Kenwood's Chateau St. Jean hosts Southern California couple's crowdsourced 'Dream Wedding'
The groom sniffled and the bride had to borrow a tissue from a bridesmaid as they tearfully said “I do” on Thursday before an audience of 100 invited guests and an estimated 200,000 online observers tuned in to TheKnot.com.
The grassy “aisle” on the lawn at Chateau St. Jean Winery was lined in rose petals and the altar was an antique sideboard covered in bouquets of pink and coral roses, befitting the country chic of a typical outdoor wedding in Wine Country.
But it was no typical wedding. Sponsored by the wedding website, TheKnot.com, the “Dream Wedding” of Samantha Carisch and Taylor Sinclair — who were picked in an online vote — was orchestrated for live streaming cameras and tricked out with high-tech toys and gadgetry.
A GoPro camera was concealed in the bridal bouquet so viewers could see the altar approach, complete with vineyard views, through the bride’s eyes. A drone bearing a camera buzzed overhead. Guests arrived in Uber Cars, checked in on an iPad guestbook and drank mocktails from a robotic bartending machine. The groomsmen’s cuff links and a cake topper in the likeness of the lovers were made from a 3-D printer.
Despite the hype, the technology didn’t upstage the sweetness of the moment for the 6-foot 3-inch groom, a former minor league baseball player for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and his petite 5-foot 1-inch bride, an interior designer. Carisch, in despair after twice having to postpone her wedding because of her mother’s illness — first a worsening of her multiple sclerosis and then the devastating diagnosis that she was suffering from late stage colon cancer — started Googling for quick and easy wedding ideas and came across a listing for The Knot’s contest.
Friends and family rallied with a social network campaign.
“Originally when we went about finding couples we asked people to nominate their friends or someone they knew who has a great story. We got over 100 nominations for this couple right out of the gate,” said Anja Winikka, site director for TheKnot.com.
They were the crowd favorite from among the six couples chosen as finalists.
Carisch, who stepped away from her job to be a full-time caregiver for her mother, said she really didn’t care where or how she got married, “as long as Taylor was at the end of the aisle.”
“They’re incredible people and they were meant to be together. Even if it was just a backyard barbecue wedding, it would still be the same,” bridesmaid Carmel Rodriguez said.
The average cost of a wedding in the San Francisco Area was $39,690 in 2014, ranking as the ninth most expensive place to get married in the U.S., according to TheKnot.com, which declined to estimate the value of Thursday’s wedding. Multiple vendors donated their services, including the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, which catered the lunch and hosted the wedding party, and Vista Broadband Network, which set up satellites backhauled into fiber-optic networks to ensure high-speed wireless streaming without a hitch.
Carisch wore her hair long and a form-fitting “mermaid-style” gown by Pnina Tornai, which was crowdsourced from Knot followers, like almost every major detail of the day, from the rings to the wedding cake with layers that represented the times of their lives, like a baseball and a suitcase for the years they spent apart while he was on the road playing ball.