Santa Margarita Ranch Wedding: Julia + James

Julia described her wedding as a “country-bumpkin-rustic-shabby-chic-church-picnic wedding” and I just love it! Julia + James really wanted their wedding to reflect the simple, warm family values they grew up with. Lively down-home band? Check. Kids included? Definitely. Every step of the way they asked themselves, “Does this represent who we are or what we strive to be?” And it shows. And not only is their wedding beautiful, it was planned in 6 months – and was planned remotely (they live in St. Louis and the wedding took place in Cali)!

Congrats to Julia + James and thanks so much to our amazing sponsor, Ashley Maxwell for sharing the gorgeous photos! And did I mention Julia + James found their photographer here on GWS! I just LOVE being able to connect amazing couples with awesome vendors. Yay Love!

old theatre wedding marquee

bridesmaid dresses hanging

bride's shoes

rustic wooden crate

bridal hair pieces

bridemaids in pastel

groom in beige suit

groom wearing floral tie

Love the groomsmen ties from General Knot – they are all made with vintage fabrics!

groomsmen and streamliner

What song did you walk down the aisle to? Bluegrass version of the Wedding March. We exited to “She Said Yes!” by Mumford & Sons. Both played by Bremen Town.

ring bearers and sign

burlap wedding altar

burlap wedding altar

bride and groom in tall grass

We loved Santa Margarita Ranch from the moment we saw it back in early January, only three weeks after getting engaged. It was the first and last venue we checked out — it was perfect.  We both have large families and lots of friends that feel like family. We wanted our wedding to feel like a sweet summer church picnic.

 bride and groom by old truck

bride and groom in field

barn wedding reception

bride and groom name initals decor

snow cones at wedding

lollipop favors

rustic centerpiece

chalkboard reception sign

birdie wedding cake topper

honey jar favors

reception sign

bride and groom reception exit

Most memorable moment of your wedding day?
Julia: Holding James’s hand as we walked back down the aisle together as husband and wife with friends and family cheering! We had the most amazing band named Bremen Town covering a Mumford & Sons song, “She said Yes!” It was perfect!
James: I have to agree with Julia. Walking back down the aisle, knowing the rest of the evening we got to love and appreciate all the fruits of our (mostly her) hard work. Also, driving away in the truck… feeling on top of the world, knowing we had just experienced something so genuine and amazing. And the awesome food. Oh, and the stellar music.

Any advice for those planning now?
Julia: LOVE every moment of the planning process, it flies by! Just love and be grateful for all the darling family and friends that are there supporting you on your big day, it is just so special. Oh! And most importantly, find a way to have time stand still on the day of your wedding day.
James: Don’t try to self-will the perfect wedding day. Love the twists and turns. Be patient with the process. Know that if you and your future-spouse have laid a good foundation, then your day will turn out perfectly regardless of anything unexpected. “Patience must have her perfect work” (James 1:4, KJV).

Also, we used a couple of great sites to organize our wedding day. We used Wedding Window to share information and have people RSVP for different wedding events. was great as it let people buy us activities on our honeymoon.

photography: Ashley Maxwell // venue: Santa Margarita Ranch in Santa Margarita, California // event coordinator + floral design: Jenn Hocker with Allure Event Designs // wedding dress: Casablanca, customized 1914, from Happily Ever After Bridal in Chesterfield, Mo. // hairpieces: Which Goose // shoes: Bride – Seychelles, Groom – Frye // bridesmaid dresses: Alfred Angelo // groom Suit: Indochino // groomsmen ties: General Knot // cinematography: Stillwater cinematography // invitations + paper goods: Bride and Groom (design for paper goods) Kamren Charpentier (invitations) Sealed with a Kiss (program assembly) // catering: Trumpet Vine Catering // cake: The Cakery // music: Bremen Town

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  1. The BM hairpieces were also etsy!Just Liv is incredibly talented and made everything completely custom! Eee! Makes me want to have a wedding all over again! Thanks for sharing our special day with friends-that is so sweet :)

  2. I just love all of the rustic details of this wedding, it all came together great. Do you have any info you can pass on about the Save the Dates or Invitations? I love the style and would be intereted to hear how you would get started!
    Thank you!

  3. Hi Ash, Wow you are so sweet, thank you! We used for our Save the Date but had some very close 2nd and 3rd options with! So many wonderful designs out there. We used a picture we had and sent that out on a postcard for the Save the Date about a month after we got engaged! Have fun and happy planning!

  4. Julia-

    I am obsessed with your hair in your wedding pics…is there any way that you can ask your hairdresser what colors she uses for your lowlights/underneath shadow colors?? I love it!!


  5. Hey Laura!
    My hair lady said she used a golden blonde, a lighter pale blonde, and a darker brown (several shades darker than my natural color), for a total of three colors all over the “crown”. She leaves my natural color on the bottom. Hope that helps :) Happy Wedding!!

