Just a few hours north of San Fransisco is the gorgeous county of Mendocino, California. It’s an area brimming with golden fields that overlook the coast, fog likes to roll in at all times of the day, and more often than not, you can hear the seagulls’ call. Katie + Brian have a deep connection to water — salt, fresh, and chlorinated — and wanted to incorporate that into the big day. They asked their closest friends and family to collect water from places around the country that represented part of their life’s journeys, and then combined that water as part of a special family ritual.
Katie shares a little about the inspiration for the day: Having been long distance for five of the seven years we were together before getting married, Northern California is the first place we can both call home (at the same time!), and it was important for us to bring all of our loved ones together and celebrate here. The location and community of Mendocino provided us that opportunity — it is remote, welcoming, and full of so much of the rugged Northern California beauty that we’ve fallen in love with. We used these elements to plan the weekend of our dreams: our ceremony took place in a cypress grove clearing overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while the rest of the weekend’s events were held at Spring Ranch, a restored barn nestled off of Highway 1 under eucalyptus trees.
Prepare to be swept away by Jenn Emerling’s captures!
It’s all in the details… As the state flower of California is the California Poppy, they incorporated that into the stamps (along with mission bells), and a map of the gorgeous coastline.
Those Rachel Comey SHOES!! Um, they’re pink, have a super cool design + strap… and we’re positively smitten.
Brian: Our first dance. We went for a strict no slow songs rule (the exception being Katie's dance with her dad) and we followed suit, choosing a song that has been featured in many dance parties in our home.
Katie: I'll echo nearly every bride: it really is so hard to pick just one. I have many favorite moments: my MOH sabering a champagne bottle to kick off the festivities, the first look with my dad, seeing Brian for the first time, hearing the ocean waves crashing in the background as we said our vows to each other for the first time, our siblings' roast, our first dance and, of course, the dance party. BUT, my most memorable moment has to be our group, Smilebooth photo. This was one of the last photos taken of the night and our DJ looped the intro to the last song while every single guest crammed to get in the shot. That photo, and moment will always remind me how lucky we are to have so many wonderful people in every corner of our lives.
Processional: Montezuma by Fleet Foxes; Ends of the Earth by Lord Huron
Recessional: Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac
First Dance: Dela by Johnny Clegg & Savuka
Katie shares: My dad organized an incredibly special unity ritual that was incorporated into our ceremony. Over the year leading up to our wedding, our family and friends collected water from bodies of water all over the country that were important to us, individually and as a couple. Each person said a few words during the ceremony explaining the significance, pouring the water into a single carafe, unifying all of the bodies of water, families, and relationship as one. A family heirloom that traveled from Poland completed the ritual.
These are those golden fields of Mendocino that we were talking about!
Can we take a moment to appreciate that billowing bouquet from Eothen?! All those dusty rose pops + the golden tones to complement the hills of Mendocino!
Oh, oh, oh! Those dusty rose hues the bridesmaids wore are absolutely breathtaking… especially when paired with the soft pops of blue in the bouquets by Eothen.
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Brian’s advice to all guys out there: Learn to tie a bow tie at least one day before your wedding!
P.S. Did you see his crazy cool avocado socks?!
Katie + Brian love a good pun (as do we), so naturally, they incorporated puns into the details!
The tables were lined with table runners the color of the sea, with rustic and wooden chairs tucked in.
We wanted to make sure the weekend felt like a celebration, and that it felt like us. The weekend had lawn games and blankets, tacos and champagne, a big family-style dinner, a dessert spread of our dreams (including mini pies!), signature cocktails, and culminated in a huge dance party that no one wanted to end. We got to incorporate what mattered to us and had a day that felt like a celebration of everything and everyone that we love.
Isn’t this spread of desserts absolutely delightful?!
The thousands of miles apart we’ve experienced in our relationship has been instrumental in shaping our life together. Even though Northern California is home to us, our 80 guests traveled from all parts of the country (and some, the world). For us, having a destination wedding just made sense! Our wedding would not have been possible without our friends and family and we wanted our wedding to not only be a celebration about us, but them.
We planned our weekend events around this theme, taking our guests on a journey through Mendocino and the Spring Ranch property over the course of the three days.
Oh, this crazy, wild love! From the team at GWS, congratulations Katie + Brian!!
photography: Jenn Emerling // venue name: Spring Ranch, Mendocino, California, USA // event design: by the Bride // planning: Sonya Houston // florals: Eothen // wedding dress: Leanne Marshall // wedding dress boutique: Lovely Bride // bride's shoes: Rachel Comey // bridesmaid dresses: Lulu's // hair stylist: Marianella Brey // makeup artist: Marianella Brey // groom attire: Bonobos // groom's shoes: To Boot New York // videography: Shark Pig // catering: Karina's Catering // desserts: Moustache Baked Goods // linen rentals: Tono & Co // music: Matthew Rubino of The Flashdance // officiant: Groom's father // signage, escort cards + table numbers: Blushtype