Planning Your Wedding? Be Sure To Factor In The Cost Of Tipping

Tipping is not considered obligatory, but it’s an accepted expression of gratitude for certain services granted. Just as we would never leave a restaurant without tipping our servers, those behind the efforts to pull off the perfect wedding should not be forgotten either.

 

 

 For potential brides and grooms, determining who should be tipped and how much that amount should be is often left to the very end — when they are already juggling dozens of other last-minute details.

 Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate this important element of your wedding:

  • Whether it’s one of the fathers, the best man or a maid of honor, assign someone the duty of handing out envelopes holding cash tips. Pay these either at the time of service (hair and makeup), at the end of the wedding (allowing you to adjust the tip to reflect the service), or at the beginning (vendors are more likely to provide excellent service if tipped before the wedding).
  • Traditionally, business owners of larger companies don’t get tipped — just their employees — but you can/should tip an owner when the service exceeds expectations. Small business owners should never be overlooked either, since their businesses are often run by just one person.
  • Wedding planners won’t likely expect anything; however, if yours exceeded expectations you can always give a small percentage of the total bill. Approximately 50 percent of couples do tip their planners, but these are typically those with holding more opulent weddings. Remember, non-monetary thank-yous such as professional photos of the wedding for the planner’s portfolio can go a long way, too.
  • If your officiant is affiliated with a church or synagogue, you’re normally expected to make a donation to that institution, and tipping the officiant is also appreciated. If you’re a member you’ll probably want to give a larger amount than if you’re not. However, if you’re getting married there and they’re charging you to use the space, feel free to give a smaller amount.
  • When it comes to bartenders, waitstaff, parking, bathroom, and coat-room attendants the rules of tipping are dictated by your contract. If the service fee is included, consider doling out extra only if the service was exceptional. If it’s not included, ask ahead of time how many attendants will be working your wedding and calculate on a per person basis.

Here is a general guideline for tipping amounts:

  • Bartenders: 10 percent of total liquor bill (split among them)
  • Bathroom attendants: $1 to $2 per guest
  • Catering manager: $200+ (or a personal gift)
  • Chef: $100+
  • Coat check attendants: $1 to $2 per guest
  • Hairstylist: 15 to 20 percent
  • Hotel chambermaids: $2 to $5 per room; $10 to $15 if you used a suite as your dressing room
  • Limo or bus drivers: 15 percent
  • Maitre d’hotel or headwaiter: 1 to 3 percent of food and beverage fees
  • Makeup artist: 15 to 20 percent
  • Musicians: 15 percent of fee for ceremony musicians; $25 to $50 per musician for reception
  • Photographer/videographer: $100
  • Valet or parking attendants: $1 to $2 per car; 15 percent for valet parking
  • Waiters: $20 and up each (distributed by the catering manager)
  • Wedding planner: 15 percent of fee (or a personal gift)

Equestrian-Inspired Details Create A Rustic Yet Elegant Wedding For Horse Lovers

For centuries brides-to-be have dreamed of majestic horses, rustic-glamorous ranches and country dining under the stars, with elegant equestrian-themed weddings satisfying that cowgirl fantasy.

There are numerous stylish and elegant ways to incorporate a love of horses into the big day. Whether you choose to add layers of rustic, Western-inspired charm, or go for a classic and preppy look, you can’t go wrong with details inspired by your other tall, dark and handsome companion.

The trend for equestrian chic rears its beautiful head season after season, and a subtle nod toward horse-inspired detailing creates a unique wedding theme.

Horseshoes have long played a role in weddings. An ancient symbol of good luck, a horseshoe is traditionally given to a bride on the morning of her wedding. Modern brides have been known to carry a lucky silver horseshoe with their bouquet, or go one step further by using the symbol as a print throughout the wedding. Invitations, menus, programs and napkins (among other accouterment) can be dressed up (or down) with a horseshoe motif. Horseshoes also make an easy, unique wedding day flavor for your guests.

