Grab your glass and meet me al fresco! If there ever was an event that proved you should trust your color-loving gut, Lara & Austin’s jewel-toned al fresco California wedding is it. When these two connected with our team, they knew they wanted something that was bold and bright, while still feeling moody and romantic – and together we came up with this eclectic . We’re obsessed with the color blocked seating chart – mixed with the Thai silks installation it made for a true design moment – and can’t get enough of the yummy late spring golden hour light. The champagne tower helped to segue guests from dinner to dancing while the professional portrait booth managed to feel both approachable and elegant at once. Our only question… can we celebrate every wedding in wine country?
Let me count the ways in which I love Isidore & Augustine stationery. I’ve been a fan of Nicolette’s for years, and finally getting to collaborate on a real wedding was a dream come true! From invitations to bar signs to a fabric seating chart – Nicolette was a breeze to work with.
Lara & Austin were such a creative couple to work with and curating an entire ~ vibe ~ for their wedding weekend was key. One of their unique additions included a Spotify playlist to help guests get into the mood for their Northern California celebration. They shared the link on their website and through a QR code on their welcome card. You can listen to it here as you scroll through the rest of their wedding feature.
From the boutonnieres to the table top flowers, all florals focused on a “fresh picked” look full of variety and color. No two arrangements or bouquets were the same.
My first task as Lara & Austin’s planner was finding the perfect spot for them to say ‘I Do.’ I’ve dreamed of returning to Carmel for a wedding ever since a life-changing epicurean trip in college. When L&A shared their lists of ideals I got a feeling that the Nor Cal destination might be the perfect fit. Once they saw Gardener Ranch it was official – they wanted to make Carmel Valley their wedding weekend locale.
Crimson Horticulture came from Oakland to create the day’s out-of-the-box florals. Their vision for the ceremony included creating an installation that looked as if it was growing with and around the existing tree.
PRO-TIP: If you are having a family-member or friend act as your officiant, schedule a pre-rehearsal phone call or meeting with your planner as a group to review the ceremony order and verbally run-through how the rehearsal will flow. This will give your officiant extra support and confidence going into your wedding weekend and give everyone an opportunity to ask questions before the day-of!
PRO-TIP: We love unplugged ceremonies, but often a sign isn’t enough. Have your officiant or other designated speaker read a short script requesting guests to turn off & put away phones before the processional begins.
One of Lara’s decor ideas was to create a bazaar-like silks installation. Her cousin sourced silks in Thailand and these were installed between the property’s iconic magnolia tree and the building to create a pathway that connected the dinner, ceremony, and dancing spaces. A fabric seating chart hung from the building under the installation and completed the effect.
I always tell my couples I learn a lot about who they really are by the people with whom they choose to surround themselves. No surprises here, L&A’s crew put the party in wedding party! Their energy & attention the whole weekend was top notch.
Our bar migrated throughout the night to follow guests. We used different left-over silk pieces, an arrangement, and a bar menu to decorate each bar and continue the cohesion all through the night.
This reception was the al fresco dinner party dreams are made of! Custom teal velvet linens created a moody base for classic line stoneware plates, modern black-handled flatware, and eclectic vintage-inspired glassware. The most important element to the bride: the candles! An avid brass candlestick collector, Lara couldn’t imagine her wedding tablescape without a plethora of jewel-toned taper candles.
PRO-TIP: When hosting a family-style dinner service, be sure to select centerpieces that allow space for guests to place platters down when not in use. These double-wide tables, minimal candle and bud vase centerpieces, and moveable elements ensured guests had plenty of space to enjoy the many dishes of the evening.
I’m a big fan of form & function, so when L&A decided they wanted to have a champagne tower instead of a cake cutting, I saw an opportunity to make this cool moment work double-time. We decided to have an impressive 6-tier tower, enough champagne glasses for all 90 guest. Once the couple poured their bottle for the cameras, guests were invited to grab a glass and head to the dance floor for the couple’s first dance creating the perfect segue to move guests from the dinner lawn to the dancing room.
The organic head table installation incorporated a mixture of the day’s blooms, floral garland, and dried components. Once the floral team added fruit to the base, the table resembled a breathtaking still-life painting.
Talk about a stand-out guest experience! Lara & Austin’s wedding featured a portrait booth with Kiss Me in Carmel Vintage Rentals, a floral installation, and a professional photographer to pose and capture guests. This was a wonderful way for guests who’d traveled a good ways – and got all dressed up! – to get portraits they’ll actually want to keep moving forward.
Using a QR code, guests were able to access the gallery right away which was being uploaded in real-time thanks to the Smith House Photo team which included both a photographer & an on-site editor.
Psst… Doesn’t Lara’s second outfit scream party time?! I’m enjoying watching brides express their multi-faceted style through second-looks. It makes me wish I could go back in time and have a reception jumpsuit because that is so me!
What a party!! When guests weren’t getting down on the dance floor or having their portrait taken, they could lounge around the pool with the venue’s comfy lounge furniture or sit in the “cigar lounge” another Kiss Me in Carmel Vintage Rentals set-up full of mid-mod furniture. This is where we staged the couple’s guest book, an After the Tone voicemail recording device. It was honestly SO easy to set-up, I was shocked it only took me 2 minutes.
When the last song had been sung (and the late night ramen consumed!) it was time for the send-off. Instead of a traditional good-bye, Lara & Austin took a running leap into the venue pool. It was a fun way to wrap-up an incredible wedding weekend.
PRO-TIP: We staged towels nearby for pool party participants. While this was were all guests, it was especially important for guests who were not staying on property and would need something to dry-off with before getting on the shuttle back to Carmel-by-the-Sea. This helped the couple avoid a damages or excess cleaning charge from the shuttle team and ensured all guests were comfortable the whole night.
P.S. Want to see some behind-the-scenes of planning this jewel-toned al fresco California wedding? Here’s a play-by-play of L&A’s on-location planning day.
Beauty: Hey Lovely Makeup
Catering: A Party for Your Palate
Cinema: Rust & Honey
Entertainment: Lucky Devils Band
Florals: Crimson Horticulture
Guest Book: After the Tone
Photography: Kayla Esparza
Portrait Booth Photography: Smith House Photo
Planning & Design: Skylar Caitlin for Chancey Charm
Rentals: Chic Event Rentals (chairs & tableware), Decor by Dulce (linens), Kiss Me in Carmel Vintage Rentals (lounges)
Stationery: Isidore & Augustine
Transportation: Sub Shuttle Inc.
Venue: Gardener Ranch