A much-needed escape from the modern distractions life throws our way can seem next to impossible at times; thankfully, Joan and Andrew’s incredible off-the-grid weekend festivities at Oz Farm afforded their guests some quality time to unplug. From the incredible backdrop of green hills and misty beaches, to the sustainable autumn menu and the barnyard dance party, this cozy celebration is one we all wish we could of been a part of!
“We fell in love with the Mendocino County and the North Coast years ago, as a getaway from the distractions of San Francisco. Just three-hours north is a different world. With no cell phone reception, we spend our days exploring the intense green hills, world-class wineries, breweries and rocky, misty beaches. We always knew it would be the perfect place to bring our friends and family together to get away from everything when we got married.”
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? When we stumbled upon Oz Farm—an organic farm on a former commune with a thriving apple orchard—we immediately knew we’d found the venue that would serve as home base for the weekend’s festivities. Full of charm, natural beauty and practical space, Oz Farm might be off-the-grid, but we were optimistic that it could sustain an amazing time for our friends and family for an autumn weekend.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Our good friend Jordan had the best tip: know your top three priorities, don’t compromise on them and don’t get too stressed with everything else. Ours were: a venue we could gather at the whole weekend, a memorable dance party in a barn to hide out from the cool Mendocino air, and delicious food and wine.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? There are endless ways you can plan, prepare and add your personal touch to the event, but in the end, your guests are there to celebrate you and your marriage. Don’t stress about a missing sign, an off-key guitarist or a DIY detail you didn’t have time for – just enjoy the moment! The hiccups are often the most memorable parts of the entire event. Plus, your guests probably won’t notice the program is missing an embossed logo.
“Before the ceremony, we gathered in the farm’s library with close family and the wedding party to sign the ketubah, the Jewish marriage agreement. We treasured taking time to connect with family before the big party.”
“By weaving in the traditions we treasured the most, our ceremony felt personal and meaningful without any stuffiness. We molded Jewish and American wedding traditions to create a personal, unique ceremony: picking conventions that resonated with us and fit our aesthetic. While the ceremony took place in a hidden redwood grove on the farm, we kept it traditional by breaking the glass and raising a chuppah.”
Your ceremony in three words. Personal, deep-rooted, brief.
Who officiated your ceremony? Our dear friend Bill Hudak officiated. He’s seen our relationship blossom from the start—he was with us when we met. Andrew, an only child, considers him a mentor and a big brother figure.
What was your ceremony music? I walked down the aisle with my parents to Pachelbel’s, “Canon in D”—I couldn’t imagine any other song. Our classical guitarist played The Turtles’, “Happy Together” for the recessional.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? Throughout. For instance, the chuppah included family heirlooms from my Jewish family and Andrew’s Midwestern roots: my grandfather’s tallit and a family blanket handknit by Andrew’s grandmother. Once my parents gave me away, I walked around Andrew in the chuppah seven times – while my lace train swept up redwood needles like a Swiffer – we all laughed and enjoyed the moment.
What were your ceremony readings? My family took turns reading the traditional seven blessings of a Jewish wedding in Hebrew. The blessings were translated on the ceremony programs, so everyone could follow along.
What were your vows like? We chose and recited traditional, simple vows. There’s something meaningful about saying, “For better or for worse.”
“Our good friend Jordan had the best tip: know your top three priorities, don’t compromise on them and don’t get too stressed with everything else. Ours were: a venue we could gather at the whole weekend, a memorable dance party in a barn to hide out from the cool Mendocino air, and delicious food and wine.”
How would you describe your reception? A raucous barn dance with fuel to keep us going all day and night!
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Oz Farm itself inspired our wedding. We added special touches throughout our wedding in honor of the farm and location. Our friend Aaron designed the invitations with vintage apples, a hand-drawn map of the area and a watercolor of Oz Farm on the save the date. Instead of toasting with sparkling wine, we opted for a special keg of hard apple cider, as a nod to Oz Farm’s apple harvest, which was in full season. All the wine and beer was made locally in Mendocino County – we’re lucky that it is among the most exceptional in California, and luckier that one of Drew’s friends is a winemaker in the area. Coastal Posies even harvested most of the flowers from the farm.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? While Coastal Posies created the colorful bouquets and boutonnieres, we chose to arrange the flowers for the table arrangements ourselves. A group gathered in the barn the day before the wedding, using inspiration from our friend Lisa at Lovebud and colorful glass vases provided by Matt Rowland. The rustic arrangements felt natural on the farm, especially considering the flowers were grown onsite.
What was your wedding menu? A fall feast; our guests enjoyed local lamb in a mint pesto, baked fish with fresh herb salsa, cheesy polenta and corn succotash served family style on long wooden king’s tables.
Did you have a signature cocktail? We chose simple, traditional cocktails that required few components – a Moscow Mule, a Kentucky Mule and an Old Fashioned. With a few mixers and spirits, we also let our guests pick their drinks. My drink of choice was the sparking wine – a brut rose made within a few miles at Roederer Estate.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Renting out a nontraditional venue for the long weekend allowed us to stretch our budget and offer our guests a more intimate experience. The vendor and food costs in Mendocino were 30-70 percent less than in San Francisco, Napa or Sonoma. We also could keep the music piping and drinks flowing all night long – which our 20 friends who stayed in cabins on the farm surely appreciated. So, we funneled some of the savings into making the venue and experience comfortable for our guests. We brought in heat lamps and portable bathrooms, contracted a shuttle to transport those guests not staying at the farm, plus made sure the venue could accommodate Joan’s grandfather, who is in a wheelchair.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? One of the most memorable moments of the night was during the speeches at dinner. As my sister read a poem she wrote, the backup generator died and the 100-person party was left in the dark, lit only by candlelight and the full moon. Zoe and the Oz farmhands quickly fixed it, but that five-minute interlude gave us a break to laugh, eat our dinner, and soak in the love of our family and friends. What was our biggest worry when we started the process, turned out to be so indicative of everything we love about getting married at a rustic farm.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Since we’re big fans of tasty sweets, we curated a creative dessert bar of cookies – chocolate chip potato chips were Andrew’s favorite – and had a traditional wedding cake. Franny made the most delicious gluten free carrot cake, topped with the Oz Farm flowers and the same cake topper used at Joan’s parents’ and grandparents’ weddings. And the cake was nearly as delicious after a year in the freezer!
What was your first dance song? We wanted a fun first dance, for us as well as our guests – after all, they have to watch us dance for five minutes! We chose “You’re All I Need to Get By” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. The Motown tune is a bit unexpected as a first dance, and we took dance lessons to ensure we gave our guests a good show.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Everyone wants to be a part of the magic, so don’t shy away from asking friends if they can help out. From designing invitations to painting chalkboards to hanging the ketubah, we received gracious support from our talented friends. While the marriage is about our love and commitment, the wedding was absolutely a celebration of the life we’ve built together and with our loved ones.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? No, but we’d love to do it again!