Here are other fun horse-themed ideas for the big day:

  •  To really win the race, add colorful rosettes, ribbons and cup trophies to the wedding-day decor (the cups make great flower vases), or choose to arrive at the ceremony by horse and carriage.
  •  Forget the country club, get married in a barn or similar outdoor space. For the reception, go the extra mile by using hay bales as extra seating and/or decorative items.
  • Lay down a wooden dance floor, and hire someone to teach impromptu Western-themed dance lessons to liven up the party.
  • Whether the other love of your life joins you for portraits, or down the aisle, dress up your four-legged steed with a stunning floral wreath.
  • For the best couple in the room, horse show ribbon chair signs are a cute way to add a touch of derby-inspired details.
  • Use custom, monogrammed horse show ribbons as escort cards, with each ribbon adorned with a fun superlative that is customized to each person.
  • Incorporate a pretty equestrian touch to your wedding cake, such as a sparkly horseshoe or sculpted models of a pair of horses.
  • For a derby-inspired wedding, use roses as the themed flower, and serve mint juleps as the signature cocktail at the reception. And dress up that drink with personalized drink stirrers.
  • Offer pony rides for kids to keep them busy and active beyond the main venue, or provide a horseshoe pit for some spirited action for both kids and adults.
  • Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley is perfectly suited for a horse-themed wedding. It’s elegant and sophisticated, yet charming and cozy, with a rugged, beautiful landscape. Get married at the ranch, outdoors with a breathtaking 360-degree views of the Santa Lucia Mountains, or perhaps in the Carriage Room with its dramatic lofty ceiling and barn like doors that swing open to help greet Mother Nature.

From A Peg Board Donut Display To A Cool Milkshake Bar, Unconventionally Sweet Wedding Ideas Abound

As much as you may believe that your wedding guests have waited hours just to get a slice of your towering cake adorned with fresh flowers, they are probably more interested in chowing down on gourmet donuts hanging on a giant peg board.

That’s just the way of the world. In fact, creative dessert ideas are all the rage at modern wedding receptions, not taking the place of the traditional cake, but creating a sweet anticipation where guests eat, point and shoot photos of fun, creative treats.

The donut peg board idea delighted guests at a recent wedding at Carmel Valley’s Holman Ranch. Adorned with the message “Donut Leave Me Hanging,” the board drew a large crowd that appreciated the whimsy in the delicious creation. For this idea, donuts may be sugar-dusted, frosted, glazed, fruit-filled and decorated to match your wedding colors. Warm donuts may be chosen for their seasonal tastes such as apple pie filling, or pair them with a shot of milk or a full-blown milkshake as a dessert duo.

Ideas are endless — just scan through those scrumptious-looking wedding dessert pics on Pinterest and Instagram. But to further help inspire your wedding’s show-stopping dessert hour, here are some other dessert trends for weddings:

  • Pies. What makes pies so popular? They evoke family memories, from those languid days eating slices of grandmother’s specialty. Capitalize on this trend by serving mini pies displayed on tiers as the perfect single serving. Have your baker create an impressive array of flavors, or serve pie pops for a grab-and-go dessert.
  • Throwback desserts. From bananas foster to mud pie, there is a return to classic desserts that recall weddings of the past. If it was big in prior decades, it’s undoubtedly big again now. Your older guests will smile at the memories and your younger guests will think it’s new or hip.
  • Macarons. This dainty French dessert is light, airy and not doused in sugar, and often made in vibrant colors. It’s a top trend because foodies adore French-inspired desserts overall, and colorful macarons can be designed to complement your wedding colors.
  • Milkshakes. Call this a dessert drink, and serve them in mini glasses, freshly-made, with a trendy striped straw in the glass. Milkshakes may be made in classic flavors, as flavor blends, or spiked with a shot of liquor for your adults-only wedding reception.
  • Candied apples. If your wedding vision includes the words “relaxed” and “fun,” then you’ll love this classic idea. Not only are candied apples fun to eat, you can dip them, top them and serve them any way you like.
  • Gelato. A gelato bar has taken the place of ice cream bars, with fresh flavors such as classic vanilla bean or chocolate, or with seasonal flavors such as key lime, pumpkin, pistachio and cherry. The creamy goodness of gelato is one of the top dessert trends that works for every season.

