Best Wishes

Dana Ross & Todd Rogers
Rancho Nicasio | July 29, 2007

When she was a little girl growing up in Mill Valley, Dana Ross told her mother her wedding was going to be a potluck in a field, and that anyone who wanted to come would be welcome. A couple of decades later, the details had shifted, but the sentiment hadn’t changed much. “Neither Todd nor I likes fancy at all,” says Dana, who now lives in Boston and works as a middle school history teacher. “We love the outdoors. We love to run. It is very important to both of us that we are doing good service in the world.”

Still, they looked around at some pretty spiffy places for their Marin wedding. “We wanted something rustic, but every place we looked at was really nice. Todd was pretty much resigned to getting married at a yacht club or something.” But then they considered Rancho Nicasio. “I had seen a great bluegrass band there,” Dana says, “but when I mentioned it to my mom she was like, ‘no way!’”

Once they started looking into it, however, her mother’s attitude changed. “It turns out they do a lot of weddings out there and once my mom saw the pictures, she was into it. It could look classy, but it could still feel like you were out in a field, which is what I like.”

The wedding was a weekend-long affair. A barbecue at Dana’s parents’ house in Mill Valley kicked off fours days of celebrating, including a hike in Tennessee Valley, a rehearsal dinner at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon, and a post-wedding brunch at D’Angelo in Mill Valley. “Todd and I are very dedicated to staying in touch with our friends,” Dana says. “We both had friends from kindergarten in our wedding parties. We wanted our friends to meet and have a chance to hang out before the wedding so it would all be relaxed and comfortable.”

The day itself reflected the couple’s desire for warmth and simplicity. They walked down the aisle to Travis Tritt’s “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” (“we’re both closet country music fans”); they dined on barbecued oysters and grilled veggies among tables decorated with wildflowers. But the best part was the party. As dinner was ending, the four singers from the band started singing a cappella and leading everyone inside in one long line. “They danced us into the reception and the dance floor was packed for the rest of the night,” says Dana. “By the third song my dad had his tie around his head.”

Location and catering: Rancho Nicasio,

Wedding coordinator: Kathryn Kenna,

Photographer: Suzy Clement,

Flowers: Leslie Grady, 510.418.9118

Music: Preston Turner and Pure Ecstasy,

Video: Thomas Hughes,

Cake: Torino Baking,

Hair and makeup: Carrie L’Esperance,

Dress: Nicole Miller




Nicole Chagnon &

Zachary Siswick

Isleboro, Maine | June 22, 2007

There was never a question for Nicole and Zachary where their wedding would take place. Zac grew up on a small island in Maine and the couple had spent many happy days there during their seven-year courtship. “Honestly, the entire inspiration for the wedding was where we were having it,” says Nicole, a Marin native who works as a media relations manager for Macy’s West. “Isleboro is kind of similar to the Northern California coast: not all smooth beaches and perfect—kind of wild and rugged. We knew right away it was going to be there.”

Once they had the location, all they really knew was that they wanted their wedding to be something that truly reflected their personalities. “We wanted it to be simple and a great party. And we wanted it to reflect island life, something that would make people understand why it was so important for us to have it there.”

They incorporated that sense of place into every aspect of the event—from serving seafood to saying their vows under an arbor that Zac’s mom made from native cedar. “My mother-in-law weighs about 100 pounds and she made this gorgeous arbor,” says Nicole. “She was out in the woods with an ax and a chain saw. It was huge—it must have been nine feet tall.”

The other details were equally homespun. Table linens were hand-sewn by the bride and groom (“we had our own little sweatshop set up in our house,” say Nicole). The bride’s sister did her hair and makeup, and a family friend played music for the ceremony—“Beautiful” by Gordon Lightfoot for the processional and the Beatles’ “Blackbird” to accompany the newlyweds back down the aisle.

Planning a wedding in Maine from her home in Marin was the only difficult part. “Not only is there a time change,” Nicole says, “but there was island time. People work differently on island time.” Still, it all came together magnificently. “There were problems,” she allows. “It was hailing and raining the morning of the wedding, but for some reason it didn’t stress me out. I was in this weird ultra-blissful mood and I figured I can’t control it so I just let it happen.”

The clouds parted in time for the ceremony in Zac’s mother’s backyard and the day was beautiful. “It’s hard to describe it,” Nicole says. “‘Fun’ is too simple. ‘Perfect’ is too cheesy. I guess it was authentic. Everything felt right. It was about everyone who was there, and it was just such a good day.”

Ceremony: Groom’s mother’s garden

Reception: Islesboro Historical Society, 207.734.6733

Photographer: Alexandra Daley-Clark,

Caterer and cake: Trillium Caterers,

Music: Pre-ceremony, processional and recessional: David Letellier, 413.532.3026; reception: an iPod playlist compiled by the groom plus an impromptu live jam session featuring Letellier
and the bride’s father

Invitations: Zachary Siswick,

Dress: Narciso Rodriguez, off the rack from Loehmann’s





Anne Hiaring & Richard Hocking
St. Helena | June 9, 2007

Anne Hiaring and Richard Hocking, who met through mutual friends while skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho, wound up having a much bigger wedding than they’d envisioned. “I thought there’d be 120 tops,” says Anne, an attorney in San Francisco. “But everyone we invited showed up. No one could believe he was finally getting married.”

