When you think of the unique landscapes of California, what’s the first thing you think of?
For me, it HAS to be vineyards (it is Wine Country, afteralll!) – grape trails you could wander down for days on end, rustic converted barnhouses and endless rolling hills that stretch for miles and are all just a stone’s throw away from some of the most luxurious boutique hotels and michellin star restaurants in the country… So no backdrop could have be more perfect for Lauren and Ray’s traditional Californian wedding which blended luxury and rustic details than Fortino Winery.
Lauren and Ray’s wedding was an intimate outdoor celebration in the heart of Gilroy which truly played homage to our heritage and culture with modern and personalized twists around every corner! Every detail felt like it had been pulled from a Pinterest board, but in a way that they never once overshadowed the beautiful vineyard setting – Expressions Floral Designs did the most beautiful job of decorating the venue with classic white florals which complimented the rustic setting, and proved that sometimes less is more and that ‘luxurious’ doesn’t have to mean over the top! The pale pallette that Lauren and Ray chose was a clean, modern ode to Summer and painted a picture of modern elegance which took Fortino Winery out of the 1970s and into 2022 in the most stunning ways imaginable.
The theme for the decor was natural and organic with a touch of modern boho. ‘Boho’ isn’t often a term one would usually associate with luxury, but it was incorporated into the theme in the most stylish, intentional way – wooden accents, neons, botanical installations and calligraphy that felt like a modern play on classic serif font styles. I later found out that Lauren created all the signage and stationary herself and was completely blown away! It just goes to show that you don’t have to bust your budget to have professional, luxurious details… and DIY wedding projects can make the planning journey so much more enjoyable (especially if you incorporate crafting them into a fun date night idea!)
The reception dinner carried on the same theme, with centrepieces created with logs and white Gypsophila, personalized napkins and exquisite cheeseboards to graze on. When it came to cutting the cake, it looked almost too perfect to eat – a 3-tier traditional wedding cake designed by I do! Wedding Cakes with smooth white buttercream embellished with flowers and a GORGEOUS personalized wooden cake topper to balance the minimalism with eye-catching personality. It was all about keeping things stylish and intentional, to draw everybody’s attention to the little details that mattered the most.
Some of my favorite personal touches were the succulent favors (how unique are they!?) and the showstopping hedge-style champagne wall which celebrated the couple’s love of nature and plants and I adored how they incorporated their hobbies and passions into the details of their big day. With housplants becoming more popular and wellness culture on the rise, I can definitely see organic details and favors becoming a big trend in wedding design and planning for 2023 and beyond… Future brides, take note – you heard it here first!
Lauren’s dress was the most breathtaking off the shoulder gown, with white lace details and a full skirt which made her look like a princess. Her hair and makeup by Shelby Lynn stayed perfect all day, which was a miracle in the California heat (especially with all the partying we were doing!). Her bridesmaids looked equally as perfect in their matching blush pink dresses which completed the pastel pallette, but of COURSE Lauren stole the show.
Ray and Lauren opted for a first look, which I love! A lot of people ask me what my opinions are on first looks, and my biggest tip is always to go for it if it feels like the perfect emotional exchange for you!
First looks are an anti tradition I’ll always get behind. It’s not quite as much of a statement as wearing a black wedding dress, but the main reason I think couples should consider having a first look on their wedding day is I think it’s a great way to incorporate more of YOU into your wedding timeline. It also means that your makeup is on point for the big reveal, which is ESPECIALLY important if you want to look your best but are having an outdoor wedding or adventurous elopement in summer or a hot country (or have a nervous disposition, which is totally understandable on the biggest day of your life!) because sweat can definitely ruin hair and makeup stylists’ hard work, so the earlier on in your schedule the better.
And not only was the bride and groom first look special, but the faces of the bridal party were equally as heart melting… Scroll down to see for yourself!
The ceremony itself was an intimate outdoor celebration set against the backdrop of traditional Wine Country, and the hexagonal altar Lauren and Ray chose to wed beneath was the most on-trend, modern touch. I loved it so much that I couldn’t stop taking photos of it, and when I looked closer I realized that it was personalized! The detail of having their names carved into the wood was truly a testament to all the thought and creative planning that went into making their day unique and special.
Those playful details (and moments like the couple’s bubble exit!) reminded me of those innocent, nostalgic memories of carving inititals into trees when we were kids which felt like it spoke for Lauren and Ray’s day as a whole – Everybody was having fun without a care in the world all day, and that was the same energy I knew I HAD to capture in their family and group portraits. We ditched the posing guides and went all-in on capturing their goofy sides and creating more of those fun, genuine memories with their bridal parties that they’ll remember forever.
We ended the day with wedding portraits set against the breathtaking backdrop of the winery’s gardens. You could see the whole of Northern California which stretched on for miles! It was the perfect sunset location for those classic golden hour portraits that EVERY bride dreams of, and as the sun set the vineyards errupted into fall hues that contrast beautifully with the pale bouquet and made all the colors of August come to life. It was truly a wedding photographer’s dream setting for capturing raw, intimate, picture-perfect moments!
Lauren and Ray – Thank you for such a special day, and for all the love you’ve showered me with since! It was the biggest pleasure to be welcomed into your family for the day and to work alongside so many talented creatives (you really picked some of the BEST vendors in Northern California!) to bring your vision to life and celebrate your love. You’ve made me so excited to revisit Fortino Winery and I can’t wait to be back, but this day will be hard to beat and I’ll remember it forever!
To book Marisa Ruth for your Northern California wedding click here, and follow @marisaruthphotography on Pinterest and Instagram for more luxury wedding and elopement inspiration.
Venue: Fortino Winery @fortinowinery
Photographer: Marisa Ruth @marisaruthphotography
Photo booth: Penny & Co Rentals @pennyandco.rentals
Flowers: Expressions Floral Designs @expressionsfloraldesigns
Hair: Shelby Lynn @beautyby_shelbylynn
Cake: I Do! Wedding Cakes @idoweddingcakes
Planner: Wedding Planner Bre @weddingplannerbre