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DIY Ranch Wedding

Combine beautiful DIY details and a fabulous ranch setting and the results are always amazing.  But add in a group of talented friends, the beauty expertise of The Makeup Dolls and a bride (aka, Heather Westcott of Feather West) who knows a thing or two about planning a wedding and it’s more than amazing… it’s extraordinary.  See it all captured by Cliff Brunk Photography right here.

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Summer
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BarnRanch
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DIY

From the Bride… After a surprise (to both of us!) engagement (outside, next to a dumpster, in the rain I like to joke… but really: outside one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, and it just happened to be raining on our walk home that night), we took our time getting around to planning the wedding. Jamie did surprise me many months later with a lovely engagement ring, however that evening after getting home we pulled out my great grandmother’s engagement ring and slipped that on my hand. (No, you don’t have to have a ring when you propose!) We later had ’2011′ engraved on the inside of that same ring for the year we got engaged, which was originally engraved with the date ’1906′!

I never had a “wedding of my dreams” in mind, so I formulated what my wish list was: I wanted it to be in Marin County where we spend lots of time cycling and running and I wanted it to be outside in the summer, we didn’t want to spend too much money, and we wanted to put our guests’ comfort and enjoyment of the weekend first.

From there we looked far and wide for that perfect venue… we even started looking in San Francisco when we realized hotels are not abundant in Marin and chartering busses is expensive – but nothing felt right and my huge spreadsheet of venue options was failing me! While Marin County is full of open space there is a surprising small percentage of state or national parkland, and an even smaller percentage of parkland that will allow you to host an event as large as the wedding we had in mind. We learned that most of the open space in Marin County that you see from the roads is privately owned by ranchers. From there I took a last ditch effort to find a ranch owner that would let us host a wedding on their land. This search was successful and finally landed us one Saturday morning at Chileno Valley Ranch, a very under-advertized venue, with no cell reception, where ranch owners Mike and Sally showed us around – we immediately fell in love with their property and decided this was the venue for us! While we had no intention of having a barn wedding when we started out planning, it turned out to be perfect for us. Neither Jamie or I grew up on a farm, but growing up in Ohio and southern Ontario, Canada, we both grew up with picturesque barns and active farmland all around us, so the scene was a familiar one. It was very special to us that this was still a working ranch, not just a wedding venue. You take your chances wearing high heels around there!

The reception would be in the barn, since its Northern California after all and it always cools off in the evenings, but we still had to decide where to have the ceremony itself – by the creek, on the hill, in the barn, in the orchard, in the rose garden? What a great venue to have to make those sorts of decisions! Just one week before the wedding we finally decided to have our ceremony in a field behind the barn that had never been used for ceremonies before – the barn on the west side protecting us from the coastal winds, and the iconic golden hills of California on all sides and behind us as our ceremony backdrop. The Chileno Valley Ranch owners were a wealth of knowledge and were happy to share with us successes and failures from past weddings on their property to help us make sure ours was as successful as possible.

Once the venue was finalized the pieces all fell into place. The date was selected so our families could travel in the summer after school was out and make a vacation of it, and the lodging was booked in the adorable nearby Dillon Beach. Since I am an architect and interior designer for my day job, I started right in with an inspiration board and wanted to do everything myself. I wanted the event to feel classy (the men per my husband’s choice were going to wear tuxes – I love his style!) to contrast with the rustic surrounds we were working in. I hated people asking me what my colors were going to be, so I said none, and decided to use as much white as possible.

Then I started calling for favors – please no gifts we told everyone! Instead, we asked people who felt the need to celebrate with a gift to make a donation to several charities we selected. Fortunately I have always been surrounded by wonderfully creative people. One college roommate is a graphic designer, who designed all of our print material custom for me to letterpress (a convenient side hobby I picked up!). Another college roommate is a fashion designer, and designed and hand-made my wedding dress! The year leading up to the wedding was blessed with lots of trips to NYC to visit this creative duo. My infinitely talented mother took cake decorating classes and made and decorated for us our entire dessert table! My dad took all of my strange requests in stride and worked tirelessly painting, nailing, and stringing lights as soon as he arrived in town to get our venue event ready. I selected my bridesmaids to represent a person from each stage of my life – Julie was a childhood friend, Susie a college friend, Rachel a San Francisco friend, and Maria my sister-in-law. The four of them rallied around my do-it-yourself approach to the wedding and did all of the floral design (buying all of it for only $250 at the SF Flower Mart!) as well as taking care of the day of coordination. They woke up early with me and we shared coffee and pastries as the sun rose at the ranch Saturday morning. We met all of the vendors as they arrived and moved tables and umbrellas and chairs into place. Then, as we had agreed, at noon on the dot they made me go inside, shower, and relax, and they pulled all the final details together before the guest arrived. I couldn’t have asked for better help and I loved being a part of the energy that morning.

