Their destination wedding took place between the towns of St. Helena and Yountville, in the heart of the Napa Valley. The ceremony took place at the cute little St. Helena Catholic Church with the tea ceremony and reception following, just down the road at the Vintage Inn. After their ceremony, Anna and Simon hopped into their ride for the day, an elegantly appointed vintage Packard convertible, and we headed off to explore the backroads and take some photos with their bridal party. Summertime in Napa can be a hot and sunny affair but in addition to the estimated 43,000 acres planted in vineyards, there are also a lot of quite beautiful shade trees. And that’s where we headed! Napa’s picture-postcard scenery is a big draw to the region but Anna and Simon were feeling a little homesick and wanted something a bit more raw that felt like home. We connected straight-away and had the perfect spot – a weathered old warehouse with a lovely faded red-orange facade in beautifully soft late afternoon light.
As much as we’d like it to be the case, we didn’t have all day for photos and there were some delicious wines and incredible food waiting for the couple back at the reception site but first, the tea ceremony. The tea ceremony serves an important ritual in Chinese culture. Whereas the ceremony redefines the relationships between Anna and Simon, the tea ceremony formally redefines the relationships between the children and the sets of parents and siblings. They serve each other tea, give and receive a gift, but the best exchange is the love and laughter that happens during the ritual.
As guests sat for the dinner service, delicious local wines were poured as several rounds of incredibly spirited speeches unfolded. Simon’s youthful shenanigans were recalled by his family, and at one point I though he might get up and try to run away. He did not. The couple exchanged assured glances letting each other know they were in this together and that confidence was even more apparent soon thereafter, as they performed a spirited first dance for guests in the Inn’s original, restored barrel room.
Perfect end to a perfect day!