Upon meeting at a mutual friend’s wedding, Sara Cieniewski and Bret Butcher found themselves wondering how their paths hadn’t crossed before, despite both being so close to the newlyweds. The pair struck up a romantic relationship, and Bret soon realized he wanted to spend the rest of his life with his girlfriend. Following a sentimental, lakeside proposal, the duo began their 15-month journey toward planning their big day. 

Sara and Bret’s wedding planner, Tessa Brand of Tessa Lyn Events, worked tirelessly with the couple to bring their idyllic vision to life. “She kept us informed and on track – and she ensured everything was executed properly,” gushes the bride. As they created their dreamy event, Sara received some poignant advice about preparing for your nuptials: “trust your planner!” she exclaims. “We found ourselves being too involved in everything – initially, it was hard to defer to someone else. However, once we did, we felt the process greatly improve.”

Desiring an outdoor wedding, the bride and groom selected a venue in Sonoma County in Northern California – a sprawling winery to give their vow exchange an organic feel. 106 guests gathered under a grove of tall trees, sitting in polished wooden chairs facing a view of rolling hills. The dirt aisle was lined with ivory flower petals, which matched the blooms used to adorn the backs of the chairs and the arrangements placed at the opening of the space. “We wanted the florals to feel romantic,” says the bride of their blush, peach, and white blooms. Bret and his 10 groomsmen awaited the arrival of the ladies at the end of the aisle, all sporting light greyish-blue suits. Bridesmaids floated down the aisle in pink gowns, all different styles, with silver and metallic detailing. Finally, Sara made her grand entrance in a stunning fitted lace gown with a low back and a train.

After the ceremony, friends and family adjourned to the lounge area, where they had the chance to play lawn games such as corn hole. In addition to the provided activities, attendees were also given access to vintage Polaroid cameras, allowing them to snap away during the remainder of the event. Once tapas had been served, revelers found their seats at long wooden tablescapes bedecked with delicate lace runners and small clusters of lush blooms for their sit-down dinner. Place settings consisted of crisp white china atop gem-rimmed charger plates with loaves of bread denoting each guest’s name on a custom tag. All were able to enjoy delicious fare underneath the large trees and strung-up lights. “I think the setting was pretty unique,” Sara remarks. “The views were incredible no matter where one looked and you felt so far removed from everything else.”

The celebration kept up well into the night, revelers resting only to enjoy the three-tier naked wedding cake that perfectly complemented the surrounding landscape. The newlyweds enjoyed their slices at their small sweetheart table featuring a cascading, verdant runner. “During dinner, looking out at the whole crowd – that was special,” muses the bride. As far as sentimental touches go, the new Mr. and Mrs. will have one extra surprise waiting for them down the road. “We decided to create a box that contains a bottle of wine and cards to one another, to be opened on a day when we are struggling – or after many years of bliss, – to be opened and celebrated!” Sara beams.