  6. Hi Julia and James!

    Not to sound repetitive but I ADORE your wedding! LOVE LOVE LOVE it! So much so that I would like to pick up & transport the elements to our wedding in May. :)

    We both really love the cake (I was already hand sewing ‘tweet love birds’ for our cake toppers!) I’ve followed the link to The Cakery to see if there are any more images of your cake showing the detail, but I couldn’t find any. We are in Australia and unfortunately cannot use your baker! If you have any extra images of your cake, and you feel comfortable in sharing them – my email is:

    Thanks so much for sharing your wedding with us all. It is so incredibly moving and inspiring! I love this type of wedding but even more, I love a couple SO clearly inlove and enjoying life. It truly shines across in your images. I tear up viewing your photos because the emotion coming out of them is so powerful. Congratulations!!

    A. x

  7. I dont know you, but saw wedding pictures on Pinterest. This might just be the most precious wedding I have ever seen pictures of. I wish the best for the two of you and I just cant get over the details in the decorations. You had a great planner for sure and if you guys did this then cudos to you. It was precious. One that I would have loved to have been at. Best Wishes to you both.


  8. I love the fact that you both said to enjoy your wedding planning process and also to enjoy the fruits of your labor so to speak! Your wedding was absolutely beautiful and the two of you looked amazing!! I’m getting married on November 3rd and your hubby’s suit has inspired me! I’m so glad that I ran across this because it’s the perfect suit for my soon to be husband. Again, congrats and what a beautiful wedding!

  9. Stunning wedding photos! I love the way the colours in the whole wedding come together. This would be photographers dream to shoot and I am sure the bride and groom had a perfect day…It shows through the photos.

  10. Julia,

    I loved the pictures from your wedding, and specifically really liked your wedding programs with your engagement pictures. I am planning on doing something similar and was wondering if you remember how you constructed yours?? Anyway, I know you may not check this that often, but in the case you do, just let me know!


  11. Hi Jodi!
    Thank you for your sweet comment! The programs were super easy and super fun (as long as you have a little help from your future hubs and mom). James, my husband, designed the front of the pogram with one of the e session pictures and we printed it on ivory card stock. Pages 1&2 had ceremony info, and the last page had a hymn we sang all together–we used ivory card stock for the pages and a darker piece (almost a cardboard-ish color) piece of card stock about an inch longer at the top to fold over the pages. We punched two holes in the top part (this punch went through all 3 pages and cover) about 2 inches apart and tied a little knot using ripped vintage fabric stripes we had left over from table numbers. The little “charm” that we tied into the knot was actually a coffee stained paper tag that we had pre stamped “j+j” with brown ink. I think that’s about it.. let me know if you need any other information! Happy planning! :)

  12. Wow, this wedding is so romanzic. I love the place where thay had a wedding.

  13. Absolutely awesome! Love the pics, so incredibly creative! =)

  14. Hi James and Julia!

    Love your wedding! So darling!! I am getting married in November (only about 40 days to go!!) and am planning on having honey for wedding favors. Can you tell me what you used to secure the cork into the glass bottle? Was it a wax wrap? If anyone else knows, I would appreciate any suggestions!! Thank you so much!!

    • Hey Talia!
      Congrats on your wedding–only 40 days to go!! Excitinggg! We used a wax dip to seal the cork on the honey bottle. Melt an old candle stove top and dip–or double dip, away!

      Have fun and happy wedding!

      • Thanks Julia! I just want to make sure that I understand this right…you dipped the entire top of the bottle (including the cork) into hot wax that you melted in a pan over the stove? Did you use a particular wax?

        Thank you for the help!

        • Talia!
          Yup, you are correct…! Melt the wax on low heat and keep it low so it stays a hot liquid. Secure the cork in the bottle with honey already in the bottle and dip once in the liquid wax–cork, and the entire rim on the bottle (this will keep the honey from leaking out, anything getting in, and secure the cork for transportation to and from venue). Repeat dipping into the wax to ensure a snug hold. I have used white candles or half used candles (remember to take the wick out of the pot of melted wax before dipping)–but I hear soy based candle wax often gives a smoother, more finished look. Have fun! I am sure your guest will enjoy those “sweet” favors and love celebrating you and your “honey” on your “bee-utiful” day!
          Hugs, Julia

  15. Wow, we are in love with these pictures. Stunning wedding :-)

  16. Agree with everyone else, what an absolutely beautiful wedding! Congrats! I would love to reproduce the same floral look. Could you tell me what flowers were included in the bouquets. TIA and outstanding job!

    • Hey Cara! Thanks for your comment. I am so sorry to say, I do not remember all the flowers! But I remember a roses, peonies, small daises. My floral gal was incredible. Her name is Jenn Hocker with Allure Event Designs in Paso Robles , Ca. Im pretty sure she has a facebook page, and I know she would love to help ya out. Hope that’s helpful! And happy planning :) Julia

  17. What a beautiful authentic rustic wedding. Using the closed down theater for the wedding date is so cute!


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