When we say someone is going to "walk down the aisle", we usually mean they are getting married; that is precisely what this photo represents---the wedding aisle of my cousin Monica, as she married her beloved Adam.
The setting was in Lafayette, California, at a place called Wildwood Acres Resort ( www.wildwoodacres.com )
The photo on top of this collage shows the wooded canyon location of Wildwood Acres. I took the canyon photo from my comfortable seat (shown in lower left), where the actual outdoor wedding ceremony was held. Although it is just 45 minutes from San Francisco, it is an entire world away from the hustle and bustle of big city sprawl and noise. The antique brass bell shown in the lower right, is located at the back of the ceremony area. Once Adam and Monica were pronounced wed, the harmonious peals of the bell, echoed down the canyon, signifying the joyous occasion.
Since I had attended a Project Learning Tree ( www.plt.org ) conference earlier in the summer, I was delighted to see that the bride and groom had chosen to use "tree cookies" as their guest book register. The HEART-shaped center mark that shows the date, will be a great reminder of this important milestone of their lives in the future. They told me that their plan is to put shellac over the front of each tree cookie (aka, guest book page), put a hanger on the back, and use it as a wall decoration in their home.
Another personal touch I liked, was that Monica and Adam, with the help of Adam's father, had made up a giant batch of strawberry jam (which came from their family farm), and put it into individual glass jars, complete with fancy top, twine, and personalized label. The title "Spread the Love" is exactly what the couple did, as each guest was given the homemade treat to take home with them!
Yet another fun activity they planned for the guests at this outdoor event, was filling out a crossword puzzle (printed on a very useful fan), with questions based on their courtship!
Wildwood Acres had a large, paved parking lot, with plenty of free parking, which is something of a rarity in a place of such population density as the San Francisco bay area. They also had an electric cart available to bring guests (such as the bride's mother and father, shown in this photo), who were loaded down with items needed to make their daughter's wedding complete.
There were many helpful signs from start to finish of this event. Since the venue is somewhat remote, there were numerous signs (with accompanying balloons, as shown in far left photo) at strategic street intersections along the way. Everyone in the car I was riding in to get there, was very relieved when we entered the mile-long private road that delivered us to this shady, secluded canyon! I also liked the sign giving us permission to sit wherever we wanted (middle chalkboard sign). The chalkboard was very appropriate, as the bride's father had been a teacher in the SF Bay area for many years, and was well known to the peers of BOTH Adam and Monica. And who has not wanted to toss of their high heels after a wedding, so they could dance? They even provided souvenir flip-flop shoes for those who wanted them, to better navigate the outdoor patio dancing area!
Wildwood acres has a lovely garden area, complete with brush arbor, fountains, orchards, agave, flowers,and numerous seating areas/paths within its shady domain.
The top photo of this collage shows the table where the "official" wedding cake was located, underneath the redwood gazebo. In keeping with the "back to the earth" theme, the cake was wrapped in burlap ribbon/twine, surrounded by burlap roses, candles/fresh flowers in Mason jars, and HEART-shaped decorations of all types! After they open the wedding gift that I gave them, they will have one more HEART-shaped item to add to their collection: It is a wooden box, made by the bride's Great Uncle (photo of heirloom can be seen on February 14, 2013 blog I wrote about it). Later on in the evening, it was fun watching Adam and Monica "feed" each other for the first time, as shown in the photo on the bottom of the collage.
Yet another detail at this event that I really appreciated was a giant glass dispenser of ice water (garnished with citrus slices from their on-site garden), where guests could access all of the water they wanted, without having to ask a server, at the beverage station (left side of collage). When it was time for the wedding banquet to begin, we all enjoyed sampling the delicious California cuisine, accented with fresh herbs right from the Wildwood gardens!
As if our HEARTS were not already glowing enough, the wedding party was passing out "glow in the dark" jewelry to all the guests. The father of the bride (who also performed the wedding ceremony) is shown on the left, with a glowing necklace that matched his vest, tie, and handkerchief. The bride's niece and nephew were having a great time, dispensing the jewelry, and taking photos with the disposable camera they were given. (Hope I get to see some of those photos taken by "the kiddies"!)
The night of my cousin's wedding had weather that was absolutely perfect for an outdoor event! We certainly did not need the outdoor patio heaters, but as you can see in this photo, they are available, if necessary.
The gardens and outdoor terraced dining areas cover 4 acres, and are scenic from any angle. I took this photo from one of the upper terraces, as it looks down on the various levels of the wedding banquet dining tables.
This photo shows the head table where the wedding party "presided", and illustrates how the area is set among ivy-covered trees of alder, bay, and oak, as well as moss and fern-lined planters/urns.
We made good use of our pink cloth napkins as "banners of happiness", as the bride and groom (shown in upper section of photo) prepared to make their way to their seats in the dining terrace.
The noise we made in the dining area, was in stark contrast to the "so-quiet-you-could-hear-a-pin-drop" scene, when the father of the bride (who was performing the ceremony), turned off his microphone to say some private words to his daughter and future son-in-law. However, as quiet as we were, we still could not hear his private advice to them! Fortunately, he turned the microphone back on, so there was ample volume to hear the "I DO!" spoken by both Monica and Adam.
The picturesque gazebo at the very top terrace was the "staging area" for the mandatory post-wedding photos of the family and members of the wedding party. In addition, Monica and Adam set up an account on Shutterfly ( www.shutterfly.com ), so that any of the guests who wanted to download photos from their own devices, could do so, as well as see photos taken by other guests. Isn't technology grand??!!
And here is a photo I took of the happy couple, after the ceremony. CONGRATULATIONS ADAM AND MONICA!!
When I was sitting in the wedding ceremony area, waiting for the bride and groom to walk down the aisle, I looked upward into the canopy of mature bay trees and majestic oaks above me, and I saw the pattern of this HEART-shaped opening, made by the overhanging trees and branches. It was the perfect visual aid I needed to help me (fondly!)remember one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses from Psalm 37:4, that says "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." This Wildwood Wedding Expedition was definitely a delightful desire of my heart, and brought me MILES OF SMILES! Tricia