My Niece’s Small and Intimate Summer Wedding

It’s been a little over a month since Sophie and Chad’s wedding.

Sophie is my sister’s middle daughter.

And my niece and goddaughter.

Wedding Photo

They had a small and intimate family wedding.

At a winery in the Sierra foothills.

There were just 20 of us.

It was perfect.

Bride and Groom

A couple of months ago I shared Kyle and Melody’s wedding details.

It was a very popular post.

I’m not surprised, there are a record number of weddings happening this year.

Google wedding searches are up 100,000%.

(I made that up.)

I also shared a sneak peek of Sophie and Chad’s wedding here, including what Jim and I wore.

Wedding day details

Today Sophie’s sharing all her wedding details with us.

Including her vendors and sources.

And of course, the stunning wedding photos!

By Taylor Brooke Photography

Let’s hear what Sophie has to say about planning their big day.

You’ve been married for six weeks!


Uncle Jim and I had so much fun at your wedding.

Couple with bride at wedding

You and Chad were engaged during the pandemic. How did this affect your wedding planning?

Yes! We got engaged in September of 2020. We were planning on a small elopement style wedding in the Lake Tahoe area. When I started making phone calls it was obvious too many things were up in the air related to the pandemic. With guidelines changing week to week venues could not give concrete assurances or commitments. We felt it was impossible to plan under these circumstances and said, let’s wait a bit.

Bride on the balcony

You decided to have a very small and intimate family wedding which was lovely. What led you to make this decision for your big day.

After taking a long pause in the planning we considered eloping but ultimately decided on a ‘micro’ wedding. With a guest list of 20, we still wanted the elements of a traditional wedding on a smaller scale.

Collage of Wedding Details

How did you decide on Dono dal Cielo as your wedding venue?

Dono dal Cielo has been a favorite local spot since we moved to the Sierra foothills several years ago. Their wine is amazing, the setting is beautiful, and we’ve become friends with several gals who work there. It was also the venue for my baby shower last summer which made it even more special. It had the backyard wedding vibe we were hoping for.

Auntie’s Note: You can read all about Sophie’s baby shower here.

Dono dal Cielo Winery

Dono dal Cielo Wines

You also opted to have the wedding on a Thursday night rather than a weekend. Tell us about that.

Thursday just worked. We had our hearts set on specific wedding vendors and with June being such a busy wedding month we knew a weeknight event would make booking them easier. Also, because it was a smaller event, it was more likely the vendors could fit us in without interfering with their larger weekend events. Also, our guests were strictly family members and we spoke to them all to ensure the mid-week date would work.

Auntie’s Note: Hosting a weeknight wedding is a way to secure a popular venue and can be advantageous cost-wise as well.

Sophie & Her Parents

Chad & His Family

Tell us about your wedding vendors and sources?

Venue: Dono Dal Cielo Winery & Vineyard in Newcastle, California

Event Coordination: Lori Niemi-Cardoza

Rentals: Celebrations Party Rentals

Catering: The Butchers Cleaver

Wedding Cake: Janay McCullough

Janay made my cousin Kyle’s wedding cake and it was so good. Kyle’s wife, Melody, put me in touch with Janay and she agreed to do it. We had the pretty cake for cutting and two small sheet cakes to serve. The cake was so yummy, here’s a description from Janay – Tahitian vanilla sponge cake with honey roasted strawberries, sweet cream Swiss meringue butter. That’s a mouthful!

Cake Plate: Crate & Barrel 

Cake Server: My Great-Grandmother’s William & Mary Lunt Sterling Silver Server

Florals: Lynne Pearce Interiors

Photography:  Taylor Brooke Photography

Special shout out to Taylor. We’ve been Instagram friends for a couple of years and I felt like I already knew her. I knew she had to be our wedding photographer. Not only are her photos amazing, but she was so much fun to work with … and it felt more like we were just hanging out. I was a little nervous, especially during the first few posed photos. And I was concerned about Chad, because like a lot of men he can be impatient with photos and offer up a man-glare. Our sunset couples photos ended up being one of the best parts of the day for both of us. Taylor made us so comfortable. Even Chad relaxed and had fun. And I think those photos turned out to be my favorites.

Music: Nathan North Music

Nathan North Music Playing at Wedding

Signage: Various templates purchased from Etsy (linked below).


Corn Hole Guest Book: My father-in-law made the set and it turned out even better than I hoped.

