If you're the kind of girl who dreams of waltzing around a beautiful forest in a magical light and a fabulous gown, this wedding is so for you. Set in the Redwoods of California, Trisha Dean Events worked with an adorable couple to create a wedding that is worthy of hours and hours of daydreaming. Especially when those daydreams are accompanied by the dreamiest images from Christina Hernandez of Nightingale Photography. We're all living out our fairy tale fantasies in the full image gallery, so meet us there when you're ready!
Ian and I met through Match.com in San Francisco - our first date lasted 8 hours and afterwards I canceled my account because I knew I'd met my best friend and was fairly certain that I was done looking.
Ian and I had a very specific goal for our wedding celebration: we wanted it to be family-oriented, relaxed and unique. I'm a Special Events Manager for the American Red Cross, and Ian is a independent contractor/handyman, and it was so exciting to bring our professional experience and creativity to our wedding plans! The wedding was filled with DIY elements and unique touches to reflect our personalities. We are very outdoorsy and laid back, so we wanted a celebration that didn’t feel too traditional or expected.
I'm from Ohio and Ian is from Lake County, CA (about 3 hours north of where we live), which meant that most of our guests would be traveling a great distance to attend our wedding. As a result, we decided we wanted the weekend to double as a vacation for our guests; we chose the Sequoia Retreat Center in Ben Lomond, CA which has a huge beautiful lodge and 33 adorable cabins for our guests to stay in sprinkled through the redwood forest property. It was like we'd taken over a summer camp for the weekend! On Friday, we had a Rehearsal Dinner BBQ on the lodge's beautiful flagstone patio called "Pixie's Garden". My dear friend Kate Jett of Florajett Designs in San Francisco created the ivory, chocolate brown and evergreen centerpieces, displayed on chocolate brown linens. After watching the sun set over the mountains, we adjourned to enjoy a "movie in the park" - we set up an inflatable movie screen and speakers and screened one of my all time favorite movies, "The Princess Bride."
Because Ian and I have such big, wonderful groups of friends, we couldn’t select just a few to be bridesmaids and groomsmen. We also wanted our friends to have the chance to relax and have fun without giving them too many responsibilities, but we still wanted to recognize them as dear to us. I gave my 12 best girlfriends dahlia corsages to wear in their hair, and Ian gave his friends boutonnieres made of pheasant feathers that his father gathered personally. In the program, we included a note that read: “Katie’s Ladies are wearing dahlias. Ian’s Crew are wearing pheasant feathers.” At the altar, we were supported just by our brothers. That’s right, I had a “Dude of Honor” who didn’t even shy away from holding my bouquet during the exchanging of the rings.
I wore a vintage-style lace gown with capsleeves from Pronovias and a veil from Etsy, along with my all-time favorite shoes: my ivory detailed cowboy boots from Ariat by Cavenders! Given the uneven terrain of a forest wedding, those boots were the best decision I made after picking the groom. I also wore a pearl and diamond earring and necklace set that my father gave my mother on their wedding day.
We served lavender lemonade in vintage-style handled mason jars with striped straws to guests when they arrived to the ceremony. Our programs (as well as our dinner menus) were customized designs from Minted. We also created a custom crossword puzzle filled with personal trivia about the bride and groom to entertain guests while they waited – a nod to one of Ian’s favorite pastimes.
The ceremony, where we exchanged vows we wrote ourselves and which took place in a stunning redwood grove on the property, was presided over by Rev. Don Dixon, who was my family’s minister at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Cincinnati for over a decade before he retired. At 72 years old, he came out of retirement and traveled all the way from Ohio to marry us! Words can’t express how much this meant to my family.
After the ceremony, guests walked a short distance to the lodge’s balcony for champagne and hors d’ouerves from Chef Denna Myers of Local Harvest Catering. Ian and I were both creative writing majors, and we wanted to give favors to our guests that were both meaningful and practical. I found a gorgeous art print that read “Love is a Book and a Light to Read it By.” This was a huge inspiration – Ian and I gathered our favorite poems, quotes and excerpts from our favorite authors, musicians and notable figures and compiled them into a book, which we bound using the art print as a cover. We displayed them on a bookshelf that Ian made himself in the cocktail hour; each book had a bookmark that doubled as an escort card with each guest’s name and table number. The book display was coupled with miniature flashlights and a sign that read “Take a Book… And a Light to Read By!” This was very practical, because after the sun sets in the redwoods, the property gets VERY dark. The lights helped our guests find their way back to their cabins after the celebration.
The dinner, by Local Harvest, featured rustic fall flavors and all organic ingredients, and was served family-style at king’s tables to encourage interaction between our guests and a communal “Thanksgiving” atmosphere. The tables were decorated with centerpieces by Lila B Designs of royal purple and ruby, natural greens, ivories and more pheasant feathers from Ian’s dad. By adding some additional elements to the Rehearsal Dinner centerpieces from Florajett we were able to double the amount of flowers on the table! They were all displayed in natural wood boxes and woodcuts that Ian’s grandfather made himself (over 100 of them!).
The reception was so special, such a scenic, stunning and unique setting for our guests and for us. After our brothers and my father made incredible speeches, we adjourned to inside the lodge, which has a panoramic view of the redwood forest valley and mountains, for wedding cupcakes (red velvet and carrot cake) and pie (apple and pecan). The lodge was decorate by a photo display that my mother created (with the help of Ian’s mom and stepmom) that started at opposite ends of the room with pictures of Ian and I, from infancy through childhood and bad teenage haircuts to where we met and our gorgeous engagement photos from Nightingale Photography. Ian and I danced to our song: “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke. My father and I danced to “The Tennessee Waltz” by Patsy Cline (both of my parents are from Tennessee, so this meant a lot to us). Ian and his mom danced to “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” by Willie Nelson, a nod to Ian’s rugged, cowboy personality.
We danced the night away to tunes spun by my dear friend Josh Rampage – because we had rented the entire property for the weekend, there was no cut off time for the party! We drank Chandon sparkling wine and pinot noir and chardonnay from Trinity Oaks, a CA winery that plants one tree for every bottle of wine purchased.
The next morning, we hosted on a farewell brunch, catered again by Local Harvest Catering, which in addition to classic breakfast fare also featured blueberry bread pudding, which my mom has made for our family on Christmas morning every year of my life. It was the absolute perfect way to end a magical weekend. We could not have been happier with our vendors, all of whom were amazing. After we bid adieu to everyone, Ian and I hopped in our truck and drove to Big Sur for our honeymoon.
Photography: Christina Hernandez of Nightingale Photography / Personal Flowers: Flora Jett Event Design / Ceremony and Reception Flowers: Lila B. Design / Event Planning: Trisha Dean Events / Ceremony Location: Redwood Amphitheater, Sequoia Retreat Center / Reception Location: The Lodge and Pixie's Garden, Sequoia Retreat Center / Caterer: Local Harvest / Rentals: Alexis Party Rentals / DJ: Josh Rampage / Hair and Make Up: The Traveling Stylist / Dress: Pronovias / Boots: Ariat by Cavender's