Romance And History Abound At Holman Ranch

Romance and history abound at Holman Ranch, a vintage Carmel Valley property adorned with ancient oaks, hillside vineyards, olive groves, a stone hacienda and spectacular views from every vantage point.

Renowned as a hugely popular and stunningly beautiful wedding venue, Holman Ranch draws couples from far-flung corners of the world. Once married in Holman Ranch’s rustic yet sophisticated setting, couples invariably recite a long list of accolades. And when asked to name the top reasons for getting married at Holman Ranch, these three lead the way:

  1. The view.  Couples can easily spend a small fortune on wedding-day decor, from fabric to flowers, but nothing can top what Mother Nature provides naturally. Rarely do outdoor weddings offer the beauty and splendor provided by Holman Ranch, nestled in the shadows of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Offering breathtaking vistas from every angle, the ranch provides the ultimate backdrop to any wedding ceremony. After exchanging vows al fresco among the rolling hills dotted with oak trees, couples can sip estate-grown wines in the vineyards and indulge in all the historic ranch has to offer.
  2. Exclusivity. On the most important day of their lives, a bride and groom simply do not want to share the spotlight with anyone else, which is why Holman Ranch only hosts one event at a time. All the focus and attention is put where it belongs — on the happy couple and their guests. There will be no wedding “crashers” from other events on property because Holman Ranch belongs to that couple and that couple only. This exclusivity (weekend dates can book up a year in advance) has led to a resurgence in weekday weddings, where couples can save on the budget and easily secure vendors normally booked on weekends.
  3. Flexibility. At Holman Ranch, couples are allowed to bring in all their own licensed and insured vendors. This is very important to those couples who desperately want to create a personalized, a la carte experience — from the flowers, to the food, to the well-stocked bar. And when it comes to wine, Holman charges no corkage with a minimum wine purchase. So Holman Ranch’s award-winning lineup of wines is available to help please a wide variety of palates. Holman Ranch has also developed a reputation as a safe haven for same-sex couples, and specializes in interfaith ceremonies, off-season weddings and ceremonies of any size and scope.

In the end, Holman Ranch becomes the venue choice of couples from all walks of life because it provides beauty, exclusivity and flexibility. But there are countless other reasons. Find yours by visiting www.holmanranch.com.


Having A Common Interest Creates That Needed Connection For Couples To Create A Spark

When it comes to relationships, having different interests is not always a bad thing. Happy couples require very little common ground. All they really need is a shared desire to make the relationship work and a willingness to accept one another’s differences. However, sharing one deep passion can create an immediate connection, and draw two likeminded people together.

Tom McIntyre and Talia Ibargüen never would have fallen in love and gotten married if not for their rare shared interest in wildlife.

The two met in college at Northeastern University in Boston. “We were both in the same major (wildlife biology),” she said. “We went on an accidental first date.”

That accident happened because the wildlife biology department received free tickets to attend an early screening of a nature documentary.

“No one was interested in going except Tom and me,” she said. “I baked a lot of cookies thinking there would be more people.”

Tom ate all of the cookies … and the couple fell in love.

When it came to the proposal, wildlife again entered into the picture.

“Tom and I had been discussing marriage for a bit,” Talia said. “We took a trip back to my home in Alaska, and while sitting on the beach across the bay from my parents’ house, Tom proposed.”

Witnessing that proposal was a pair of “curious young sandhill cranes who kept creeping up and peaking at us through driftwood.”

Tom and Talia were married in June of 2015 and chose Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley as the venue. The couple took a month-long road trip from Alaska through the West and Southwest, and had “very fond memories of our time in Carmel,” Talia said. “We knew that the weather would be reliable in the summer for an outdoor wedding!”

The wedding was the first among the children’s generation on both sides of Tom’s family, so everything needed to be perfect.

“They are all from the East Coast, and if they were going to make the trip to California, it needed to live up to their California vineyard expectations.”

It did.

“It is a gorgeous location. We loved that everything was included! The landscaping is all so beautiful that we didn’t feel the need to get a bunch of flower arrangements. It was casual and allowed the natural setting to be the focus of the wedding, not just some disposable decorations.”