Candles (on tables and guest favors): Natys Candles

Glam Squad:

Bride getting glam

Vanessa Luna Makeup

Hotel: The Holbrooke Hotel, Grass Valley, California

Transportation:  Platinum Limousine Service, Roseville, California

Getting ready at the Holbrooke Hotel

Where did you purchase your wedding gown, shoes, jewelry, etc.? 

I purchased my gown at A & Be Bridal in Sacramento. It was the first and only shop I visited … I’d done a lot of research and it was totally my vibe. I worked with Adrienne. We clicked right away, she made me feel so special, and we’ve stayed in touch. She’s amazing and I recommend asking for her.

My shoes are Steve Madden Irene Ankle Strap purchased at Nordstrom. They’re sold out in white but these are very similar.

My earrings are Mejuri’s Bold Pearl Drop.  I LOVE them and, surprisingly, they really stood out in many photos.


Wedding Gown

Auntie’s Note: Sophie, I think there’s something you’re leaving out!

Ok there was a little wedding dress drama. Shortly after we got engaged, I found the perfect wedding dress at A & Be Bridal. Thanks, Adrienne. Then came the pandemic uncertainties and a pause in planning. And along came Haddie. So, we decided to wait until the following summer for our wedding. As the date got closer it became apparent that my body had changed, I was still breast feeding, and my beautiful dress no longer worked. Back to Adrienne I went and found another perfect dress just in the nick of time.

And speaking of my dress. I still need to have it cleaned and I can’t decide if I want to save for my children or possibly sell or donate it. Maybe your readers can comment on this … and what did they did with their wedding gowns? I’d love to know.

I got this cute BRIDE tote from Amazon to haul all my stuff in.  My mom’s mother-of-the-bride denim jacket came from this Etsy shop   My Mrs. Rodr denim jacket came from Something New Bridal Box. And, baby Haddie’s denim jacket is from Old Navy.

And Chad’s suit?

Chads suit is from The Black Tux. They do rentals as well, but we decided to purchase. Every guy needs a dark suit in his closet.

Chad getting ready

Auntie’s Note: Wasn’t there some groom outfit drama too?!

Ha ha … yes! While getting ready for the wedding Chad decided he preferred his brother’s shirt and tie and they switched. You can notice the change between the getting ready photos and the ceremony photos.

He wore brown dress shoes he already had from Men’s Warehouse.

What about Haddie’s dress?

I bought Haddie’s dress at Justy Bae. I saw it featured on their Instagram and fell in love. I also ordered this cute romper from Amazon as a backup. We didn’t end up needing it. As it turned out, I was the one who needed a backup. We had these cute little shoes for her but she’s firmly on team no-shoes.

Baby at wedding

Chad’s brother, Rod, officiated the wedding. He was amazing. So sweet and funny too. How did you talk him into it?

We knew we wanted a family member to officiate, and Roddy was the obvious choice.  He is a wonderful communicator and great with people.  He knows us both so well and we knew he wouldn’t embarrass us too much. Joking. He was excited and enthusiastic about doing it.

Wedding in progress

You’re very close with your two sisters. How did they help and feature into the day? 

We didn’t have a traditional wedding party. In other words, no bridesmaids or groomsman. But I wanted my sisters involved and there to support me with some special moments before and on the wedding day.

The night before the wedding we had a girl’s sleepover at my house. We did spa treatments, watched cheesy movies, and talked about our shared memories from growing up. It was a night I’ll always remember.

Bride and her sisters

Also, Sam, my older sister is a wonderful hair stylist (Dallas Ft. Worth area), and she did all our hair on the day of the wedding.

Both Sam, and my younger sister, Shelby, were such a great help with baby Haddie on the wedding day.

Bride and her sisters

Auntie’s Note: At the last-minute Sam saved my hair. I’d gone into town for an updo (not wanting to burden Sam with another head to deal with on that busy day) and it was a disaster. My sister came over to our room before leaving the hotel, took one look at me and said ‘come with me, Sam will fix this.’  Sam grabbed a comb, plugged in her curling wand and in minutes my hair was saved. Thank you, Sam. And Jane.

And the littles, how were they included? 

We planned for Haddie to come down the aisle with Chad and he’d hand her off to one of my sisters or a grandma. As the day got closer, I decided it was probably a bad idea. Haddie’s at a stage where she gets fussy away from me or Chad and the hand off could have led to tears.

Baby in woman's lap at wedding

We had flower crowns made for Haddie and Mae, my 4-year-old niece. Mae had a flower girl basket full or rose petals but at the last minute she was not feeling the flower girl thing and we let that go. She wore this dress and these shoes.

Little flower girl


My nephews, Wyatt and Beau were just there to enjoy themselves. They got matching shirts and shorts, and polka dot bow ties. The bow ties didn’t last long.

