Photography by Chris Shum.
We have such a sweet wedding to share with you today! After a heartfelt ceremony held in the ‘fairy ring’ of ancient redwoods, these two treated guests to a fun summer camp vibe, but with an elegant, grown up twist (Archery? Live band? Champagne bar? Yes, please!) My favorite detail has to be the heart-and-arrow escort card displays, which not only look oh so cute, but were a sweet recognition of the couple’s new shared surname… Pierce!
Jen told us she and Skyler first met when she was just 15! “We apparently circled in and out of each other’s lives at several different points before it stuck. We met each other at a high school dance, and I used to go to the coffee shop he worked at. We dated in our twenties before going our separate ways after about six months, before finally getting together nine years later!”
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? I did have something old and borrowed – I wore my mom’s veil, which we had altered to be more modern. We replaced the puffy headpiece so popular back then (!) with a comb, and used only one of the longest pieces. It happened to be edged in the exact same kind of lace as my wedding gown that I had already purchased without knowing they were the same lace! I also had something new (white sapphire earrings), and something blue (garter.)
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? We both thought of marrying in the redwoods right after Skyler proposed, because of the spiritual energy that’s palpable there. Earlier that year we had driven through bigger redwoods on a roadtrip from a friend’s wedding, and loved them. We realized the redwoods north of the Bay area (Eureka/Humboldt) were too far from an airport for guests, and other areas of redwoods we liked, like those in Big Sur, were in parks where we’d have to do everything from scratch (bringing generators/chairs etc.). So that narrowed it down to a handful of venues that are already set up for weddings south of the Bay area, and closer to airports.
We took a roadtrip (it ended up being one of many, as we’re based in LA) to see different venues and YMCA Camp Campbell is by far the most incredible, perfect setting for a wedding. They could easily close it as a camp and only do weddings! They have a ring of redwoods (called a fairy ring, as redwoods grow in rings) which is idyllic for ceremonies; you can feel the energy of the root system beneath the wooden pews and altar sending information and support from tree to tree, like our families and friends supporting our union.
Your ceremony in three words. Sacred, majestic, intimate.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? The laughter and the tears, and the amazing flowers! The flower circle at the alter was even more spectacular than anything I had seen, and even better than what I had given our florist, Nancy Liu Chin, reference to. Several of our guests posed for their own pictures there after the ceremony, because it was so gorgeous!
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Wendy Brewer.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? Our officiant was amazing and had a wonderful ceremony script that was pretty much perfect when she showed it to us. Her words were honest and heartfelt. She’s a friend of ours, so we went and stayed with her and her husband for a night at their home in Santa Barbara helped write the custom pieces about redwood symbolism, the handfasting ceremony and decided to incorporate a beautiful poem by Joseph B. Strauss, The Redwoods. It was important to my husband that she would read the vows to us and we repeat them after her, because of nerves, and it was important to me that we do an ancient handfasting, as we both have British/Celtic heritage, and I felt the tradition had a lot of sacred energy.
Did you include any other traditions in your ceremony? As well as our handfasting, we each made a rose offering to honor our parents.
What were your vows like? They were heartfelt and worded in a fairly modern way, such as “I will laugh with you in times of joy, and comfort you during the difficult times. I will cherish our union, and love you throughout all that life may bring us.”
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? For some reason, perhaps stemming from the rehearsal, I thought our officiant was going to ask Skyler to say his vows first. So on the day when she turned first to me and said, “Jen, do you take Skyler to be your lawfully wedded husband?” I just stared blankly at her. She gently prompted me with “you’re supposed to say yes” – and then everyone (including me) cracked up. Of course I said yes, and the ceremony continued! Our whole ceremony was quite emotional; we were both a little teary at times, and then in moments like this there were was all-around laughter, too.