Because neither family is ultra-religious, the couple knew they did not want to wed in a church, but outside among nature’s beauty. Holman Ranch fit that bill perfectly.

“Tom’s family is Irish Catholic by inheritance,” Talia said. “We weren’t going to get married in a church, but we did have some of the bridesmaids carry Bells of Ireland flowers down the aisle. It was enough to make Tom’s mom cry.”

The one thing the couple will never forget about their wedding day is arriving at Holman Ranch the day before the wedding and seeing the stand of Matilija poppies right behind where they planned to recite their vows.

“We had only seen Holman when they weren’t in bloom so it was a huge surprise,” Talia said. “They are my favorite flower and it complemented our wedding perfectly.”

The couple plans to put off a honeymoon for now. “We have the rest our lives for adventures,” she said.

Thanks to a common interest.

Other Vendors:

Caterer: Five Star Catering

Photographer: Wanderlust Photo Co.

DJ/Band/Musicians: Steve Ezzo & the Monterey Allstars

Bakery: Kara’s Cupcakes

 


Delaying That “First Look” Can Create Magical Wedding Day Moments

The moment when a bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day is fraught with emotion, and invariably leads to plenty of hugs and happy tears.

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While some couples ignore old superstitions and don’t mind seeing each other before the ceremony (this avoidance started when marriages were arranged by families as a business transaction), others still prefer to make the day more exciting and memorable by waiting.

For Austin Callahan and Ryan Ramones, their “first look” during their April wedding at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley will never be forgotten.

“I’ll never forget when he turned around, tears filled both of our eyes and we couldn’t stop embracing one another,” Austin said. “It was one of the most intimate, magical and honest moments of my life. Also being able to walk amongst the golden fields together after our ceremony was one of the most romantic moments of my life. It was just us and the sun setting creating golden light all around us in the sky.”

When Austin and Ryan stepped onto the Holman Ranch property, they knew it was the perfect place to hold their ceremony.

“Its beautiful landscape and how it has the ability to create such an atmosphere of love and romance was all-consuming,” she said. “Carmel is one of our favorite places in the world, and we wanted to share it with our closest family and friends.”

Another special moment was when they honored Austin’s late father and grandmother and Ryan’s late grandfather by releasing a single dove. “It signified them returning home like the dove did,” Austin said.

Austin and Ryan met while working together, and quickly became friends. “We found our extraordinary love in an ordinary place,” she said.

They had their first date at Newport Beach in Southern California. “We strolled along the pier and had our first kiss there,” Austin said. “We knew this was it.”

Ryan proposed above the city of San Francisco at Twin Peaks as the sun was setting.

“My best friends took me up to the spot and when I got there my mom was at the top with Ryan, who got down on one knee and asked for my forever,” Austin said.

The magic continued into the wedding ceremony.

“Our day couldn’t have been more perfect,” she said. “We honestly walked away saying to one another that we wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

The one piece of advice they’d give to other couples? “Focus on the love that you share and that you are committing to the love of your life.”

And delay that wedding-day “first look” for as long as you can.

 

Other Vendors:

Wedding Planner: Allison Silber

Caterer: Paradise Catering

Photographer: Jasmine Lee Photography

Videographer: Josh Harney Productions

DJ/Band/Musicians: Jon Belmont Entertainment

Bakery: Freedom Bakery

Hair and Makeup: Blush Makeup Studio Monterey

Signage: Bright Room Studios


Couple Proves That One Of The Most Important Qualities In A Relationship Is Humor

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine — and that’s certainly true in relationships. Humor plays an important role for couples, from initial attraction to long-term commitment.

For David Blanzy and Katherine Nguyen, laughter brought them together, cemented their relationship and keeps things exciting, fresh and vibrant.

When they first met, David thought Katherine was too bossy. Katherine thought David had too much baggage. At the time, David had been trying to look for a true friend, someone who didn’t just think of him as “Blanzy” the jokester. A mutual friend told him to hang out with Kathy despite his previous opinions of her. One day David decided to drop by her house, but she wasn’t home. Out of pity, she invited him to hang out and run errands together. On that unassuming day, they laughed and bickered like an old couple all day.

