When Jakki and Steve started planning their wedding, they wanted to share their new home with friends and family, and decided to host the celebration on their property. And when you see all the incredible trees (and a tree house!) you’ll understand just why they’d undertake such a project, spending months preparing the space for a true California ranch wedding – and for their married life afterward.
“We wanted to build our life together surrounded by nature, so we bought our first home on a beautiful piece of land in Pescadero, California. When we first visited the ranch, we discovered a giant, breathtaking oak tree and immediately fell in love with it. Months later, after moving into our new home, we were heartbroken to see that it had fallen over. Thankfully we found out that the tree is still alive, and it now formed a beautiful arch. We knew that this was the exact spot where we wanted to exchange vows.”
Your ceremony in three words. Our description: Emotional, Whimsical, Fairytale // A guest’s description: Stunning, Thoughtful, Joyous.
Who officiated your ceremony? A friend of ours, Sherwood Anderson, officiated our ceremony. We chose Sherwood because he understands the kind of people we are as individuals. He is a mentor to us in the spiritual sense and he is a good example of what a husband and father should be in our eyes. He took the role very seriously. He got the official title for the day from the county and spent a lot of time thoughtfully coming up with his presentation.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? Steve insisted that we not take photos before the ceremony and do the traditional seeing the bride for the first time when walking down the aisle. We both agreed later that it made the ceremony that much more emotional because we did it that way.
What was your ceremony music? We had a songwriter/guitarist, Ryan Salet, play acoustic music while guests were seated as well as during the ceremony. It was all music that we listen to as a couple. Processional: I Feel Home by OAR / Recessional: Ho Hey by The Lumineers.
What were your vows like? A friend gave us a wedding vows guide book so we could pick and choose from different traditions and styles to create what we liked. We wanted to have a few Christian elements, but also didn’t wanted it to be overly religious.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? We were so excited to celebrate on our ranch and share it with loved ones. We spent a year clearing enchanting spaces that were overgrown with brush, and trees that were begging to be given new life. Friends and family came for work parties where we trimmed trees, hauled brush and chipped wood to get everything ready. We think having so many of our guests feel connected to helping create such a wonderful space for our ceremony was really special.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? One thing that we don’t think you always see at a wedding ceremony, that we personally enjoyed about ours, was the welcome we asked our officiant to do. Just before our ceremony started, we had him welcome the guests and invite them to hold the hand of their loved one, recommitting to their own vows they may have taken and to recommit to each other during our ceremony. They are the guides to us as a newly married couple and we want to support their commitments as we hope they will support our marriage. It was really nice to have the ceremony be more interactive for our guests. The idea came us because growing up Jakki’s Mom and Dad always held hands during any wedding they went to and reaffirmed their commitment to each other, which Jakki always admired.
“We had our cocktail hour and reception on our property near the house so guests could enjoy other areas of the property and see where we spend our time. It was nice to move locations and it was also convenient for the caterers to work in our kitchen next to the big white tent.”
“Following the ceremony, shuttles escorted the guests to the outdoor cocktail hour where we served signature drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and where guests could play darts or bean bag toss… or climb trees!”
Did you have a signature cocktail? Yes! We had a “Smokin’ Barrel” (Jameson, Vida Organic Mezcal, Punt e Mes Sweet Vermouth, Honey & Fresh Squeezed Lime), “Jakkarita Paloma” (Organic Blanco Tequila, Mezcal, Spicy Coriander Ginger Syrup, Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit & Lime, Splash of Squirt), and “Murtha Ranch Tec 8″ just like grandpa used to make (Tecate, Kosher Salt, Lime). We also had kegs of Lagunitas IPA and Trumer Pilsner, plus a variety of wines, Arnold Palmers, and natural sodas.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We believe in the importance of sustainability, so that was at the core of our wedding inspiration. We chose decorations that could be reused: wooden box centerpieces filled with rosemary, kale, artichokes and pomegranates (as well as snowberries, fern, lambs ears, and hydrangea) for guests to take home and eat later. Succulents that could be planted in the garden after the big day. It was imperative that our caterer serve all organic and local food. Most importantly, we wanted to be surrounded by nature, because this is where we feel most alive.
What was your wedding menu? Native Catering of San Francisco designed an organic, locally grown, gourmet meal. Hors d’Oeuvres: Salmon Croquettes / Calvados Marinated Fig Crisp / and Beef Brisket Sliders / Buffet of Grilled Organic Veggies, Cheese, and Fruit Platters // Dinner: Watermelon Salad / Grilled Flank Steak / Fire Grilled Chicken / Vegan Ratatouille // Late Night Snack: Carne Asada and Chicken Tacos.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? The wedding cake was just one tier of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting from SusieCakes. We also served lemon squares, seven layer bars, and the bride’s father’s chocolate chip cookies. There was also the s’mores station by the bonfire under the stars.
Please tell us about any special details or moments from your reception. A favorite memory was seeing Jakki’s grandfather give his speech. Glen is 88 and after not being on a plane in 35 years, he flew out from Illinois to be at his last grandchild’s wedding. It was touching to all the guests and Glen had a great time. You could even catch him late night tapping his toe to the music with a glow stick on his head.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? One of our favorite and super fun parts of the reception was when a guest tied a bunch of table clothes together to create a giant jump rope. Right in the middle of the dance floor we got to have a really good go at jumping rope together. Everyone was going nuts with laughter around us. It was super memorable!
First dance: You Are the Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne
Father/bride: You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor
Mother/groom: Forever Young by Audra Mae and the Forest Rangers
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Get a day of wedding planner! You want to be able to enjoy your day completely and have someone else taking care of the logistics. Hire someone good and that your trust to be capable of following through with your vision.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Each day when the mail would arrive we would sit down as a couple to read the RSVP’s to see what messages our guests would send us – it was our favorite thing about planning. It was so funny to see what people would say or include: past photos, funny stories and well wishes. Don’t forget to make your RSVP’s memorable when you are invited to a wedding- it is comic relief for the bride and groom to be!
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We would invite even more people to have shared in the fun! The hardest part of planning was narrowing down the guest list. Both of us at different points were in tears trying to make the list smaller.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? The entire reception tent floor area was covered in wood chips that came from the dying trees we had to cut down on our property. For months we cut them down, hauled the limbs, sent them through the chipper, loaded them up and then spread them throughout the floor area. It was a process that took hard labor by everyone, from Jakki’s 5 year old nephew to her 88 year old grandfather. We were grateful for the help and it was pretty neat to think about the life cycle of these trees which are now the mulch base on the ground where we have since planted our family garden.