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Carrie + Chris …. Words do very little to describe the sweetness that is Carrie and Chris. These two love for one another is so very real and inspiring and it was such an honor to capture them and their friends on family on their special day. Doesn’t hurt that their wedding was held at the beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel in the Yosemite Valley. Carrie and Chris’s big day was all about love, family and some seriously good food. Their day included all the right touches, from Carrie’s Amy Kuschel dress and Jimmy Choo shoes to vintage bangles and brooches belonging to her great-grandmother, the day was centered around elegance and sophistication. Be sure to scroll all the way down to read the couples notes on their destination wedding.

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Venue: The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park

Date: September 11, 2010

# of Guests: 60

What inspired you in planning the wedding?

We had previously had a great visit to the historic Ahwahnee to celebrate Chris’ birthday! I have to admit, I had an idea before we went that I would love to get married there — after a perfect weekend visit, it did not take much convincing! We knew that the Park would be a wonderful weekend of exploration for our guests and were confident that we could incorporate our love for good food and wine as the cornerstone of our day!

I loved every moment of the planning as I knew from the beginning I wanted to keep it simple in terms of colors, flowers, etc. All we really had to do was take advantage of the natural beauty of the valley and do a few things to make it personal to us!

What were your favorite moments, surprises, traditions from the day?

It started with our rehearsal dinner. I had secretly arranged to have a groom’s cake made to celebrate Chris’ passion for his college team, the Oregon Ducks! He loved this little surprise as did his college friends! I loved the feeling of anticipation as I walked out into the meadow behind The Ahwahnee to see Chris for the first time. Wow — he looked handsome! The toasts in our honor, from my Dad to my best friend, Kasey to Chris’ brother, Jeremy were amazing. We felt so loved that day! Perhaps the best part of the day was seeing all of our friends and family enjoying themselves.

Dress designer, shoes, Jewelry, Etc. Groom’s suit, Bridesmaids, etc.

Bride: Amy Kuschel dress, Jimmy Choo shoes, Kate Spade crystal earrings, vintage crystal brooch for my hair, 100-year old gold bangle bracelet belonging to my great-grandmother
Groom: Navy Hugo Boss suit, Cole Haan shoes, Tiffany monogrammed cuff-links
Matron of Honor: Ann Taylor dress, Kate Spade jewelry

Wedding Planner: Me + Sheila Gow at The Ahwahnee — she was amazing!!
Stationer: Checkerboard (wedding invitations), PaperSource (placecards) and Minuteman Printing Press (menus, welcome letter / activity card, gift tags)
Floral Designer: Natalie Galasso Designs
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Music: Christer Norden, pianist from The Ahwahnee
Hair / Make Up: Bellissimo Brides

Menu: This was the highlight of our day - we took our love for food and wine and incorporated it into every part our day - our table numbers were wine bottles, our placecards were personalized corks and our favors were Riedel O’ To Go wine glasses. The most fun was the wine tastings we had with our friends and family months before the wedding to finalize our selections for the rehearsal dinner, cocktail hour, and reception. We had a four course pairing meal which was fantastic - although I am not sure how many guests actually made it through the fourth course!

first course
Fennel Pollen Diver Scallops
Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2008

second course
Butternut Squash Raviolo, Sage Brown Butter
ZD 40th Anniversary Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2008

third course
Mary’s Free Range Chicken Breast, French Style
Kent Rasmussen Pinot Noir, Carneros 2007

main course
Black Peppercorn Crusted Brandt Farms Filet Mignon
Sbragia Family Vineyards, Andolsen Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley 2006

dessert
Wedding Cake
Accompanied by a selection of mignardises and petit fours

Baker: Pastry Chef from the Ahwahnee

DIY elements

I fell in love with the idea of all white flowers in wooden boxes for our centerpieces after seeing the cover of Real Simple Weddings. I really wanted to keep everything warm, clean, crisp and natural so as not to compete with the majestic beauty of Yosemite. We searched far and wide to find the perfect boxes and came up empty. In the end, Chris and his dad built and stained 3 different sizes of boxes for our centerpieces plus a few other special ones for our dessert and guest book tables. I loved them and will use them again!

A friend of mine also made us a great guest book with handmade cards and envelopes — it now sits on our coffee table at home. It has been so fun to re-read the messages our friends and family left for us that day.

Favorite Blogs or Magazines used in planning the wedding:

Real Simple Weddings, theknot.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, StyleMePretty.com

Advice that you’d give to other Brides?

Take pictures together before the ceremony! Joel and Cara recommended this for us and it was the best decision we made. We had a chance to spend time with each other before the ceremony which made us both much more relaxed and on top of that, we were able to enjoy our cocktail hour! The other fun element was serving our guests a glass of champagne at the close of the ceremony on the grass. It was a great way to get our guests to start mingling before the cocktail hour.

Table seating arrangements are key - we decided to have a pianist instead of a band or DJ for our entire reception and despite not having traditional entertainment, our guests had a great time catching up with friends and family that they had not seen in a long time as well as getting to know new people.

Anything else…

Cara and Joel were the best! They made us feel so relaxed and the best part was, we never saw the cameras but we absolutely LOVE our pictures! Thank you!


  • bridget Says:

    great images joel and cara! fabulous flowers Natalie. beautiful bride and the details are great!

  • Carol Cardinale Says:

    Classic Beauty! You captured it so well! Fabulous!

  • Joel Flory Says:

    Carol, you did such a great job with the hair and makeup!

  • Carol Cardinale Says:

    Thank you Joel and the Flowers by Natalie were amazing as always!! :)

  • Doree and Marty Young Says:

    thank you, Carrie and Chris-it was so much fun to relive it all-what a beautiful wedding. Happy, happy new year to you both! Love, Doree

  • Carrie and Chris's Wedding at the Ahwahnee in Yosemite Featured on Style Me Pretty - Photos by Flory Photo Says:

    [...] and her Jimmy Choo shoes.  Be sure to head over to Style Me Pretty to read the feature and you can view more pictures as well as read about Carrie’s thoughts on their wedding here on our site.  Thank you so much to Style Me Pretty for the feature and to Carrie + Chris for having us [...]

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