Wine Country Weddings

Marin Magazine

Yasmin Avash and Brian Shiller

Trentadue Winery, Geyserville, August 4, 2012

For Brian Shiller, 2012 was an amazing year. He married the love of his life, Yasmin Avash, in an elegant wine country ceremony, and his favorite baseball team won the World Series. His wedding was of course the highlight, but Yasmin, understanding his devotion, wove the San Francisco Giants victory into the vows, eliciting cheers from the audience. “We are opposites,” says Yasmin; “we call each other ‘the dog’ and ‘the cat’ — and I’m the cat.” If you ask how the couple met, their divergent personalities come to light. Yasmin’s account is full of detail: “We met at Savoy Tivoli in North Beach through our Sausalito-based shoe-designer friend, Cristina Nelson.” Brian simply says: “Through friends — at a bar.” Early on in their relationship, Yasmin knew she would like to have Brian as a life partner after he showed his ability to provide for and take care of her when she was out of work. For him, it was upon returning from a long trip and seeing her again. “I’ve never been so happy to see anyone,” he recalls. Their wedding at Trentadue Winery paid homage to their shared love of golf. “Our party favors and table names were all golf-related,” Yasmin says. “We love playing golf together, so we named the tables after golf courses and gave away personalized golf ball markers and tees.” Her father, Ahmad, who has been playing with the Tuesday Skins Club at Peacock Gap for decades, undoubtedly had something to do with her love of the game. The wine country was the ideal venue for locals as well as for out-of-town guests from El Salvador, Kansas and Mexico. The couple also appreciated the setting’s beauty and the management’s willingness to accommodate such special requests as Persian food on the menu and bringing in a mariachi band. The event had countless highs, Brian says, but entering the reception hand-in-hand with his wife was a favorite: “Walking in and hearing ‘Mr. and Mrs. Brian Shiller.’ I was finally able to relax and take in the moment.”

VENUE Trentadue Winery

PASTOR Rev. Steve Schibsted, Bidwell Presbyterian Church

PHOTOGRAPHER Jennifer Michaelson

CATERING Famous Kabob

FLOWERS Family and friends

DJ AMS Entertainment

MARIACHI BAND Mariachi Colima

VIDEOGRAPHER Mao Winesberry, 415.225.6000

DRESS Amsale Gown, Glamour Closet

GROOM’S SUIT Selix Formalwear

INVITATIONS Impresos Realce



WEBSITE Wedding Jojo,

Erin Miwa and Michalaggelos “Michael” Panas

Cornerstone, Sonoma, August 30, 2012

Erin Miwa grew up in Marin and enjoys running her family business, the popular eatery Comforts in San Anselmo. She met her husband, Michael Panas, a native of Athens, Greece, while studying abroad at University of York in England. Both were working on master’s degrees, she in international development and he in finance and economics. During a post-graduation trip to Paris, Michael surprised Erin with a midnight proposal moments after the lights on the Eifel Tower came on. Fast-forward to the wedding day, when Michael surprised Erin again, this time with a romantic speech that became one of the highlights of the day. She didn’t know he had prepared anything. “I thought he would just run off a list of thank-yous,” she said, “He overwhelmed me with his sentimentality, thoughtfulness and emotion. And it lasted almost 10 minutes.” Her only regret was not having a videographer. “I didn’t realize how much of the evening I had lost,” she says. “Pictures capture some moments, but the video clips from friends and family members who took footage with their phones or cameras were the most fun to watch. I wish I had more.” The couple agrees that Cornerstone Sonoma was the ideal reception venue. “The space is so unique and at every corner there seems to be another picture-perfect setting,” says Erin. “We hired a DJ and he was great, playing the perfect variety for all ages. Plus, he was able to pronounce Michael’s name right.”