Three kids goofing around at the wedding

Beau, Wyatt & Maesyn

Auntie’s Note: Justin, Sam’s husband and Wyatt, Beau and Maesyn’s dad got sick and was unable to travel for the wedding. We missed you, Justin. 

What other special, meaningful things did you incorporate into the day?

We had an amazing artist, Nathan North Music, there to play and sing throughout the evening. His music was a real highlight and played a special role in creating a magical atmosphere. Everyone commented on how much they enjoyed his music.

Haddie fell in love with Nathan, and someone had to hold her near him most of the evening which kept her very happy. He was so sweet, and he sang to her and even played a couple of special songs that she really enjoyed. She was mesmerized.

Guitarist serenading baby

Auntie’s Note: I think everyone fell a little bit in love with Nathan. From Chad’s 92-year-old grandmother to 10-month-old Haddie and everyone in between. He charmed us all. It’s hard to put into words how his music enhanced and elevated an already beautiful evening.

We used my great-grandmother’s sterling silver cake server to cut and serve our wedding cake. All my grandparents have passed, and it was special to have this heirloom that was so meaningful to my granny included in our day.

It was also a highlight to have Chad’s grandmother, Betty, at the wedding. She’s 92-years young and brought extra sparkle to the day.

Grandma Betty

Auntie’s Note: Grandma Betty’s joie de vivre inspired everyone. And she gave the sweetest toast. As Sophie said, she’s 92-years young. She’s truly a role model for how to do life.

Tell us about your lawn game guest book!

I wanted to do something different and something that would not get packed away after the wedding and rarely seen again. I asked Chad’s dad to make us a corn hole set for all our guests to sign and leave messages. He did a great job. We even used it at the wedding after dinner. Everyone loved it, especially the kids. And we’ve already used it several times since the wedding.

Wedding Guest Book Corn Hole Set

Looking back on the day, what really stands out for you?

It was so casual and intimate, and everyone was able to just relax and truly enjoy themselves and being with each other.

Guests at winery wedding

Guests at wedding reception


Grandpa holding baby at wedding

Winery Dog Pearl

Pearl, Dono dal Cielo Chief Operating Officer

Were there any mishaps?

Nothing that I know of!

Oh wait, during the post-ceremony photos, my sisters and I were dancing a little too wildly and one of them (I won’t say who, but our photographer may have captured the culprit) smeared foundation on my dress. 😂

I also spilled pasta sauce on it at dinner.

We were able to get both stains out using hand sanitizer and Wine Away spray. Who knew!? Taylor, our photographer, said she’s going to start carrying Wine Away to all her weddings.

Auntie’s Note: Having Wine Away spray (and other stain removal tools) on hand is a great tip for all events. It would also be a great addition to the Wedding Guest Survival Bags I mentioned here.

Did anything work out better than expected?

We were a little concerned about the heat, it was supposed to be in the high 90s. We were concerned because the wedding ceremony and dinner were both outside.  Turns out it was cooler than expected (still warm) and no one’s make-up sweated off.

In hindsight is there anything you’d do differently?

Yes, I would not have eaten the pasta with red sauce!

Do you have any honeymoon plans?

No honeymoon. Chad returned to work on Monday following our wedding and has been pretty much gone ever since. I’ll see my new husband again after fire season.

Auntie’s Note: Chad is an engineer for Cal Fire and, obviously, quite busy this time of year.

Bride & Groom with Sparklers

Thank you, Sophie, for sharing the details of your special day.

Uncle Jim and I were honored to be there.

I couldn’t help thinking of Grandpa and Granny throughout the evening.

They would have been so proud.

I asked Jim how he’d describe the wedding and he said,

I don’t want to sound corny, but it was so comfortable and genuine.

Everyone was relaxed, happy and engaged.

It felt like we were not just witnessing a wedding, but we were part of it.

Wedding guest lighting cigar for bride

Uncle Jim & Soph


Wedding Welcome Sign

Winery Wedding Setting


Bride and sisters at outdoor wedding


Bride and her dad coming down the aisle



Groom and his brother



Nathan North Music playing at wedding

Nathan North Music

Marriage Ceremony


Outdoor Wedding Ceremony


Wedding Guests

Not a full-on ugly cry, but close



Bride, Groom and Baby

Family wedding photo


Family wedding photo

Niece Sam and her kiddos. Where’s your bow tie, Wyatt?!

