A Glam, Whimsical Wedding at Union Hill Inn in Sonora, California

It doesn’t get any better than Bess Siegfried (27 and works in marketing and community engagement) and Austin Yount’s (27 and works in business development) winter wedding at Union Hill Inn in Sonora, California. The pair planned a cozy, whimsical affair with a palette of neutral hues, chic metallic and plenty of personal touches that gave the day a rustic flavor. “Finding our dream venue in Gold Country felt serendipitous, so gold became a leading motif,” Bess says. Before kicking the evening’s festivities into high gear, Bess and Austin gathered their families and friends in the quaint wooden chapel at Union Hill for an intimate, heartfelt ceremony. “The chapel is the main reason we picked the venue,” Bess says. “It is a stunning wooden building with a working fireplace at the altar. It felt intimate and special the minute we stepped inside.” In the late afternoon, light streamed through the windows, bathing the chapel in bright natural light. As the sun began to set, the dozens of ivory pillar candles the couple had scattered throughout the space kicked in, illuminating the room with a warm, romantic glow. Bess and Austin kept the rest of the decor simple, adding a few ivory floral arrangements to alternating pews, so as not to distract from the setting’s appeal. 

To put their own twist on the proceedings, Bess and Austin asked a close friend to officiate and had close friends and family read excerpts from "The Little Prince" and "Jane Eyre." Details included each guest lighting a small lantern placed at their seat (during an acoustic rendition of Phil Wickham’s “Divine Romance") and celebratory mini flags and bells that guests waved as the newlyweds made their way up the aisle. “My favorite part of Christmas Eve church service growing up was the candlelighting ceremony,” Bess says. “We decided to re-create this at our wedding, which ended up being the perfect solution to our power outage. Everyone kept their lanterns lit even after the song had finished, using them for heat and to light the way to cocktails. What an unforgettable view we had from the altar.” After the “I dos,” Austin and Bess met their friends and families in the Grand Pavilion for the reception. With the help of the weddings pros at Going Lovely, the pair transformed the rustic pavilion into a gilded dream. The tabletops were sprinkled with gold-dipped antlers, metallic vases bearing ivory blooms and lots of candlelight, with details like custom Mad Libs, vintage cowbell escort cards and personalized table names (each named after a spot special to the couple) adding a touch of playfulness to the otherwise rustic glam decor. “We tried to keep our menu seasonal, as well as local,” Bess says. “Our signature cocktails were the AY Old-Fashioned and the Bessy Boozy, a lemon drop with a sugar rim.” After dinner, guests indulged in an assortment of cookies from Jimmy V’s Sports Cafe, a popular spot for Stanford University athletes, as well as a candy bar with sweet treats from the couple’s favorite candy store in San Francisco, the Candy Store. A tip from Bess and Austin: “Take every opportunity to turn a wedding task into a fun date or activity. Turn menu tasting into an impromptu overnight getaway or date night, stuff invitation envelopes with a group of friends over gossip, or work on budgeting together over a mimosa brunch. Things will happen that you can’t plan for. Perhaps it won’t be an epic snowstorm the night before your wedding, or a citywide power outage the day of, but there will be something. I promise they will turn into some of your favorite stories and memories. Finally, remember to take care of yourself. There are times you will feel overwhelmed. Remember to do things that help you keep perspective. Get a massage, exercise, take a weekend off, read, go outside.” —Libby MacCarthy