California Outdoor Wedding

After visiting both Tahoe and Yosemite, we ended up really loving Nestldown (in the Santa Cruz Mountains). It was directly in between our home in San Jose and Matt’s family beach house in Santa Cruz. Instead of choosing a theme or colors, we decided to just let the venue guide us and choose things that felt authentic to the atmosphere.When choosing vendors we went with people who understood our desire for a laid-back and organic affair. Nestldown really set the stage for the day – it was rustic, warm, natural and full of energy. This in turn helped me finally select bridesmaid dresses (why are all the normal options still so generic!?) … And I ended up with mint green flowy Tibi midis for the MOH’s and short bright yellow Nanette Lepore’s for the Maids. Matt ended up choosing the floral ties from a designer on Etsy and the suits came from Eli Thomas. Baylor from Lila B was just amazing on the florals. She came up with an amazing wild and woodsy array that enhance our already beautiful surroundings.

There ceremony was probably my favorite part of the day. Since we’d had a little practice, everything went off without a hitch. Our officiant, Father Ray Allendar, was a teacher at Matt’s high school – so he knew Matt very well and spent a lot of time with the two of us getting to know us as a couple. He also had us each write a letter to each other about why we ‘choose’ the other person to spend the rest of our life with. He pulled excerpts from our letters to read during the ceremony – which made it so personal and special. We did say traditional Catholic vows, but Matt worked with Father A to incorporate a special line into the end – which was a wonderful surprise for me.


After the ceremony, we really wanted the rest of the day to feel relaxed and fun, like a glorified summer party, where all your favorite people show up and you eat excellent food, imbibe on endless wine and cocktails and just enjoy each other. Windy Hill Bluegrass kicked things off and really kept the energy alive during the cocktail hour – where our guests played bocce, croquet, and rode the train through the peach and apple orchards. We wanted dinner to feel like a big family style feast, close quarters with everyone passing food, talking and sharing. From there, we just wanted a great party – and we got one.


Looking back, July 14th was a culmination of thoughtful loving preparation by so many wonderful people, with details that matched the spirit of the day. We had ultimate confidence in the vendors we chose, which allowed us to have a completely worry free and amazing day. Matt’s says, energy, warmth, contentedness and smiles were the essence of the celebration. 🙂

Photography: Nancy Neil Photography // Venue: Nestldown (Brooke Greene) // Coordination: Cassandra O’Gara – Downey Street Events // Florals: Baylor Chapman – Lila B. Design // Stationary / Table Runners: Jen Garrido – Jenny Pennywood // Hair & Make-up: Katie of Katie Nash Beauty  // Catering: Vanessa Silveira – Thomas John Events // Videographer: Chad & Drew – Shade Tree Films … A cut of our video // The Band: Windy Hills Bluegrass // DJ: Andrew – Sound in Motion ( // My Dress: Monique Lhuiller (Fall 2011) Amaranth (Bridal Galleria)