A Wellness-Focused Wedding in the Redwoods of Big Sur, California
A shared interest in fitness brought Bianca Armstrong and Jason Koon together when they both joined the track and field team at West Virginia Wesleyan College in August 2007. "We kept in touch after college, often catching up in different cities when our schedules would coincide," says Bianca. "In 2015, I was living in New York City and Jason lived in Vancouver. Jason asked me if we could give 'us' a shot if he moved to New York, I said yes, and he moved shortly thereafter."
Three years later, Bianca and Jason—a professional poker player—were living in Las Vegas, where they often spent weekends hiking in Red Rock Canyon. One afternoon, Jason surprised Bianca by stopping at a scenic overlook on the way to their usual trail. "My family and friends who all live out of state were there," she says. "Jason then got down on one knee and proposed. Having Jason ask me to marry him in a place that we both hold sacred and commonly find peace is something I'll cherish forever."
The couple wanted to imbue their wedding with that same sense of connection and peace, choosing the Redwood Cathedral at Ventana Big Sur for a tranquil outdoor ceremony. "We wanted to cultivate an environment that was true to the things we love most about Big Sur," says Bianca, noting they enlisted the help of Callista & Company to help them curate and execute the celebration. "The landscape, architecture, décor, and cuisine of the area all reflect a respect for nature that we have rarely, if ever, seen anywhere else."
They shared their October 26, 2019, ceremony and reception with 48 guests, adding wellness-focused touches like a morning yoga session, face mask favors, and hot tea during the ceremony. "We had the vision of leaving our wedding more rested than when we came," says Bianca. "We wanted to create a low-stress, laid-back experience for our guests that would allow them to make the most of their time in Big Sur."
Rise and Shine
Bianca and Jason began their wedding day with a group workout on Ventana's Ocean Meadow Lawn. "We are both very passionate about health and nutrition," says Bianca. "On the morning of the wedding, we had a close friend of ours host a beautiful yoga session that overlooked the Pacific Ocean." The couple also provided gray yoga mats with a custom monogram to each guest.
The couple sent digital invitations and created a wedding website that incorporated the same fonts, logos, and typography they used throughout the weekend's signage and paper goods, including on an acrylic sign in the yoga area.
Square tins welcomed guests with sweets from Big Sur Bakery. Bianca and Jason also designed coordinating confetti toss tins and gave out post-wedding "wellness boxes" filled with tea, lip balm, and face masks.
Lovely in Lace
Bianca worked with designer Claire Pettibone to customize a long-sleeved lace wedding dress with an open back. "I walked into the boutique, was greeted by Claire herself, and we got right to work," says Bianca. "I was astonished by her and loved getting her input and guidance through the process."
She completed her look with a hairpiece from the same designer and Jimmy Choo shoes. Though she planned to swap her gown for a Galvan jumpsuit during the reception—"My wedding dress had such a classic vibe, I wanted to change into something fun and playful," she says—she couldn't bring herself to miss a moment of the party, so she wore her gown all night.
The bride's bouquet from Gather Design Company showed off the couple's color palette with roses in white, gold, and mauve shades accented by jewel-toned gold and burgundy sunflowers.
Bianca's engagement ring and the couple's wedding rings were designed by Jillian Sassone at Marrow Fine. "Jillian created a really awesome crescent moon signet ring that captures the moon phase on our wedding night," says Bianca. "She's my go-to for everything sparkly."
Jason's suit from Stitched in Las Vegas was a down-to-the-wire decision. "Jason actually had two custom suits made and it was a race to see which one would be finished in time for our wedding," says Bianca. "Jason picked up his suit one hour before we boarded our flight to Big Sur!"
Into the Woods
On the couple's second trip to Big Sur, they passed through the redwood forest on their way to dinner and felt immediately drawn to the space. "That's when we saw the Redwood Cathedral for the first time, a beautiful opening in the middle of the forest with sun rays piercing through the trees," says Bianca. "It felt magical. We knew then that this is where we wanted to get married."
Gather Design created a "gorgeous, classic, lush arch" that anchored a semi-circle of wooden folding chairs. "We decided not to go with the traditional aisle approach. The wedding was small enough that the arch seating better fit our vision for an intimate ceremony," says Bianca.
Sip and See
Before the ceremony, guests poured themselves hot toddies and hot tea from a thoughtfully styled drink station. White mugs and personalized cocktail napkins added to the elevated-but-cozy atmosphere.
He Said, She Said
The couple saved their first look for the ceremony, as Bianca's father walked her down the aisle. Bianca and Jason wrote their own vows. "We both agreed to be raw and just let our words come from the heart," she says of their spiritual ceremony under the massive redwoods.
The New Mr. and Mrs.
After spending a few minutes posing for their first portraits as husband and wife, Bianca and Jason joined their guests at the cocktail hour.
As for their best advice to couples currently in the planning phase? "First and foremost, make sure the wedding is true to you," they say. "Slow down and enjoy every single detail or the planning process. Be sure to also take personal moments during your wedding day."
Room with a View
Comfortable lounge seating next to a cozy fire pit offered guests sweeping views of the local landscape as they celebrated at the reception.
Raising the Bar
A full bar served up cocktails, beer, wine, and Champagne under the sunset sky. Delicate glass bud vases held single stems of flowers in the couple's color palette.
Long glass tables held low arrangements of fall blooms, while a coordinating garland was suspended overhead. The couple remembers the meal as one of their favorite parts of the day: "Surrounded by family and friends telling stories, with one of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever witnessed."
A variety of materials in the place settings—including ceramic chargers, velvet napkins, crystal glassware, and acrylic-backed menus—added contrast to the glass tables and colorful floral arrangements.
On the Menu
The health-conscious couple asked the chefs at their venue to create a custom menu using local, seasonal ingredients; the final selections included beet and carrot tartare as a first course; seared scallops as a second; and an entrée of organic chicken with smoked squash purée.
Bianca and Jason served a two-tier flourless chocolate sponge cake with dark chocolate ganache, finished with ivory buttercream and fresh flowers.
Time to Dance
The band Singer Songwriter kept guests on the dance floor all night—after Bianca and Jason shared a private moment before the party started. "Being the first to walk into the reception area hand in hand while the band was playing 'Harvest Moon,'" was one of their favorite memories, says the couple. "It was a peaceful moment together as we danced and watched our family and friends filter in."
Photography, Meg Smith Photography
Venue, Catering, and Cake, Ventana Big Sur
Event Planning, Callista & Company
Flowers, Gather Design Company
Officiant, Soaring Starkey
Stationery, Libby Tipton
Music, Elan Artists
Rentals, Theoni Collection
Bride's Gown, Claire Pettibone
Bride's Accessories, Claire Pettibone hair piece; Marrow Fine jewelry; Jimmy Choo shoes
Hair and Makeup, The Hair & Makeup Co.
Groom's Suit, Stitched
Groom's Shoes, John Varvatos
Favors, Pottery Barn blankets; Farmacy face masks; Gaiam yoga mats