Oh, and did I mention the guests all arrived via school bus? Cheapest and cutest charter busses around! Because neither of our families lived in the area we knew that many people would not be able to make it, so one of our special handmade details was a photobooth wall decorated to look like a vintage living room wall with framed wedding photos of family members, some who were there and many who were not able to make the trip or who had long passed away. It was a memorable gathering point for our families to reminisce on past family gatherings – and we now have many photos we never otherwise might have seen! Small receptions in both Ohio and Ontario, Canada later in the year meant we got to share our day with many more friends and family too.

In true Northern Californian style, all of the food on our menu was local sourced and the wines were from nearby Lambert Bridge in Sonoma Valley where my husband has been a long time wine club member. Live music was enjoyed all day – the band started as a duo as guests arrived slowly adding musicians until the evening ended with them transformed into a six piece band for the reception.  We couldn’t have asked for more of the day! Sally and Mike who own the ranch we can now call friends and were able to celebrate our wedding with us, and we got to show our midwestern families a side of Northern California that none of them would have otherwise gotten to experience. The whole thing was so successful that after much encouragement from friends I have opened my own creative event company – FeatherWest – to help other brides have as special a day as I did.

Photography: Cliff Brunk Photography | Event Planning: Heather Westcott Of Feather West | Flowers: San Francisco Flower Mart | Flowers: Flora Organica | Dress: Friend Of The Bride (Nancy Friedman) | Wedding Cake: Mother Of The Bride (Donita Singerman) | Invitations: Meghan Eplett (Friend Of The Bride) | Catering: Pam Ferrari Catering | Band: Americano Social Club | Makeup and Hair: The Makeup Dolls | Rentals: JRB Event Services | Transportation: Michael's Transportation | Tuxedos: Black Tie Tuxedos | Venue: Chileno Valley Ranch | Vintage Furniture Rentals: Archive Vintage Rentals

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The Makeup Dolls

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Rustic Petaluma Barn Wedding

I’m going out on a limb here, but this might just be the most charming, most beautiful, most unbelievably quaint and romantic wedding you’ve ever seen. Not only is it on a farm (complete with lambs), in a beautiful field with beautiful flowers, and all finishing with a stunning cake from Sweet Lauren Cakes, but the couple at the center are just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Tanja Lippert, we heart you for sending this one our way!


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Spring
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Barn
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Rustic

From the stunning bride… As a wedding photographer, I strive to genuinely connect with each of my couples during the planning process so are comfortable with me by the time the big day rolls around. It was actually one of my couples that bright Matt and I together! After learning that one of them was a talented duo of graphic designer and web developer, I decided to hire the couple to help me rebrand my business. We started meeting weekly and quickly became good friends. It also turned out the groom had a best friend who had a long time crush on me. He bugged them continuously to invite him over one of the times I was visiting for a design session. Finally after a few months, unbeknownst to me, I was set up on a blind date. Supposedly I was just having lunch with my couple and their “friend” who just happened to be hanging out at the house that afternoon. The groom did a good job of setting up Matt with opportunities to chat himself up. At first I was just enjoying everyone’s company, but then I started to find Matt (and his English accent!) intriguing. I actually got really nervous at one point during the meal and had stopped eating my lunch completely. Matt thought he had totally blown his chances! At the end of the meal, I said goodbye to my couple and Matt stayed behind to keep me company as I waited for the muni bus. He politely kissed me goodbye on my check like all my other european friends do. I tried not to think much of it, but that kiss was part of his strategy all along. By the time the bus drove me away, a wave of butterflies had rushed over me and I knew I had a crush on him. We started dating and after few short months, I could already tell he was “the one”. Matt proposed a year and a half later during a romantic getaway weekend in Napa. We went on an afternoon picnic and the autumn leaves were falling all around us when he went down on one knee. It was very sweet and romantic!

We had many priories while planning the wedding, but the photographer and creating a day that would photograph beautifully were at the top of the list. I wanted our wedding to be an intimate party full of lovely details that I would want to photograph. Location, ambiance and light played a huge factor in all the decisions during the planning. After much searching, we found Chileno and discovered they only do a handful of weddings each year. We immediately fell in love with the rolling hills, the century old barn and especially the ranch owners. It was meant to be! Originally we wanted to get married in the fall so we had a full year to plan, but pushed it up 6 months so the ranch was green from the spring rains and teaming with new baby animals.

We wanted to provide a very relaxed and down to earth California experience to our guests as many of them would be traveling from the UK to be with us that day. It became a blend of “English charm meets California ranch” to celebrate our different upbringings. We love that in California you can have farm to table meals and we wanted to share that fresh culinary experience with our visiting guests. All of the food and alcohol was locally sourced, including the grass fed beef that was raised right there at the ranch. Even the scraps at the end of the meal were saved for the piggies.

