A stunning Sonoma vineyard provides the perfect backdrop for Rhonda Walker and Jason Drumheller’s big day.
By Leena Rao
Photography by Emma McGowan
The first time Jason Drumheller saw Rhonda Walker, it was love at first sight. But unlike most people in Metro Detroit, the Bloomfield Hills-based financial advisor didn’t spot the morning news anchor for WDIV Channel 4 on television — he saw her in his office, where she was holding a board meeting for her nonprofit organization, the Rhonda Walker Foundation.
Drumheller, who didn’t watch local TV at the time, asked a colleague about the beautiful, elegant woman walking through the halls. After finding out they had a mutual friend, he finagled an introduction.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In 2018, a few months after moving in together (Walker and Drumheller live in Oakland County), Drumheller proposed during a trip to Miami, one of the pair’s frequent vacation spots. “It was the biggest surprise of my life,” says Walker.
Despite the excitement, the couple weren’t in a hurry to start planning their wedding, “We were on a high from the engagement and kept saying, ‘We need to do this,’” recalls Drumheller. “But we put it off.” Adds Walker, “Our lives are so busy, so taking the time to actually plan was hard.”
Eventually the planning kicked into gear, and the wedding crystallized around the idea of California’s wine country, where Walker had always dreamed of getting married for its beauty and gorgeous weather. (Plus, she and Drumheller both love wine.)
They settled on Sonoma’s Chateau St. John winery for a venue, but Walker, who was busy with her on-air responsibilities and charity work (she runs a program for teen girls in Detroit), didn’t even see the space in person until her wedding weekend. Instead, her wedding planner would FaceTime Walker as she strolled the grounds. “I’m very particular and so is Jason,” says Walker. “But I knew how beautiful wine country is so you can’t go wrong.”
The wedding, which was held last Labor Day weekend in Chateau St. Jean’s rose garden, was officiated by Drumheller’s hometown best friend, Ryan Atkins (the two grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan). As guests sipped on the vineyard’s sparkling rosé, Drumheller and Walker took their vows over an archway of white roses, lilies, orchids and hydrangeas — chosen because the couple figured a neutral palette would better capture the winery’s natural beauty.
Walker wore a sleeveless, fitted gown with a lace bodice by her friend Katerina Bocci, a Shelby Township-based designer. The groom sported a custom navy tuxedo from Cicchini Custom Clothier in Birmingham.
One of the day’s biggest surprises was Atkins’ decision to honor the couple’s parents and their combined 100-plus years of marriage (Drumheller’s parents’ have been married 48 years; Walker’s parents, 55). “It was an amazing moment for both of us and such an incredible surprise,” says Walker. Both sets of parents offered marriage advice during the ceremony. One tip from Walker’s father was a hit, she recalls: “People mess up. Take responsibility, say you are sorry and mean it.”
At the black-tie reception, the couple’s 95 guests dined al fresco under canopies of white silk — which provided shade from the hot sun — while overlooking the property’s acres of vineyards. As the sun set and wine glasses were refilled, Walker’s and Drumheller’s friends and family watched the couple’s first dance, to John Legend’s “All Of Me.”
“It was,” says Walker, “a perfect day.”