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 Kelsey and Dave

It’s not often we feature a destination wedding in the USA , but today’s celebration, planned across country seemed like something a little different.  Kelsey and Dave’s Putah Creek Lodge Destination Wedding was complimented by sweet sunshine yellow, a beautiful venue with sentimental meaning and plenty of handmade touches by the newlyweds. All captured by Heather Elizabeth Photography.

Kelsey tells their story. “We met when I was a grad student and he was a post doc. We fell in love after Dave was finally able to meet my sometimes horribly high standards. :)”

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Kelsey chose a lace wedding gown by Mikaella Bridal.

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David wore a suit from 9tailors, noting, “David felt strongly about wearing a three-piece suit because of the formality of the occasion, but the color took us awhile to settle on. One night we were playing board games with our friends and they had invited another couple along, too.

Their friend is a talented artist whose artwork is showcased around the world; when he heard we were getting married, he contemplated for a bit and then said, “I picture you in a slate gray suit. Lean more toward the gray, but definitely on the blue, not green, side of gray. That would look really good with your coloring.” David, being an artist himself (though a musician), was instantly set on having a slate gray suit. We searched forever to find him one! Finally, he decided to get one custom made from a local Boston shop. We love to say that an artist helped decide our wedding colors!”

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Of her walk down the aisle, Kelsey remembers, “David makes ambient music, so I deferred to his expertise on most musical aspects. He said that whenever he pictured me walking down the aisle, it was always to Andrew Bayer’s “Closing Act.” It’s a gorgeous piece, slow and hopeful and just the right amount of bittersweet so as not to be saccharine. He edited the song so the timing was right for the entire bridal party to walk in to it and when the swell hits at the 3-minute mark that was my cue to begin walking. I still tear up when I’m listening and the swell comes in!”

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The couple chose Putah Creek Lodge, University of California for their wedding venue, noting, “Both my parents work at UCDavis, so I’ve grown up around the campus and have spent countless hours enjoying the Arboretum. When we got engaged and started talking about venues, I thought the Lodge would be great because I already knew I liked it and we didn’t have the luxury of visiting different places since we were planning from across the country. Plus, the Lodge’s ability to host both the ceremony and the reception appealed strongly to us. With guests from Canada, England, and a few other countries, we wanted to keep transport to a minimum and quality time with guests to the maximum (and limit the chances of anyone getting lost)!”

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Reverend Tan officiated the ceremony, “We wanted the ceremony to feel both personal and traditional, so we spent a long time writing the entire thing together using a traditional template as the starting point. It was important to us to emphasize our love and appreciation for our family and friends, and to acknowledge the distances they traveled to be there to support us.

We went back and forth about writing our own vows versus using traditional ones, and ultimately decided that traditional vows were traditional for a reason: they succinctly and sacredly address all the major promises that go into a lifetime of love.

We included three readings to mark the beginning, middle, and end of the ceremony: Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare to bring gravitas and regality to the ceremony (read by David’s father; his British accent worked wonderfully!), an excerpt from “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams to convey childlike wonder and sweetly define love (read by David’s brother), and a shortened version of “Blessing For a Marriage” by James Dillet Freeman to end the ceremony with hope and positivity (read by my mother).”

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G Rossi styled the flowers, Kelsey telling, “I  loved our florist: when I met her, she instantly understood the look I was going for so I gave her full creative freedom to put together whatever flowers she thought looked best in white and yellow. She was also incredibly sweet and bubbly, and clearly passionate about creating gorgeous arrangements. When she showed up during set-up, the flowers were even more beautiful than I could have imagined! She did exactly what I was picturing in my head but wouldn’t have been able to put into words if I had had to ask her.”

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Kelsey notes, “David and I both agree that the people made our wedding. Our family and friends together in one place, laughing and getting to know each other, was the greatest gift and our fondest memory. Second, we spread out the celebrations: family dinner, rehearsal dinner, wedding, brunch and hanging out at my family’s house the day after, and relaxing with extended family and friends in the days before they left. It felt like a wedding week full of joy, and I’d recommend every couple try to have more than just one day with their guests if they can!”

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Of their photographer, Kelsey notes, “Heather is phenomenal. Her photos are stunning and full of emotion; she has an eye for capturing the perfect photo at the perfect moment. I spent a long time researching wedding photographers in the area that were within our budget and sent David a list of my top ten.

Heather was my number one choice, but she was also the most expensive. David ranked his choices and we compared: we had different rankings for everyone except for Heather, who was the top choice for both of us. Feeling like it was fate, we reached out to her, praying she was available that day and willing to alter her packages to work with our budget. When she was, we booked her immediately – we live across the country, so we couldn’t meet her in person. But her photos speak for themselves and her emails were so pleasant that we felt confident signing from afar. Hiring Heather as our photographer was one of the best decisions we made regarding our wedding… aside from getting married, of course!”

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“Planning a wedding from across the country meant we were restricted to small DIY touches, the size we could carry across the country or get done in the week before the wedding once we were in California. Things like the table numbers, various signs (guest book info, escort card info, etc.), and music paper heart punches for the tables.

My bridesmaids helped, too: one of my maids of honor made the ring bearer pillows, and another bridesmaid made both 30-foot fabric bunting banners. I made my veil over the course of a 6-hour binge-TV-watching session, and a bridesmaid, my mom, and I cut out fabric circles and ribbon to tie around the jam jar favors.

My favorite DIY project, though, was the escort cards. It required the efforts of both sets of parents, various relatives, scouring Facebook pages, and many hours spent deliberating between great photos for great people. Even though it was the most time-consuming DIY, it was also the most personal and most noticeable to guests – and thus absolutely worth all the work! Everyone enjoyed the trip down memory lane, and we now have a fantastic album of photos reminding us of each one of our honored guests. ”

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“Our wedding was special to us because we interspersed tons of personal details: we had people sign records from our favorite music groups, we sprinkled the tables with paper hearts cut out from sheet music of the concert we first attended together, we had a fire pit with s’mores because David proposed to me on the camping trip where I first introduced him to s’mores, I tied a locket to my bouquet containing an inside-joke from our first months of dating, my best friend and maid of honor sewed the ring bearer pillows for us, and so much more. Everything felt so personal and full of love!”

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Of their first dance, Kelsey remembers, “I love blues dancing, so David took blues lessons with me and we practiced in my living room until he felt comfortable leading on his own. Our first dance was free form but influenced by the blues skills David picked up in the lessons. We danced to a cover of “Such Great Heights” by Iron & Wine (originally by The Postal Service).

Before David asked me on a date, we exchanged music every day for a few weeks and he sent me this cover during that period. Months later when I was in Australia for a research trip and missing David like crazy, I sent him this song back because it reminded me of him and our love. We have too many songs to have just one that’s “our song,” but we both agreed this was a lovely, sentimental choice.”

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Spleeny Films were there to capture the day in motion.

Congratulations Kelsey and Dave! Thank you for sharing your story with us! Thank you also to Heather Elizabeth Photography  for sharing today’s wedding!