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A Fairytale Wedding in Napa With a Winding 240-Foot-Long Reception Table

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Jes Workman

|Planning by 

Penny Layne

Augusta “Cookie” Arader and Matthew Hunter are a proud product of Hinge. They fell in love with each other on the very first date, which consisted of yoga at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and a few rounds of old fashioneds at their favorite bar. “I knew from the moment we met that I wanted to spend my life with her,” Matt states. Three weeks later, Matt proposed with his great-great grandmother’s ring from 1902. The couple nearly ran off to elope, but their friends and family insisted on getting invites to a wedding at a later date.

The couple immediately decided that they wanted to marry at the Napa house Cookie grew up in. “It was where we got engaged, and we wanted to have the opportunity to share that with all of our loved ones,” she explains. “The space and location informed so much of the design. We wanted to create a modern, summertime, A Midsummer Night’s Dream–vibe that had guests sharing an epic dinner together and dancing until the wee hours of the morning.”

At first, Cookie knew exactly what she was going to wear on her wedding—she had already bought “the dress” from Ralph Lauren. But then, her mother texted her a screenshot of a flowing embroidered dress by Daalarna Couture with flowing flower cutouts. The bride calls it “the epitome of bohemian romance.” Upon seeing that screenshot, her heart exploded. She texted her wedding planner, Layne Kula of Penny Layne, who instantaneously found WildBride in San Francisco that carried the designer.

She paired her dream dress with blue Loeffler Randall heels and topped off the ensemble with an ethereal crown of fuchsia, red, and pink wildflowers. The Painted Ladies kept her makeup understated and rosy, finished with blushing cheeks and berry-colored lips.

Matt sported a custom cream linen and silk suit from SuitSupply with a boutonniere of dried flowers. Augusta gave him his standout accessory for the wedding, a gold watch with their wedding date engraved into the band. “Honestly,” Cookie says, “he’s a 6’ 4” foot beachy blonde with icy blue eyes. He looked like a movie star!” She and Matt collaborated with the tailor to embroider secret messages and symbols throughout the suit to remind them of special moments in their relationship.

To distinguish the wedding party, the groomsmen donned dried wildflower boutonnieres, and the bridesmaids put on dried wildflower crowns. “I know, I know! I got a lot of eye rolls with the crowns,” the bride laughs. “But I think they were epic and am eternally grateful for their loyal sportsmanship!”

On July 3, 2021, Cookie and Matt married in the part of her parents’ woods that they call “The Fairy Circle.” This space features a towering circle of 200-foot tall redwoods that surround the roots of the mother stump. This stump was the altar, and the florist, Annie of Best Day Ever, spruced it up with garlands of flowers. Cookie’s mother had planted Corsican mint, and it filled the air with the sweetest aroma. The bride’s uncle crafted beautiful seats out of fallen trees from the property. The couple’s hashtag #MeetUsintheFairyCircle could not be more apropos.

My mom and dad walked with me halfway, but when we got to the fairy circle, I walked the rest of the way alone to a handpicked harpist playing Hans Zimmer’s “You’re So Cool.” The wedding party stood intermingled besides Cookie and Matt. One of the couple’s best friends, Henry conducted the ceremony, presiding over the service beautifully. Cookie remembers the following moments well, saying, “We never took our eyes off of one another. We both kept it together until we exchanged vows at which point Matt came undone.” Matt adds, “I felt so overwhelmed with love and gratitude for that moment, for our friends and family, and most of all that I was marrying my best friend and the most magical, authentic, pure-hearted person I’ve ever met.” To this day, Cookie considers this to be the most meaningful moment of her life, and Matt will remember it as the most euphoric and powerful experience in his.

The rest of the evening was just as special. “We wanted the whole day to feel like a dinner party under the stars with your best friends on a warm summer night,” Cookie shares. At the cocktail hour, the couple and their loved ones sipped blood orange mules and brown sugar old fashioned cocktails and indulged in Nashville hot chicken sliders, ricotta on crispy polenta, asparagus and sunflower seed arancini with mascarpone and summer stone fruit with fresh basil and organic olive oil.

Afterwards, everyone journeyed down the driveway to a 240-foot table. “It was a symphony of color, food, and family littered with wine bottles, platters of food, blue and white Copenhagen china, dipping oils, colored glassware, fresh warm bread, flowers, fruit, and potted herbs,” the bride describes. “The color palette spanned the rainbow, and no pattern or texture was off-limits.”

The Culinary Eye’s family-style dinner menu included creamy polenta Napoleans with heirloom tomatoes and local burrata, red wine braised short rib, poached and grilled jumbo asparagus with whipped lemon burrata, shaved fennel, and citrus segments, slow-roasted cauliflower with sumac, black Urfa chili and za’atar hummus, and roasted heirloom potatoes with paprika aioli and parsley.

Guests ventured up the driveway to find that the ceremony space had been transformed. “The trees were uplit with green, orange, fuchsia, and pink. The bars were fanned out surrounding the perimeter; the lounges were rearranged perfectly; the photo booth was live; the DJ from Dart Collective was perched up in the trees; the three-piece brass accompaniment gathered on a group of tree stumps,” Cookie illustrates. The newlyweds shared the first dance to Fleetwood Mac’s “Leather and Lace.” After the song finished, everyone poured around them for Alex Newell’s “Kill the Lights.” Cookie and Matt share a pearl of wisdom, mentioning, “Pro-tip: The trick to an epic dance party is a small dance-floor. We were shoulder to shoulder, jumping up and down and singing along at the top of our lungs.”

Forgoing a traditional wedding cake, the couple cut into strawberry shortcake with Meyer lemon scones, fresh summer berries, whipped chantilly cream, and sweet basil syrup.

The party continued inside and was fueled by grilled cheese and tater tots. The newlyweds surprised guests with new outfits. They now wore powder blue and bright orange tuxedos as an homage to one of their favorite movies, Dumb and Dumber. Their best friends mastered the decks with a deep house mix. “It was easily the highlight of our night and was such a special gift that we’ll never forget.” Cookie slyly adds, “You shouldn’t believe everything you hear, but word on the street is that it was the best house party of all time.”