A Rustic Neutral-Palette Outdoor Destination Wedding in California
Dana and Joel
Dana and Joel Sanders, who live in San Diego and work for All Peoples Church, met through mutual friends when they were college students in Texas. Friends for years, they eventually started dating and were engaged five months later. Their early autumn wedding was relaxed and intimate -- even with 250 guests.
One of the bridesmaids created wooden signs to post around the property.
A decorative arrow directed guests to the ceremony.
Dana and Joel chose to wed on her family's ranch in Boulevard, California, on the afternoon of October 2, 2010. "The West Valley has always been my favorite spot on the land because of the huge live oak trees, massive boulders, and the swing," Dana said. "We loved the idea of getting married away from the city and surrounded by nature."
The couple posed on a swing for portraits with their photographer, Sean Walker.
Dana created her own bouquet using dried white tea tree, larkspur, ammobiums, and lavender, and added a few fresh gardenias.
Joel's boutonniere was made of dried ammobiums tied off with some twine.
The Grand Entrance
Dana found matching doors at a secondhand furniture shop and restored them with cream-colored paint. The ushers held them upright and together at the start of the ceremony aisle.
The Grand Entrance
Just before Dana walked down the aisle with her father, Jeff, the doors were pulled apart. The two entered as Coldplay's "'Till Kingdom Come" played.
The bride's sister, Elita, decorated the aisle with glass bottles filled with dried blooms, tied to sticks with twine.
The Flower Girl
Ella, the flower girl, tossed dried flowers down the aisle. She also sported a head wreath made by the bride's sister.
Cream-colored canvas and garlands of fresh gardenias anchored the wedding site. During the ceremony, which was led by the couple's dear friend and pastor, Robert Herber, thunder rolled in the distance and a light rain began to fall. The couple were under the oak tree and couldn't feel the precipitation, but they did see the umbrellas going up in the seats. Joel looked his bride in the eyes and reassured her it would be okay. And after the pastor asked everyone to pray for the rain to stop, it did, almost immediately. The pair exchanged personalized vows, took communion, and shared a group prayer. At the conclusion, they walked back up the aisle to "Rise" by Eddie Vedder.
A Beautiful Sight
Right after the ceremony a rainbow appeared. "It was such a gift," Dana said.
With help from her friends, family, and wedding planner, Dana made all of the centerpieces the month before the wedding using a variety of cream and white dried flowers (mostly ammobiums).
To keep the children entertained, a special table with coloring books and stickers was set up at the reception. A bean-bag toss area was nearby.
In honor of Joel's Texas roots (and the place where the couple's relationship began), dinner consisted of barbecued delicacies, such as smoked chicken and brisket, prepared by Smokey Joe BBQ.
Strands of lights hung over the long tables, which were covered in burlap and muslin.
Thanks to lessons, a gift from Joel's parents, the bride and groom performed a semichoreographed first dance to "Better than Love" by Griffin House.
Lauren Marie Gibbs made the carrot cake with cream-cheese frosting, the centerpiece of the dessert buffet. The cookies and cupcakes were made by the bride and her mother.
A s'mores station next to the bonfire sported custom signs in small wood holders (all made by bridesmaids) to help remind guests how to assemble the tasty treats.
At the end of the night, guests lit sparklers as the couple left the ranch in Joel's 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia. Dana changed into a short dress from Urban Outfitters for the drive.
Photography: Sean Walker
Rentals: Abbey Party Rentals
Wedding planning: Krystel Tien from Couture Events
Hair: Heather Molchanoff of Hot Seat Salon
Makeup: Crista Nicole of Crista Nicole Artistry
Engagement ring and bride's wedding band: Claude Thibeaudeau from Blumenthal Jewelers
Groom's wedding band: David Yurman