David was smitten. She was supposed to be this bossy, arrogant woman. What exactly made her so intriguing?

For Kathy, her feelings didn’t start until a few weeks later when they went apartment hunting for David. Only his close friends know that when driving in a car with David, he will randomly grab the passenger’s leg and scream at the top of his lungs. Kathy was the victim that day. While she was looking outside of the car, reading signs and enjoying the Florida scenery, he made his move. They both screamed like two teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert — and then she burst into nonstop laughter. It was so infectious he couldn’t help but laugh with her for the next 5 minutes.

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From that moment on, Kathy had mixed feelings. David was sweet, funny, lighthearted and yet responsible and trustworthy. But he was too old and he had a past. She was confused.

It was only after being dropped off that she realized she didn’t want their day to end. She was sitting in her house as he was driving away and she quickly called him. “I have to go to the pet store, you wanna come with me?” she asked.

Of course he said yes. And that was the beginning.

The couple got engaged in San Francisco on a magical night that saw Blanzy the jokester arrange for three separate couples (friends of friends) to stage fake proposals, first at a restaurant, then during a post-dinner walk and finally at a bonfire at Ocean Beach. Confused as to why so many men were popping the question in front of them, Kathy didn’t make the connection when David dropped to a knee and pulled out a ring.

“It wasn’t until the moment she saw the ring that I understood what was going on,” she said. “I started to cry. David, seeing my tears, felt uneasy. After a long pause I squealed just as the first girl did and said, “Yes!”

David had arranged it all, to lighten the moment and inject humor and romance into the most important night of their lives.

They went on to marry at Holman Ranch in April of 2015, with 130 guests witnessing true love — that started with a laugh.

 

Other Vendors

Wedding Planner: Jutta Lammerts

Caterer: Paradise Catering

Photographer: Clane Gessel

Videographer: DP Weddings

DJ/Band/Musicians: DNA Entertinament

Bakery: Om Nom Confections

Hair and Makeup ___Beauteme Makeup

Florist: Natasha Kolenko

Lighting and other rentals: Chic Event Rentals

Wedding Dress: Galia Lahav from Kinsley James

 


Mexican Wedding Cookies, Mariachi Help Bring Bride’s Mexican Culture Into Her Wedding Day

In today’s global world where cross-cultural lifestyles are quite normal, it’s no surprise that more and more marrying couples settle on fun and exciting ways to bring their unique heritage into their wedding day.

For Kristina Garza, she chose Mexican pastry as a way to inject her culture into her marriage to Ryan Cassidy on Jan. 24 at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley.

“We decided on a few traditional Mexican elements since I am Mexican, and being in California it fit well,” she said.

The couple’s wedding favors were Mexican wedding cookies (which also acted as their place cards).

Mexican wedding cookies are delectable butter-type cookies rolled in powdered sugar, and also known in Mexico as polvorones. One of Mexico’s most popular treats, consumed on an every day basis and at celebrations, they are found in just about every panadería (bakery) in Mexico.

Cookies dusted with powdered sugar

The name polvoron comes from the word polvo, which translates to dust or powder (probably named such because they break into the finest of crumbs the moment they are bitten into). And as you take a bite, they seem to melt and disappear.

The couple also had a mariachi band during the cocktail reception, had a full Catholic Mass, served pan dulce (sweet Mexican pastries) on their dessert table and displayed papel picado (a decorative Mexican folk craft made out of paper cut into elaborate designs) at the entry of Holman’s carriage house.

For the honeymoon they traveled to Baja California Sur. “We flew into Cabo, rented a car and drove up the coast to La Paz to swim with the whale sharks and then on to Loreto to visit the missions,” she said.

They two met at a restaurant called Good Enough to Eat on the Upper West Side in New York City. “I was there with a girlfriend and Ryan was walking by and claims to have seen me through the window but kept walking,” she said. “He says when he got to the corner he decided to turn around and go into the restaurant to talk to me. I’m still not so sure I believe that, but it’s a great story!”