Our ceremony took place in an open field. It was breathtaking to take in while I was walking up the freshly mowed path to meet Matt. We had a dear friend become ordained just so he could marry us. Two days before the wedding, I ended up pulling an all nighter and rewrote the entire ceremony. The original pieced together script felt too short and generic, when what we really wanted was something personal that included our story with heartfelt thoughts on marriage. I do however love that we kept our vows traditional, using the same words couples have said to each other throughout the centuries. We also included the couple that set us up on the blind lunch date and had them do our readings, “Recipe For Love” and a poem called “The One”. To mark the ceremony spot, I found an old kilim rug and love that it now serves as a permanent memento in our home. Besides the seated guests, there were also few cows wandering nearby to witness. Their mooing really added to the ambiance! I was also really pleased with my dress choice too. I had originally picked out one with a full tulle skirt, but am so happy I changed my mind during a second visit to the salon. The skirt was made of the lightest taffeta and the asymmetrical hem meant it could be gently picked up by the breeze.

We wanted the barn to have an inviting and romantic ambiance for dinner. There were already Edison bulbs hanging in the barn, so we added some uplights for warmth as well as a stunning chandelier set inside an iron orb above the dance floor. The guests loved dancing to the fully costumed 80′s cover band, but we also created a space at the opposite end where people could connect and lounge. I made two curtain panels and hung them to separate the space and accent the cake table. We also included a vintage sofa with custom pillows from etsy in lieu of hay bales, to make things feel a bit more formal.

To give the day a more English feel, I opted for a soft pink and gold color pallet. There was an abundance of garden roses, peonies and jasmine that added the loveliest fragrance to the air. Some other details include the vintage ring boxes from Matt’s hometown in England, a London pocket watch gift to Matt, homemade early grey shortbreads as favors, and we encouraged the ladies to wear hats. Our ceremony music included our favorite Beatles songs and we even had the band play the James Bond theme when we entered the barn. I also managed to source a vintage London taxi cab for our grand exit a few weeks before the wedding. Without telling Matt, I replaced the original hired sedan for the taxi. Needless to say, Matt thought the surprise was “absolutely brilliant”. The guests waved both US and Union Jack flags to send us off at the end of the night.

The wedding day turned out more beautiful and incredible than I could have ever imagined. We are so thankful for our many wonderful friends, family and vendors that put their hearts and talents into making our day so special. I am also grateful for the amazing Tanja Lippert for being there to capture our day. She is one of my biggest inspirations, mentors and now a wonderful friend. The joy I feel when I look back at the love and memories she captured in the photographs is something I can share with my family in the years and generations to come.

Photography: Tanja Lippert | Planner: Kristen Jensen - Sugar Rush, Www.sugarrushevents.com/, (925) 212-6904 | Floral Design: Twigs And Petals | Wedding Dress: Oscar De La Renta | Cake: Sweet Lauren Cakes | SHoes: Valentino | Bridesmaids Dresses: Monique Lhuillier | Catering: Pam Ferrarri Catering | Band: All Star Juke Box | Hair/ Makeup: Tia Reagan | Rentals: Heartman Studio Rentals | Rentals: JRB Rentals | Rentals: Milk Glass Vintage Rentals | Transportation: Pure Luxury

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Rustic + Organic Wedding Ideas

This is a total dream. An absolute dream and it starts with the beautiful blooms from Three Sisters Flowers. The foggy California day just ups the ante a bit. And the beautiful imagery from Retrospect Images pushes it right over the top and straight into dreamland.


Colors
Seasons
Spring
Settings
Barn
Styles
Rustic

From Retrospect Images… Olympia’s Valley Estate provided the perfect backdrop for our styled shoot. The rustic barn, beautiful fruit trees, rolling hills, beautiful pond complete with row boat, and the perfectly appointed estate house created the perfect backdrop for the day.

This shoot had a heavy emphasis on florals- Susan Kelly with Three Sisters created the most luxuriously unique floral designs. From the rowboat adornments, to the eucalypitis table runner and matching chandelier, the flowers in conjunction with the venue created a luxurious look while still staying true to the rustic setting.

Our gown from Kinsley James added the perfect touch- simplistic in structure to compliment the ornate florals. The gold detailing on the dress coordinated beautifully with the gold leaf hairpiece, adding a touch of old Hollywood glam to the rustic location.

We were even visited by several of Olympia’s Valley Estate’s resident cats, who seem to befriend all who visit.

Photography: Retrospect Images | Floral Design: Three Sisters Flowers | Wedding Dress: Kinsley James | Cake: Sweet Tooth Confections | Stationary: Aerialist Press | Coordination/Creative Direction: Retrospect Images | Hair/Makeup Artist: Kat Tinney, A List Makeup | Hairpiece: Red Truck Design | Model: Tara Mirsadraei And Daron Melko | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals Napa | Venue: Olympia's Valley Estate | Vintage Rentals: Plum Couture Vintage

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Three Sisters Custom Flowers &...

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Kinsley James

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