A Charming Big Sur SoireeWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Myke and Teri Photography
San Francisco couple Kerry and Chris may live in one of the nation’s biggest cities, but they don’t consider themselves urbanites. In fact, these two feel much more at home in nature or, as Kerry would call it, “the boonies.” So, when it came time to plan their wedding, it’s no surprise that they took a sentimental, rural approach. “We picked Big Sur because it’s the first place we went camping together and it’s the place we keep coming back to, sometimes sleeping in the back of Chris’ truck, other times we get exotic and actually pitch a tent,” says the bride. “I married an outdoorsy man and it’s been great for me; our first-ever joint purchase was a super warm couple’s sleeping bag. Returning to Big Sur felt like the natural thing to do.”
Thankfully, choosing to host a destination wedding in Big Sur also had practical benefits. “For us, it was the perfect choice. We didn't want a long engagement (aka extra time to obsess over small details), so we picked a place we really loved and went for it.” Renting out space in a state park does come with some additional hoops to jump through, but thankfully Kerry and Chris were up for it. “We were somewhat challenged in picking the campground at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park because we were only able to begin planning five months in advance of the date we wanted. The permitting process was a bit arduous in that there's no guarantee your request will be approved and there are multiple rounds of paperwork that have to be mailed back and forth before a permit is issued, which took probably a month in total. It was quite nerve-wracking at the time, but now definitely feels worth it since the special events’ staff was able to hold our date and deliver on that promise.”
The permitting process wasn’t the only thing that tested the couple’s patience and nerve – Mother Nature also complicated matters. “Our biggest challenge once it got closer, starting a week and a half out, is that the weather forecast changed drastically to rain, and even the morning of the wedding, rain was forecast to begin in the afternoon. We were so bummed out about it; yet somehow, the rain never came. Instead, the sun came out just before the ceremony started at 1 p.m. and there were blue skies for the entire day. It was so incredible – such a lucky break!” Being familiar with their chosen destination definitely had its advantages for Kerry and Chris.
“We had been to Big Sur a few times together and that helped guide our decisions, like knowing we wanted Big Sur Bakery to do the catering,” says the bride. “Their then wedding coordinator was so fantastic that when she told us she’d be leaving the bakery, we snagged her for our day-of coordinator and that eased a lot of the tension I felt about planning a wedding away from where we live.” While their day-of coordinator ended up “being worth her weight in gold,” there were some logistical issues leading up to the big day that the couple had to handle on their own.
“We had extra logistical challenges because we’d reserved campsites for all those that wanted to camp instead of staying at hotels in the area, and then the day before the wedding, we learned we needed all the campers’ license plate numbers to officially check-in on their sites, so they weren’t given away to others,” explains Kerry. “With hardly any cell service we were able to get a hasty email out to the campers asking for all their license numbers, then I read them out to Chris in the middle of our campsite as we hid from the rain. He scribbled them down on a note and ran away to check everyone in with just a few hours to spare, before they could have been given to other campers.”
What’s a wedding without a little drama, right? In the end, however, the couple’s wedding came together just as they had envisioned. They credit their success to two major factors: going with their gut and being willing to ask for help. “For the most part, it was our gut feelings and families who rallied with us and helped make it a special wedding. The biggest thing we learned was to ask for help. Our family and friends did a TON for our wedding. [For example,] Chris' cousins made and brought all of the games for adults and kids alike, which were a HUGE hit, as well as doing the games’ decorations (seriously they were professional grade). It really took a village to get married and we had the best weekend with every single one of our villagers.”
The bride limited the amount of projects she took on herself because she knew they would stress her out. Thankfully, the couple had the loving and talented help from parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and countless friends. Ultimately, having so many people partake in the process helped the couple achieve their goal of originality. “As a couple, we didn’t want a cookie cutter experience…hopefully that vibe came across.” Looking back, Kerry and Chris have do doubts about opting for a wedding away. When we asked them how the decision affected their budget and how a hometown wedding would have been different, this is what they had to say.
“Definitely less money was spent because of it being away from where we lived and also a bit in the boonies. While we spent a lot in rental fees, it was still all less money than having a San Francisco affair. Strangely perhaps, [a hometown wedding] would have felt less like us. Although we live in a city, we aren't necessarily cosmopolitan people, so inside San Francisco wouldn't have felt like us.” If it was an original, homespun family affair the couple was after, that’s certainly what they achieved.
Finally, we asked the newlyweds what advice they would offer other couples currently planning a destination wedding. “It’s your day; decide the feel you want and stick to that, as odd or out of the box as it sounds to your traditional family members. We remained pretty close to the plan the whole way through and we are so grateful we did.”
Vendors: Photographer: Myke and Teri Photography, Day-of Coordinator: Mariah Green Events, Ceremony/Reception Site: Along the Big Sur River/Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (Group Picnic Area A), Florist: Sweet Lily’s Flowers of Minnesota, Stationery: Ann Liao, Hair: Spa Bella Mobile Spa, Gown Designer: Rosa Clara , Groom’s Clothing Designer: Indochino, Rentals: Chic Events Rentals, Catering: Big Sur Bakery, Seating Chart: HappyLifePrintables
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