CEREMONY Nativity of Christ Church

PRIEST Rev. Luke Palumbis

RECEPTION Cornerstone Sonoma


CATERING Sage Catering

FLOWERS Main St. Floragardens

MUSIC DJ Mark Haggerty, Denon & Doyle

DRESS Romona Kaveza


INVITATIONS Designed by bride, letterpressed by PS Paper


Veronica Sooley and Matthew Pugh

Paradise Ridge Winery, Santa Rosa, September 7, 2012

If you have been in a shopping mall in the past year, you’ve heard the sassy lyrics by pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen: “Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me, maybe?” San Francisco graphic artist Veronica Sooley expressed almost these exact words during a chance encounter with her future husband, Matt Pugh, at a holiday party on December 27, 2008. By the first of the year, she’d told her best friend that he was “the one.” With mutual friends and a meeting of the parents already under their belt, the two grew closer and eventually moved into a Nob Hill apartment together — which is where the story advances. After serving Veronica breakfast in bed on her birthday, Matt got down on one knee to ask the big question. After she said yes, the two agreed that the wine country up north near Veronica’s parents was the best place to tie the knot. They settled on Paradise Ridge Winery and started making plans. “Matt and I love wine country, so the winery theme that carried throughout the wedding was very representative of us,” says Veronica, who found much of her design inspiration for the event on Pinterest. “It was a very collaborative, DIY wedding — my dad made the centerpieces, my aunt helped with the table arrangements and the arbor, my uncle performed the ceremony, my maid of honor and cousin helped me work on crafts for days before the wedding, and my mom and I did pretty much everything else.” Seeing Veronica for the first time in her dress, the heartfelt and funny speeches, the visiting with loved ones and the first dance as husband and wife were moments that stood out for Matt. “People say it’s the best day of your life,” he reflects. “And I always thought it was just something people said to be polite. But it really was the best day of my life. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

VENUE Paradise Ridge Winery

PHOTOGRAPHER Elizabeth Hurley Photography

CATERING Park Avenue Catering


CAKE Joanna Lavenberg, SF Baked Love,


MUSIC Clay Mitchell, Premier Productions

VIDEOGRAPHY Cullen Mitchell

DRESS Casablanca Bridal, Wine Country Bride



HAIR Mauricio Lemus

INVITATIONS Wedding Paper Divas


Ashley Holmstrand and Doug Carr

Anvil Vineyard and Ranch, Annapolis, September 8, 2012

When a few of the members of the Sonoma State University soccer team moved in downstairs from Ashley Holmstrand and her roommates during her junior year, she thought she had won the jackpot, and if “the most amazing husband ever and best friend” is considered a grand prize, she did. However, she was almost too busy to let a romance bloom into an engagement. After repeatedly trying to get her to drop a work shift and go out of town for the weekend, Doug Carr ended up taking a moment on New Year’s morning 2011, while Ashley was twirling around the kitchen, to surprise her on bended knee with a ring in his hand. She loved it — the ring and the moment. Considering their alma mater and Doug’s passion for wine, having a wine country wedding was at the top of their list. The venue they chose, Anvil Vineyard and Ranch, is a 13,000-acre property with a lake, vineyard and three houses that can sleep up to 38 people. Anvil also met their planning needs; the venue allowed outside vendors, it had a beautiful outdoor setting, and there were no time constraints — so they could dance all night. “Patrick, the property manager, was amazing,” Ashley says. “It didn’t matter what odd request we had; Patrick had a solution for everything.” Highlights of the night for both included Ashley walking down the aisle; the fi rst glimpse of his bride took Doug’s breath away, and Ashley especially cherished being escorted by her brother Tom. “I would not do anything di_ erently,” says the groom. “The day was perfect.”

VENUE Anvil Vineyard and Ranch

REVEREND Rev. Doug Rhoads (brother of the bride)

PHOTOGRAPHY Mike Phongsa, MP Photography

CATERING Jennifer Lopez Catering and Events

FLOWERS Carlie Factor

MUSIC Runaway DJ Services


GROOM’S SUIT Jim’s Formal Wear



Mimi Towle

Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.