, and it was the most special moment of the whole day. I have never felt so connected to the moment and calm in what was happening around me. Alex and I were able to take a minute to revel in what we had done and what we were just beginning. Walking back from this beautiful, loving moment, we could hear our DJ playing Uptown Funk and could hear guests clapping and laughing and singing along. It was so fun to hear the wedding happening on its own and to hear how much fun everyone was having. At that moment, I was able to relax and realize that we had pulled off a successful wedding. Every stress, tear, and dollar spent was worth it.
What thoughts would like to share about how you worked with your photographer to capture your day? Megan was the most amazing, most calm, and perfect compliment to Alex and I. She was calming leading up the big day and made everything seem so seamless the day of. She captured every moment that I would have wanted, all while doing so with a big smile. I think she was enjoying our guests as much as we were and you can tell in the photos. Megan offered advice and guidance when prompted, but also, let me talk out my vision. I don’t think you can ask for a more perfect partnership in your wedding photographer. I think I spent more time with her than my husband that day and I couldn’t imagine anyone else being that person!
Thanks for stopping by!
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Photographer: Megan Reeves Photography | Dress Designer: Allure Couture | Floral Designer: Botanical Arts | Invitation Designer: Brianna C. George | Bakery: Crisp Bake Shop | DJ: DJ Goyo | Bridesmaid Dresses: J. Crew | Makeup Artist: Leah Gilmore | Officiant: Northern California Wedding Ministries | Hair Stylist: Taylor King | Apparel: The Black Tux | Reception Venue: The Depot Hotel Restaurant and Garden | Submitted via Two Bright Lights