Sarah and Chris have been running together since they met at a UC Davis track team recruitment trip in 2004, so it’s only fitting that Chris’s proposal would include a special run as well.
Sarah, a horticulturist/arborist, had been working on redesigning their backyard. After she finished, Chris wanted to celebrate the completed project with a weekend getaway to St. Helena. Soon after they arrived, Chris suggested a run to help them relax. “I initially objected because it was almost 100 degrees that day, but I was eventually persuaded,” she says. On their way out of the hotel, Chris asked the front desk attendant for “more towels,” which was code for his request to put champagne on ice.
Their run took them through the town and up to a shady spot under a huge valley oak tree, Sarah’s favorite species of tree. “When we stopped under the tree, Chris gave me a double high five and proceeded to tell me how happy he was that we were still running together after being together for eight years and how happy I make him,” Sarah recalls. “He continued to talk a bunch and my hearing zoned out as I started to think, ‘That’s funny, it almost sounds like he’s trying to propose or something…’” Chris then dropped to one knee and pulled out the ring. Sarah started crying and said yes—or something to that effect!
The couple started planning their wedding, quickly realizing that finding the perfect venue would take longer than expected. “It was fun at first, but once we started to narrow down what we were looking for, the time of year we preferred and our ideal budget, it turned to not as much fun,” she explains. “You start to doubt what you’d like the wedding to be. It was a big relief finally choosing and putting a deposit down on Park Winters.”
The wedding had about 120 guests, with four people on each side of the bridal party. Everything was at Park Winters, which they booked from Friday through Sunday.
The bride wore a beautiful set of pearl earrings, necklace and bracelet, which had been put together by her mother since she was born. “My birthday is in June, so my birthstone is pearl. My mom had been doing ‘Add-A-Pearl’ since I was baby. There is a pearl for every birthday and holiday. I’d never worn them all until the wedding. It was extremely emotional having my mom and sister help put them on,” she says.
The rest of the day broke tradition, as the couple wanted to create special memories for everyone involved. They did a first look for photos, and Sarah walked down the aisle with both of her parents. Their former track coach officiated the ceremony, which also included Native American readings and contemporary writings about love and marriage. The couple had their rings passed around during the readings, so they could be “blessed” by their friends and family; and they didn’t assign seating—it was all open…even the two newlyweds sat wherever there were two open seats.
Following all that excitement, the special day ended with a splash—literally.
“The last cool, unconventional thing we did was a ‘pool jump’ together,” Sarah says.
“I wore my veil and a white eyelet bikini and Chris wore a Speedo [from college]. Once we jumped in, a bunch of guests followed—in their clothes!”
Sarah & Chris's Wedding Resources
"Welcome Home" by Radical Face
- My Bouquet: Monks Hood or Wolfsbane (was set to be purple lupines but they had just finished their season and were not available for the wedding date
- Mine and my sisters hair: Gardenias
- Bridesmaids: Orange Dahlias, Yellow Zinnias, Yellow Yarrow
- Mom’s Bouquets: White Dahlias, Purple Scabiosa, Orange Geum
- Groom: Purple Scabiosa, Orange Geum
- Groomsmen: Yellow Yarrow, Orange Geum
- Fathers: White Astilbe, Yellow Yarrow
- Grandmas: White or Purple Spray Roses, White Astilbe, Purple Scabiosa
- Tables: Maiden hair ferns, White Hydrangea, Purple Scabiosa, Yellow Yarrow, Orange zinnia
- Thais was the most amazing!!! We are in love with the photos and got a massive amount of compliments.
- I recommend to brides to have a fragrant herb or flower in their bouquet or, better yet, hair. It sounds weird but I am so glad I had the gardenia in my hair. Now every time I smell gardenias my brain is brought back to amazing memories of the wedding. The moments were extremely stressful at the time being but for some reason when I smell gardenias I get a strong sense of nostalgia towards the wedding. It’s amazing to have a beautiful smell to associate with such a big day in my and Chris’s life. I always knew that smells evoke strong responses in the brain but this was just a happy (and I consider lucky) accident.
- We also followed a loose theme of Valley Oak tree. The invites had a large oak tree, I made little tags with the oak trees, we got engaged under an oak tree, we got married under a heritage oak tree on the Park Winters property.