Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

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Couple creates intimate wedding experience in the Napa Valley

Ian Bailey and Ashley Coleman’s Sept. 30 wedding at Auberge du Soleil in the Napa Valley was an intimate affair that focused as much on the couple as it did on their 24 guests.

By KRISTA S. KANO

From the beginning of their courtship, Ashley Coleman and Ian Bailey’s relationship was not just about them. It was about incorporating the other into their individual lives, their families and their friends. So, for those who know them best, it was no surprise that their October 2017 wedding was as much about their guests as it was about them.

Prior to their Dec. 30, 2016 engagement, Ashley and Ian had been to many weddings of all sizes. They had seen exhausted couples travel from table to table to greet 200 individual guests, thank them for being there and take a quick photo.

“It felt impersonal, and we wanted to create more valuable time” Ian said. Luckily for them, their parents were on board for a small wedding, as Ashley’s parents had eloped and Ian’s were married at Pier W in front of 50 guests. They decided to invite four friends each and only immediate families, and allowed each guest a plus-one for a significant other.

They also knew that they wanted a destination wedding in Napa Valley, and that they did not want to be planning a wedding for two years. Ashley, who is relentless when she sets a goal, believed a wedding could be planned within a year, and true to form, she did it, nearly single-handedly. Because they were flexible about their location and wedding date but firm on their budget, they were able to quickly find a venue at Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, California.

Auberge’s Wedding and Event Coordinator Sara Lindenbaum walked Ashley through options of preset vendors over the phone and through FaceTime, and throughout the planning, Ashley kept in close contact with her mother, who at the time was battling breast cancer. (At the reception, Ashley’s father talked about how this wedding was the light at the end of the tunnel that guided Mrs. Coleman through surgeries and chemotherapy). Ashley called her mother, who lives outside of Philadelphia, every day, to check in on her and give her wedding updates.

The wedding was planned within a few months, and every invited guest, myself included, marked yes on the invitations that featured a caricature of the couple, drawn by Ian’s mother, an art teacher in Rocky River.

Once everyone was in California, Ashley and Ian made it clear that they wanted everyone to feel like they were a part of the wedding, while still enjoying their own vacation. On Thursday, the women –including Ashley’s friends, the mothers and significant others, many of whom had never met before – took a hike together and had dinner, while the men played golf and visited wineries.

On Friday, Ian and Ashley purposefully left free time for their guests to explore the area. Many went to wineries, but my friend and I took a spa day and enjoyed mud baths and a hike through a petrified forest. That evening, Ashley and Ian had their rehearsal dinner at the house Ashley’s parents had rented, and invited everyone. Ashley wore her mother’s wedding dress that she had shortened and tailored, and everyone feasted on barbecue, a Bailey family tradition. With good food, tons of wine and a Jacuzzi, everyone got to know each other at the rehearsal. As Ian later pointed out, “Relationships were starting to build, and it made a more intimate atmosphere at the wedding, and that was noticeable.”

On Saturday, the day of the wedding, guests had the morning to continue exploring the area before the late afternoon ceremony. At the ceremony that was in a small space overlooking an olive grove, it was again clear how much the wedding was about friends and family. Ashley’s brother, a member of the Air Force, officiated the wedding. Her best friend and Maid of Honor sang Sara Bareilles’ “I Choose You.” And as a surprise, Ashley and her brothers donned pink ribbons in honor of their mother’s successful battle with breast cancer.

“Everyone who was there knew about my mom,” Ashley said. “Not one person who was there hadn’t talked to me or Ian about her treatment. I feel like the wedding was about our love, but the center of it was that we were celebrating my mom and that we were all able to be there together. We were able to celebrate her and my dad and what they did that year.”

“We built-in time for group stuff to allow people from Ashley’s life to get to know the people in my life, and allowed everyone enough time to make the trip their own,” Ian said, but most importantly, “Everyone was there for a reason. They all helped us get to where we were in that moment in one aspect of our lives or another.”

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