This couple enjoyed a sweet little engagement shoot right by Lake Merritt – you can read their story, how they met, the proposal story here.
The wedding story
Sara and Chris describe their wedding as “absolutely perfect”. It was held outdoors amongst the vines at a local winery and the vibe of the day complemented the ceremony – relaxed, romantic, and intimate.
They wanted the ceremony to feel like a special event, but weren’t fussed with many of the traditional elements of the day.
They enjoyed a relaxed morning together preparing final touches and decorating the ceremony site. They then had a relaxed lunch as a family in the backyard of the house before getting ready.
They are a team and wanted the wedding to feel that way too. By decorating together and sharing little moments throughout the day, to walking in to the ceremony together, smiling and holding hands.
These two tied the knot in epically romantic style in April 2019 at the Blue Victorian, a stunning wedding venue nestled in the heart of rural Fairfield, Solano County CA surrounded by lush vineyards and majestic palm trees.
It forms part of the Vezer Family Vineyard and winery that is known for its Petite Sirah and Zinfandel and has followed the family tradition of wine making since 1938. It’s perfect for large weddings of up to 300 and gorgeous, small outdoor ones like this!
They were interested in a whole week when immediate family could stay together, with the wedding ceremony the focal point. They spent 4 days together at the rented house that forms part of the Vezer Family Vineyard, enjoying beautiful wine country and the gorgeous springtime weather.
That meant that the couple and their guests, every single one of whom had traveled between 500 – 5,000 miles to be there, could enjoy and savor this unique time of togetherness.
The Vezer accommodation was only 5 minutes’ drive from the ceremony and is super pretty and convenient with 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.
Designing their day
The couple’s priorities from the beginning was that the entire event felt like “them.”
Sara and Chris had something in common with my own wedding celebrations, in that Chris going to be moving from the UK subject to his fiancé visa being approved.
As per the K1 visa rules, weddings must take place within 90 days. That doesn’t leave too long for planning and getting everything in order for the wedding. There is also uncertainty to deal with! As someone who’s been through the process myself, I know exactly what that’s like.
Luckily the staff at Vezer were wonderfully accommodating and worked with Sara and Chris to make everything they wanted possible, including the flexibility that was an inevitable part of this couple’s planning process.
Thinking of the worst case scenario is a part of all wedding planning, but with the added stress of a visa having to be approved before you can even get married, a small, intimate and simple wedding not only suited the couple’s personalities, but made the most sense.
The wedding vibe
There is a quiet joy that pervades all of Sara and Chris’ wedding and is visible in the images. In Sara’s first email she said “we love the idea of having someone capture our day, including the small moments.”
And there were so many delightful small moments during this wedding, from the quiet ritual of getting ready to the ceremony itself to the dance and the toasts.
They passed on the style of ‘first look’ that has become common these days, namely when the bride (typically) walks up behind the groom and taps him on the shoulder – deeming it too cheesy.
Instead Sara traveled separately to the venue as Chris waited and I captured his face just as he saw her! They had an unstaged, informal first look, and after a sweet moment the two of them immediately processed up the aisle together to the ceremony space and their waiting families.
Their wedding was intentionally very simple and pared-down but retained some traditional elements and a real sense of occasion despite the small VIP guest list of just 7.
Their flowers and many dinner ingredients were home-grown in the gardens of the florist and chef. The rented arch and table were made from repurposed wood. Both myself and Fleeting Moment Cinema, the videographer specialize in small weddings, and we understood how to capture the day.
They included a poignant “ring warming” – with each of the seven guests taking a turn to hold the wedding rings and quietly and intentionally instill their best wishes for the couple and their life together before they exchanged the rings
Wedding week was the first time both respective parents meet, so it was wonderful to capture some memories of those little interactions for the day.
The photography coverage
My coverage began with getting ready & wedding details, then the ceremony-set up, the informal first look, ceremony, family formals, the couples photo session, the first dance + parent dances, toasts and the beginning of the sit-down dinner as the light was fading.
All of that fit into just 4 hours, which is something that just wouldn’t be possible for a larger wedding.
I photographed mostly candid-style, except for the posed portraits and capturing the details. We are used to picking up on and preempting the little moments, plus it’s more unobtrusive too.
You do you and enjoy having the wedding of your dreams, not a photoshoot.
The bigger a wedding gets, the more it tends towards a production, even a performance of sorts. Guests can feel like spectators rather than participants.
With a killer vendor team, and such heart and soul this wedding was really one for the books. Congratulations, Sara and Chris!
Vendor love //
Venue The Blue Victorian at Vezer Family Vineyard
Photography Zoe Larkin Photography
Florals Flower Mama
Dress The Wedding Party
Rentals French Events Rents
HMUA Whimsy Katie
Officiant Matt Marries You
Videography Fleeting Moments Cinema
Are you looking for an experienced wedding photographer specializing in intimate celebrations, whether wild, elegant, informal or traditional, and with a love for and experience with vineyard weddings? I have a wealth of information to help you plan and to direct you to unusual venues all over Northern California that are perfect for small weddings. You are welcome to receive my free resources and help you plan your small wedding with lots of heart!
Zoe Larkin is a San Francisco-based wedding & engagement photographer from London. She specializes in photographing intimate weddings for joyful, free-thinking couples. Zoe creates raw, personal images that evoke a range of emotions, combining documentary photography with a stylized edge. Her work has been published on Offbeat Bride, Equally Wed, Catalyst Wed Co, Love Inc Mag among others. She adores simplicity, kindness & Earl Grey. Zoe is an equality-minded vendor that celebrates diversity in all its forms. Read more about Zoe here.