Real Weddings

REAL WEDDING | Wine Tasting Wedding in Napa Valley | Jessica & Andy Photography

Michele and Mark wanted an intimate and European feel to their wedding to pay homage to their travels to Napa, San Francisco and Italy. The two chose Burrowing Owl Estate Winery which was fitting as mark is a wine collector. Guests were able to partake in a wine tasting before the vow exchange. The night ended with a cocktail party and champagne toast poolside. Congratulations to the beautiful couple! We wish you many bottles of wine shared together for years to come.

Michele & Mark


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Tell us about your wedding: “From the Bride: Mark and I took our first trip to Napa and San Francisco when we had been dating for almost a year. We still say it was one of the best trips we’ve taken together. A few years later, we took a trip to Italy and fell in love with the food, culture, language and most importantly the wine. Mark is a wine collector, so it should be no surprise to our guests that we would select a winery for our wedding. We wanted an intimate and European feel to our wedding that would remind us of our trips to Napa and Italy and that we could share with the most special people in our lives. Having been to the Burrowing Owl several times, Mark knew that it was the only location that would offer a wine and culinary experience that would be a perfect match for our wedding day vision. We had a small guest list of 63 of our closest family and friends. My step children Holly and Fraser acted as the maid of honor and best man. My mother walked me down the aisle. Raising me as a single mother, there would have been nobody else that I would want by my side on that walk towards my future husband. Our small wedding allowed us to spend time with our guests, and provide them with a mini vacation. We arranged for wine tasting the morning of our wedding as we did not exchange vows until 3:30pm. As our guests arrived, they received champagne poolside and following our vows, we had a cocktail party and cigar bar while we took a few family photos. When Mark surprised me with a proposal at the restaurant where we had our first date on Dec 23/15, we immediately went to work planning our dream wedding. Seventeen months later, we were saying ‘I do’  poolside at the Burrowing Owl winery in Oliver, BC surrounded by the valley, the vines, and the overwhelming love of our family and friends. Not overly traditional just a simple, classic celebration with our favorite people. Planning was quite easy. I am a fairly organized person so I started booking vendors early which was good because it allowed me to secure the vendors that I wanted and then to have time to make thoughtful decisions about other aspects of the wedding such as the menu. I created my own wedding binder and initially had a list for everything!! This was helpful in keeping me focused, on track with timelines and keeping to the budget. I learned of some social media resources during the planning process and was connect with several wonderful brides and vendors who were all eager to offer support, advice and services. Pinterest helped me create vision boards that assisted in understanding what I really wanted and what I could live without. Etsy helped me connect with vendors that I would have never found on my own, and saved me a ton of money while maintaining exceptional quality of items purchased. We wanted the wedding to be about our guests enjoying a relaxing day with great food and wine.  It wasn’t as important to us to have fancy decor, keep it simple so we could spend money to have full table service, and allow our guest to select any wine that the winery offered. The first vendor I booked were our photographers, Jessica & Andy who I knew would help our vision come to life on print.  Our second booking was our venue. Mark chose the Burrowing Owl Winery because of the gorgeous setting and for photo options in the vineyard. We wanted the reception to be cozy and relaxed and to create an elegant, casual and fun day for everyone. We wanted to enjoy the stunning landscape and to keep the decor simple. You can’t compete against a backdrop like rolling wine fields of British Columbia. I wanted to be able to look back at our wedding photos and have them look timeless and elegant.  It was important to us to make our guests feel that they were on a mini vacation and that we supported local artisans, so we created welcome bags that were waiting for guests in their hotel rooms when they arrived. Local vendors were used and included products such as Italian sweets, candles, soaps, limoncello, hangover kits, cheese board, lavender and olive oil. Several details of our wedding had a hint of Italy. Without knowing it, the dress that I selected was made from Venice lace, and florals were inspired by bouquets that included olive branches, hand tied with a very organic flow. Our florist Alisha Lilley was fantastic and understood the vision of our day. She was a dream to work with and was genuinely as excited as we were to see everything come together. Before becoming engaged, I had not given my wedding dress much thought. As we booked each vendor, the day started to take shape and the style of the dress was easy to select. I knew I wanted a dress with a v-neck and straps. I was looking for a simple but elegant and classic dress. When I started trying on dresses a year before the wedding, I was a plus-sized bride and could not find a dress that made me feel like I knew I wanted to look on my wedding day. My options were limited and I felt discouraged. So, I decided to make getting healthy an important part of my wedding planning. I lost 55 pounds by the wedding day. My second attempt to find “the dress” was much more positive. I had a bridal consultant at the Bridal Gallery that knew what would look good on my body, listened to what I wanted, and picked five dresses. In short order, we had it narrowed down to two dresses and I was having a hard time making a decision. Thinking that I was going to leave the appointment without a dress, Ariel said “Put the other dress on one more time”. When I came out of the dressing room, I looked at myself in the mirror and immediately started to cry. I knew in that instant that my search was over and I had found my wedding gown. Ariel told me later that she noticed my face had changed each time I put the dress on and I would smile and look more relaxed. I was not aware of this and was grateful for her expertise and knowledge. I purchased an ivory lace Mori Lee gown. I always wanted a dress with buttons and  loved the significance of buttons on a bridal gown. My bridal consultant told me that each button is to represent a year of a happy marriage. I selected an “old hollywood” look for hair and makeup. I remember the whole week in such detail, and basically every moment would be worthy to write about here! If I had to pick just one from the wedding day itself it would be being the first one awake the morning of our wedding, enjoying the quiet with a cup of tea and realizing that my time as a bride had finally arrived. Looking back on our day there is not one thing that we would have changed. There is so much to do leading up to your wedding. I enjoyed the day so much more because I was able to relax. I didn’t worry about things I had no control over, and just lived in the moment so that I could enjoy the entire day. It goes by so quickly, and I didn’t want to miss having fun and seeing others enjoy the day. Wedding Colors: Earth tones, natural hues Where did you meet? Online How did he propose? Mark proposed at the restaurant where we had our first date with my mom present as I was raised as an only child in a single parent home. After a beautiful dinner, he pretended to pop a button on the cuff of his dress shirt, got down on the floor to pretend to pick it up and when I looked up he was on one knee with a custom made engagement ring! Handmade or Personal items: Ring was custom made, many of the decor items were collected over a year by the bride Flowers: Hand tied with loose and flowy greenery. Featured whites, creams and greenery with succulents. First Dance: At Last- Etta James

Vendor Love – Photography: Jessica & Andy Photography | Venue: Burrowing Owl Estate Winery | Bridal Attire: Mori Lee Julietta #3177 from The Bridal Gallery | Wedding Stationery: Gartner Studios  | Hair System Stylist and Makeup Artist: Melissa Craven | Rentals: River Road Rentals | Linens: Okanagan Event Rentals | Caterer: The Burrowing Owl | Transportation: Top Cat Tours | Jewelry: The Bridal Gallery | Bakery: Sugar Sweet Cake Company |

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Shafonne Myers is a certified wedding and event planner who longed for bridal inspiration that looked like her. She has created a website and magazine that brings bridal inspiration to plus size brides. She does speaking engagements educating the world about plus size brides and self confidence.
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