Actually, there’s a LOT you can’t do in my hometown, a rural county nestled next to Sonoma and Napa. But no matter, as the setting of our wedding, it’s the natural beauty of this area that counts:
Rolling vineyards flanking North America’s largest, oldest lake, Clear Lake.
It took a long time to decide to have the wedding here. Not because I didn’t want to, but because my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and we didn’t know how long we’d be able to keep her in her house, and thus whether or not we could plan a wedding there. She became sick shortly after my beloved grandpa died, three years ago. They had been married for more than 55 years. She lives in a beautiful lake home where my brother and I practically grew up; we spent countless weekends and summers here, as we lived in the same town as our grandparents. It’s a tiny town called Kelseyville, with a population that’s always hovered around 1,500.
Here, we learned how to swim, fish, row a boat, find arrowheads, build rafts and forts, and spent hours mucking about on the lakeshore. I had an exceptionally close bond with my grandpa; the whole family agrees I was his favorite. We just clicked, and I count him as the most important person and role model in my life.
He and I would garden for hours together on their half-acre property, take walks, row around the lake, talk politics, joke around and write letters back and forth. To tease me for trying to learn French, he once wrote a letter which was simply the French instructions from a tool manual that he had copied verbatim. He’d write me at camp, and at college. I still have all the letters. His nickname for me was “Squirrel”. The nickname was, he said, because at an early age I could “climb trees like a squirrel, and run full-speed through all the strawberry and flower plots without so much as snapping a stem.”
To give you an idea of how loveable, funny and witty a person he was, I’ll tell you this story: as a young gipper, I loved to ride on the back of the neighbors’ dog, Dulce, a gentle rottweiler. I’d ride her in the lake, clutching the scruff of her neck. Because I was kind-hearted, I supplied arm floaties to help her out a little bit. Dulce once spotted her owners waaay out on the lake fishing, and, forgetting I was on her back, doggie paddled all the way out to the boat where thankfully they pulled us in.
Anyway, Dulce loved going between people’s legs and just standing there while they petted her. She got so used to me being on her back that one day, she came up behind me (I was about six) and nosed her way underneath me and through my legs, lifting me onto her back! Well, my feet dangled for about 10 seconds, as I sat on her back, surprised. I remember hearing my grandpa’s chuckle as I slipped and fell right off of her back and took a quick tumble down the porch steps we’d both been standing on. I landed smack on the rough brick pathway and skinned my knee. My grandpa to the rescue: “Oh, no! Oh no!” he exclaimed, as he rushed to my side.
“Are my bricks okay?!?!”
He could never fail to make me laugh.
This house, and this place, mean more to me than anywhere in the world. That is why I am so glad, and why it means so much to me to marry here.
I used to dream of marrying by the lakeshore. From time to time, I’d ask my grandpa, “Pleeeease, plant a willow tree so I can some day get married underneath it, just like in Frog Went A-Courting!”
“But, it will block the view of the lake! We’re not planting a willow tree!”
When I got a little older, however, he unexpectedly did! Albeit it was way off to the side by the fence so it wouldn’t block the view.
A few years before he died, he planted four more willow trees, sprinkled around the dock and where, if they grew big and strong, they would completely block the view. I got my wish: I will marry beneath a willow tree. Thank you grandpa, for planting them.
I think he planted so many because he wanted to be sure I’d have at least one tree to choose from, in case the trees didn’t survive.
Here are some photos my brother took of the view from the house recently (mind you, this is the dead of winter when things are unkempt and dormant):
The view from the house, where the ceremony will take place!
Can’t you picture a bride here in a couture gown, leaning against the post?
And finally, the sunset. One of the reasons why we’re having an evening ceremony.
Is your venue a place of significance to you?