An Amalfi Coast–Inspired Summer Wedding at Tra Vigne in St. Helena, California

                    San Francisco–based couple Katherine Cross (24 and a residential solar program manager) and John Arnaud (31 and a residential so

San Francisco–based couple Katherine Cross (24 and a residential solar program manager) and John Arnaud (31 and a residential solar sales manager) brought the carefree, romantic vibe of Italy’s Amalfi Coast to their early summer nuptials in St. Helena, California. “We wanted our guests to feel as though they were sharing a perfect meal on a perfect summer night on a tree-canopied patio in Italy,” says Katherine. 

So the food had to be top-notch. “After touring several different wedding venues and tasting their menus, Katherine and I knew that to achieve the level of culinary experience we wanted for our guests, we would have to turn to a restaurant,” says John. Tra Vigne in St. Helena offered unparalleled cuisine and ambiance, with its beautiful courtyard shaded by lush trees, gates opening onto a quaint vineyard and team of chefs who worked with the couple to create a menu that reflected their heritage and personalities. 

After a traditional ceremony at St. Helena Catholic Church, the newlyweds and their guests were off to Tra Vigne, where they dined on traditional Italian dishes while being serenaded with classics by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Tables were dressed in sage and ivory linens and topped with fruit accents and fresh seasonal blooms. Katherine’s mother's homemade tomato and fig jams, hand-lettered signage crafted by a local artist and a fish-shaped groom’s cake were just a few of the elements that made the day so personal and unique. 

“Our wedding was a representation of who we are as individuals, who we are as a couple, where we come from and how we entertain,” says Katherine. “We had such a great time planning our wedding. If I could give any advice to future couples, it would be to enjoy every moment, even the stressful times, and make your wedding your own. You want guests to walk into your wedding and know it is yours!” —Libby MacCarthy

Katherine and John had Visual Impact Design line the aisles of St. Helena Catholic Church with small metal pails filled with blush, ivory and lemon yellow flowers such as garden roses and dahlias.
In keeping with the wedding’s cheerful, Amalfi Coast–inspired color palette, Katherine dressed her bridesmaids in soft lemon yellow. The knee-length J.Crew dresses had a classic, sophisticated feel with an A-line silhouette and an illusion sweetheart neckline.
For the reception, Katherine and John decided to get creative and combined the place cards and menus into a single entity. After consulting the custom wooden seating chart, guests headed to their tables and found a menu card with their name on it. The menus featured olive leaf illustrations that tied in with the vineyard theme.
The florists at Visual Design Impact outdid themselves when it came to the centerpieces, putting together arrangements of soft pastel blooms like roses and hydrangeas accented with grapes and apricots.
Katherine wouldn’t let the day go by without at least one surprise. When she and John arrived at the reception, he was blown away by the groom’s cake, made by Sweet on Cakes. “It was shaped and decorated as a golden trout,  the one fish I have never been able to catch!” says John.
Sweet on Cakes crafted a four-tiered confection with Venetian flair. The cake featured strawberry with basil filling, chocolate cake with toffee, and almond cake with cherry Amaretto filling. Buttercream frosting that mimicked Venetian plaster and sugar lemons and greenery decorated each layer for a theme-appropriate finish.
Katherine and John hired a local artist to make all the wedding’s signage, from the table numbers to the seating chart.
The artist the couple commissioned to create their table numbers, seating charts and menus also crafted signs for the backs of Katherine and John’s dinner chairs. Instead of traditional “bride” and “groom” or “Mr.” and “Mrs.” signs, the couple marked their seats with the words “avere” and “tenere,” which mean "to have" and "to hold" in Italian.
Katherine and John’s wedding brimmed with personal touches that spoke to their story and their fun-loving personalities. At the end of the evening, the pair sent their guests home with jars of tomato or fig jam made by Katherine’s mother, each one labeled with fun phrases and illustrations.
The pair had a reclaimed wine barrel converted into a lazy Susan upon which friends and family wrote their well wishes and advice.
Standards by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett set a warm, intimate tone. Katherine and John shared their first dance to Dean Martin’s “Non Dimenticar,” and Katherine and her grandmother left no eye in the house dry when they took a spin out to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”
Katherine and John made their ceremony proceedings personal through music. A harpist performed the pre ceremony music, a memoriam for John’s father and the processional and recessional. “Our mothers walked to Rachmaninoff’s 18th Variation on a Theme of Paganini, followed by ‘Music of the Night’ in honor of John’s father and his love for ‘Phantom of the Opera,’” says Katherine. “The wedding party entered to 'Barcarolle,' and in lieu of the bridal march I walked down the aisle to ‘La Vie en Rose’ by Edith Piaf.”