A Summer Wedding at Black Swan Lake in Napa Valley

Five years after Sarah Bailey and Matthew Welty first met, Matthew brought Sarah to Hawaii for a romantic getaway turned engagementmoon. “We had this elaborate and romantic beachside dinner straight out of The Bachelor,” Sarah recalls. But the dinner was a (very successful) misdirection, and it wasn’t until the next day, during a helicopter tour of Maui, that Matthew popped the question during a stop at the vineyard at Ulupalakua Ranch. 

Sarah and Matthew are from northern California, and couldn’t resist hosting a spectacular summer wedding close to home. On June 1, 2019, they asked 140 guests to join them at Black Swan Lake in St. Helena, where they explored the sprawling property over the course of their al fresco celebration. “Our vision was to share great food and wine with our guests, and that was exactly what we did,” says the bride. The couple was engaged for a year-and-a-half, working with Bash Please to craft an organic, flower-filled event in a palette of layered neutral tones. 

From the elegantly draped ceremony to the wine-fueled reception, keep reading to see every detail of Sarah and Matthew’s wedding, as photographed by Ashley Sawtelle.

The couple's neutral-toned invitation suite featured a muted illustration of the venue’s sprawling vineyards. All weekend's details were shared on corresponding stationery tucked inside a sleek folder for easy reference. 

When guests arrived in Napa, they were greeted with curated welcome boxes full of local chocolates, cheese and honey, and beautifully bottled mineral water. Plus, illustrated paper goods, of course.

The couple welcomed guests with a casual-yet-elevated barbecue the night before the main event. With styling from Allison Calhoun, the groom dressed in a bespoke plaid jacket from Isaia and the bride in a ruffled white wrap dress.

Guests dined on fried chicken and baked beans, followed by nostalgia-inducing ice cream sandwiches. The night's menu was printed on simple chalkboards with phrases like "eat" and "bar" to direct guests.

The dinner setting was laid-back, with patterned runners and delicate blooms in amber bottles atop wooden picnic tables.

Even the night's cocktail napkins were personalized with a favorite quote from Julia Child and a custom logo made for the wedding weekend.

On her wedding day, Sarah wore a figure-hugging beaded dress by Louvienne. “It was crisp and clean, and everything I tried on after couldn’t compare,” Sarah recalls. The dress arrived a size too small, but thankfully the designer, bridal salon, and Sarah’s seamstress were able to get the correct size and have it altered in time for the big day.  Sarah’s all-white bouquet paired garden roses with agrostemma, spirea, and white lilac.

The bride chose a number of dresses she loved, then worked with her bridesmaids to choose a different gown for each 'maid. The combination of blue florals, pale pink, and mauve was perfect for the early summer celebration.

As guests arrived at the ceremony, they were greeted with glasses of Ion rosé, an offering from Matthew’s company.  

The wooden ceremony structure was shaded with flowing white fabric. Trailing greenery climbed the posts, softening the open-air setting. At the end of the aisle, a semicircle of white flowers and moss awaited the bride and groom beneath a willow tree.

One of the couple’s close friends officiated as Matthew and Sarah exchanged vows overlooking the lake.

“Matthew’s nieces were our flower girls. They watched YouTube videos to practice for their big moment!” Sarah says with a laugh. The couple’s dog, Kaylee, also walked down the aisle, after being bribed with a bone by one of the groomsmen. “We hoped it would keep her busy during the ceremony, but she dropped it and decided to take a dip in the lake just as we were exchanging vows,” says the bride. “She came running out of the water, and our groomsmen and wedding planners had to block her so she wouldn’t get everyone soaking wet!”

After vows, the newlyweds processed down the aisle to "Faster" by Matthew Nathanson.

Sarah and Matthew loved the way their guests could flow through Black Swan Lake, from the lakefront ceremony to the lawn for dinner to the garden for dancing.

During cocktail hour, guests enjoyed local wines, spicy margaritas, and old-fashioneds served from a bar decorated with cream roses and vibrant red leaves.

Dinner was served on the lawn, where tables were draped in gray linens and surrounded by cross-back chairs.

Each place setting featured a linen napkin, a personalized menu, and modern flatware. Neutral-colored candles flickered between low arrangements of creamy roses and burgundy hellebores.

For dinner, guests indulged in freshly baked bread and pretzels, a "killer" kale salad, and a chicken dish inspired by a restaurant in Oakland, where Matthew lived when he and Sarah first met.  

After Matthew and Sarah shared their first dance to “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys, they cut into a simple white wedding cake and treated guests to a dessert bar with éclairs, bite-sized s’ mores, and fresh berries. “We also served ham and baguette sandwiches as late-night snacks, and gave everyone a farewell gift of fresh popcorn,” says the bride.

Even with an 18-month engagement, the couple says the time really flew by. “Matthew and I scheduled a few hours on Sunday afternoons to go through our to-do list and respond to emails so that we wouldn’t get behind,” Sarah says. “It was the best way to keep on top of all of the tasks and details!” 

Wedding Team

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