The ring arrived while Shaun was in Europe on business. The idea that the most important piece of jewelry he ever purchased would be sitting in his Brooklyn mailroom made the prospective groom more than a little uneasy. His solution? Have the ring sent to Kate’s parents, affording him the perfect opportunity to ask for their blessing when he picked it up.

The next week, Kate and Shaun went to Scotland for his cousin’s wedding. “I am a planner by nature,” Kate explains, “but on this trip, Shaun wanted to try something different […] We rented a car, bought a paper map, and headed out on a road trip across Scotland with absolutely no plans, reservations, or idea of what direction we would be going in.” Little did Kate know that Shaun was looking for opportunities to propose at each stop. “The perfect spot appeared,” tells Shaun, “but I didn’t do it quickly enough and suddenly Kate wanted to keep driving: opportunity lost.” But eventually, Shaun found the ideal location; he proposed on a mountaintop overlooking the ocean, reflecting on how it all began.

“We met at a bar […] in New York City in October of [2011], as winter was just stretching its legs,” shares the groom. Shaun and Kate found they were able to converse with ease, as if they had known each other for years instead of hours. After the soon-to-be couple departed for the night, they both knew they’d have to see each other again. “I left that night feeling I got a chance to read chapter one in a great book about a boy from Australia, and my only hope was that I could keep reading,” Kate gushes. The groom adds that he went home “with a little spring in my step – a spring of controlled optimism.”

Kate happily said yes to Shaun’s destination proposal, and they eagerly began wedding planning upon their return to the States. The dress was the easiest decision, as Kate’s sister-in-law owns Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Washington, DC. “She was at bridal market and saw Mira Zwillinger’s runway preview. She called me after the show and told me she found the dress I would wear to my wedding. I wasn't even engaged at that point… But she was right,” reveals Kate.

Through her sister-in-law, Kate met her wedding planners, who went on the hunt to find the perfect vendors that fit all of the couple’s needs. “[The venue] was really the only thing we went into the planning process knowing that we wouldn’t compromise on,” divulges Kate. The bride and groom strongly desired a space with accommodations, but didn’t want to wed in a hotel. “We had recently moved to Oakland after spending 13 years in New York City and we wanted to spend our wedding weekend with our best friends that we missed so much,” Kate explains. With a 95-person guest list, the celebration was more about a full weekend with close friends and family than one big blow out. After viewing some lovely venues in Northern California’s wine country, nothing seemed to be the perfect fit. Encouraged by their wedding planners to take the trip to San Luis Obispo, Shaun and Kate fell in love as soon as they arrived to a stunning ranch and vineyard. “The grounds are effortlessly beautiful and there are vacation homes on the property where we were able to house our nearest and dearest,” tells the bride.

The day of the ceremony arrived, and the nature-inspired nuptials were highlighted by the couple’s rescued dachshund-beagle mix, Olive, roaming around the grounds. “There were lots of olive sprigs, branches, and trees incorporated into the décor in honor of our sweet pup!” Kate shares. At 4PM on the windy afternoon, the bride walked down the aisle to a “Con Te Partirò,” a song that has been used in many of her family members’ weddings. She carried a hand-tied bouquet with garden roses, ranunculuses, poppies, hellebores, and trailing clematis with foliage of jasmine and local olive. The touching ceremony had an especially sentimental officiant – the bride’s older brother, RJ. “I knew RJ would do a great job, but I was absolutely blown away by his speech and how much thought and care he took in personalizing such a beautiful (and funny) ceremony,” Kate admits.

The reception was in the style of a dinner party, held in the vintage barn at the ranch. Wooden chandeliers wrapped with greenery were suspended from the high ceilings. Soft ivory floor-to-ceiling curtains filled the space between the three long tables for the couple’s friends and family. “Our centerpieces were built into Campo de' Fiori aged vessels and included dahlias, anemones, ranunculuses, garden roses, and local olive tree branches,” explains Kate. Continuing with their natural theme, the place cards were made from sprigs of olive paired with round engraved wooden menus.

The cake had briefly been a source of conflict between the bride and her mother. Shaun and Kate had decided that with two rounds of desserts, they did not need a formal wedding cake. The mother of the bride couldn’t understand why they would not include the tradition, but when Kate relayed this disagreement to Shaun, he said, “Kate, all your mom wants is a wedding cake? They are being so generous and throwing us an amazing wedding weekend. I'll jump out of a cake for her if that's what she wants.” The bride fondly remembers this exchange because it reminds her of why she fell in love with her husband: “He is eternally supportive all while being able to keep things in perspective.” Kate and her mom ended up designing the three-tiered confection with handmade cascading ranunculus flowers, leaves, blossoms, and branches. “It turned out to be such a fun process and I couldn't be happier that we ended up having the cake there. Moms are always right,” she smiles.

When thinking of future brides, Kate advises, “Try to keep in mind what’s important – marrying the person you love.” Shaun, who was equally involved in the wedding planning, also suggests sage advice: invite only those you love, enjoy every moment, and above all, relax and take it in. He concludes, “Walk away for ten minutes and look back at what you, your new wife, and your life to date created.”