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The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Every time I imagine a picturesque California wedding, the setting is the focal point (behind the bride + groom, of course!); and that is exactly the case at the unforgettable Ranch at Laguna Beach. The idyllic location, with its legendary nature setting, sets the stage for jaw dropping, gorgeous weddings and events.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach offers couples a choice of on-site venues, from the open-air Scout Camp to the lush Putting Green, and the property boasts romantic bridges, incredible views and stunning gardens — hello, photo ops! Perfect as a destination locale, The Ranch puts your guests close to sun, sand, sea and all the rest of the Village’s amazing offerings. With a focus on warm + personalized events, food and beverage menus are custom tailored for each wedding and their Personal Concierge is there to ensure every detail goes off without a hitch!

And get this, the venue even has a Destination Wedding Planning Service which helps couples plan every single element of your wedding weekend — from a barbecue rehearsal dinner to a wedding day golf tournament. For more information about The Ranch at Laguna Beach, and to book your big day, call 949.499.2271 or head over here. Also, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest + Instagram for more wedding day inspiration!


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Maravilla Gardens Wedding from Marianne Wilson + These Buds A Blooming

I’m not sure where to start with this Maravilla Gardens wedding – it’s all just so darn pretty! Pulling inspiration from the couple’s gorgeous venue (a converted plant nursery), These Buds A Blooming designed stunning floral centerpieces + bouquets from blooms such as lavender, roses and herbs. Sweet details brought the entire event together, and the amazing team at Marianne Wilson captured it all to perfection. See the entire thing right here!

Garden Venue

From the Bride… When planning our wedding we knew that we wanted to exchange our vows and celebrate our special day outdoors, surrounded by friends, family and a beautiful garden setting. We searched numerous sites in Southern California and found our perfect location. It was serendipity when our talented photographer Marianne Wilson told us about Maravilla Gardens. What could be better than a former nursery in Camarillo, California that had been recently transformed into a beautifully landscaped wedding venue. Maravilla Gardens was the perfect place for our big day. On a warm August afternoon the festivities began and later that night drew to an end under a full moon.

Since we wanted to exchange our vows in among dear friends and family we asked a close family friend who is a judge to officiate. Another close friend played the guitar during the ceremony and the reception. The Mason jars, French wine crates, suitcases were collected by family and friends. The chalkboard bar menu was made by a friend and now hangs in our home.

Rather than a guestbook, our friends and family were asked to write their thoughts and wishes on fabric squares that will be sewn into a beautiful wedding quilt that we will have to forever remind us of our special day. Throughout the evening, guests signed fabric squares instead of a guest book so that we could make a wedding quilt to be displayed in our home as a constant reminder if the love that surrounded us throughout our relationship.

All of the floral arrangements and beautiful bridal and bridesmaid bouquets were made by Allie at These Buds A Blooming. The tables were decorated with Mason jars full of lavender, stock, roses and assorted herbs. The scent from the flowers was intoxicating. After the sun set, the tables were aglow with votive candles, market lights and the full moon made the entire reception take on a magical appearance.

Friends still talk about how delicious the food and libations were. Command Performance a local catering company, delighted everyone with their beautiful presentation, delicious food and creative cocktails. As a Francophile and lover of desserts, I knew a crepe bar was the perfect idea for desserts in addition to the delicious cake from Skiffs. Party-goers were able to select their own fillings for the crepes to enjoy in between dances under the full moon.

When the magical evening started to wind down, we departed through a tunnel of sparklers held high by our loved ones before being whisked away in a 1947 Lincoln Continental convertible to the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California.

Wedding Photography: Marianne + Joe from Marianne Wilson Photography | Wedding Venue: Maravilla Gardens in Santa Rosa Valley, California | Floral Design: These Buds A Blooming | Catering: Command Performance | Wedding Cake: Skiff’s Cakes | Guitarist: Victory Mori | DJ: Bruce Barrios | Wedding Invitations: Matters of the Heart | Wedding Dress: Jim Hjelm | Bridesmaids’ Attire: J.Crew | Hair: Katie Roberts from Sweet9 Salon | Makeup: Bliss Makeup Artistry

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Southern California Wedding from Matt Grashaw + Shurie Saxelby

This Hartley Botanica stunner from Matt Grashaw + Shurie Saxelby is the perfect example of a theme-wedding done right. The bride + groom, both pursuing doctorates in scientific fields, infused their big day with whimsical touches and DIY-projects (like their amazing invitations + reception centerpieces!) With gorgeous florals from Silver Lake Farms and a custom gown by Wedding Dress Fantasy, this beautiful fête has me wishing I’d incorporated beakers in my wedding decor!  See the rest right here!

