I could wax on and on about how stunning Big Sur is, but I think today’s bride, Courtney, does a much better job of explaining just why it’s so meaningful for her and Mike: “Big Sur holds a special place in our hearts. It was the first place we ever went camping together, after purchasing a brand new tent only to set it up in the rain and mud. The elements were against us that day, but once the storm lifted, the rest of the trip spurred a love of camping that would lead to a cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to Maine. With stunning coastal cliffs, rocky beaches, majestic Redwood forests, amazing hiking, rich bohemian history, and delicious food, Big Sur is a magical place that we fell in love with upon our first visit. When we got engaged, it was the first place that came to our minds for our wedding location – we couldn’t imagine making this lifelong commitment to each other anywhere else.”
Pine cones were a theme in both the invitations (designed by the bride) and in the decor, from centerpieces to cake topper. Says Courtney, “We used pine cones that we had collected over many years, from camping trips across the country, and from family and friends.”
By choosing a venue that is naturally beautiful, the couple was able to minimize the amount of decor needed at the ceremony site.
The wedding was a totally DIY affair, including lots of burlap details like the ring pillow, table runners, and this sign with the couple’s names.
I love the sweet floral crown Courtney wore – what a perfect way to accent her romantic bohemian look!
Says the bride, “Our love of food, and the Big Sur Bakery’s delicious and locally sourced cuisine, easily dictated our reception venue. We are such big fans of the restaurant, Mike even gave me the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook as a gift early on in our relationship. In the end, everything came back around to sharing the things we love with our family and friends.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We wanted our guests to experience all the natural variety Big Sur has to offer. For that reason our wedding weekend was a combination of our favorite things: a camp cook-out welcome dinner amongst the Redwoods, a ceremony on the coastal bluffs with expansive views of the ocean, and a reception in our favorite warm and cozy restaurant. The theme was simple and rustic, showcasing the natural environment.
What was your favorite moment or part of the day? Seeing my husband-to-be for the first time, and the journey it took to get to him. The most natural and beautiful choice for our “aisle” happened to be a somewhat steep hill, and he was waiting for me at the bottom. My father nervously clutched the train of my dress so that it wouldn’t get dirty, just like we’d practiced. However, this was extremely awkward, and a back-and-forth ensued about whether or not he should hold the dress. As the guests rose to their feet (our signal to start walking), I whispered “drop it, drop it… drop it!” He finally let go and together we made it gracefully down the hill. The Treetop Trio played one of our favorite songs, “Come and Find Me” by Josh Ritter (a surprise for Mike), as I took Mike’s hand. He was smiling, with the blue ocean behind him, and that was my favorite part of the day.
Mike’s favorite parts of the day? Seeing Courtney for the first time that day, glide down the grassy hill, her father at her side; reciting our hand written vows, and later traipsing through the “forest” to take our photos. The gift waiting for me on my door step – a traditional shaving brush and creme, elegantly wrapped and tied with some of the extra sea shells we had collected in Santa Monica for our table numbers. Finally, back at Glen Oaks, eating wedding cake in the outdoor tub, underneath the tall trees and stars at the end of a long night, adjacent fire roaring, my new bride next to me, ready for years of adventures to come.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? Although we did not have any ceremonial traditions, we included many heirloom pieces throughout the wedding. The diamond in my engagement ring was passed down from Mike’s great-grandmother, and Mike wore a favorite tie that his father wore when he was Mike’s age. My mother engraved an antique cake server that had belonged to my grandmother, and we used this to cut our wedding cake. It was also nice to have all of the family wedding photos from previous generations displayed at the reception.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? It sounds cliche, but the best advice I received was to stop and take in every moment of the day. You don’t realize how fast it goes by! Another good piece of advice was to expect the unexpected. The day may not happen exactly how you planned, so be prepared to go with the flow. (Mike rose to the occasion and was surprisingly stress free, and that helped me relax and enjoy the moment as well).
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? We were our own wedding planners, so we focused on the the essentials and took anything unnecessary off our list. The natural backdrop of our ceremony site at Rancho Rico was so beautiful, that we accented it with minimal decoration (the only rentals we had were chairs). Similarly, because we had our reception in our favorite restaurant, a lot of things that you would typically need to spend extra money on were already there. We wanted to hand select our own music, so an ipod was fine with us. We made sure to invest our limited budget where it mattered most, and carefully chose talented and reliable vendors to help us realize the wedding we dreamed of. With a lot of hard work and dedication from our families and friends, we were able to do the rest ourselves.