Joyful, Joyful! Wedding Pictures From Rancho La Zaca (Finally)

Wedding - Ceremony

I know, finally.

Finally I got married (again) at the tender young age of don’t-make-me-say-it. And finally a year (and two weeks) later I am getting around to the photos because so many of you were so adorable to ask. Or maybe you were just been being nice… but JIC, here they are. I’ve tried to include images that will also give you ideas for your own celebrations and outdoor entertaining, because otherwise, it is like watching someone else’s home movies. Now here is Aunt Gertrude… Zzzzz…

Wedding - Altar. Photo Aaron Delesie.

The olive grove at Rancho La Zaca, where we live in California, creates a kind of cathedral and seemed the perfect place for a religious ceremony. (On other days it is also the perfect place for a long, lazy lunch… also divine, but in a different way.)

The creative tour de force of Mindy Rice and Lisa Vorce designed and executed everything so beautifully that all I had to do was to, A) not fall down when I walked in, and, B) have a good time and love being with family and friends, which was easy. Oh how grateful I am for them all.

The boys
Wedding - Benches in Olive Grove. Photo Aaron Delesie.
Wedding - bridesmaid

The ritual of ceremony is important to me, and the Episcopal service is beautiful. Since we didn’t have prayer books, having a program that allows everyone to follow along and participate was important as well. For the cover, we had a monogram designed combining two F’s with a T for Tom in the center. As in center of the universe of course.

Wedding - ceremony programs. Photo Aaron Delesie. 

Dum-dum-de-dum. Dum-dum-de-dum. Did you know that that particular wedding march was composed by Richard Wagner for the opera Lohengrin? I was never that big on Wagner.

But I love Beethoven. So in we marched to his 9th, the Ode to Joy, with the hymn Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee. Preacher’s Partner Bill Hurbaugh lead the chorus, as he is a professional and not shy about it if you know what I mean. We walked in all together with our families, lead by our friend and rector Randall Day (aka in this blog, Preacher). Everybody sang. I love to sing. I also cried a little at the altar. I couldn’t help it. But it worried our cherubic young friend and crucifer, who looked very concerned, which then made me laugh, so I stopped.

Wedding - Ceremony. Photo Aaron Delesie.

Whew. Did not fall down. Here are both our families. Everybody likes everybody. We are lucky lucky. It is sad, though, that both sets of our parents are gone. We wished they could have been there. I believe they were with us somehow, and happy about it.

Wedding - Our families. Photo Aaron Delesie.

I had braces when I was a teenager for like 50 years, but my teeth still stick out. Seriously in close-ups I look like Mr. Ed. My sister’s teeth are perfect. She is beautiful inside and out.

With my awesome sister and matron of honor Duvall Fuqua, Photo Aaron Delesie.

My (much) younger sister, I should say.

We rode in a golf cart to the pond for the reception. It got cool so I put on a somewhat flea-bitten fox-trimmed cardigan. The only reason for this picture is a cautionary tale, or make that tail, as in pull your sweater over yours before you go swanning into your own reception all duchess-like. I’m just glad I didn’t have a wedgie for Pete’s sake.

Wedding Reception - Rancho La Zaca, Photo Aaron Delesie.

There was a little quartet of doo-wop singers on the walkway in. That was fun.

Look at this table. Abundance. Gratitude. Blessings.

Wedding Reception-Rancho La Zaca-Centerpiece, Photo Aaron Delesie.

The tablecloth fabric was a rich, deep chocolate embroidered with jewel-toned autumn colors. We had them made and will use them often. That is a thing about renting tablecloths and other items you use for entertaining. If you do think you will use them again and have the space to store them, sometimes it is worth the investment to buy. Worth looking into, anyway.

Wedding Reception - Rancho La Zaca. Photo Aaron Delesie.

 We did not have a seated dinner at the reception. The rehearsal dinner (here) was seated–with all the out of town folks–and that was enough. Growing up in the South, we did not have seated dinners at receptions, probably because it interfered with the drinking.

Wedding Reception - Rancho La Zaca. Photo Aaron Delesie.