From the Bride… When Zach and I were planning our wedding, we decided early on that we wanted science to be a main theme in our day. We are currently both pursuing doctorate degrees in scientific fields, and aside from it being a large part of our day-to-day, a passion for science is also an important aspect of our bond. In accordance with the science theme, we also wanted our venue and decor to be infused with organic and natural elements. Hartley Botanica, in Somis, California, was the second venue we visited, but we knew instantly it was the one. The aisle was lined with tress that canopied above, creating a cathedral-like ceiling, and nearly every inch of the property was covered with colorful flowers.

Our venue was the inspiration behind our invitations. Due to our somewhat limited budget (and high expectations), I took on a lot of the wedding duties myself, the invitations being one of them. To create our invitations, I painted a picture of Zach and me under the canopy for the front, as well as a map. I then scanned them into my computer and printed them on canvas paper that I hand-tore, to give a vintage or worn appearance. In addition, I also wrote up a text that read like a research write up—with a hypothesis (that our guests will endeavor to attend our wedding), an algorithm upon which they could calculate the likelihood they’ll attend (they have a suit/dress, they’re available, they like us, etc.), and finally, a conclusion, which was the RSVP (to be written by the guest).

Aside from the invitations, our science theme was most apparent in our centerpieces. I spent months on ebay and amazon looking for deals on chemistry glassware, such as erlenmeyer beakers, boiling flasks, stands, and test-tubes, which could be used as vases. To create a natural look against the industrial-looking lab equipment, my sister and I went out to a flower farm on the day before my wedding and picked wildflowers and dahlias, which we then arranged in an un-manicured fashion, to serve as floral centerpieces for the “science vases” I had collected. In addition, Zach and I had decided that, instead of numbers, we wanted our tables to be labeled with the names of famous scientists and a picture that represented their field of study. Finally, instead of a traditional seating chart, I wrote the table names and guest list on an old wooden door that I had found in my parents’ garage and then created a floral piece that hung on the top.

While making the floral piece for the seating chart door, I also made two headpieces (one for me and one for my sister/maid-of-honor), that were inspired by the ones worn by the indie singer, Lana del Rey. I thought the floral crown went perfectly with my one-of-a-kind dress which I had custom made by Tova Marc at Wedding Dress Fantasy, for a fraction of the price of buying a designer gown. Finally, to complete my look, I also crafted a beaded sash out of an applique that I found on ebay.

The day of our wedding was perfect, and everything turned out even more wonderful than Zach or I could have imagined. The wedding was very intimate with only approximately 90 guests. Our Rabbi, and his wonderful rabbinic intern officiated, while my aunt played the harp for our procession and recession. The reception was equally amazing. We felt that the décor was perfect—long wooden tables lined with taper candles and our wildflower-filled chemistry vases. A single crystal chandelier hung over the center of the dance floor, which was the main hangout for the rest of the night. The only time it wasn’t full was when dinner was served and during our glorious sparkler exit.

In planning the wedding, Zach and I wanted an event that was unique, but also personal. Although, all the DIY projects took months to plan and carry-out, it was all worth it in the end. The day was truly perfect. Our only complaint is that it didn’t last longer. Luckily, with the help of our two friends, who also happen to be amazing professional photographers, we can relive it whenever we like.

Wedding Photography: Matt Grashaw + Shurie Saxelby / Wedding Venue: Hartley Botanica in Somis, California / Event Planning: Karen from  Bella Dia Weddings (818.651.2071) / Wedding Cinematography: Matt Grashaw / Floral Design: Silver Lake Farms / Wedding Invitations: DIY by the Bride / Wedding Dress: Tova Marc from Wedding Dress Fantasy / Bride’s Shoes: David’s Bridal / Bridesmaids’ Attire: Monique Lhuillier via Bella Bridesmaids


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