Cora and Austin met in 2011 when they attended college in Sacramento. They grew up in the same area and even had mutual friends but somehow never crossed paths until a fateful birthday party. “We immediately hit it off,” remembers Cora. “There was an undeniable chemistry between us.”

While on an Alaskan cruise several years later, Austin popped the question. After deciding not to go on any planned excursions and just venture out on their own, the couple rented mopeds and asked for recommendations on where to go. They were given directions to an old cemetery that most tourists bypass. “We walked all the way through and found a hidden waterfall in the back,” Cora says. “Austin pulled a little jewelry box out of his pocket, dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him!” The diamond in the ring once belonged to Cora’s grandmother.

While planning the wedding, Cora and Austin made adjustments to the style and feel as the process went on. “I think it’s important to have an idea of what you want but also be flexible with your vision,” shares the bride. They found inspiration on Pinterest but added their own personal touches. “I think that’s what separates one wedding from another and makes it so special.”

Cora is the first to admit that planning a wedding can be a time-consuming task.  “I remember everyone saying ‘Don’t stress the small stuff’ but I couldn’t help it,” she says. “Now, looking back I wish I would of allowed myself to enjoy it more. It goes by so fast, and when it was all said and done, I actually missed it.”

Once the big day arrived, the couple exchanged their personally written vows. “It’s hard to put such intimate, deep feelings into words let alone say them out loud in front of all your family and friends,” she confides, “but it made it unique.”

Guests moved on to the reception at Mertz Ranch, a family friend’s private venue in Winters. The newlyweds enjoyed greeting each of their attendees throughout the evening. One moment that stood out for Cora was her father-daughter dance. “Our song was the wedding version of ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’,” she says. “And when we walked out on to the dance floor the version by Guns N’ Roses started to play. The wrong song! I don’t know why but I didn’t care. I didn’t even tell the DJ it was the wrong version. My dad and I just looked at each other and laughed and we danced.” 

— Darren Elms