Home for Marissa Rosenberg — a scientist who studies the physical effects of space travel on astronauts after they have returned to earth — is an aromatic slice of heaven in the small town of Kenwood. Marissa grew up there on a lavender farm next to Chateau St. Jean Winery. And while the farm was lost in the 2017 Nuns fire, her parents, Gary and Rebecca Rosenberg, built a new home with a formal ornamental garden of English lavender, purple salvia, and perennials in homage to what was lost.
The family calls the garden la Rêve de Lavande, or “lavender dream.” It made for a striking and sentimental spot for Marissa’s over-the-moon wedding to fellow scientist Jocelyn Dunn. “The garden has so much meaning for my family and friends,” says Marissa. “It just had to be there.”
The two met at a NASA conference when Marissa was a post-doctoral student and Jocelyn was an intern. Both later wound up at Johnson Space Center in Houston, with Jocelyn at the time serving as a human performance engineer helping crew members train in their space suits.
The couple had originally planned to wed in September 2020, but the pandemic forced a delay that later proved fortuitous. They reset for June 26, 2021, Marriage Equality Day, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld same-sex marriage. The new date fell during the peak of the lavender bloom, and 125 vaccinated friends and family members were able to attend from all over the country and overseas.
As the ceremony began, the brides started down two separate winding paths through the garden, each escorted by her father. They joined up at a bridge they helped create, then crossed together to the ceremony site underneath a hand-built octagonal bower adorned with flowers. The ceremony was officiated by Marissa’s cousin and included many family members and nods to their blended roots, from a Celtic Handfasting to a Jewish Seven Blessings. “It was really important,” says Marissa, “for us to honor our ancestors.”
The couple’s “cake” was made of stacked wheels of cheese, including their favorite, Manchego. After the ceremony, a pair of bubble machines that looked like space shuttles sent bubbles flying all over. Then, as the sun set, 40 large tie-dyed balloons illuminated with LEDs lifted off and hovered over the garden like bobbing planets. Standing watch over it all was a 500-year-old oak tree, the only survivor of the fire, and an inspiration to the Rosenberg family during the long rebuilding process.
“At the time, when we had to postpone the wedding, it felt like the whole world was falling apart,” Marissa says. “But it was not the end of the world. I’m happy for our family’s health and safety, and that we had each other during the quarantine. Things turned out quite a bit differently, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Ceremony and Reception: La Rêve de Lavande
Photographer: Rebecca Gosselin Photography
Caterer: Cuvée Wine Country Events
Hair and makeup: Tasha Cohn
Ceremony vocals: Jessica Friedman
Wholesale flowers: Sequoia Floral International
Sparkling wine: Breathless Sparkling Wines