When Hannah Stephens first met Joe Harden at a college party, she accidentally spilled her entire glass of wine down the walking boot he was wearing due to a sprained ankle. This must have made quite an impression on the future Robert Mondavi Winery winemaker because a relationship soon blossomed.
Not surprisingly, when it was time to plan their rustic wedding, the couple selected a winery surrounded by vineyard and scenic rolling hills in the Livermore Valley. The ceremony took place on a verdant lawn where one thousand paper cranes – all crafted by Hannah’s mother and her family – fluttered in the gentle summer breeze from the branches of trees. “In the Japanese culture – my mother is Japanese – it is believed that paper cranes at your wedding will bring good luck to the bride and groom,” explains Hannah.
The couple’s beloved dog, Riley, donned a tuxedo bib for the occasion and joined the bridal party down the aisle, which was sprinkled with white rose petals. Hannah and Joe exchanged vows at an altar composed of a wooden arch draped with ivory fabric and a garland of verdure and pearl flowers. Strings of vanilla gardenias suspended from the structure created a delicate, fragrant curtain. Hannah was aglow in a strapless gown with a frothy skirt and a chapel-length veil over her blonde curls as she stood next to Joe, who was handsomely attired in a black tuxedo and tie. Wine barrels topped with potted hydrangea plants framed the scene.
As the reception was getting under way, the couple took a brief leave of absence from the festivities. They hopped on a golf cart and headed to a spot on the golf course of the property that their photographer had scouted for a sunset portrait. “[From this vantage point,] we were able to look down at our wedding reception, have a moment to ourselves, and take in the night in progress,” recalls the bride of one of her most memorable moments of the evening.
The sit-down dinner was served in an open tent that surrounded a black-and-white checkerboard dance floor. Seating assignments were displayed on emerald wine bottles propped on a wooden board. Tables draped with pearl linens were adorned with round glass vessels, containing floating gardenias and candles, placed on mirror discs. Hannah’s mother used her creativity to craft personal touches for the décor, such as signs, runners, and table numbers. For the latter, she featured baby pictures of the bride and groom and used groupings of wine corks to make photo stands.
The couple had a special entertainment guest for the celebration: “Joe is close friends with Wente’s head winemaker, Karl Wente, and he agreed to have his band play at our wedding,” shares Hannah. “[They performed] outlaw country music and were a crowd favorite.” Beneath strings of twinkling market lights, the newlyweds and their guests danced the night away.