Stephanie Brinker and Jack Koenig’s first date was more than they ever could have hoped for. “Coffee quickly turned into a long walk, which turned into dinner, which turned into drinks… Neither of us wanted the date to end!” shares Stephanie. Jack adds, “At one point, I was a little worried that I wasn’t playing it ‘cool’ enough and would scare her off, but we just clicked so easily, there was never any question that we belonged together.” 

Three weeks before the world was forced to shelter in place due to Covid, Stephanie and Jack moved in together. “We were both internally a little nervous about how living together during a pandemic would go, but of course, everything was perfect and we both cherish the uninterrupted time we had together during that very strange year,” Jack remembers. Before long, he proposed in front of their Christmas tree after New Year’s Eve. “Our cats were a little perturbed by the sudden enthusiastic shouting, crying, and Facetiming everyone we knew, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Stephanie muses. 

Though they initially considered a destination wedding in Europe, Stephanie and Jack ultimately decided to keep their celebration local to the Bay Area. “We love living here and think the food, weather, and scenery is unmatched!” affirms the bride of their decision to say “I do” in Napa Valley. 

On the spring day of the wedding ceremony, the bride walked down the aisle in a timeless strapless gown carrying a hand-tied bouquet of clematis, lisianthus, sweet peas, astilbe, lily of the valley, and garden roses. She and Jack were married by the mother of the groom, a retired federal magistrate judge, in front of a round floral arch of seasonal florals such as hydrangeas, lilacs, roses, lisianthus, and stock in creamy tones accentuated by darker foliage including camellia, huckleberry, bay, and nagi. As they walked back up the aisle as husband and wife, friends and family tossed rose petals in celebration. 

“[We loved looking around and] realizing that everyone near and dear to our hearts were right there with us, sharing a beautiful meal under the stars in Napa Valley in celebration of our love.”

After cocktail hour, loved ones found their seats at long, rectangular tables arranged on a manicured lawn beneath whimsical paper lanterns. An elegant color palette of ivory and French blue set the tone for the natural garden wedding feel the couple desired for their nuptials. Lush and low centerpieces featured ruscus, camellia, and bay foliage along with white majolica garden roses, lisianthus, and stock, all of which were accented by candle votives, which really set the scene once the sun went down. 

Guests enjoyed a sit-down dinner featuring California-inspired fare, such as a kale salad to start, followed by a fennel and rosemary-spiced pork tenderloin, wood-grilled filet mignon, or a vegetable risotto. As Jack is from Texas and “any good Texan knows a wedding must include a groom’s cake,” laughs Stephanie, guests also enjoyed slices of a two-tiered guava and passionfruit cake covered with rainbow sprinkles for Stephanie and a chocolate and raspberry cake in the shape of Texas for Jack. “We wanted to have fun with our wedding cakes!” adds the bride. 

Though their special day went by much too fast, Stephanie remembers one of favorite wedding memories being the time during dinner when she and Jack took a moment to look out at their guests, “realizing that everyone near and dear to our hearts were right there with us, sharing a beautiful meal under the stars in Napa Valley in celebration of our love,” she reminisces. 

For other couples planning their dream weddings, the bride suggests: “Choose three things you value most in a wedding and allocate more of your budget to those ‘big ticket’ items. Not every aspect of your wedding can have an unlimited budget, so spending more on the things you truly care about can help anchor your planning expectations and process.”