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Sublime Elegance

Longtime couple Gene Gay and David Thompson celebrate their union with an unforgettable night of dinner and dancing at Calistoga Ranch. 

Newlyweds David Thompson (on left) and Gene Gay (on right), a portrait of classic charm in their light-gray Hickey Freeman suits.

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The grooms chose matching David Yurman wedding bands in rose gold with chocolate diamonds.

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Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktail hour on Calistoga Ranch’s Lommel Lawn.

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A menu from the decadent five-course dinner

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EV Floral Design created elegant boutonnieres made of protia, thistle, orchids and kumquat

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For Gene and David, the road to marriage was many years in the making. “We’ve always been in close proximity, having lived at the same time in D.C., Virginia and then California, but we never crossed paths,” Gene explains. “Many friends tried to introduce us, thinking we would hit it off, but the meeting never seemed to happen.” In 2004, the stars finally aligned, and the two bumped into each other at a mutual friend’s birthday party. “Having heard so much about each other, we recognized one another right away and hit it off immediately,” Gene says. The pair have been together ever since and now reside in Denver, Colo., where David serves as the chief operations officer for Western Union, and Gene—a longtime chef—runs the critically acclaimed pastry shop Étonné.

After more than a decade together, Gene surprised David by popping the question at one of their favorite places, Breckinridge, Colo., on the highest ski lift in North America. “Right after [I proposed], we boarded down the slope a bit to a patch of trees and sat in the snow with a bottle of Dom Pérignon, surrounded by the majestic mountains,” Gene recalls. With such a romantic engagement, the two set off to plan an equally elegant wedding, choosing Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort, in Calistoga, Calif. “We had spent time there for other occasions and think the guest lodges are stunning, the setting relaxed and the service impeccable,” Gene says. “The resort offered a level of privacy as well as a beautiful and relaxing environment for our wedding.”

Working with Denver-based planner Whitney Nelson, the couple created an intimate and touching event for 80 of their closest family and friends. The ceremony was held on the Lommel Lawn, with spectacular 180-degree views of the property’s private lake. David’s daughters walked him down the aisle, and a longtime friend officiated, fastening their hands together with a Celtic knot, which symbolized the bond that they were about to create. “One of the highlights of the whole wedding day ended up being the ceremony, when we shared our personal vows with each other,” Gene says. “Hearing them for the first time, surrounded by the people we love, was an incredibly special moment.”

The reception was held in the Wine Cave, a fitting setting for an unforgettable five-course dinner featuring dishes like roasted Scottish salmon and filet mignon. The decor was understated yet chic—with low centerpieces containing clusters of warm-toned flowers arranged amid intertwined driftwood—allowing easy conversation and the room’s natural glow to shine through. Afterward, guests danced the night away. Gene recalls, “For us, the wedding was about the experience of sharing an unforgettable weekend, celebrating our union with the people who were most important to us and being able to cherish those memories once the last morsel had been eaten and the last dance had been enjoyed.”

Wedding Planner Whitney Nelson Events
Tuxedos Hickey Freeman
Shoes Christian Louboutin 
Rings David Yurman
Catering Calistoga Ranch
Rentals & Decor Rion Designs
Florals EV Floral Design
Invitations Whimsy Design Studio
Entertainment Boutique DJs
Videographer The Life in Digital
Transportation Napa Valley Tours and Transportation