Photography by
Michelle Pattee Photography


Michelle Burrell & Renier Gobea

September 26, 2014 in St. Helena, California


Michelle and Reiner crossed paths during a weekend trip, both part of a group of about 20 singles from Tampa, Florida that decided to visit The Atlantis, to stay at the Cove for a weekend of gambling and pool parties. They had never met before that weekend.

Within hours of meeting, Renier popped up behind Michelle and planted a kiss on her lips poolside. She was shocked and smitten from the start.

Almost two years to the date of that first meeting, Renier proposed.

Renier and his family came from Cuba when he was only 8 years old. His family spoke no English. After 30 years he was able to get his passport and return to Cuba. Michelle accompanied him to see his family and friends. She was totally shocked when he got down on one knee, while at the historic Hotel National, and proposed on New Years Eve as cannons boomed from El Morro Castle.

They decided to get married in the Bay Area and make it a destination wedding for all their friends and family. They chose Durham Ranch in St. Helena. It was picture perfect. “We loved the scenic drive up to the Ranch, loved the outdoor ceremony area and loved the barn for dinner and dancing” says Michelle. 

The day of the wedding, as guests arrived in chartered buses, thunder and lightening lit up the skies and torrential rain began. The caterers proceeded to serve guests champagne and hors d’oeuvres on the buses. 

After quickly reconfiguring the barn, guests were invited to take their dining seats at the tables. “My feelings of extreme disappointment disappeared as I walked the path into the candlelit barn” remembers Michelle. “It was so magical, intimate and romantic!”

The look was exactly what Michelle and Renier wanted: industrial mixed with a vintage feel. Using shelving and piping, metal chairs, velvet benches, metal, linen and wooden tables gave it a warm and inviting ambience. The driftwood stage was home to “the most amazing entertainment” says Michelle. “The Mixx Company Band had our guests singing and dancing the entire night.”

There was a sense of comfort and exhilaration for the couple as they started their new journey together surrounded by people they love.

Michelle and Renier embarked on a thirty-day honeymoon rolling their honeymoon, Christmas, New Years and Michelle’s birthday all into one. New Zealand included wine tasting, whale watching in Christ church and glacier hiking in Franz Josef. In Australia they visited Sydney and the One&Only Resort in the Great Barrier Reef. Thailand included Bangkok, Chang Rai, Four Seasons Elephant Camp, ending their dream honeymoon in Phuket at the Trisara.

Location: Durham Ranch St. Helena, CA; Caterer: Paula Le Duc Fine Catering Napa, CA; Event Planner: Joannie Liss Events San Francisco, CA;
Floral Design and Rentals: Eden Rodriguez Productions Los Angeles, CA; Linen: La Tavola Linens Napa, CA; Entertainment: Mixx Company Band San Francisco, CA;