Today’s newlyweds were originally planning on a 120-person wedding in their home town, but decided to change their plans and have an intimate wedding up the coast with just 45 guests. The day was lovely, full of vintage inspiration, streaming sunlight, and good food. Some favorite details from Carla and James’s wedding at the Olema Druids Hall: the back of Carla’s dress, the charming illustration on the welcome bag tote (see more pics of it in the gallery), the parasol light shades, and their impromptu first dance.
“James and I had driven through Olema and Point Reyes Station the year before on our way up to Mendocino where we got engaged. We found this area of West Marin to be so peaceful and fell in love with the beautiful countryside and nearby coastline. When none of the venues back home seemed right, we knew we had to do it in Olema. As for our venue, we decided to have our wedding at the Olema Druids Hall at the very last minute without ever having stepped foot inside. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”
“Planning our ceremony was a challenge at first. We couldn’t quite agree on who we wanted to officiate. My husband wanted our ceremony to have a bit of weight to it. He had envisioned somewhat of a religious ceremony. However, neither of us attends church and I felt at the time it would be a bit hypocritical to have a religious ceremony. This was one of the first lessons in compromise as soon-to-be husband and wife. I knew he felt strongly about it and so in the end I agreed. James had stayed in touch with a friend of his who was a youth leader when he was in high school. He just so happened to now be the head pastor in our neighborhood’s church. Fortunately he was available to travel and officiate our ceremony. We met him four times for pre-marriage counseling which we thoroughly enjoyed. After the first meeting with our pastor, I was very happy we had chosen him to officiate and that he was available to preside over our nuptials. He was very helpful when it came time to plan the structure of our ceremony. He provided us with a template we lightly modified. We were able to chose three readings of scripture and write our own vows.”
Your ceremony in three words. Definitely Musical! Traditional and Beautiful.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? One of my favorite moments from our ceremony was during our vows. James and I wrote our vows together, and there was a line James wrote that started with, “As imperfect as I may be,” that I always thought sounded a bit funny but chose to keep it anyway. During our ceremony after James said his vows, Pastor Lance began to recite my vows as I repeated after him. Well, he pulled a fast one on me and changed the line to, “as perfect as I may be,” which brought light and laughter to such a significant moment. Also, the fact that “gypsy music” from down the hill unexpectedly served as the soundtrack to our ceremony helped make it feel more lighthearted.
“My husband is especially grateful that we left our wedding weekend feeling as though our small group had become like family,” shares Carla. “He hadn’t met much of my side of the family. By scaling down the numbers to just 45 guests, we were able to become quite close in just three days. Everyone got together immediately and mixed in as if they were old friends.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? The picturesque landscape of Point Reyes inspired us, as well as the slow pace of the town. We really wanted to spend quality time with our guests who had all traveled so far to join us in this tiny town for our wedding. Also, West Marin rightfully prides itself on its fine food and wine, and the meal was very important to us as we wanted to avoid the standard wedding fare. We had a few long tables set up without any place cards, and everyone sat down where they wanted and enjoyed a family-style dinner. Above all, our lovely friends and family served as the biggest inspiration. We had planned everything with them in mind. We wanted the feeling of the day to feel a tad bit informal. After the Best Man and Maid of Honor speeches, it kind of became an open forum. My mother and uncle got up to say a few words as did my father-in-law. One of our good friends also gave a completely unexpected and beautifully heartfelt toast. It felt really special.
Please tell us about any special details from your wedding. My husband’s family is from England where it’s a little more customary to read telegrams aloud during the reception from guests who were unable to attend. We also made sure to include the names of close relatives during our ceremony who had passed away but were clearly with us in spirit. I suppose we also started a tradition of celebrating an anniversary as our wedding fell on a year-to-the date of our engagement. In the eight years we have been together we have never celebrated our anniversary. Neither of us were ever sure of the date!
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Be honest with yourself and your partner. Plan within your means. A wise friend offered sage advice to not “put it on a credit card”. And really think of the guests you have to have attend that day. Friends should be understanding if you can’t invite everyone. We were originally planning to have our wedding locally with roughly 120 guests in mind. When we shifted gears and decided to make it 45 guests AND out of town, suddenly a weight had been lifted and we actually got really excited!
What was your favorite moment or part of the day? It’s so hard to chose one! I’d have to say my favorite moment was our impromptu first dance. Our guests pushed the tables aside and our song began to play. The room was filled with so much love and warmth. You could really feel it. I remember closing my eyes and embracing my husband while we danced. As I opened my eyes, some of our guests had picked up the candlelit votives from the tables and were swaying along. It was truly one of the most beautiful moments in my life.
First Dance Song: “Harvest Moon” Neil Young
What was the best advice you received as a bride? To try to enjoy every moment of the process. It will undoubtedly feel stressful at times and family drama will inevitably arise, but don’t allow any of that to take away from the excitement of planning. I look back at the week leading up to our wedding with such fondness. Since our wedding was out of town, we left a few days early. The moment we packed up the car and started making our way up north, we both looked at each other and let out a sigh of relief. The time had come to let everything go and just enjoy what was about to come. A night in Big Sur before your wedding is also highly-recommended if possible!
What advice do you have for other brides? Don’t get lost in the details. It’s really easy to lose sight of what you are actually planning. There is so much focus on the “little things” that you tend to forget about the bigger picture. It’s about you and the man you love making a lifelong commitment to each other in the presence of your loved ones. At the end of the day, the fact that your husband wore the shoes you begged him not to won’t matter.