Their first date was at New York’s Metro Diner. “We sat at the counter and shared a piece of cheesecake and drank Budweisers,” she said.

To celebrate the third anniversary of their meeting, Ryan took her back to Good Enough to Eat, but didn’t feel quite right about the moment. “So, he asked me to meet him for dinner the next night after work, and before dinner we took a quick stroll (or as I remember it a random hour-long walkabout in uncomfortable shoes) through Central Park when we finally ended up on a bench in Shakespeare’s Garden and Ryan proposed!”

 

Other Vendors:

Wedding Planner: Kristina Garza Cassidy

Day of Coordination & Florals: Katie Hund at Wylie Weddings

Caterer: Paradise Catering

Photographer: This Love of Yours Photography

DJ: Ome Lopez – Ome DJ

Musicians: Mariachi Salinas

 

 


A Groom In Full Military Dress Is A Poignant And Patriotic Wedding Day Look

When it comes to wedding ceremonies, there is perhaps no more poignant and memorable moment than seeing a member of the United States armed forces in full dress uniform as they exchange vows.

For Alyssa Yock, the one thing she will never remember most fondly about her March wedding at Holman Ranch is her former Marine Corps husband Anthony Sozio in his full dress blues.

“From where I was hiding in the corridor near the patio I could see him in his uniform across the green lawn,” she said. “That moment took my breath away. Time stood still. I just loved this idea and he was the one who came up with it!”

Anthony served in the Marine Corp for 6 years and was deployed to Afghanistan. After returning stateside he worked hard to get through fire academy and paramedic school. After all his hard work he landed a job as a firefighter/paramedic at the Palo Alto Fire Department.

Alyssa says she will never forget that moment.

“I was alone waiting for my dad to walk me down the aisle,” she said. “I felt extreme peace knowing God was watching over us and I was staring at my soon to be husband. Then the moment hit me that my dad would walk me down the aisle. And there we went, one step at a time, to my amazing future.”

The two met through an introduction from Alyssa’s cousin. Their first date alone was an adventure to Half Moon Bay. “He asked if he could pick me up and go pick out some pumpkins together,” she said. “I thought at that point, ‘I think I found my match.’ What guy asks to go pick out pumpkins?”

He picked Alyssa up in the morning, they stopped for some coffee and made their way to Half Moon Bay. “We had lunch at Barbara’s Fishtrap and then picked out six pumpkins and enjoyed a nice foggy day.”

Anthony popped the question on Christmas Eve of 2013.

“Each year my family has a big Christmas Eve party,” she said. “Anthony thought that was the best time to propose because my whole family would be around to witness it. He knows how much family means to me. Christmas Eve will always be my favorite holiday now.”

That previous summer Anthony joined Alyssa’s family on a trip to Maui, and everyone decided to make personal videos of the trip to screen on Christmas Eve.

“My sister Ashley went first, and everyone loved her video. It was great,” she said. “Then Anthony popped in his video. It showed fun highlights of our trip and then it started to show pictures of just us. Still having no clue, I thought it was weird that he just had pictures of us. The video kept rolling and then all of a sudden the screen read ‘Alyssa Gabrielle Yock … and next thing you knew I was standing up and he was down on one knee! I couldn’t believe me eyes. I looked to my dad first to see if this moment was real and he shook his head yes. The time finally came that every girl dreams about. I couldn’t believe it was happening. Let’s just say Anthony’s video won that year.”

The couple chose Holman Ranch for many reasons, mostly for the grounds and the picture-perfect venue.

“It seemed so private and that our wedding day would be surrounded by the people we love,” she said. “Other venues seemed too uptight and snooty.”

Alyssa is currently in nursing school, so the couple will delay their honeymoon. “Although when I finish we are taking a cross-country trip in our renovated RV and travel through numerous states that we want to visit.”

The plan is to go hot air ballooning in Arizona, antique shopping in Texas, eating in New Orleans, finding their country roots in Tennessee and ending up in North Carolina, before they fly off to Greece.

