The Couple: Kristina & Mike
Wedding Date: August 25, 2018
Tell us a little about you and your beloved: We believe our love story is written in the stars. Our paths crossed for the first time, many moons ago when we were just 10 years old.
We both grew up in hunting families which bonded us to the Pacific Rod and Gun Club at Lake Merced in San Francisco. The smell of eucalyptus trees in the air, crispy burnt ducks smoked on the BBQ and cheesy jokes after dinner-This is where we have our first memories of each other. I was outgoing and enjoyed participating in the after dinner joke telling. Mike was much more reserved and methodical. We had noticed each other but it would be years later when the stars would align for us.
Over the years my father, Anthony, became our biggest supporter. He encouraged both of us to see each other again.
At long last our universes collided in November 2014. My mom, Barbara, chose to go to San Francisco to pick up crab legs from California Shellfish (Mike’s family business), for my sister Victoria’s birthday dinner. I joined my Mom on the crab leg excursion -perhaps the best decision I had made all year! Because when I arrived at Cal Shell, I was embraced by the handsome Mike Bugatto. We both blushed when we saw each other again after all those years. Mike is convinced it was his good looks and dashing mustache that caught my eye. But my heart was touched by his compassion towards me and my families struggle with my Dad, Anthony’s battle against pancreatic cancer at the time.
Over the next several months Mike and I spent hours talking on the phone, sharing stories of our lives, and enjoying many bottles of wine. Mike’s presence brought love and strength to our family and showed me his true gentlemanly character. This was a unique time in the Ambra family household when all family and friends surrounded Dad during his journey to Heaven. In his last days on Earth, Dad knew Mike and I discovered what he had known all along – we were meant for each other! I truly believe God gave me Mike , the love of my life, my rock. Dad was summoned by God to heaven in February of 2015. Mike was right by my side through it all, my knight in shining armor.
Over the next couple years our love grew stronger than ever. He is the mac to my cheese, the rock to my roll, and the yin to my yang! On any given night you might find us dancing hand in hand in the kitchen, barefoot humming along to an old Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin song.
July 1st, 2017 Mike surprised me with a romantic weekend getaway at the Tides in Bodega Bay. He brought me to the gorgeous River’s End restaurant in Jenner- where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean. As the sun was setting over the Pacific Ocean, with a golden hue lighting up the sky, Mike professed his love, dropped to one knee and asked for my hand in marriage- I, of course said YES!! We truly feel we are made for each other and that God gave us each other for the ups and downs.
We spent about a year planning our wedding and getting all the details organized. I love planning and events so I was excited to plan one of the biggest events of our life, our wedding. We planned our wedding together, although Mike’s main areas of interest included the culinary decisions, the venue site, and the Grooms/Groomsmen attire. I focused on all the other features like flowers, photography, videography, DJ, decor, color palette, site schematics, timelines and vintage furniture rentals. Even though I love to plan, one of the best decisions we made was to hire a coordinator! Our Wedding Coordinator, Rebecca Ferrick, was amazing! She helped make sure all of the planning and details were executed perfectly on the big day.
What was the most amazing part of your day? The entire day was perfection. The look on Mike’s face as I walked down the aisle, his hand laid across his heart. Our first dance as a married couple, dancing under the stars in the light of the full moon. The most amazing part of our wedding day was the feeling of absolute love from our family and friends surrounding us and lifting us up. The emotional high and excitement of marrying your soul mate and best friend is the most incredible euphoric rush!
What else would you like to share about your big day? We were supposed to get dance lessons for our first dance but setting up classes got away from us. So we taught ourselves the choreography for our first dance a week before the wedding -one of my favorite memories of our wedding planning experiences.
If you decide to choose an all outdoor venue (like we did), you have to embrace that you will be ok with whatever kind of weather graces your day. The entire week leading up to our wedding Napa was socked in with smoke. But when we woke up the morning of our wedding day it was the most beautiful clear day with blue skies and no smoke in sight.
My whole life I dreamed of my wedding day (I know its cliche but it’s true) and I imagined my Dad walking me down the aisle. Sadly, my Dad passed away before our wedding so it was really important to me to include him where I could.
We were able to drive our families vintage light blue 1937 Studebaker, on site at Silverado Resort. My Dad’s brother, my Uncle Sebastian, drove my Mom and I to the ceremony site where I was then escorted to the aisle by my Mom and Uncle. (The Studebaker was my Dad’s family car growing up and was apart of my parents wedding day as well) I framed a quarter size photo of my Dad, and our amazing florist, Erin DeYoung beautifully attached it to my bridal bouquet. So my Dad was right there with me as my incredible Mom, Barbara, walked me down the aisle. I also took a piece of fabric from one of my Dad’s blue dress shirts and had a blue heart shaped piece of fabric sewn into the inside of my bridal gown, right over my heart. Your wedding is one of the happiest days of your life, and while all your loved ones may not be physically present, there are still special ways to honor them so that they are apart of your magical wedding day.
Ceremony and Reception Site; and Caterer: Silverado Resort & Spa Napa
Officiant: John Beckman
Photographer: Dee & Kris Photography (Dee & Kris are so much fun to work with! We are so grateful they were able to capture our day)
Videographer: Darin Reyes Productions
Wedding Planner: Events by Rebecca
Cake/Desserts: Michele’s Corner Cakes
Flowers: Scarlett & Grace
Favors: Custom made bottles of Napa Valley Olive Oil by Susan Bugatto (Mother of the Groom)
Bridal Attire: Papers & Petals Bridal
Bridesmaids’ Attire: Bella Bridesmaids
Bridal Hair: Jennifer Hughes from NH2 Salon
Hair: Natasha from Bridal Bliss Co
Make-up: Tanika from Bridal Bliss Co
Invitations: HYEGRAPH Invitations & Calligraphy
DJ/Entertainment and Lighting: Pure Energy Productions DJ Entertainment Services
Live Music: Brandon Zahursky, with RIVVRS, co-wrote a song with the Mother-of-the-Bride that he played during the reception. (The song was so heartfelt and touching!)
Décor and Linen Rentals: Big 4 Party Rentals
Furniture Rentals: Pieces by Violet
Transportation: Ambra family owned, 1937 Light Blue Studebaker
Honeymoon Location: Italy: Santa Margherita Ligure, Capri and Amalfi.
First Dance Song: ” I have but one heart ” by Al Martino
Any advice you’d give to our readers who are planning their weddings right now? Enjoy the planning process, stay organized, and remain calm. Have fun with the planning decisions and make sure to incorporate your personalities into the wedding to make it more personal, like choosing your favorite flowers (hopefully they are in season), writing your own vows, customizing your boutonnière, selecting your favorite signature drinks, and incorporating your families generational wedding portraits.
Do your best to be in the moment. When your big day finally arrives and all the planning and envisioning culminates into your magical wedding day, soak it up! Know that the most important thing is you will be marrying your person.
Lastly, try not to get caught up in the stress of planning and focus on the exciting fact that you are building a life together.
Anything that you would have done differently if you were given the chance? Nothing, it was perfect!
Photography by Dee & Kris Photography.
Blog post by Real Weddings Magazine’s Social Media Maven, Aimee Carroll.
Subscribe to the Real Weddings Magazine Blog! Click here: