Handmade Cliffside Mendocino Wedding: Holly + Brian

Holly + Brian were completely hands-on in making their gorgeous Mendocino, California wedding come to life. By focusing first on selecting key vendors – photographer, Michele Waite, the floral designers at Studio Choo, and the catering team from S+M Vegan Chefs to name a few – they were allowed time to plan for + handcraft the rest of the details; like the invites, the photo booth + the salt dish guest favors.

They go on to tell us, We were mostly inspired by our respective homelands. I grew up by the ocean in California while Brian spent his childhood wandering the forests of Maryland. Mendocino represented a perfect combination of both sea and tree, far enough removed from our busy lives in Oakland. The ceremony took place in a cypress grove overlooking the Pacific, while the reception was held in a restored barn nestled amid eucalyptus trees. We went for a sophisticated vibe in wild setting and focused accordingly on bringing nature in, every way we could.

It would be pretty impossible not to fall for Holly’s gorgeous long-sleeved green Elie Saab dress.

Studio Choo surprised Holly + Brian with the the pampas grass “altar” by the sea. Truly a surreally beautiful place to say I Do.

Our Favorite Memory From The Wedding

Our vows, hands down. Brian and I wrote our vows in secret in the month leading up to the wedding. I worried that the respective sentiments would not align, but we each ended up saying almost the same things and crying when speaking of the other as their best friend. Several guests commented that they could count the number of times they'd seen either of us crying on one hand. Whenever I need a little joy, I think of the sun shining down through the trees with the ocean roaring in the background with my beloved looking me straight in the eyes, speaking straight from his heart.

Our Musical Choices

Processional: The Big Ship – Brian Eno

Recessional: Say You Love Me – Fleetwood Mac

First Dance: True Love Ways – Buddy Holly

The reception was held in a restored barn nestled amid eucalyptus trees. We went for a sophisticated vibe in wild setting and focused accordingly on bringing nature in, every way we could. Studio Choo shined in this regard, creating an entire 9′ x 20′ wall of mounted staghorn ferns to back the bar. They worked hard to make the barn less rustic and more magical by covering whole surfaces with indigenous ferns and moody flowers.

Our Advice To Those Planning Now

It was really difficult for me to put perfectionism aside while wedding planning. I coped by trusting that the people in attendance were what made the day special. The overwhelming feeling of love and support that can come from a good group of guests can overcome any other short-come you may worry about.

Plan early, especially if you live in an urban center. We only got to work with our stellar vendors because we booked over a year out from our date. Pinterest comes later.

Don't doubt your decisions. Don't do anything that even feels uncomfortable. All wedding traditions are somewhat arbitrary; if they matter to you, that's great! Go for it! If they don't, skip it! Ambivalence spreads far too easily, so just share what feels real to you and everyone there will also be invested in your joy.

photography: Michele Waite // venue name: Spring Ranch, Mendocino, California // florals: Studio Choo // wedding dress: Elie Saab // hair stylist: M Salon // makeup artist: Danielle Frey at Bloom // groom attire: Burberry // paper goods: the bride // catering: S+M Vegan Chefs // cake: Alicia Smiley // music: Dart DJ // officiant: friend // bride's shoes: mint Mira heels by Madewell, metallic gold Dandy loafers by Dieppa Restrepo // rentals: Bright Event Rentals // flatware: Frances Lane // bartender: Pharmacie