On the day she became engaged, Megan Murray and her family were gathered together at one of their famous Sunday dinners, this time at the small Sonoma restaurant where Megan's sister Lauren was a chef. Her boyfriend Brian Westcoat seized the opportunity to make a toast, one that Megan thought would be an encore of a similar speech he'd given only recently. "I actually told him to be quiet and sit down," admits Megan. Undeterred, Brian continued, and at the end, he got down on bended knee and asked her to be his wife. "Lauren started crying and had to re-chop the food she was preparing," recalls Megan. They were the first couple to get engaged at the restaurant and considered their lucky location in the dining room -- table number seven -- something to keep in mind.
So, when they discovered that 7/7/07 was a Saturday, Megan and Brian agreed that it was the perfect date for their wedding. They also had little problem deciding that, while the ceremony was better suited to a neighbor's expansive pool area, the Northern California home of Megan's parents would make an ideal location for the outdoor reception; it allowed them to pay tribute to all those Sunday dinners the Murrays hold so dear. "I wanted my wedding to have the warmth of a good meal with friends but also have beautiful unexpected touches that would wow even the people who had been to my parents' home on numerous occasions," explains the bride. With the assistance of wedding coordinator Rebecca Reategui, Megan and Brian turned both the ceremony and reception locations into the cozy and inspiring environments they had envisioned.
The décor concept all started with a page that Megan had torn out of an interior design magazine, one that showed a copper vase filled with large blooms and oranges still on the branch. The design team took this concept and ran with it, infusing the two properties with the summery appeal of a citrus grove. Whole oranges, lemons, and limes, citrus-colored flowers, and a circular motif representing sliced fruit enriched the already verdant surroundings. From the whimsical paper products to the dramatic floral pieces, Megan and Brian's citrus-themed wedding was a carefully designed package full of beauty and meaning. "It wasn't pretentious or overt but thoughtful and quietly elegant," says the bride.
Chairs with lime green cushions were arranged for the ceremony, each one tied with a circular wedding program. The programs contained a special thanks to all the different groups of people that had touched the couple's lives, and the shape mimicked the abstract copper and floral circles that adorned the trees, spinning in the wind overhead. The flower girls signaled the start of the ceremony by ringing a large bell seven times, the younger girl surprising (and amusing) the crowd by counting each ring aloud.
After becoming husband and wife, the couple retreated for some necessary alone time. "Brian truly enjoyed the fact that we spent the first ten minutes of the cocktail hour tucked away in a bedroom with a sampling of appetizers and glasses of Prosecco," says Megan. "It gave us a minute to catch our breath and bask in the glow of finally being married." But they soon joined their loved ones, walking beneath archways bursting with fresh oranges and lemons to get to the reception. Guests plucked lemon slice-shaped escort cards from a wall of leaves and found their seats at dinner tables nestled around the Murrays' lantern-filled pool. Various arrangements of flowers and fruits in the citrus palette graced the tables in rustic copper vessels.
"We wanted the food to be delicious, pleasing to the eye, and representative of the local cuisine we enjoy," explains Megan. And so, the group dined on elegantly plated courses of roasted beet salad, filet of beef with panzanella (Italian bread and tomato salad), a variety of passed sorbets, and a dazzling display of petite desserts. This included bite-sized pieces of the couple's unique wedding cake, an oversized version of a Snickers-inspired dessert designed expressly for Megan and Brian by their caterer.
As the sun sank lower in the sky, the setting took on a magical effect. Tiny lights that were camouflaged in the trees began to twinkle, and the hundreds of luminaries arranged around the property lent a cozy glow. Guests danced and huddled together on lounge furniture, some even putting their wedding favors -- sweatshirts -- to good use. The shirts, marked with nothing more than a cryptic "7," provided warmth and entertainment well beyond the wedding night. "I have heard from guests that occasionally, while wearing the sweatshirt, they might see someone at the grocery store wearing the same. They smile at each other and know the meaning behind it. It's like a secret handshake," beams Megan.