Mom and daughters at wedding

My sister and her girls



Wedding table set up


Nathan North Music at Wedding Reception


Wedding table

Bride and Groom Kissing at Table

Outdoor wedding toast


Best man toast

Bride and Groom first dance


Cutting Wedding Cake


Candle wedding favor table


Cigar Bar



Cigar Smoking


Mom and bride


Family at wedding



Dad and daughters

A sentimental moment between the father-of-the-bride and his eldest and youngest


Bride and baby dancing to musician


Sparkler Table at Wedding



Bride and Groom in sparkler tunnel

Best wishes Mr. & Mrs. Rodr!

Sophie and Chad’s wedding was relaxed, understated, and casually elegant.

My mother, Sophie’s granny, would have approved.

And that’s saying something.

Couple and baby on wedding day

We could not have asked for anything more beautiful for our beloved niece.

So, there you have it

Sophie and Chad’s small and intimate family wedding.

This was so much fun to put together and I hope you enjoyed it too!

Couple with bride at wedding

As always, I appreciate your visit and welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

Do you have any advice for Sophie about keeping her wedding dress?

She’d love to hear it.

Cheers from Snowberry!

Share this


Love my posts? Join my list today!

You might also enjoy

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Thanks for sharing your photos. What a beautiful wedding and lovely new family! Regarding the wedding dress, I vote for keeping it for a short while where you can see and enjoy it, then sell or donate. After my wedding, I had the dress cleaned and put in an archival storage box. After 30 years of marriage and four moves, I finally donated it. I wish I’d donated it sooner, because the Princess Diana style dress is certainly dated!

    • Hi Kathy … I think that’s what a lot of people do. Have it cleaned and stored away. I know my mom hoped my sister or I might wear her dress. But neither of us were small enough to get it zipped up and it really wasn’t our style anyway. It’s a tough decision because a dress holds so many memories. But I love the idea of a donation. And you bring up a good point that sooner is better because fashions change. I remember how I loved the Princess Diana meringue … but my nieces cringe. xo

  • What a beautiful, beautiful wedding. I love the idea of these smaller, more intimate, weddings that are now popular. You have a beautiful family, Juliet. And as to the dress . . . my wedding dress was worn by my sister and my cousin. It’s faded and VERY OUT OF STYLE LOL!!! I think it’s in a grocery bag in the bottom of my closet. I’ve considered having a pillow or something made out of it and then getting rid of the rest. I guess I would say make a decision early on because if you wait too long (like I did) your options are limited. Thank you for sharing such a lovely event!

    • Thank you so much, Robbin. I love that your sister and cousin wore your dress. That’s amazing. Having a pillow or other keepsake made is a great idea. Someone else suggested a tree skirt. Or a donation to be sold by a charity for funds … or perhaps for someone who is in need. Like we do with prom dresses. I love donating prom dresses. Anyway … I’ll pass not this idea to Sophie. And, thanks for your very kind words. xo


    • Contessa! Trust me, my hair looked bad. Really bad. Thank goodness for niece Sam. But you’ll be proud of me, I was determined to show up, bad hair and all … and enjoy every minute of it while ducking the photographer. Thank goodness I didn’t have to!!! xo

  • Jim perfectly captured the best reason for small weddings.., everyone feels like a part of it. What a lovely post. I really enjoyed the interview.

  • Beautiful post. Beautiful day! When it was all over Sophie and I looked at each other and said “what will we do with ourselves now all the planning and fun are over”. Turns out we didn’t need to worry……..

  • Juliet, Sophie and Chads’ wedding was beautiful! Small and intimate with all of the important people in their life in attendance. I love all of the details, the cigar bar, the corn hole game, the food truck and every thing else.
    You look lovely in your blue and white dress. And your hair looks fabulous!
    Thank you for sharing all of the details!
    As for the wedding dress, you could keep it or, sell it or donate it for a cause. There are many organizations that will take your dress and the money is used for cancer research, etc.
    Have a great day Juliet!

    • Elizabeth … that’s a wonderful idea and I love it. I’ll share it with Sophie. That and turning it into a tree skirt. Have you ever heard of that?! Thanks for the compliments … I think you have the blue and white dress too. I got very lucky that niece Sam was able to resuscitate my hair. How awful to look at pictures for years to come with a bad do. Lesson learned … never go to new stylist on an important day. Alls well that ends well. xo

  • Beautiful post Juliet
    It was such a beautiful intimate wedding . So much fun and such a beautiful setting as well . Everyone had such a great time . Sophie and Jane did amazing job at making everything turn out so great . I’m so blessed to be a part of this extended family ❤️.