I mention it because we did have a bit of a scuffle about seating. I did not want a sea of tables and chairs because everyone would not be sitting down at once. But this made the Mindy-Lisa authorities nervous. We compromised with tables and chairs for about half the number of guests and occasional seating arranged around the two trees in the reception area. Wooden benches and rush and wicker ottomans worked like a charm.  Inexpensive, good looking, easy to move. Mindy added pillows, candles and bowls of fruit. Just right.

Wedding Reception - seating by the pond. Photo Aaron Delesie.

There were food tables all around and an oyster bar set up on the little dock, which was cool.

Here is the centerpiece again, from farther back. We left the wooden legs exposed and used only a runner of the embroidered fabric. Camellia and grape leaves, hydrangeas, roses, pumpkins, berries and harvest fruits with all sorts of goodies. I had a cow when I saw it.

A small cow, but still. Brides should not have cows.

The amazing center table with Mindy Rice. Photo Aaron Delesie.

To tell you the truth I was slightly embarrassed about the bride thing. I mean I love to dress up and all, but I was squeamish about the attention. I don’t know why. What got me past it was remembering that at this gathering, like all we host, Tom and I were indeed hosts and there to make every single person feel welcome. I hope we did that, because they sure were.

So that everyone could talk, we had barely audible background music for the first hour. And then … honey once that dance floor got going, it did not stop, and neither did the band, including a Jersey Boys set which was out of control. Speaking of, West Coast Music organized it all superbly, keeping the volume as requested at a civilized level so people could still converse within cha-cha distance from the dance floor.

Why people play music so loud that they can neither speak nor hear is an absolute obnoxious mystery to me.

There was no music during the cake-cutting, obviously.

Wedding Reception-Rancho La Zaca-Cutting the cake. Photo Aaron Delesie.

Or immediately after. Once we cut the cake and toasted…

Wedding Reception-Rancho La Zaca-Yay! Photo Aaron Delesie.

Boom. That’s why I did my arms out like Olga Korbett landing a back flip. The fireworks had their own soundtrack which was as much fun to put together as any of it. Anybody remember “Cowboys to Girls” by The Intruders? (I also call HG my Cowboy.) And how about that Tim McGraw song “I may be a real bad boy, but baby I’m a real good man.” That is you-know-who to a T.

Wedding Reception-Rancho La Zaca-Fireworks! Photo Aaron Delesie.

The pond is not big, so the fireworks on the far side are close, reflecting over the water and like they’re right on top of your head.

Tom and Frances and Wedding Night Fireworks
Boom. Photo by Ruth Fuqua.

All pictures are by the wonderful Aaron Delesie, except for the last by my niece Ruth Fuqua, which accompanied my little announcement (here) in this space last year with the funny story about losing the marriage license yadda yadda. It is my favorite photo of all. Except my arm looks kind of fat.

Love, Bridey Boo Boo, one (mostly) blissful year later…


  1. What a beautiful setting . Frances your southern touches make it magical., The bountiful table is quite stunning. Joyful joyful is my favorite hymn that touches my soul..

    Darling what a gorgeous dress and a stunning couple you make!!

    I agree, the best picture was taken by your niece.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Love you and wish you and Tom eternal happiness.

  2. Oh, my! Holley Jacob’s “pure magic” comment is perfect. Miss Frances, you do make one believe again. Beautiful, joyful photos and the narrative can’t be beat. I’m sitting here laughing out loud and talking to the computer, oh, dear! Your arms most certainly do not look fat, you look beautiful, His Grace looks quite handsome and dashing. Magnifico! That still makes me laugh. Everyone looks so happy, I love that! Wishing you many, many happy years together.

  3. What a beautiful reception! I love the venue and the fact that you found your true love!! But I love most of all is your humor, you have the ability to laugh at yourself ( wedgie haha!) I think we all need a lot of humor in our lives!! You are adorable! Best Wishes!!

  4. It all seems like a dream… and a beautiful one.

    And wasn’t Stella accommodating in that family picture? So proud of her humans…

  5. Frances,loved the pictures and reliving your whole beautiful wedding.You and Tom did make everyone feel so welcome,thank you both for finding each other.! Ruth would have loved the whole thing.xoxoMW

  6. Everything was gorgeous, just as you were!!! I know about the age, and I sure I hope I find a man like you did. The picture of you and Duvall was breath taking.. Your mother and daddy would be so proud of you. Please give my love to Duvall, and you know I’ve always loved ya’ll like family. I miss your mother so much. She would be so so happy for ya’ll just as I am!!! God Bless you both..

  7. So glad to see these photos. Great to see you at party this time last year for Alex …call when you are in town .

  8. Such amazing inspiration! Flowers, decor, attitude, creativity, family, food and friends! Thanks for your dedication to your blog.

  9. It is something special to witness two grown-ups getting married for all of the right reasons…everyone there was thrilled for you both…and your creativity and generosity was much appreciated by all who were present, xo

  10. Thank you for sharing your special day. Just love the flowers and colors. Frances you are right about the South and wedding receptions…..lots of drinking…all fun.
    Happy belated Anniversary. xo Becky

  11. Not a word nor phrase can describe this occasion. I will just say breath taking. Your Father and Mother would be so proud of you.
    Love you.

  12. Darling Frances,
    I am so all over this fantastic wedding. The love is palatable. I can just imagine it in each photo. I feel as though I am there and experiencing the JOY! The intimacy of the wedding gives me chills. The tablecloths make me melt. Every detail is so you and HG. You are an angel to share. Besitos.

  13. It is all so very beautiful!!!Wouldn’t your mom have loved every detail. You are so much like her —

  14. Dear Frances,
    No matter what you are doing you bring elegance and class to the occasion. I am wishing you two birds love and happiness forever.
    I was married in ’65 to my High School sweetheart and we are still going strong after mostly blissful years later.

    1. Truly you are all so kind, and I am so touched. Thank you, thank you. I wish you ALL could have been there with us.

  15. So beautifully described with exquisite detail and unique charm that Only You, Fabulous Frances, can create!
    Thanks for sharing this Very Special & Personal occasion. I could feel the Love and the Passion!
    Happy, Happy Anniversary to You & Tom,
    With love and Every blessing,
    Janice Cutchin
    Tarboro, NC

  16. beautiful photos frances. thanks for sharing. love seeing the pictures of you and du. know mimi and ruth are toasting you and tom. happy anniversary! xo

  17. Wow Frances! Congratulations on your wedding and of course marriage. Al the pics were gorgeous but that last picture was awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Fantastic wedding pictures Frances. You are beautiful and look very happy as well as your hubby does too!! Thank you so much for sharing such a special and personal occasion!!

  19. Frances, What a treat to see these pictures! Thank you so much for sharing them. It all looks amazing, esp. the bride.

  20. “Oh what a night”…Tom is a lucky man. Your 1 shoulder gown is fabulous…Hard to ever top that weekend. Best wishes and hugs, Linda

  21. Happy Anniversary. Brings back memories of Wyatt and Brie’s wedding.Wishing you and Tom the best always…Exquisite and beautiful Thank you for sharing your very special occasion.
    Karen Louise

  22. Thank you for sharing – what a beautiful occasion – as well as happy! We missed seeing you at Ojai, hopefully will see you, and meet Tom, soon!

  23. Frances. Well the photos are worth the wait! They are beautiful. What a very special affair. Happy Anniversary and I wish you both the very best. Love, Patty

  24. Frances….

    Just lovely, as are you. So glad to see you have settled somewhere so beautiful and peaceful (with the opportunity to escape to, and from, NY).

    The wedding looks wonderfully simplistic and close…great concept, rather wish I had convinced my daughter Abbi of that !

    We also had a farm wedding, will send some pictures soon, certainly within a year…

    Be happy, and continue the Joyful days.

    Geoffrey, Atlanta and beyond.

  25. Congratulations Frances!!
    the day looks perfection and your dress is absolutely stunning! May you both ride off into the sunset, picking olives from your trees, the scent of oranges crushed beneath your horses hooves and a magnificent, chilled local wine awaiting your return to the ranch. You’re a California Girl now!!
    xx SP

  26. That is without a doubt one of the prettiest and HAPPIEST weddings I have ever seen photographed. Love the tablecloths and the gorgeous serving table.

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