Alaina and Greg opted for a 50-guest destination wedding in Sonoma, California.
Even though Greg fancied the idea of a big wedding, Alaina convinced him otherwise – and they had no regrets.
“I’ve seen time and time again brides and grooms having to spend so much time welcoming every guest and getting pulled in so many directions that they can barely enjoy themselves. We were able to get up and talk to each one of our guests during our dinner and still had time to sit back down and eat. And we literally had the best night of our lives,” says Alaina.
Thanks to photographer Adi Nevo for the lovely photos.
Alaina, 30 & Greg, 32
Wedding Date: June 20, 2011
Number of Guests: 50
Wedding Cost: $33,000
Wedding Ceremony Location: Cornerstone Gardens, Sonoma, CA
Wedding Reception Location: Cornerstone Gardens – Barn
Why did you have an intimate wedding?
We knew we wanted it to be in Sonoma, and also had a tight budget therefore we couldn’t have it at a large wedding venue and invite everyone we know – it would have ended up being very costly. Being in CA, the majority of our guests had to travel, as most of them are from the Midwest. We figured, it’s our day and we’re spending the money (our parents didn’t pay for it), so we wanted to do what we wanted to most, and California wine country (specifically Sonoma Valley), is where we love to be. We also wanted to share that part of the world with those we love and knew most of them hadn’t been, so it was an amazing opportunity to introduce them to Sonoma Valley – which they all LOVED!!
What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?
Because there was a smaller group, rather than the typical 150-200, our guests felt they would have alone time with us, and we just didn’t have that kind of time. We did all we could to schedule and plan group events for the whole weekend so we could see as many people as possible and spend as much time with them as we could (knowing they traveled so far for us), but it made for a VERY exhausting (but fun!) week.
Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?
It was, mostly for my husband. I don’t keep a lot of acquaintances – I’m very picky with who my friends are – but Greg on the other hand, likes having lots of people around him at all times and wanted to invite everyone he knew. I didn’t want those who weren’t very close to us to feel obligated to send gifts since they were obviously not going to travel out to California for the wedding. We had to argue on that quite a bit. Of course, in the end, I won. It was me sending out the invites, after all!
Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?
At one point our mothers kept asking if we could invite so-and-so, which at first I was fine with, but then realized it was rude if I was inviting people we didn’t know, but not inviting those we did. In the end, we invited most of those guests. We decided that we’d at least send the invitation. If they could make it, we’d work something out. But we did have to put the kibosh on a few.
What were the highlights of the ceremony?
Greg and I have a 4-year-old little girl, Lily Rose (she was 3 ½ for the wedding). I decided long ago it just wasn’t appropriate to have my father “give me away” since we basically were already like a married couple. I had my daughter walk me down the aisle, or so was the plan. Once we started she decided she wanted to go look at the pond running alongside the garden where the ceremony took place. So I continued on myself until I heard her yelling behind me that her shoe fell off. My wedding coordinator didn’t hear, so I had to tell everyone to hold on, I’d be right back, went back the way I came so I could go help her put her shoe back on. She still refused to walk down with me, but instead came behind me, cookie in hand (that was given to her by the coordinator) and smiles on every single guests face – including mine. As frustrating as it was, I can barely remember any other part of the ceremony, so it made it memorable. There are of course pictures of all this, but sadly no video.
What were the highlights of the reception?
Goodness, too many. We had two fantastic speeches by my MOH and the BM. Then my husband, Greg, made a pretty powerful speech that had everyone bawling, including him (and he never cries!). Our very good friends were our acoustic band, and they rocked. OH! Massive highlight was one of my bridesmaid’s step-son (8-year-old), Alex and Greg having a dance off; Greg did the splits! It went on for a good 5 minutes and was AMAZING.
What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?
By far, being able to enjoy our day so much more. I’ve seen time and time again brides and grooms having to spend so much time welcoming every guest and getting pulled in so many directions that they can barely enjoy themselves. We were able to get up and talk to each one of our guests during our dinner and still had time to sit back down and eat. And we literally had the best night of our lives. I also always wanted one long Kings table for dinner and if we had even one more guest we would’ve had to do something different. Greg and I sitting at the head of one long table with all our closest friends and family was surreal. I also was able to make all my own stationery which included welcome guides, welcome kits, programs, escort cards and menus. Greg and I made them ourselves and they were definitely one of my favorite parts of the wedding. If I had a larger guest list there is no way I would have had the time or patience to do all that, or if I had they wouldn’t have looked very nice.
What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?
Keep it personal and remember: it’s all about the two of you, and not everyone else. If you have to cut out your mom’s best friend’s cousin because she was invited to their wedding, so be it. This is your one and only wedding (hopefully) and you don’t want to compromise your tastes and wants for what others want. Plus, a smaller more intimate group will guarantee clearer, more distinct memories. It’s hard to pinpoint different things when you’re pulled in a hundred different directions due to all the commotion and chaos of the several hundred people you’ve invited.
Venue: Cornerstone Gardens
Photographer:Adi Nevo (best photographer EVER!!)
Wedding Coordinator: Leslie Goldberg, My Dandelion Events
Caterer and Rentals: Alex’s Catering
Cake: Costeaux, in Healdsburg, CA
Music: Tony Calderisi & Chris Costello (personal friends)
Make Up: Cristina Hlebako – Santa Rosa, CA
Officiant: Reverend Jaqueline