Becky & Michael | Dunes Lake Wedding from Leo Evidente

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I just love Leo Evidente‘s photos of Becky and Michael’s wedding – it really feels like you were there! And I love what the bride says of the day:

“My husband and I were together for many years before we finally got married. We like to say that we did everything backwards. We bought a house, had a beautiful baby boy, bought and operate a business together, then decided to finally get married to top it all off. I think that our story and journey together is what made the day so special and memorable. Friends and family who attended still say how much they loved that day. I think it’s because there was just so much love surrounding the whole thing. It felt very easy and stress free, once all the planning was over and it was just time to celebrate our love. It was honestly the best day ever.”

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From the bride: “The entire ceremony was really so special. I figured this part would be great, but every moment of it was so perfect. My brother was our officiant and he did such a beautiful job, my husband’s old band played a gorgeous version of ‘All You Need Is Love’ as the processional that couldn’t have been more perfect. Without a doubt – the most special detail was definitely our (then) 5-month-old son, Jackson, going down the aisle in a wagon that said ‘Here Comes My Mom’ on the back just before I walked down the aisle. He looked so cute and the reaction that I heard from the crowd made me so excited to take that walk myself and go see his amazing daddy and my handsome groom who I had waited so many years to marry.”

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“We wanted the whole day to feel fun, relaxed and festive – so we started at the very beginning, with guests grabbing a beer/glass of wine and playing lawn games while they were serenaded by a barbershop quartet, even before the ceremony started. My grandfather who passed away a few years ago was in a barbershop quartet and having that element there made me feel like he was there in spirit. Plus it was just kind of a different and unexpected treat for our friends and family.”

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Glass goblets from the famous Madonna Inn added tons of color to the tables.

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“I really loved our mode of transportation,” says Becky. “There is no parking on the site at the venue so our guests parked at a nearby high school where vintage yellow school busses picked them up and drove them into the venue. The drive in is so gorgeous because you go through a huge eucalyptus grove then this big green space opens up in front of your eyes with a view of the dunes and lakes in the background. I’m glad my guests got to experience that without having to drive themselves. Plus the busses were so cute!”

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Why did you choose this location for your wedding?  We were looking for an outdoor venue that felt like we had the place to ourselves. We had a few parts of Northern California in mind because we lived in San Francisco for about 10 years, but ultimately we wanted to have it somewhere that felt like home – so we started looking exclusively in San Luis County (we live in San Luis Obispo). After looking at an endless number of venues from barns to inns, we heard about Dune Lakes from a friend in the wedding industry. We heard that it was a private duck hunting club that primarily held photo shoots and was just branching into a wedding venue. We were excited because not many weddings had been held there and no one had really even heard of it. The moment we pulled off of Highway 1 and drove through a gorgeous and vast eucalyptus grove we stumbled upon the most amazing, romantic and etherial venue that we just could not say no to. It felt meadowy and coastal without being beachy – which was a great combination. There was no question or second guessing it. It felt right.

What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  Classic, romantic, comfortable and full of love were the main thoughts I had while planning my wedding. I wanted it to feel like just the best day ever for everyone who attended.

What was your favorite moment or part of the day?  The whole day was so wonderful, it’s hard to pick a favorite part. I really loved the impromptu Pathetics concert that happened midway through the reception – it started with just a small group of us trying to get them all to play a song – and ended up with almost the entire group of wedding attendees watching and cheering as they played a small set. A back story on this is that my husband was in a band, The Pathetics, years before we were together. His bandmates sang “All You Need is Love” as I walked down the aisle, so they had all of their instruments and amplification all set up – it was so much fun and totally unplanned. Plus there is nothing better than the man you just married singing to you on your wedding day!

Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  Not really – other than the something old, new, borrowed, blue. We kind of went on our own path with things.

Please tell us about any special details from your wedding.  Yellow is my favorite color and it was in every detail of the day. From the lemon place cards, to the vintage gold lace on the tables, to the flower girl’s dress – it was everywhere!

What was the best advice you received as a bride?  “Hold your groom’s hand.” A good friend told me this the night before at the rehearsal party. It sounds simple enough and maybe even silly, but it really stuck with me and I made sure to really soak up the time with him throughout the weekend. It really does fly by so quickly and after all of the planning and anticipation it is so easy to get swept up in the excitement, action, friends and family and completely forget to really enjoy and cherish the very short time that is your wedding.

What advice do you have for other brides?  If you’re planning your own wedding, try to have fun with it, but you HAVE to be way more organized than you initially think. Lists and deadlines. // Make the day exactly what YOU and your groom want – consider others’ feelings and wishes, but remember that this is the only day that can be just yours exactly how you want it – and the memory of it will last a life time. You don’t want a cake? Don’t have a cake! You don’t want to do the bouquet/garter toss because you want to dance all night long instead? That’s your decision! // Pick vendors you adore. Be picky about your vendors – they are such a huge part of the day! // Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner that day. Seriously. You might forget or not be hungry at all, but it’s crucial to your happiness and survival of a very long and amazing day! // Spend at least an hour alone to sit and think and just take in everything before all of the craziness happens. I took a couple hours to myself in my hotel room to relax, take a bath and re-read my vows so that I really heard them (when you’re saying them – you kind of have an out of body experience). For some reason – that time I took was really special that day. // Hold your groom’s hand. Kiss him all day and night. Take in the small moments together. They fly by.

Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  Figure out your budget first and foremost. Money can be an awkward subject to bring up especially if parents are paying or helping pay for the wedding, but it is so crucial to figure out before you start planning anything. Plan your budget knowing that it will cost you more than you originally planned – don’t use up all of your money in the first steps of planning. It’s easy to get caught up in small details that all add up to put you far over budget. // Do not invite more people than you want to – hoping that a large percentage will RSVP no, because they might actually all say yes. This is what happened to us – which is great because everyone we loved was there, but we went WAY over budget because of it. // The best budget tip I read was to pick your splurges. We had a few. The biggest splurge was the venue – because that was so important to set the stage for us. It didn’t come with much but a beautiful setting, so we spent a lot on rentals, but it was worth every penny because that venue was our wedding. Pick your splurge and be as strict and crafty as you can on everything else.

Vendor Credits

Photography: Leo Evidente Photographers / Venue: Dunes Lake in Arroyo Grande, California / Bride's Dress: J.Crew / Shoes: Steve Madden / Groom's Suit, Shirt: J. Crew  / Tie Fabric: Liberty of London / Shoes: Rag & Bone Boots / Bridesmaid Dresses: J. Crew / Stationery: Paper Sky / Floral Design: Noonan's Wine Country Design / Rentals: Taylor Rentals, Got You Covered / Music: Malik Miko Thorne / Caterer: Simply Marvelous BBQ / Dessert: It Takes a Bakery / Goblets: Madonna Inn


  • Studding wedding photographs, what a gorgeous location… and totally dig the vintage styling xo

  • Walter Hanssen says:

    To Whom It May Concern-

    From 1950-1965 my family used to shoot ducks at Dune Lakes. I believe it was owned by the Dickinson family but in any case it was privately owned and operated as a duck club.

  • Walter Hanssen says:

    Does anyone know who the original owners were or at least from 1950-1970?

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