Roberto Valle Kinloch and Jane Leer spied one another in the hallways of the Inter-American Development Bank in Managua, Nicaragua for almost two years before ending up on the same beach one afternoon. Roberto had recently left his post in energy policy to follow his passion for photography and was there taking pictures. He and Jane, an Arcata native working in development policy, finally said hello — the rest was history. The two married this past August, before friends and family from Nicaragua, China, Japan, Pakistan and Arcata, on a sunny day at Fieldbrook Winery.

Given the globetrotting nature of the pair's socially conscious careers, choosing Humboldt as the setting for their wedding was no small contest. After meeting in Managua, Jane earned a masters degree in International Education Policy at Stanford, living in the Bay Area for two years before moving to Washington D.C., where she works as a research assistant for Save the Children. Meanwhile, Roberto is finishing his PhD in energy policy in Norway, continuing the bi-continental tradition of their romance. Jane laughs about the unconventional beginnings of their young marriage, but admits she dreams of moving home to California someday. “I always tell my parents they can never leave Arcata,” she says.

click to enlarge LEÓN VILLAGÓMEZ
  • León Villagómez

Planning a wedding from afar with Jane in the Bay Area and Roberto in Norway was a challenge, but they pulled it off in style with elements that honored their international start, as well as friends and family. Jane says it was stressful, but she was amazed at how it all came together. It was also worth it to have the wedding in Humboldt. “I have such a connection growing up in Arcata, with the redwoods and the coast and all the dramatic scenery there. And of course, the connection to the people,” she says.

The couple had legally married on Roberto’s family’s coffee farm in December of 2014 in order to set the cumbersome paperwork required for international marriages in motion. So now it was time to bring Jane’s Humboldt roots into the celebration. Her parents, Nancy Dye Leer and Leo Leer, spent a month prior to the big day working on decorations at the winery and for the after party at Trinidad Town Hall, as well as acting as local liaisons to the team of Humboldt County vendors working on the wedding.

Everything at the ceremony was local: Flora Organica flowers of McKinleyville, Brett Shuler Fine Catering of Arcata and the photography of León Villagómez, a Humboldt resident and native of Guadalajara, Mexico. The talented tailor and vintage glam specialist Jennifer Harris of Angelica Atelier in Arcata made Jane’s bridal gown, as well as her father’s and Roberto’s suits. Local band Lemon Lemon Cherry and Jane’s high school friend DJ Jordan Jones kept friends and family dancing until the wee hours.

The entire Valle Kinloch family traveled from Nicaragua for the wedding and their first experience of Humboldt County’s rugged beauty. At the winery, guests were welcomed by chalkboard signs written in English and Spanish. Many of the guests were bilingual and all of Roberto’s family speaks English, but the couple wanted to braid some of Roberto’s heritage into the ceremony. “The whole bilingual thing came about organically,” says Jane. “We didn’t want word-for-word translations, but didn’t want to make the officiant struggle through learning Spanish,” she explains. Throughout the evening, guests made toasts, casually switching from Spanish to English, celebrating the couple with words that felt close to their hearts in either language.
click to enlarge LEÓN VILLAGÓMEZ
  • León Villagómez

Small touches brought the sweetness of Jane and Roberto’s Nicaraguan romance to Humboldt. At the ceremony, the tables were named after different Nicaraguan locales — in order to find their seats, guests had to guess the place based on descriptions written by Roberto. The Valle Kinloch family took turns sharing songs throughout the ceremony, including a serenade by Roberto and his nieces singing Bob Marley’s “Is This Love.”

In soft Humboldt sunshine, photographer Villagomez captured the couple standing beside one another, taking turns to step forward and share each other's hand-written vows. At the ceremony’s closing, they made their way down the aisle under a tunnel of sunflowers held up by friends and family. Jane and Roberto’s smiling faces are framed amid fragile yellow petals perched on sturdy green stems, pointing them toward their new life together, wherever they might land.
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Nora Mounce

Nora Mounce

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