Californians Alison and Ben met just in the nick of time -- their last semester of college. After graduation, she moved to New York, and he followed soon after. On a trip back to the Bay Area, in September 2010, Ben popped the question.
Alison, a style editor, and Ben, a medical resident, moved back west to San Francisco after many years in The Big Apple, and wed the following year, on June 4, 2011, in the beautiful coastal town of Sea Ranch. Their fete accentuated the natural beauty of the destination -- with a palette inspired by colors the couple had seen hiking its many trails: sage green, gray, and slate blue.
The welcome box also contained a custom-made cookbook featuring 20 of the foodie couple's favorite recipes along with notes explaining each dish's significance. The mini tome, titled "How to Dice an Onion and other recipes", was wrapped in wax paper and bound with Japanese yarn from Habu Textiles.
The rainy weather cleared up just in time for the bride and her mother's entrance to "Songbird" by Eva Cassidy.
Ben's best friend, Peter, officiated the late-afternoon ceremony and the bride's sister recited "An Anniversary Blessing" by Welleran Poltarnees. The couple exchanged vows they wrote themselves, and Jamie Wolf wedding bands. Alison also shared a tender note she wrote for her late father.
A large hurricane vase from IKEA was displayed with stacks of rubber-stamped cards for guests to write their well wishes on. "We wanted to do something that would be easy for guests to do on the way to the reception," Alison says. Stones from the nearby beach weighted down the cards.
Arrangements of honeysuckle, peonies, anemones, sweet peas, garden roses, herbs, summer wildflowers, air plants, and succulents in pots by Ben Wolff dotted the long farm tables. The wedding date was stamped into the clay of each vessel. Smaller "handpicked" centerpieces were placed in Weck jars alongside.
This wreath of branches, air plants, succulents, vines, and fresh blooms was originally created to adorn the barn that served as the backdrop for the ceremony. When it began raining that morning, all decorations were moved to the tent. Then when the skies cleared an hour before the service, the team put everything back outside. But the decorative piece, which had been hung in the tent already, stayed put. "Because it stayed in the tent we got to enjoy that phenomenal the whole night," Alison says.
The fare was kept seasonal and local. The Sea Ranch Lodge prepared menu began with spring pea crostini with pea tendrils, ricotta salata, and lemon, followed by a salad of mixed lettuces, shaved market vegetables, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and walnuts, topped with Champagne vinaigrette. For the main course, guests chose between a grilled rib eye with salsa verde, braised swiss chard, and Rancho Gordo white runner beans; grilled halibut with salsa verde, asparagus, and lemon-scented couscous; or roasted bell pepper stuffed with braised swiss chard, lemon-scented couscous, and lemon vinaigrette.
The menu card, designed by the couple, was inspired by those used at Chez Panisse, and doubled as a place card. A custom rubber stamp of the venue's barn finished each one off.
Inspired by a buttermilk confection the duo tried at One Girl Cookies in Brooklyn, New York, Ben, a formally trained chef, attempted a similar recipe. He worked baker Jennifer Arana of Let Them Eat Cake, in Gualala, California, to make their all-white cake with cream cheese buttercream and plum preserves.
Photography: Sabine Scherer Photography
Location and Catering: Sea Ranch Lodge
Stationery: Mr. Boddington's Studio
Florist: Studio Choo
Day-of Wedding Coordination: Jeanne O'Reilly of Stepping Inn
Cake: Let Them Eat Cake (707-884-1227)
Makeup: Tammy Son
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