Erin & Chris got married at an old sugar-mill-turned-winery in Clarksburg, California in a unique ceremony, and celebrated with a graphic and fun reception.
Bride’s Name: Erin
Groom’s Name: Chris
Venue(s): Old Sugar Mill, Clarksburg, CA
Wedding Date: July 13, 2013
Bridal Gown Designer: Allure
Florist: Abstractions Florist
Photographer: Dave Shilling
Cake: Homemade chocolate chip cookies made by family friend
Wedding Coordinator: Rachelle Cain-Wiggins with Cain Event Planning
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bill Levkoff
Honeymoon: Couples Resort, Barbados
When we set out to plan our wedding, our main goal was for it to be FUN and mostly nontraditional. We wanted our guests to walk away saying “Wow, that was the most fun wedding I’ve ever been to!” As a result, we tried to incorporate more unique and different touches that they may not have seen before such as a handfasting ceremony, thumbprint guestbook tree, fun yellow sunglasses to match our color scheme, and best of all, chocolate chip cookies served atop mini martini glasses filled with milk in lieu of cake (yes, that happened!).
To make sure we fulfilled the fun requirement, we hired the best DJ in town, Joe Kalamaras with SJ’s DJ. He was absolutely amazing and brought the reception to life and delivered a dance party beyond our wildest dreams. In addition, we wanted it to have a modern vibe (without being over the top), but it was OK if we looked back on it in 20 years and it looked like our wedding took place in 2013 (because it did!). Our colors were gray and yellow with chevron print. My husband was worried during the planning that I was going overboard with the chevron print, but it turned out to be just enough and people loved it. The gray linens and yellow napkins really just made it all pop!
I took inspiration from a Pinterest post about spray painted wine bottles and spray painted 30 beer bottles bright yellow since my husband is huge beer geek. (Yes—he drank them all, but not in one night!) These were used as vases on half of our tables while the rest of our centerpieces utilized buckets I found in the $1 aisle of Target. We got many compliments throughout the day on our fun color scheme. I also created our programs, table numbers and signage, ring-bearer sign, and escort cards. It was just enough DIY without being too much. Then again, with our venue, you didn’t need too much because it is so beautiful on its own.
We got married at The Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, California (which is on the delta, south of Sacramento). It is literally an old sugar mill built in the 1930s that was recently purchased and turned into a winery. The building is made of brick and is just stunning. Parts of the building have not been yet been restored and are utilized for photographs, which is what you see in the bridal-party photos and family photos.
The ceremony was out back under a gorgeous wrought-iron arch. We included a handfasting ceremony and wrote our own vows to personalize it for us. Hearing my husband’s vows was a surreal and awesome experience.
The reception was held in the main building, called the galleria, where about 10 different wineries rent out rooms for wine tasting. During business hours, you can go and wine taste at any of these places. It’s a fantastic one-stop shop! After they close, the galleria is transformed into a bride’s dream room. All wineries close except one, Carvalho Family Winery, who hosts the bar for the evening. Since they are open to the public until 5:00 PM , the turnaround time for getting the room set up is only about an hour and a half. The gorgeousness that can be seen throughout the room couldn’t have been possible without my awesome DOC, Rachelle, with Cain Event Planning, and my caterer (who supplied the linens), Crisp Catering.
Even though I was very type-A throughout the planning process, I had no part in setting up the room. I was able to give her all of the decor items, with instructions on where they were to go, and boy did she deliver! Looking at the room for the first time was amazing. I was able to see my vision come to life and I felt like I was on an episode of My Fair Wedding with David Tutera—I was absolutely giddy with excitement. My husband was amazing throughout the whole planning process by letting me take the reins, and he was in just as much in awe as I.
Finally, one of the most special touches, was our dessert. My husband and I aren’t huge fans of cake, so we had a family friend make chocolate chip cookies and then they were served atop mini martini glasses. Her recipe is actually a secret family recipe that is passed through the generations. As one guest said after the fact, eating one of her cookies was a “life-changing event.” I was worried that the cake would be missed, but I can assure you, it was not.
What were your favorite or most memorable aspects of your wedding day?
Obviously, the whole getting married part was amazing, but there are so many other aspects that still leave us smiling when we look back on them. First, we kicked off the night by entering the reception to a mix made by my husband of Nicki Minaj’s “Moment for Life” and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us.” Guests were clapping their hands and stomping on the ground with us to the beat as we all sang along. It was amazing and set the vibe for the rest of the evening.
As the only daughter, and a daddy’s little girl to boot, one of the most memorable aspects of the day was my dance with my dad. About 30 seconds into the song, he broke down crying on my shoulder—I haven’t seen him cry like that since his mom passed away 20 years ago. I know they were happy tears, but I still tear up whenever I look at that picture or even think about that moment. After I wiped away his tears (coming full circle from all the times he did this for me when boys broke my heart), he regained composure and took me on a spin around the dance floor, garnering cheers from the crowd.
Another great decision was our last-minute purchase of yellow sunglasses for our guests because the sun would be setting in their line of vision during the ceremony. This was absolutely the best $300 we spent. People popped out the lenses and wore them all night on the dance floor! It was amazing and so.much.fun.
Finally, we will always remember this moment: during our kick-ass and unforgettable dance party (that included an impromptu “runway” show), my SIL came jumping up to us and said “I never want your wedding to end!” It was everything we had wanted our guests to feel and to hear it that night was fantastic and a dream come true.
I could go on and on about the amazingness that happened that day (even Timmy Lincecum got in on the action and pitched a no-hitter for me much to the dismay of my Dodger loving in-laws!)—it was seriously the best and most fun day of our lives. In fact, I slept better the night before my wedding than the night of my wedding because all I could think that night was “That was so much fun. Can we do it again?” (as my new husband snored away next to me).
Is there anything you would have done differently?
We ended up having some extra money in the budget, and I wish I had thought to ask my parents to hire a videographer. We had originally looked into it in the beginning of planning but didn’t think it would fit into the budget. However, it probably would have and I think it is something my parents would have enjoyed so much that they would have gone for it. Oh, and don’t forget your handfasting ribbon in your bridal bag in the bridal suite! Luckily, my bridesmaid and MOH were quick-thinking and took the ribbon off my flower-girl bouquets when it came time for this part of the ceremony.
Do you have any advice for future brides?
I think the advice that is repeated over and over again “Soak it all in—it goes by so quickly” couldn’t be more true. I tried to keep this in my head throughout the day, but it still wasn’t enough. There are parts of the day that are already a distant memory and it has only been two months. Also, when you’re doing family pictures, make an announcement after the ceremony to have family members stay behind for photos so they don’t go off and find a drink and then you have to track them down. Designate your MOH (or someone else) to be in charge of your photo-list of family photos you want so that all the photographer has to do is take the pictures while someone else can dictate and tell family members when they’re needed. It saves so much time. We had huge families and still managed to be finished in 35 minutes and got to enjoy part of our cocktail hour!
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