In late May Liz Webb, 30, convention sales manager at the Cajundome, and Aaron Hebert, 32, president of Reliant Payroll and brand developer at Russo, were engaged. The couple has been dating for 3.5 years and wed Aug. 31 in California. Read the first installment of "How to Marry a Guy in 98 Days" here.
So where do I even begin this final blog? First let me say all of the cliché things that Brides say:
“It was Perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“I want to do it all again.”
“I want to wear my dress again.”
They are cliché, but true. The Villagio Inn & Spa, with its meticulously maintained gardens, located in Yountville, Calif., a short drive from Napa/Sonoma, had staff to greet us and our traveling guests with signature cocktails upon arrival. I chose this property because it is not only unbelievably beautiful, but the town of Yountville is full of great shops and restaurants, and there are 12 wineries in walking distance. There was even a trolley running through town so you are able to leave your car at the hotel and hop on the trolley to explore the area.
We arrived in Napa on the Wednesday before the wedding; we met with the wedding planners and vendors to make sure everyone was on the same page and to iron out any last minute details. About half of our group was already in town, and the rest were arriving that evening on a party bus. The guests who were already checked in were either lounging by the gorgeous pool or winetasting at the local vineyards. We wanted to relax from the early morning flight (5 a.m.!) and get ready for the rest of the crazy week.
Thursday morning my in-laws were gracious enough to host a welcome party in the form of a wine tour for all of our guests. They rented a large bus to accommodate almost 40 people to tour different wineries. We went to Chateau Montelene and Castella Di Amorosa for the wine tastings and Long Meadow Ranch for an olive oil tasting. We also stopped for lunch at Brannon's where the Heberts preselected a menu for us.
That evening Aaron and I each had our bachelor and bachelorette parties — Aaron and his group of guys went to San Francisco for the night while the women stayed in town. My matron of honor rented the private room at Bottega Restaurant where she hosted our guests with champagne and hors d'oeuvres and family style service for starters before we got down to the main meal, which was a three-course meal with wine. I could not have asked for a better night with the women who are closest to me.
Friday was busy with hair and makeup trials, which most women can agree is so very important if you are having a destination wedding. You do not want to wait until the morning of your wedding and assume that you are all on the same page for the look you want. My matron of honor Ashley Knezek and I also took time out to go to the Villago Spa and relax while getting manicures and pedicures together. This was perfect, as we both were able to take a break and relax. We did the same thing before her wedding and it’s a great way to catch up one on one with my best friend. Looking back on it now, the smartest decisions that I made for my wedding (aside from marrying Aaron) was to only have one attendant.
Not only was it easier to coordinate with just one person, but it also was so special to share that moment with my best friend of 14 years. If I would have eight other girls in my bridal party I would have had to spread my time evenly with each of them to make everyone feel included. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to stand by me during this process. The rehearsal was quick and well-coordinated. We ran through everything twice and were done is less than 20 minutes. The rehearsal dinner that evening was held at Tra Vigne Restaurant, which is located in St Helena. As you arrived there was a slideshow of pictures from birth to now of Aaron and me playing in the room. It was a great night filled with amazing food, close family and friends and great speeches.
Saturday was the BIG day. We rented the old spa at the Villagio called the Retreat to spend the day getting ready in. Since it was the resort’s old spa it had a private pool with sauna and steam room. The women spent time enjoying the retreat while Aaron and his friends rented Segways and rode around Yountville for a few hours. I loved this idea as it was something different and fun for all of the guys.
I really enjoyed the special time with my close group of girlfriends, my mother in law and my mom. I have to say this, I am not a crier, never have been, but I was a total crier from the moment that I read the card that Aaron sent me to my dad seeing me in my dress for the first time to walking down the aisle. I didn’t expect to feel that way, but I was so excited that I was about to get married to Aaron and that this day was here and after four years of dating we were about to become husband and wife, it all seemed so real.
The ceremony was absolutely perfect. I was happy that we went with such a small group of people to invite, looking out to the 36 guests who came all the way to California to watch Aaron and me exchange vows, I knew every person there, and each of the guests knew Aaron and me. There wasn’t that person that I barely knew but my parents thought we should invite or that great distant relative that I’ve never met. All of the people there are a part of our lives and mean the world to us. We had Aaron’s best friend of 14 years marry us. Stafford Barnett is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. Aaron and I discussed him being the one to marry us, and Stafford seemed like the perfect choice because we are both close to him and who better to hold us accountable for the vows we take than one of our closest friends? Stafford got ordained and received all of the legal paperwork to be able to do this. Together Aaron, Stafford and I worked on the perfect script of the vows and readings. He did a wonderful job during the ceremony, and it was more meaningful to have someone so special to us do the honor of marrying us.
After the ceremony we hosted a cocktail hour for our guests while we took our pictures in a beautiful vineyard right before sunset. It was beautiful, and we were able to get some of the best pictures from this. Aaron and I were introduced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Hebert to our guests. After completing the dances and cake cutting we sat down to a great plated dinner. My brother Ted kicked the dancing off with a dancing performance to “Billy Jean” by Michel Jackson which really got everyone up and dancing.
One last bridal cliché to describe the day is “it went by so fast”! This, out of all of the clichés, is the most true. The day does just seemed to fly by. As often as I stopped and told myself to “remember this moment” whether it was chatting with my mom while having my makeup done or praying with Aaron right before the ceremony during our first touch or dancing with my friends at the reception. The whole day just flew by. It was all perfect because it was how Aaron and I wanted it to be, not how we “should do it.”
The next morning we left for our honeymoon. We drove down the scenic California Hwy. 1 to Big Sur and stayed at the Post Ranch Inn. It was so much more relaxing and smart to not run to the airport to catch a flight somewhere else when we had a great honeymoon destination a few hours away. All I’ll say about that is the Post Ranch Inn is one of the most unique and beautiful resorts in the world and was without a doubt a once-in-a-lifetime experience.