At 59, Richard had been a lifelong bachelor. “He’s really handsome. He cooks. He skis. He has a boat. He’s in great shape. He has wonderful friends. It was like, ‘what’s wrong with the picture?’” says Anne, laughing. “It turns out, absolutely nothing. In fact he’s just a great guy.”

Because of their shared love of cooking and eating good food, they knew they wanted to have their wedding in the Napa Valley. When they found the First Presbyterian church of St. Helena and immediately clicked with Jonathan Eastman, the minister there, everything seemed to fall into place. “We wanted a ceremony that reflected the fact that we were both raised attending a church, but we didn’t want someone else’s ceremony foisted on us,” says Anne. To keep it from being generic, they wrote the whole thing themselves, incorporating plenty of music, and chose all the songs. “At one point the singer sang ‘When I’m 64,’ but we changed the lyrics to 84, because, you know, 64 is just around the corner.”

Along with the playfulness, there was a sense of real intention. “My favorite part was standing up in front of the church and holding on to Richard’s arm. We really supported each other. It’s pretty amazing to get married when you are older. You get to a point where you don’t really need anybody but you make that commitment to open up and be there for one another.”

For the reception the couple and their 200 guests drove over to a friend’s vineyard for dinner, dancing and good wine. “It was very elegant but very comfortable with lots of children. We wanted it to be family oriented,” Anne says.

Between the family-style Tuscany-inspired menu featuring all seasonal and locally sourced food and the great bands (there were two), they got exactly the celebration they were hoping for. “I would say it was just great,” Anne concludes. “Everyone was dancing. Dads and daughters, all the husbands and wives who hadn’t danced together in years were dancing. You just couldn’t stay off your feet.”

But the best part of all was seeing her two children, 16 and 20, enjoy themselves so much. “They were really happy for me. They love Richard; he’s been a great presence in their lives. The pie just got bigger, not smaller.”

Location: Ceremony, First Presbyterian Church of St. Helena; reception, Masked Man Vineyard, Calistoga;

Photographer: Kay Field, Cotati,

Caterer: Brannan’s Grill, Calistoga (owners of Masked Man Vineyard),

Cake: Debbie Does Dessert, San Anselmo,

Flowers: Sue Tipp, St. Helena

Music: Stephen Iverson, Lobacha (Cuban); Herb and his band (Brannan’s house blues band)

Invitations: Diane Murray and John Hersey,

Dress: Le Spose di Giò, ceremony; Proenza Schouler, reception




Lee Anne Ramsey & Christopher Weldon

Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii | February 18, 2007

Lee Anne and Chris are both from originally from the East Coast. They work in San Francisco as broadcast producers, and they share a passion for good food, travel and lazy weekends. But when you ask them what first brought them together as a couple after two years of friendship, they mention none of this. “We have a mutual love of cheesy ’80s movies,” Lee Anne says. Christopher corrects her. “I’d have a hard time saying it wasn’t specifically Patrick Swayze movies.” She has to agree.

Their wedding on Kauai last February embodied all their key interests: it was a destination wedding, it had great food, it included a weekend’s worth of events—many of them centered around eating—and, of course, Patrick Swayze was there. In spirit, at least.

The couple had become engaged on Kauai’s north shore the previous year and knew right away that’s where they wanted to get married. What they didn’t want was a big hotel wedding, this wasn’t their style. “We wanted it to be at a house with a big lawn. We wanted a family feel,” say Lee Anne. “There were only three places on the north shore that we would consider,” Christopher says. With the help of a wedding planner, they found the ideal spot, a set of classic Hawaiian cottages fronted by a huge lawn leading to the beach on Hanalei Bay.

They were lucky enough to have many talented friends. Fabric designer Lotta Jansdotter did their invitations. Another friend designed the save-the-date cards. Photography was provided by a commercial photographer who normally doesn’t shoot weddings but agreed to shoot theirs as a favor. A group of musically inclined friends played and sang during the ceremony. Their minister, who officiated barefoot, was a college roommate of the groom’s. “We didn’t want to feel like we were putting on a show,” Christopher says. “We wanted everyone to be part of it.” Lee Anne adds, “We didn’t really have an exact vision. We just took a leap of faith and let people do their thing. For two producers, [that] was pretty incredible.”

There was, however, one perfectly choreographed part, something the couple kept secret from everyone until the big moment. When it came time for their first dance together, a bubble machine let loose and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” a song forever linked in the minds of a generation to Baby Houseman and Johnny Castle, began to play. Christopher and Lee Anne proceeded to do the final dance from Dirty Dancing, step for step, to the whoops and cheers of their friends and family. And yes, they even did the lift.

Location: Paniolo & Nalu Cottages, Hanalei Land Company, 808.826.1454,

Photographer: Toby Burditt,

Caterer: Contemporary Flavors,

Flowers: Sally at Blossoms Kauai,

Music: Slack guitar by Paul Togioka,, during guest arrival and cocktail hour. Dancing tunes by Kustom Sounds Kauai,

Invitations: designed by Lotta Jansdotter,; printed by Elinor Nissley at Krank Press,

Wedding planner: Deanna Schafer, I Do weddings,

Dress: Joan Gilbert Bride, San Francisco,