When your love story begins with a party on a school bus at the Boonville Beer Festival, you know you’ll have a lot of fun traditions to incorporate into your wedding. Rachel + Bennett went into the planning process by trying to design their favorite party, offering up a full weekend experience where their 125 guests could take part in all that they love about Northern California. From free-spirited fun to amazing food and drink (including a seasonal beer Bennett brewed himself in honor of the bride) to artwork displayed throughout the venue, it was one gorgeous celebration. Thanks to Gillian of Gillian Shenon Events and Laurie of From SF With Love for sending this one our way!
Their story… Having lived in SF for 3 years already, Bennett was on his annual pilgrimage to the Legendary Boonville Beer Festival with a big group of friends. I was new to SF and went to the festival for the first time with a different crew. As the event was coming to a close, I ran into a friend from work who asked, “Wanna come to a party on a school bus?” to which the only reasonable answer was, “Of course.” Bennett and I locked eyes at the party and danced into the wee hours of the night. We went on a date the next week in SF where we talked for hours and realized how much we actually have in common. The bus (which is actually our dear friend’s business) has since become quite a motif in our love story, including our wedding.
I gave the 7 bridesmaids a color palette of rich mustard/goldenrod, deep wine/plum, and crispy sky blue and asked them to find their favorite dress within that. It was important to me that they each look like themselves and totally confident in their outfits. We communicated as people found dresses to make sure we had the right mix of colors, patterns, and textures so it would all work together. I admittedly started second-guessing it towards the end, but I ended up being SO happy with the way it turned out.
The bus also made quite the perfect photo spot, as you can see here!
Ellen of Found & Created whipped up a loose, wild bouquet of dahlias, cornflowers, eucalyptus, marigold, pampas grass, and foraged greenery for the summery bridal bouquet.
Rachel brought her vintage embroidered boots from Turkey to all her dress appointments, which ended up working perfectly with her effortless boho Luella gown by Lihi Hod.
This is one gorgeous floral ketubah, with artwork by Debra Band.
In the midst of a crazy party weekend, the ceremony stood out as a moment of beautiful calm. Exchanging personal vows felt like we were just talking to each other, but cradled in the love and presence of our community around us. When everyone came up and added flowers to the mandala in front of us, we had the chance to connect with and appreciate each of our guests individually.
We knew we wanted an immersive weekend experience celebrating everything we love about Northern California, from the kooky open-mindedness to the amazing cuisine and natural beauty. Our inspiration was “an elegant acid trip”—a beautiful, indulgent affair that was the opposite of stuffy and mostly outdoors. We encouraged our friends to dress for the theme, and they really rose to the occasion with fabulous outfits and non-stop dancing. Seeing the people we love expressing themselves and making new lasting connections with each other was a dream come true. We wanted the aesthetic to feel eclectic and textured, but we used a color palette of goldenrod, plum, blush, and light blues, with pops of red as a reference point.
Loving all these strawflowers sprinkled throughout!
On finding the venue… Since we met at the Legendary Boonville Beer Festival in 2014 and return every year, we really loved the idea of sharing this special place with our friends and family. There aren’t a ton of venues in Anderson Valley (and far fewer when we were looking) so we ended up sending personalized emails to several properties that weren’t marketed for weddings. Eric from Toll House at Bell Valley mentioned they were interested in doing more weddings so we decided to check it out. It turned out he and Bennett knew some of the same people from the industry and shared an affinity for vintage VW buses, so we had a connection off the bat. We arrived at the property late at night and had a magical stay at the Creekside Cottages (which became the newlywed suite). When we woke up there for the tour, the golden rolling hills took our breath away. Eric took us on a wild ride around the property in his 4-wheeler and that really sealed the deal.
Best summer weekend ever! Congrats, R + B!
Photography: From SF With Love / Venue: Bell Valley Retreat at the Toll House / Planning & Coordination: Gillian Shenon Events / Florals & Chuppah: Found & Created / Hair & Makeup: Ramee Hurwitz from Winc Artistry / Catering: Anaviv / Cake: Boonville General Store / Beer: Old Bus Tavern / Transportation: Gillibus / Ceremony Music: Kelly McFarling & Andrew Brennan / Band: Jordan and the Ritual / Invitations: Hope Stockman of Blockshop Textiles / Map: Annie McKenna / Signage: Meredith Winner / Reception Tent: Zephyr via Toll House / Rentals & Lighting: Big 4 / Rug Rentals: Frances Lane / Linens, Lounge Poufs, & Pillows: La Tavola / Glamping Tent Rentals: Sunshine Glamping / Ketubah: Debra Band / Bride’s Dress: Luella by Lihi Hod from Marina Morrison / Sunglasses: Prada / Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss