These high school sweethearts met their sophomore year when they both moved to Grass Valley. “We met that year in English…but Darwin doesn’t remember having the same class together,” Marianna says. “We got to know each other the following year when we both joined an after-school swing dance club.” Six years and many swing dances later, Darwin proposed to his longtime girlfriend during their first backpacking trip together at Pescadero Creek. “We were there for three days and he proposed on the second,” she remembers. “It was so hard waiting to get back to civilization to start making calls!”

Although the couple agreed from the start that the wedding should be about family, friends, their history and the things that brought them together, the planning itself proved to be complicated. After getting engaged, Darwin joined the Navy and they both moved to Washington, D.C. “We knew we wanted to get married in California, which meant cross-country wedding planning,” Marianna says. “Fortunately, my sister Catrina [of Catrina Maria Designs] is a wedding planner and could offer us her help—without her, our wedding never would have turned out the way it did!”

Despite the long-distance planning, the bride recalls many favorite moments along the way. “We went for a vintage theme with our décor, which meant a lot of time browsing antique fairs and searching eBay,” she says. “I think those moments where you find that unexpected, just-perfect piece are so much fun. I literally jumped for joy when I found vintage cheese boxes for our centerpieces!”

But even the best planner can’t predict the weather on the big day. So when rain appeared in the forecast, the bride and groom needed to get creative. “We had a beautiful outdoor space for the ceremony and had envisioned leaving the barn doors open for an open-air dinner, but on the day-of it was 60 degrees and drizzling,” she says. “Luckily, we were able to snag a last-minute tent so that we could still hold the ceremony outside. In the end, the closeness of the tent and the closed barn made the whole thing seem very intimate and warm—just what we were hoping for.”

The couple incorporated many unique touches into the ceremony, including a backdrop of beautiful old French doors that came from Marianna’s grandfather’s house. “Instead of flowers, our bridesmaids carried candles in blue Mason jars,” shares the bride. “We attached hooks to the jars so that they could hang them from the doors when they got to the end of the aisle. We thought that by having them contribute something to the backdrop of the ceremony, we could acknowledge all they have contributed to our lives and our relationship.” Appropriately, they also asked their high school English teacher, a huge influence in their lives, to officiate. “Instead of traditional material, he read poems that reminded him of us, and it was incredibly special,” Marianna says.

The rain stopped just in time to go ahead with their plan to build a fire outside the barn and offer guests all of the ingredients to make s’mores. But the highlight of the evening came when the bride finally got to sit down at dinner with her new husband in a room full of her favorite people. “It doesn’t get much better than that,” she says.