We have such admiration for the couples who choose to make their day 100 percent their own. Ava and Zane happily received a lot of wedding advice before their California ranch wedding, but when it came down to it, they chose the details that were important and personal to them. This modern yet bohemian celebration is full of fun and unique details, a completely stunning bride and a unique wedding venue that perfectly set the tone for their wedding day.
Photography by Kate Harrison.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? In general, we steered away from anything “traditional” that didn’t feel authentic and/or important to us. We didn’t have cake, we didn’t do a bouquet toss, we saw each other before the ceremony—all of these things may have seemed “wrong” to a more traditional couple (and believe me, people definitely tried to advise us otherwise), but for us it just felt right. Following that intuition and being true to ourselves as individuals and as a couple throughout the process was so important, and it paid off in a beautiful event that felt so authentic and perfect for us.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? The best advice that I received was to take advice graciously, but at the end of the day always stay true to what I wanted. So much advice is given to you as a bride, and it is so easy to be swayed by an idea or opinion that may sound good at the time, but may or may not be right for you. It was so useful to listen to all advice given, but use our intuition as the guiding force when making decisions.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Try as hard as you can to slow down and enjoy every moment. There will be times when you feel so stressed and overwhelmed, but remember what is important: everything will work out, and the day is going to be beautiful and full of love beyond your wildest dreams. Slow down and enjoy, because it goes by so fast, and you will cherish those memories forever.
“Cow Track Ranch was the first venue we looked at, and somehow we knew it was right from the moment we first stepped foot on the property. It was stunningly beautiful and provided such a beautiful glimpse of that iconic West Marin scenery that we love. We knew it was the right choice for us because it felt real and authentic and like home.”
Your ceremony in three words. Short, sweet, and full of love!
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We knew that we wanted to keep the ceremony short, simple, and to-the-point—we wanted to maximize time spent with friends and family at the reception. We used a simple template, and planned the basic ceremony outline with our officiant. We told him what was most important to us, who we wanted to include, etc., then let him run with it! Our officiant then wrote the whole ceremony as a gift to us; on our wedding day the words he said were a complete surprise, and it was perfect!
Who officiated your ceremony? A dear friend of ours. He has been very close to us for the entirety of our relationship, and is someone who we both look up to for advice and guidance. He felt like a natural choice, and did such an amazing job.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? This isn’t a tradition, but I think it should become one! One of my favorite parts of our ceremony was the “ring warming.” During the ceremony, our rings were passed among all of the guests, and they were asked to hold the rings and “bless” them with prayer, a wish, or some good thoughts. I had heard about this being done at a different wedding, and decided to adopt the idea for our own. I’m so glad we did, because it turned out to be such a beautiful and memorable part of the ceremony. Our guests took this very seriously, and you could see everyone putting a lot of thought and intention into their blessings. We actually had to pause the ceremony to wait for the rings to get back to us, because everyone wanted to take their time with the rings and it took longer than we were expecting. I love knowing that our wedding bands have been touched and blessed by everyone we love.
What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows. We were both so nervous about this part, but I was so glad that we did, because it felt so personal and authentic.
What was your ceremony music?
Processional (Bridal Party): “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Israel IZ Kamakawiwo’ole
Processional (Bride): “I Love NYU” by Badly Drawn Boy
Recessional: “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? My favorite part of the ceremony was our kiss and the recessional. Kissing him for the first time as husband and wife, hearing the music swell and all the guests cheering and clapping, and walking out feeling so full of love and happiness was such a tremendous moment that I will never forget.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? The best budget advice that I received was to choose the few items that were the most important to you—for us it was food, photography, music—and to spend the most in these areas, while budgeting more tightly in other areas. This was really helpful when it came down to making a million smaller decisions—going for the most cost-effective option whenever we could, knowing that we were splurging on what was most important to us.
“Our reception was casual, comfortable, and fun. Appetizers, oysters, cocktails and music in the field, dinner in the barn, and dancing under the stars.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We were inspired primarily by the location, and also by our overall vision for the event—we wanted our wedding to be first and foremost a great party for everyone we love and care about. These ideals helped us to plan a reception that was casual and rustic, with focus on good food, good music, and time spent with friends and family.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? I am a huge fan of DIY, but realized early on that there was no way I was going to be able to DIY everything that I wanted to. Instead, I put all of my time and effort in to a few DIY details that I thought would make the biggest impact. My favorite were the oyster shell escort cards. My husband is an oyster farmer, and over the course of our engagement I collected the shells of oysters we had enjoyed with friends and family. I cleaned, painted, and varnished the shells, drilled holes in them, and tied on tags to use as escort cards. These ended up being a really darling touch that the guests loved, and was so meaningful to us. I was so glad that I had started the project early, so there was no stress or pressure to finish in the final weeks before the wedding.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Our wedding was truly a labor of love. We didn’t have a wedding planner, so we and our loved ones put so much time and effort in to making the wedding possible. On the day of our wedding the power went out, and everyone from bridal party to family to friends sprung in to action to get generators, save flowers, and finish setting up. It was so meaningful to see everyone come together and help out in so many different ways, we were truly overwhelmed and touched by all of the love and support that was given to us.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? My favorite moment was one that was completely unplanned—we ended up arriving at the barn for dinner after everyone was already seated. When they announced us, everyone stood up, cheered, pounded on tables, etc.. The sound filled the barn and we walked down the “aisle” between two long tables, high five-ing and hugging people the whole way down. The energy was just incredible.
What was your wedding menu? Our menu was inspired by local and rustic California flavors, and the incredible open-style grilling of our caterers. The food was absolutely amazing, and was served family-style in beautiful cast-iron skillets, which matched the theme and feel of our event perfectly.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? No cake, but we had individual “cowboy” apple pies.
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance?
First dance: “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers
Father/daughter dance: “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
Mother/son dance: “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I wouldn’t change a thing.