"I knew for a long time I wanted to marry Alana -- it was just a matter of timing," confides Javier Marmanillo about his bride Alana Edelmann. He was also seeking the perfect backdrop. "I wanted to propose to her where we could return in 20 years and relive the moment." After eleven years of dating, the timing was right, and the perfect locale presented itself on a drive to visit Alana's mother. "We were at the lake where we always stop to walk our dog Brady," Alana recalls. "Javier got on one knee, and I said, 'Did you drop something?' Then he pulled out the ring and I started to cry."
Timing and location were important considerations for the wedding as well. "Our favorite time of year is autumn, and we wanted a site that had crisp air and beautiful trees," says Alana. "My father is a great lover of wine, so Javier suggested we try Napa." The Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville Napa Valley had the fall foliage and intimate feel the couple was searching for, plus luxurious accommodations for guests. It also featured The Pavilion, a gorgeous outdoor ceremony venue with 16,000 sq. ft. of manicured lawns, fountains, and stone walkways located in the heart of the inn's Vintage Estate.
On the day of the wedding, The Pavilion's elegantly rustic appeal was beautifully offset with a thoroughly modern seating arrangement of long, cushioned benches that lightened the atmosphere. The couple's choice in ring bearer also brought some levity to the event -- Brady the dog did the honors in a custom outfit, and almost made it all the way down the aisle. "Javier and I are pretty casual, and really wanted our wedding to be happy and relaxed," Alana explains. "When I saw Brady go down the aisle before me, all I could do was laugh and smile." After Brady's comedic turn, Alana's father escorted her down a path blanketed in ivory roses and lined with black sculptures holding apricot rose petals. "The first time I got to see Alana, she looked incredible," Javier remembers. "Words really cannot describe her." Although the interfaith couple chose a nondenominational ceremony, they exchanged vows beneath a wooden chuppah suspended with spherical glass votives and entwined with branches, ivy, and bunches of roses. They also included a Catholic ring exchange, and Javier broke the glass at the end of the ceremony per Jewish custom.
After removing their seating cards from a beautiful floral arch, guests filed into the estate's historic Barrel Room for the reception. A grand, brick structure that was formerly used for wine maturation in the 1870s, the Barrel Room boasts a beam-and-rafter ceiling that supports enormous chandeliers made of wrought iron. The ethereal look of candles as the main decor element was enhanced with the natural beauty of vines, olive branches, and the occasional rose. "Visually, it turned out amazing," Javier declares. "It really made me feel like I was in a totally different world."
An enormous amount of thought went into the food and drink for the evening as well. "My father actually ordered in special wine from a favorite vineyard," says Alana. "Also, we didn't want to put 'meat or fish' on the reply card, so we decided to give people both!" A delicious shrimp appetizer and fresh Caesar salad preceded a double main course of grilled sturgeon paired with tender filet mignon. A Viennese table filled with miniature chocolate treats such as cheesecakes and tartlets tempted guests to indulge in dessert. The wedding cake was a vision of coral roses on green buttercream edged in chocolate, complete with a Swarovski-crystal cake topper. The groom's cake -- a special surprise from the bride -- was cleverly designed to resemble a Washington Redskins football, and gained the admiration of every male guest in attendance.
As a playful tribute to their long courtship, the couple chose a classic for their first-dance song: "At Last," by Etta James. However, their beautiful evening itself seemed to go by very quickly. "I wouldn't do anything differently," says Javier. "But if I'd had the power to slow down time, I would have for that night."