Jen told us “a minute’s walk around the corner from the ceremony site is the expansive wooden lodge (great for a rain plan) with a deck for the band and a sprawling lawn where we could dine under the stars, and of course underneath those towering redwoods. At the back of the lawn up a hill the YMCA opened up archery for us and our guests during cocktail hour. It was like an English garden party with archery and cocktails, and a fun nod to our new name, the Pierces.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? I read a million wedding magazines and got really into Pinterest – I found the whole process so fun. I understand many couples and brides get overwhelmed by the process (as I did, towards the end) but for me it was pretty much the thing I always wanted to do in my spare time. With the inspiration of the woods, I wanted bright pinks and subtle ivory to contrast with all the green and brown of the setting, and we knew the photography and videography were two of the most important elements to us, so we could enjoy the day for years to come. Every tip I ever read said invest the most in a photographer, and do not skip a videographer. That is so true because not only do we have stunning photos to treasure, but we have our vows, toasts and everyone dancing on video.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? My mom was amazing and took care of getting all the candles that were a big part of the ceremony and reception, (some LED of course because of the woods but they looked so real and added the extra twinkle to the fairy-like venue!) Skyler and my sister Amanda made two incredible escort signs to look like archery targets, with each name on wooden dowels with fletching like an arrow. It took her weeks and she never wants to do anything remotely DIY ever again, haha!
Did you have a signature cocktail? The venue did not allow hard alcohol, which was a blessing since we got to bring in our own options. So because I used to work for a distributor that sold Gruet (a fabulous champagne out of New Mexico) we had a champagne bar with three different kinds of champagne at the reception: Rose, Blanc de Noirs, Brut and two signature champagne cocktails, Champagne Cocktail (bitters and lemon twist in brut) and Raspberry Beret (scoop of raspberry sherbet in rose). We also had poured rose passed before the ceremony when guests arrived and mingled to the classical guitar because we wanted everyone to be relaxed and happy not anxious to hit the bar so they could really soak up the ceremony instead.
How would you describe your reception? It was so fun! Little did I know what a hit the Kissing Menu would be. (I had found a wonderful etsy shop, Bliss Paper Boutique, that had PDFs in the same fonts and style for all the paper and signage needed for the wedding, which gave our paper goods a really nice, cohesive look. And she made these fun ‘menus’ explaining whole tables had to do certain things in order to get us to kiss.) On alternating place settings each guest had either the Kissing Menu or a ‘thank you for joining us’ card, and throughout dinner almost all tables joined in. So people stood up and sang a song for us to kiss to, or did an outrageous kiss for us to emulate… my husband’s stepdad had everyone at the parent table show us what a kiss in a marriage over forty years looked like (my parents), thirty years (our officiant and her husband), almost twenty-five years (he and Skyler’s mom), then he asked us to show everyone what a thirty minute kiss looked like!
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance? Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon was our first dance, and Beyond the Sea by Robbie Williams was our joint parent dance. Skyler and I only took two lessons the week before the wedding (my parents too) and we were trying to get the steps just right with the dip at the right time in the music that I wasn’t soaking it in as much as I would have liked. So that I’d advise against. Either take dance lessons long before so you really know it, or just go with the flow and do what comes naturally to you as a couple.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I would have had all the last-minute details done (or laid out closer to being done) so that the week before the wedding I could have focused on being more centered, journaling about the transition, just soaking it in. Since I had worked on the wedding for a year and a half, I underestimated that there would be so many last minute details. I wished I would have pretended the wedding was the week before it really was and cleared my schedule of clients, gotten all the paper finished, seating charts, organized transport for guests and all our bits and pieces… I hated that instead of joining family at my aunt’s the week before for cards, I was maniacally printing out place settings, and that Skyler spent much of the rehearsal dinner wandering around the room trying to arrange transportation for everyone to the venue the next day. There was a lot of last minute stress that could have been avoided… but despite that it was still all was so brilliant and magical!
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We did a four tiered cake with florals wrapped around, that was devils food cake with chocolate ganache and champagne tinted frosting with ferns piped in. It was inspired by a cake I had seen that looked like a fairy woodland creation and made by The Buttery. We wanted the chocolate cake instead of traditional white, because after dinner with a glass of red wine who doesn’t want a little rich chocolate?!
Jen says “Lucky Devils is the most amazing band! They work with pro musicians up and down the California coast to assemble anything from a three to twelve piece band to exactly fit your needs. They are so talented and thorough, asking ahead of time genres, songs and artists you love (and hate!) It was like a private concert for our guests.”