Out of all the women in the vast city of Chicago, Travis Vaniter chose Brittany Metz to both insult and woo all in a single weekend. “I told ‘Freckles’ [Brittany] she wore too much makeup, only to then tell her I loved her the next night,” admits Travis Vaniter, smiling, as he recalls his first encounter with his beloved.
About a year later, Travis found himself asking Brittany’s father, grandfather, and uncle for their blessings to ask for her hand in marriage. He later surprised his sweetheart with her dream ring while celebrating her 31st birthday. “The way we fell in love is a fairy tale, how he proposed was a fairy tale, and then the wedding he gave me was just that,” shares the bride.
The location for their destination wedding was inspired by their own love story. “Since our first date was on the West Coast at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and he proposed on the West Coast at TreeHouse Point in Woodenville, we felt it would be rather appropriate to be married [in the region] too,” Brittany explains. With respect to these milestones and their love for wine, the bride and groom elected to host their nuptials at a gorgeous family winery in Kenwood, California, near Sonoma.
With the help of Stephanie Cole of Cole Drake Events, the alfresco soirée embodied romance, showcased rustic, elegant details, and incorporated the formal elements of a black-tie event – “with just a touch of fairy tale,” the bride adds with a grin. Brittany and Travis found the planning aspect exciting and enjoyed each stage. “It was something he and I wanted to do together,” she confirms. “He attended all of the appointments with me – he even went with me to my hair and makeup trials!”
Two floral arrangements were placed at the entrance of the ceremony aisle, where attendees found their seats at cushioned benches. Towering trees framed the makeshift altar perfectly, while a handcrafted arbor of reclaimed wood, wild greenery, and sheer curtains marked the spot for the vow exchange. A string quartet began to play as bridesmaids processed, each wearing pewter-colored gowns, but in differing styles and silhouettes. Brittany and her father shared a few special moments together as they were chauffeured to the vineyard in a vintage convertible Packard.
Brittany stunned onlookers as she stepped out of the vehicle in a sparkling gown with cutouts along the bodice, a silk-satin skirt, and an eye-catching Y-back. She held a timeless bouquet of cascading orchids and garden roses; a perfect combination to complement her sophisticated bridal style. Once she joined Travis, the reverend began to read stories of their courtship, which the bride and groom wrote, respectively, to be shared with their loved ones. “We did not share them with each other prior; however, it was quite remarkable the similar points that were made with each, though with our own personal twists!” she describes.
In accordance with the destination theme, the couple created a directional sign that incorporated meaningful locations along with pointed arrows guiding guests to the cocktail area, dinner, etc. “We made a travel-distance sign that gave the miles to all our favorite travel destinations. Coachella, where we got engaged, St. Maarten, which is where we spend holidays, our honeymoon locale, and so on,” the groom illustrates. “It was very personal.”
The reception décor reflected that of the ceremony in an effort to create a nice flow for the day. Tablescapes were decorated with glass-encased succulents, bunches of florals, fruit dishes, lanterns, and antique books. Tables were marked by “Chapters,” as a nod to their fairy-tale story.
Brittany and Travis opted to forgo a traditional wedding cake and replaced it with a rhubarb pie to commemorate the groom’s grandmother, who passed away a few months prior to the celebration and was well-known for her pie baking. Additionally, a fire pit area with a picturesque view of the vineyard was dedicated to making gourmet s’mores.
Loved ones enjoyed the overall ambience while drinking glasses of wine, lounging, and conversing. They also flooded the dance floor as a 10-piece band played a large variety of tunes. “It was epic!” Travis exclaims.
Although the wedding is now a memory, Brittany is overjoyed that her special day and newlywed life are a dream come true. “Growing up, you picture this perfect wedding, with the perfect guy,” she muses. “And to be quite honest, who I have as a husband and the wedding we had was better than anything I had ever envisioned.”