Despite living only several miles apart in Los Angeles and working in similar jobs, Alyson Meyer and Leonardo Bravo met when they attended a museum educator’s conference in Bozeman, Montana in 1999. Later, while hiking with friends in Yellowstone Park each thought the other to be interesting, energetic, committed and witty. Back in Los Angeles, Leonardo invited Alyson to visit his studio in Chinatown and soon thereafter the two began dating. Leonardo proposed to Alyson with a ring enclosed in a hand-painted scroll on Valentine’s Day.
Alyson, a graphic designer, and Leonardo, a painter, let their personalities and artistic talents infuse every aspect of their wedding. The couple created a memorable experience in a natural setting. The wedding was held at River House, an 1870s farmhouse located in the picturesque North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. Alyson and Leonardo wanted a west-coast modern style to their country wedding so they chose to import Los Angeles vendors along with vendors from North Carolina. The result was an inimitable mix of the urbane and the rustic. The artistic couple each chose a color to guide the look and feel of their wedding: Carolina blue and chocolate. These colors were used throughout, from the invitations, floral design and gift bags, to the groomsmen’s bow ties. Alyson created her own invitations using baby blue paper imported from a century-old paper press in England, a blue hydrangea, and chocolate crystals.
The unique wedding weekend was attended by friends and family from all over the world. They welcomed each guest with a gift bag that included a traditional Moravian beeswax candle, trail mix, herbal soap made in the mountains and a CD of their favorite driving tunes. The rehearsal dinner at River House served up North Carolina deep barbecue pork. Leonardo’s cousin from Chile, who is famous for her empanadas and ships them to clients as far away as France, gave a lesson to the River House chef Bill Klein. Guests sampled seasonal cobbler with blackberries on the veranda and enjoyed the Appalachian music from a local bluegrass musician who has played at Carnegie Hall.
The spreading branches of a 400-year-old sycamore on the bank of the ancient river framed the outdoor wedding and emphasized the unifying theme of the natural environment in the couple’s wedding commitment to each other. The picturesque vignette was embellished with the couple’s signature colors. The bride’s bouquet was created from light blue and white hydrangea, surrounded with cascading hasta leaves and gardenias in the center for fragrance. Alyson wore a gardenia in her hair and the maid of honor carried a pomander, a round arrangement of blue hydrangea hanging from a chocolate velvet ribbon.
The quaint and moving ceremony was followed by culinary art blending the couple’s two heritages. First, a tasting and cocktail hour by the river’s edge featured both buckwheat blinis with smoked salmon and chilean pisco sours, the national drink of Chile. Following the reception, guests enjoyed a tapas-style dinner. The wedding cake appeared traditional, but was made from orange and walnut with chocolate genoise, grand marnier and buttercream.
The couple created a limited edition art piece, as a favor for each guest, using a hand-carved woodblock made by Alyson’s father in 1955, antique wood and metal letterpress type. As a reminder of the gathering under the ancient sycamore tree, Alyson and Leonardo chose to include the poem, Trees, by Sara Coleridge. Just as the poem unites art and nature, so did this exquisite wedding in the Blue Ridge mountains unite these two people.