We really want you to feel like you are a guest at our next wedding. Imagine driving through the Red Woods of Northern California, passing by the Ocean and winding through wine country. Your final destination is Spring Ranch in Mendocino, California. The moment you step out of your car, you smell the calming scent of all the eucalyptus trees, and immediately see all the hard work that Alexis and Santiago put into their Eclectic Northern California Wedding.
Sit back relax and enjoy the wedding. Photographed all by Chelsey Paul, who did an over the top job capturing every last detail and then some. There are so many more photos to see in the full gallery here. You must read on to here from the bride how this wedding story came to life.
From the bride:Since most of our friends and family would be traveling eight hours to spend the weekend with us, we wanted to make our appreciation for their support glaringly clear from the moment they arrived. We penned welcome love letters to each of our guests, wrote a mini guidebook to the area, baked welcome treats, brewed beer, and made boozy homemade jams that doubled as table assignments and favors.
If Santiago would have been a hands-off groom, there's no way this would have all happened (not to mention the making of signs, piñatas and bouquets). Luckily, he's a designer and crafting things with his hands is something he does on a daily basis. We treasured being able to share our work with our guests, and they were touched by the thought and detail that went into everything.
One thing the bride would have done differently:I wish I would have had my makeup done with my mom. There was so much running around over the weekend that I really felt like I missed that alone time with her that I was desperately craving. Make sure you set at least an hour aside for some mom time if the two of you are close.
Paper Bouquets:Since our ceremony was taking place next to the ocean and our reception was both in and outside of a big, beautiful, historic barn surrounded by gigantic eucalyptus trees, it seemed silly to try to have a bouquet compete with the natural beauty of the area. So I went with a paper option. This served two purposes. Firstly, the material was a nice contrast to the natural setting. Secondly, I didn't spend money on something that I felt was minor. For six bouquets and 12 boutineers, we spent $16. Anthropolgie magazines have beautiful hues, so I picked five copies up, got some Elmer's glue, floral wire, and a little lace to wrap the handles with. Then, I spent an insane amount of time folding paper. Tip: Throw a paper-folding wine party for your friends and do it assembly line style. It worked out brilliantly!
Our wedding planner, Sonya Houston, went as far as helping me orchestrate Santiago's surprise wedding gift: Gene Parsons, formerly of The Byrds, played banjo at the ceremony and reception. We had let the dream of Gene go at the beginning due to the budget, but I knew how much Santiago admired Gene and how much he wanted him there. Sonya made it happen, and it's one of the few times I've seen Santiago so overcome with emotion that he cried. A bit of advice from the bride :If you plan on having music at a cliff side ceremony be sure that the musicians are amped, otherwise their music will get lost in the wind and the roar of the ocean.
Keeping things personal was paramount. This was the joining of two families from two very different places (My family is from a small town in South Dakota, and Santiago's pack is from Mexico City.), and we wanted to create an environment that allowed people to get to know one another. Our venue, Spring Ranch, has been filled with magic and an incredible amount of detail by its owners and it made for the perfect backdrop for our gathering
We kept that idea of intimacy in mind when choosing our vendors as well. We formed tight knit relationships with all of them, and because we worked closely with them, but still recognized that they were the experts, the inspiration and vision bloomed and everyone went above and beyond.
How to cut costs on your liquor budget.Our wedding planner told us from the start, "The best way to cut down your booze bill is to stick to signature drinks and bypass the bubbly." (Most champagne is dumped at the end of the night! Can you believe it?) So, we went to a bar in San Francisco known for crafty classic cocktails (15 Romolo), and asked for three gin cocktails, three rye cocktails, and three tequila cocktails (Santiago's Mexican, so tequila was a must). With a group of our friends, the tasting session began! After much passing around, many gulps, and much debate, we narrowed it down to three.
The bartenders wrote down the recipes and sent us on our tipsy way. Santiago also made all of the bottled beers and the rest we got in the form of kegs from North Coast Brewery. (Kegs are much cheaper than bottles and much less waste!) The winery we worked with offered 40% off wedding orders as long as you joined their wine club (Wine shipments all year long?! This is a no brainer! Sign up, save, and swill all year long!)
As you can see - from start to finish the couple made the event personal and really thought about their friends and family throughout the event. Making sure they were comfortable, well fed and had a great time. From the welcome bags to a homemade movie theater they thought of it all. There really are so many more incredibly thoughtful details in the full gallery here.
If someone asked me to do it every year, the exact same way with the same exact same supportive and loving group of family and friends – both old and new – I would certainly say "I do."
Skimp on Dessert?More cookies! Everything I read said if you're going to skimp somewhere skimp on dessert. Not so! The cookies disappeared as soon as they appeared. Handheld treats are easier to eat and therefore vanish faster. Plan accordingly. If you want to get away with less dessert, go for something that requires a plate and a fork.
Another thing that the bride would have done differently:I definitely would have had our wedding planner involved in the movie night (which we did in lieu of a rehearsal dinner) and also with the morning-after-scone-and-muffin sesh. We wanted to spend as much time as possible with everyone during the weekend, so we added these little bookend get togethers. The only problem was, that since Sonya wasn't running the show, I was. So I actually didn't get to bond with friends and family as much as I wanted to. We still had the caterer involved and Khamoor of Mendocino Floral propped the movie night, which was a big help, but it makes a huge difference when you have someone behind the scenes. It really takes you from being a hostess to being a guest at your own wedding.
Photographer: Chelsey Paul Venue: Spring Ranch Makeup: Mendocino Beauty Hair: Mendocino Beauty Cake: Franny's Cup and Saucer Caterer: Karina's Catering Coordinator: Sonya Houston of Mendocino Weddings DJ: Joanna Schultz Dress Designer: BHLDN (Mille Petals Corset Gown) Flowers: Khamoor Poehlmann of Mendocino Floral Design Shoe Designer: Remix Vintage Shoes for BHLDN Veil or Hair Accessories: Twigs and Honey Prop or Furniture Rentals: Wine Country Rentals Banjo Player: Gene Parsons