 

Other Vendors

Wedding Planner: Patty Speirs — Every Last Detail

Caterer: Paradise Catering

Photographer: Francesa Penko Photography

Videographer: Blair Wedding Studio

DJ/Band/Musicians: SOS Entertainment: Eric Shalem

Bakery: Freedom Bakery

Hair and Makeup: Blush Hair and Makeup Designs, Ashley Mendes

Florist: Tumbleweed Floral Truck


Head-Over-Heels-In-Love Couple Proves That Romance Is Alive And Well

Romance today doesn’t often resemble what you read in John Keats’ love letters or Shakespeare’s sonnets. And the cynical among us ask: Is romance in the modern world dead?

Today, people looking for love find it at their fingertips on OkCupid, Tinder, Match, or dozens of other cyber-dating sites. Intimacy arrives in a well-executed string of emoji. Conversation comes in the form of a “good morning” text. And romance is putting the smartphone down long enough to gaze in each other’s eyes at dinner (after posting a photo of the food on Facebook).

 It seems as though there is a lack of personal connections among today’s couples. But it’s important not to generalize, because we might run into a couple like Charles McBrian and Stevi McCartney.

Charles and Stevi each work in the technology field, but immediately felt a deep, meaningful bond on a human level. Their first date? A night in the big city.

“Charles took me to San Francisco and showed me a night on the town,” Stevi said. “He took me up to Coit Tower and we enjoyed the twinkling city lights below. We sipped cocktails at the top of the Mark Hopkins hotel. It was a magical night. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him and knew something spectacular was in our future.”

Charles went on to propose to Stevi during a helicopter tour on the spectacular Napali Coast of Kauai, Hawaii.

“I had always wanted to go on a helicopter ride to see the island from above as I heard it was magical,” Stevi said. “That afternoon we got to the tour and I was so nervous (not a very good flyer). Charles was holding my shaking hands the whole time.”

Charles had arranged for the pilot to fly into a canyon where he would pop the question.

 Over the noise of the helicopter, wearing headphones, Charles screamed: “I can’t exactly get down on one knee, but I love you so much. Will you marry me?”

Stevi answered: “Yes! A thousand times, yes!” But she forgot to push the button on her microphone. “So I said it again, this time so he could hear me, “YES! The rest of the ride we both couldn’t stop smiling.”

When it came to choosing a wedding venue, the couple knew they wanted a vineyard wedding.

“I have a divine love for wine and all its glory,” Stevi said. “I feel at home when I’m in the rustic countryside with vineyards hugging me from all sides.”

They researched both Sonoma and Napa regions, but “those seemed so over-done and not unique,” Stevi said. “I had never been to Carmel Valley before so I was curiously intrigued. I began researching online and Holman Ranch had this ridiculously perfect view of all the things we wanted: mountains, vineyards and a touch of European style. We planned for a visit and instantly knew it was it. The grounds were heavenly, the wine was great, and it just felt like our fairytale.”

The entire day was perfect.

“The dramatic weather and misty rain with the sun beaming through the dark clouds just as we were saying our vows was a moment I’ll never forget,” Stevi said.

The couple even wrote their own vows.

“When we held each other’s hands exchanging the wonderful words that continue to make me smile to this day, a feeling so intimate and powerful made our connection unbreakable,” she said. “Everyone we loved was there to support us.”

Shortly after exchanging those vows, a rainbow appeared behind the couple.

“It was an ethereal dream with the flowers hanging from the wooden beams and market lights intermixed over the romantic kings table with everyone we loved surrounding us,” Stevi said. “It was truly a blessing to remember.”

So, is romance dead in the modern world? Not for Charles and Stevi

“I knew that we were meant to be together, that it was … inevitable,” Charles said. “When we started dating, I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and today I still can’t. She’s is a wonderful person, she has a beautiful soul.” 

“How lucky I am to share my life with the greatest man I ever met, my true best friend,” Stevi said. “I fall in love with him every day and it’s the best feeling. I think that’s because I’ve loved him forever, even in lifetimes before now. He’s taught me to enjoy life. To live, to love, to dream. But he is my dream.”