An Ethereal Wedding in the Woods of California
BreeLayne and Hunter
When BreeLayne Ring and James Hunter Carter started planning their wedding, they knew they wanted to create a woodland fantasy for their guests. The spot they chose for their vows, within a 20,000-acre preserve in the hills of Carmel, is called a fairy ring: a natural circle of towering ancient redwoods that all sprang from the same parent. A quartet played music from The Legend of Zelda, golden rays from a setting sun streamed through the trees, and the bride rode off afterward on a white horse. "We both had always wanted to get married in the woods, and we're pretty spiritual and connected to our environment," says BreeLayne. "It ended up being so magical, like we were on another planet."
The two met in 2011, after he saw her walking her dog on the West Hollywood street where they both lived. They immediately hit it off. Two years later, James proposed by attaching a ring to the wheaten terrier's collar, and the creative couple—she's a fashion designer, and he's an entertainment consultant—started planning their wedding. "We mixed and matched vintage pieces from different eras, everything from chairs to china, silverware, and glassware, which gave it a feeling of timelessness," says James.
To maximize the impact of the landscape, they kept the location a secret for their July 18, 2015 wedding, transporting 160 guests via shuttle to the stretch of pristine, untouched nature set among rolling hills. The bride and her father walked down an aisle covered in white rose petals and gardenia blooms, and in a nondenominational ceremony, the pair exchanged vows they had written themselves. After BreeLayne's dramatic horseback exit, guests were ferried to the preserve's 1920s barn. There they enjoyed a dinner that included farm-fresh fare (grilled-peach and candied-pecan salad) combined with southern comfort food (buttermilk fried chicken so good, it even met Louisiana native James's standards) amid dancing and toasting. In an especially old-fashioned touch, the Santa Lucia Preserve didn't have cell reception, "so everyone was present and in the moment," says BreeLayne. A bit of magic, indeed.
For their wedding amongst the redwoods, BreeLayne chose a Galia Lahav gown and Hunter wore a Gucci suit.BreeLayne wanted a dramatic bouquet that looked as if she could have gathered the flowers on her way to the aisle. Her florist, Mindy Rice, used passion vines, amaranthus, garden rose, clematis, fresh mint, and eucalyptus to create the cascading arrangement.
Watercolor and calligraphy save-the-dates, by Burbank's Tiny Pine Press, came wrapped in handmade kraft paper and sealed with a small twig.
A Gorgeous Gate
Passion vine, smilax, acacia, eucalyptus, amaranthus, and garden roses adorned the gate guests passed through en route to the pre-ceremony cocktail hour.
Everyone in Neutrals
The couple asked guests to wear neutral colors to the wedding. "People didn't quite get it at first," says the bride. "But we wanted everything to play off of the natural beauty that was already there."
The couple incorporated symbols from different religions, including a 14-foot chuppah decorated with fresh ferns, amaranthus, hops vines, gardenias, tuberose, clematis, spray roses, and more."We wanted it to be intimate and romantic. By the time the ceremony took place, the sun was just setting through the trees," BreeLayne says.
The couple's wheaten terriers, Zoe and Jameson, processed in to the ceremony just before the bride walked down the aisle. BreeLayne was walking Zoe when she and James first met, and when he proposed, he attached the ring to the pup's collar.
A Dream Come True
BreeLayne had long fantasized about exiting her wedding on horseback: "I'd envisioned riding off, just like in a fairy tale," she says. After the couple said their vows, the all-white Paloma was brought over, and the 5-foot bride (using a felled log as a step) climbed aboard and rode out side-saddle. James walked alongside "just in case," he jokes.
The Escort Cards
Organdy stitched pouches held the escort cards on a bed of moss and bark.
The cascading arrangements included 'Moondance' and floribunda roses, sword ferns, smilax, maidenhair ferns, and amaranthus.
Meandering vines were arranged to "grow" up the barn's rafters and drape along chandeliers with eucalyptus and smilax.
The Place Settings
The five-course menu, printed on a soft, almost linen-like paper, was draped over each place setting. Lush arrangements of fresh, damp moss, Queen Anne's lace, helebores, lisianthus, ferns, sprouting lichen, and bark flowed organically down the center of the reception tables, curling around the place settings and candles.
A Cake Inspired by the Woods
Location and catering, Santa Lucia Preserve
Event planning, Sacks Productions
Flowers, Mindy Rice Floral and Event Design
Photography, Sylvie Gil Photography
Officiant, Lauren DaCruz
Stationery, Tiny Pine Press
Save-the-date and invitation calligraphy, The Wells Makery
Cake, Hansen's Cakes
Ceremony music, Kelly Productions
Reception music, DJ Geezus
Videography, Paperback Wedding Films
Lighting and sound, Got Light
Bride's ceremony gown and veil, Galia Lahav
Bride's reception gown and capelet, Inbal Dror
Bride's earrings, Penny Preville
Bride's engagement ring and wedding band, and groom's wedding band, Polacheck's Jewelers
Hair and bridal crown, Trace Henningsen Bridal
Makeup, Stevi Christine
Bridesmaids' dresses, Dreamers & Lovers
Flower-girl dresses, Tea Princess
Groom's suit, tie, shirt, and shoes, Gucci
Groomsmen's suits, J.Crew
Décor and linens, RrivreWorks
Photo booth, Night Owl Photo Booth