A walkable wedding
Sometimes, getting married doesn’t cost a fortune
Three cheers for the Papadins after a fall garden ceremony at Bungalows 313.
Guided by their hearts, their hometown authenticity and a modest budget, Lauren Berv and Sasha Papadin instinctively hatched one of the most sweetly Sonoma weddings imaginable. It required an assemblage of helping hands, a sequence of walkable Plaza venues and the couple’s relaxed and earthy grace in sharing their beloved hometown, but it worked.
And really, how could it fail? Throw in an autumn canopy, dahlias big as fireworks, a jubilant procession along the Plaza, a Meritâge feast of tri-tip steak or butternut squash ravioli, sparkling wine from Domaine Carneros and a hearty Russian back-cracking for any willing guest by Sasha’s father, and you get a lifetime of memories in one Sonoma day.
Sasha and Lauren originally eyeballed nuptial locations in the hills—lofty, exclusive affairs flaunting Wine Country vistas and vertiginous price tags. In the end, said Lauren, they decided to “work the angle of quaint and small, of the cozy enclosed areas down in the Valley. That’s what our life is like.”
Added Sasha, “We really intended this to be a celebration of where we live and where we fell in love, rather than just us getting married... we felt a duty to give guests a window into our world.”
Sasha is a musician and furniture restorer whose large family lives in town. His world brims daily with younger siblings and visits with Mom or Dad.
Lauren is a private tutor for a school in Marin. Her family hails from Denver, so she felt compelled to envelop them in a sort of “home away from home” intimacy. And then there were out-of-town travelers coming from as far as England and South America.
Capitalizing on Sonoma’s pedestrian-friendly Plaza, walkable attractions and bike paths, it became imperative that “once our guests planted their feet on the ground, they never had to (get into a car) the whole time they were here,” said Lauren.
The couple chose three main venues Sasha describes as, “cool local places—hidden gems—nestled in between the more touristy ones.”
The Cooperage Inn is a bohemian bed-and-breakfast on First Street West, housed above the owners’ art studio and gallery. In a suite of rooms glowing with the rich brocade of Renaissance decor, Lauren would spend her last night before the wedding, then enjoy a leisurely morning getting ready with her bridesmaids. (She and Sasha would also spend their first married night here together.)
A quick walk across Depot Park, the lush Brickhouse Bungalows (now called Bungalows 313) would serve two purposes: house Lauren’s family in its private cottages and furnish an idyllic setting for a garden ceremony—replete with a grape-entwined arbor, old fountain and trees festooned in strands of light.
“The place felt so alive and we knew it would be beautiful in fall,” said Lauren. “We also knew we would go from day to dusk during the ceremony and it was the perfect place for that.”
After some post-ceremony mingling, guests would proceed across the Plaza to the reception site, Sonoma-Meritâge Oyster Bar and Grill. Under a tent illuminated by candlelight, they toasted the couple over a harvest-inspired sit-down menu devised by Chef Carlo Cavallo.
A boon to the entire scheme was Sasha and Lauren’s familiarity with the venues. “We loved these places even before we decided to have our wedding here,” said Lauren.
Another important wedding goal was a stress-free evening without rigid plans. “We wanted to hold to a general idea, but as the night unraveled, just go with the flow. We thought, ‘We’ll start here, walk across the Plaza at some point, and end here....We left so much to happen naturally. I wanted us to be in the moment.”
And they did. And they still get glowy-eyed about it.
The dinner and reception site (rolled into one lump sum) comprised the biggest part of their $10,000 budget. It was worth it.
“Meritâge was the absolute simplest,” said Sasha. “We asked Carlo nine months prior; he said, you name the date and I’ll put it in my calendar. We chose the wines, but gave him lots of flexibility. We totally trusted him and let him do his thing.”
All through the course of their wedding, in fact, Lauren and Sasha felt the personal touch of many friends, family and local vendors—one reason the event struck such an authentic chord.
Throughout the day, family and friends decorated the fountain with cut dahlias, scattered table linens with autumn leaves, delivered appetizers, shuttled chairs from the ceremony to the reception site, played D.J., and basically pitched in wherever needed.
Instead of using a florist, Lauren and her bridesmaids arranged their own bouquets with a kaleidoscope of flowers from Ortiz Family Farms and fiery blooms from Aztec Dahlias. Grapes from Little Vineyards accompanied cheeses and hors d’oeuvres after the ceremony. Valley potter Nicole Hummer provided ceramic lavender diffusers as wedding favors. A local pastry chef made fresh apple and raspberry gâteaus for dessert, using fruit from the farmers market. Sonoma jazz musician Randy Vincent played bossa nova tunes before the ceremony.
“We talk about the venues but it was really about the people,” says Lauren, the fond memory still flooding her face. “Everyone gave something of themselves and at the end of the day, the atmosphere reflected what everyone put into it.”
From the Summer 2009 issue of SONOMA