Madrona Manor wedding
Tara & Wayne

Healdsburg, California

Wedding Date: August 19, 2011

Number of Guests: 26

Wedding Cost: $10,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: Madrona Manor, Healdsburg, California

Wedding Reception Location: Madrona Manor, Healdsburg, California

Intimate California wedding

Madrona Manor wedding venue

bride wearing black polka dot gloves holding multi-colored bouquet

groom wearing pink polka dot socks

groom wearing orange and purple boutonniere

Madrona Manor wedding reception set-up

tandem bicycle wedding invitation

wedding rings on tandem bicycle drawing

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We did not want the typical social wedding event. We wanted a chance to share our special day with the people who are active in our lives and have influenced both of us. We also wanted a chance to enjoy our reception/dinner as we enjoyed the company of each and every guest. Having a small, intimate wedding and reception allowed us to see each person during the ceremony. At the reception it allowed us to eat together and were able to talk intimately with each guest at one large King’s table. Our respective parents had not yet met and we thought this would be a great setting to do so. An intimate wedding with few attendants allowed us to not have a rehearsal or rehearsal dinner. Instead, those who had come in a day early all met those who were local for a lovely intimate dinner at a local restaurant. Again, it added to the special occasion, building lasting memories.

red converse and red tom's wedding shoes

tandem bicycle place cards

Madrona Manor congratulations card

cake pop wedding favors

swiss dot BHLDN wedding dress and red shoes

multi-colored bridesmaid bouquet

striped groomsmen socks

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

Wayne, the groom. He was resistant to have a wedding for 50 people, which was our original count. It was a challenge to figure out the best number, based upon how many friends and family we wanted to invite.

bride and bridesmaid portrait

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Not really. Once we knew the number of people we wanted to invite, it was relatively easy to make the list. We really examined each person who was invited and why they were invited.

red tandem bicycle wedding invitation

groomsmen wearing striped socks

bride with her father

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?


No issues whatsoever. Everyone we wanted there was there. The chemistry was tremendously wonderful. On observation one would have thought that everyone already knew each other. Old friendships were renewed and new friendships were formed. Not only were we creating a new life and journey, but so were our guests.

vintage bride wearing BHLDN dress and red shoes

groom's suit on porch

groom's polka dot socks

suit with multi-colored striped socks

desert boots with striped socks

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

Groom: Tara seemingly “floating” down the grassy hill as she was escorted by her father. Bride: Seeing Wayne, so handsome in his tux, with a smile. Both: The live music was spectacular and added to the event. We had three university students who performed various songs with such angelic voices. The wedding was about color and diversity. We come from different, yet similarly interesting backgrounds. Our wedding was a true reflection of this. The colors of the grounds and the wedding flowers were spectacular, along with simple elegance, fun and our choice of music that meant the most to the two of us.

Madrona Manor wedding venue

Madrona Manor gardens

guitarist at wedding ceremony

fountain at Madrona Manor

bride and groom's feet at the outdoor altar

emotional bride and groom at wedding ceremony

bride and groom holding hands at ceremony

wedding guests at outdoor wedding ceremony

guests at outdoor wedding ceremony

outdoor wedding ceremony at Madrona Manor

What were the highlights of the reception?

The ability to have everyone at one table was very effective and conducive to the atmosphere we wanted to create. It was as if we were seated at a family dinner. The food was spectacular! We were all able to actually eat at one time and we were served a plated, meal instead of a buffet. Everyone enjoyed the fresh farm-to-table cuisine. We were also able to sit outside on the porch of the manor. Absolutely stunning! It felt as if the entire inn was ours.

single long wedding reception table

bride and groom giving speech at reception

toasting the bride and groom

bride and groom cutting the cake

Madrona Manor wedding

Multi-colored wedding flower arrangement

wedding cake with dahlias, figs and grapes

wedding reception on Manor porch

wedding bouquet on vintage chair

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

It was less stressful. Everything flowed well. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and our guests were able to meet and visit in a comfortable atmosphere. We provided a wonderful meal and setting instead of having not-so-great food at separate tables, where you are unable to eat because you are saying hello to people you rarely see. We know we planned a special occasion as our guests and family are still talking about how great the wedding was. It was simple, comfortable, beautiful, and intimate.

father and mother of the bride

father and mother of the groom

bride and groom with wedding guests

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

It will be the best decision you ever make. Keep it simple, elegant, and true to who you are. All of our guests knew Wayne and I planned every detail ourselves as it truly represented who we are as a couple. An example of this is our decision to forgo the traditional wedding favors and opting to have a larger wedding cake. This enabled us to give each guest a second slice of wedding cake in a box with polka dot ribbon and compostable fork, to take away. We heard many guests had the second slice for breakfast the next day as the cake was so delicious and moist. Wayne and I also had the cake for breakfast. We could not help ourselves. Wayne and I think of our wedding day often with such great memories. I even find myself smiling off and on throughout each day thinking about our wedding day and how it was perfect in so many ways. My parents even received thank-you cards for hosting such a wonderful, intimate wedding. A last piece of advice is to have cards printed to announce “the newly wedded couple” so those who were not invited have an explanation. Our announcement is our holiday card with a photo of us toasting at our wedding, and toasting them to a “Happy Holidays.” It will indicate that we still care about them, but chose to do a very small and intimate wedding. We believe our friends will embrace our new life together. In fact, some of our friends have hosted after-wedding celebration gatherings for us, wishing us all the best and showering us with gifts. An intimate wedding was the best choice we could have made. It was a wonderful, magical event! One we all will treasure for many years to come.

groom showing off his wedding ring

bride and groom sitting in the garden

bride and groom jumping

bride and groom on spiral staircase


Venue: Madrona Manor, Healdsburg, CA

Cake: Michele’s Corner Bakery, Santa Rosa, CA

Flowers: Dragonfly Nursery, Healdsburg, CA

Photography: Vivian Sachs Photography, San Francisco, CA

Hair and Makeup Consultation: Code Salon, San Francisco, CA

Programs and Place Cards: Wedding Paper Divas

Wedding Website:


Tea Lights for Table: Bright Times from Artecnica

Bridal Attire: BHLDN and Nina Custom Shoes


Mens Attire: Mens Wearhouse, Hermes, Joseph A. Bank, and Nordstrom




Wedding Favors: Red and White Polka Dot Fans from BHLDN for the ceremony, Individual Korbel Champagne Bottles from (in room amenity prior to guest arrivals) and Red boxes and Polka Dot Red and White Ribbon for the cake boxes from, replete with compostable fork from Whole Foods.