    • Rae Ann … I’ve loved getting to know you and look forward to many more occasions to spend time together. Jim and I are big fans of Chad … and loved him at first sight. How could we not?! And meeting Roddy was a real pleasure too. You and Rod raised two amazing young men. We’re thrilled to be connected with the Rodr family. You guys are the best! xo

  • I loved this post! As you may know, I’m best friends with RaeAnn, Sophie’s new mother-in-law and have known Chad all of his life – and have been following your beautiful blog and Instagram account for years, so it was so fun to find this connection! Sophie is such a beautiful young woman, inside and out, and I’m so happy for she and Chad! Thanks for sharing all the details about their beautiful wedding!

    • Hello Sharon! Sophie has told me about you and I love the story of our unknown connection. Thank you for your kind words about our darling, Sophia. We adore her. And we fell in love with Chad the moment we met him. How we could we not?! It’s been so much fun getting to know Rae Ann and the rest of Chad’s family. I hope to have the opportunity to meet you one day. And, thank you so much for following the blog. It means so much to me. xo

  • Thank for sharing another wedding. This looks like a blast and quite fun.
    It’s fun reading all the details and seeing the little ones.

    Such a beautiful family and I applaud their patience and sharing the day with us

    • Hi Cindy! Thanks you … it was so much fun … you know how I love weddings. And when they involve a close family member it’s an added joy! xo

  • What a lovely wedding venue. Everyone looked beautiful and it looked like a great day. I remember you talking about your nieces when they were little girls. Look how lovey they are all grown up.

    • Linda! I’ve been thinking about you! That’s right, when we worked together the girls were relatively young. And, now grown up with children of their own. Time flies, doesn’t it?! xo

  • I once read about a woman taking wedding dresses and turning them into Christmas tree skirts. I thought that was a very functional idea.

  • Hi Juliet,
    I love the intimacy of this wedding. It feels just right to celebrate this way, with on,y the most special people in attendance. Everything was so carefully chosen and really beautiful. Keeping ideas for any future weddings that might happen in our family someday!
    Ps you looked perfect!
    Xo Heidi

    • Ooh … Heidi … future weddings! Exciting to think about. There are so many ways to celebrate a marriage and I love them all. Of course, my niece is so special to me and I thought everything she did was perfection! xo

  • Juliet, What a special day and obviously your family has a lot of love and is close. Small weddings are my favorite and we had one too. I love that Sophie did all the usual things that a big wedding would have and make it fun. Her dress was beautiful. I saved mine, also wine stained, and will probably pitch it at some point! She has a daughter though and she might want it someday…This is a great little guide on how to have an intimate wedding with great style and a lot of fun..She and Chad are a lovely couple and you can tell they are sweet people. Wishing them a beautiful life together! Kim

  • Everything looks so beautiful! Loved reading this all as well, so fun to hear other planning experiences!

  • I really enjoyed reading this post. The wedding looked beautiful and all the details meshed well together.
    I love your dress too and I’m sure I can find a link for it somewhere.
    My wedding dress was from I Magnin in San Francisco and it was such a beautiful dress. It is preserved and in my closet (on Rob’s side) LOL in a rather huge box. Not sure it will be worn again but when the time comes, I hope one my daughters will donate it or something.
    Such a perfect day for Sophie and Chad, wishing them a lifetime of happiness.

  • 35 years ago I had the same quandary about what to do with my wedding dress. A talented seamstress cut off the train from my dress. The dress was then donated; still beautiful with no train. The train then became the skirt of a Christening gown (a simple bodice was created using additional fabric). It is absolutely beautiful and holds so many lovely memories. We have six children and three grandchildren -they have all been christened using this priceless gown.

  • What a sweet and special day!! Beautiful and memorable. Sorry I am so late commenting. My daughter sold her wedding gown for about half what she paid for it. It broke my heart a little, but then I saw a picture of the very happy young lady who also had the chance to be transformed by that lovely gown, and I knew it made more sense than putting it away, never to be enjoyed again.

    • It’s such a hard decision, isn’t it, Sarah? I’ve heard from so many who saved their dresses for decades only to later donate or sell them. Heartwarming to know another bride was able to enjoy the good vibes of your daughters gown on her special day. I love that. xo

  • Hi, I’m Juliet … welcome to Make Mine a Spritzer where we talk about all things home décor, classic style and more! I’m so happy you’re here!

    Join My List

    Shop my Amazon

    Shop my Amazon
    Some posts contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting the blog!



    Reader Interactions

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    make mine a spritzer

    Join Juliet for the latest fashion, lifestyle and travel!

    join me today