In 13 years together, Jennifer and Daniel had rarely talked of marriage. So when they visited Lake Tahoe for her birthday two years ago and he asked her to wear “something nice” for dinner, she never suspected his motive. The couple was on the beach, Jennifer dashing through the sand in her heels taking pictures of the sunset, when Daniel suddenly got down on one knee. “I was thinking, ‘what are you doing down there?’” Jennifer says. “Then it hit me. I started crying, and I got down on my knees with him.”

There, in the sand, he presented her with the ring of her dreams: a yellow diamond in a setting he’d designed, its radiance and personal touch symbolizing what would become their perfect wedding day a year later.

The couple’s road to marriage was an unhurried one. Easy going Daniel and the more sociable Jennifer met at a Sacramento high school when they were 14 and 15, had their first date three years later and, with never a serious spat, joined as bride and groom 14 years later. Jennifer, an only child who lost her parents, is close to Daniel’s family, which includes five sisters, and to her late mother’s best friend, Dorothy. She wanted a wedding that involved her new family, and many loving hands pitched in to make her dream come true.

The couple chose The Flower Farm Inn for their ceremony and the reception that followed. The venue’s orchard setting inspired Jennifer’s theme: rustic tones and textures, a potpourri of colors, and tradition with a twist. “The whole theme was vintage,” Jennifer says. “Nothing matched.” Not even the china or the groomsmen’s crazy-pattern socks peeking out of gray sneakers.

As they had been doing for half of their lives, the couple worked together to create their wedding. In keeping with Jennifer’s vision, the couple, along with family and friends, handmade several special elements for their day. Dorothy sewed flower girls’ dresses for her two granddaughters and a burlap ring bearer’s pillow for her grandson. The same burlap was used for silverware sheaths, and remnants from the girls’ dresses became two lovebirds atop the cake. Daniel’s mom added an extra-homey touch by baking apple pies.

For table décor, the couple painted birdhouses and topped them with real nests sprayed with glue, and Jennifer filled small jars and bottles she collects with mixtures of flowers. One of Jennifer’s favorite touches was the light fixture that Daniel designed for the portable gazebo that his brother-in-law built. “It had two switches,” Jennifer says. “One switch by itself would not turn on the light. It needed both of us to make it work.”

As the perfect evening drew to a close, Jennifer didn’t want it to end.

“Our wedding was so ‘us,’” she says. “We made a great team planning it, and we still make a great team.”

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