I’m so thrilled to be reviving the blog after so many years of not using this space to share weddings and sessions in a more in-depth way. As this blog starts back up, I figured it was the perfect time to share Tom and I’s full wedding day from February. Here’s a peek into our Pacific Grove & Pebble Beach elopement day!
When it came time to think about our wedding, the idea was to plan an event filled with close friends and family and the time to spend with them all. A weekend retreat was dreamed up in a big house in the mountains… and quickly brought back to reality when we realized the pandemic just wasn’t going to allow for that to safely happen with family traveling from across the country and from Europe. Not wanting to wait until 2022 or 2023 to be married, we decided on an intimate and quiet wedding day locally. If an elopement was on the table, why wait? We realized the date we first met was coming up and it seemed sweet to cement our journey at the place where it all started- Asilomar Beach. The date was set for February 12th and with 7 weeks or so to plan and organize everything, I quickly began setting up a dress appointment and contacting vendors. Everything aligned perfectly in a short time and came together beautifully on February 12th.
The location we chose for our ceremony had been such a constant in our story and made perfect sense. It was the beach where we first met at our friend Janelle’s birthday bonfire (on February 12th, 2017!), it’s where we had date nights- usually poke bowls at sunset, it’s where Tom proposed, and it’s where we would get married. My brother Ryan, who played such a large role in me being in Monterey, bringing me to that bonfire, and supporting our relationship from the beginning, felt like a natural answer to the question of who would officiate our ceremony, and we were honored to have my sister in law Melissa as our only guest and witness. We told only our immediate families and my best friend in MA- keeping it a secret from all of our local friends which proved to be really hard!
On February 12th, I spent the morning at my photo studio in Monterey getting ready with Melissa while Tom got dressed at home. The studio was the perfect location to get ready- photo ready, plenty of space, and wouldn’t attract a lot of attention from all of our neighbors who didn’t know about the wedding! Not to mention the recent addition of that amazing green velvet couch which I knew I wanted portraits with!
My something old were both my earrings, a gift from my parents for my 20th birthday, and a gold bracelet given to me by my Auntie Karen. My something new was my dress. My something blue was the stripe of blue thread on my shoes as well as my navy clutch- but also the cut off tie I wrapped around my bouquet. My best friend Cait and I share a love of The Office- and when I told her about our wedding plans, she sent me one of her husband’s ties cut in half. A nod to the Pam & Jim wedding episode and a great reminder to go with the flow on the day of. The tie happened to be a perfect shade of blue so I asked my florist Marysu if it could be wrapped around my bouquet. And finally, my something borrowed was the small butterfly I carried with me- a loan from my dear friend and our photographer for the day, Amandarose. Not only was it meaningful as something borrowed, but the main symbol of Pacific Grove, the town we were married in, is the monarch butterfly. It lined up perfectly.
I’m sure it’s a wedding cliche to say you love your dress- but I LOVED my dress. I’d seen it online at BHLDN and bookmarked it only to go back into my bookmarks folder to see it already saved twice before. I searched online for a few days only to keep coming back to this dress. I made an appointment at BHLDN Palo Alto and Melissa came with me, with my mom on FaceTime from Boston. I tried on a few other dresses but this one was clearly the one to beat. Finally, I put it back on at the end and just knew it was the one. With only 5 weeks to go to the wedding day, BHLDN was amazing and overnighted it to me so I could be sure to have it in time for alterations. Ultimately, it fit pretty perfectly with the exception of the length and sleeves. Christine at Epiphany Carmel was magic at turning around the hemming and taking in the sleeves in the shorter-than-normal time frame I had and I was so appreciative! On the day of, I loved everything about it. The movement of the tulle, the train, the fact that the sleeves added a little bit of warmth on a windy day, those bows along the back, and just how comfortable it was. The only problem now is finding other times when it’s socially acceptable to wear it because I for sure need to wear this dress again!
After leaving the studio, I met Tom in the forest in Pacific Grove for our first look before driving down the coast to Big Sur, another favorite location of ours for hikes and sunsets. Being photographed down there was really beautiful- but having a few moments during portraits to soak in the grandness of the coastal cliffs on our wedding day was truly special.
In classic Big Sur fashion, I wore trail shoes and leggings under my dress. They had much more grip for going up and down the rocky trails and my leggings not only kept me warm, but allowed me to hike my dress way up to keep the layers of delicate tulle from snagging on the brambles that line most trails in this area. It was a fashion choice I was glad to rock- and I changed into my cute shoes for the ceremony. This is one of my favorite photos from the day.
After some time in Big Sur, we drove back up to Pebble Beach to the Inn at Spanish Bay. While walking through the hotel to access the boardwalk that would lead us to the beach, we ran into Janelle, our friend at who’s birthday we had met 4 years ago. She was celebrating her birthday by the fire pits and well, by our outfits, it was obvious what we were up to. Of course we stopped to say hello and wish her happy birthday and as it turns out, Janelle was sitting with her friend Bill. Of course we knew this Bill to be Bill Murray and it was fun to chat with him for a few minutes before heading off to be married! If you look at the photo below of Janelle and I hugging, you can spot Bill in the blue vest to the right. Not wanting to bother him, we didn’t ask for any other photos.
After leaving Janelle, Bill, and their friends to continue celebrations, we followed the boardwalk from the Inn down through the golf course and to the beach. Since our planned spot on the beach had been washed away in a big storm the week before, we opted for a spot above the beach, though technically still stepping over the town line into Pacific Grove for our ceremony.
The dune was windy, chilly, and bathed in the most beautiful sunset light. As we took our spots, Ryan began the ceremony. With us holding hands and Melissa next to us, Ryan spoke of our surroundings, the moment we were experiencing, and our promises for the future. It was the perfect moment of mindfulness to anchor ourselves to the moment. As a wedding photographer, I’ve heard hundreds of wedding ceremonies, but this one, written by my brother and for me and Tom, was beautifully special.
A few minutes later, some vows, a kiss, and a few celebratory hugs, it was time to pop champagne and revel in the beauty of the moment and our surroundings. We shared our first dance on the beach and watching Tom and Ryan crack open a few beers as new brothers-in-law was a great moment. Eventually as the sun fell below the horizon, we started making our way back up to the hotel- music still playing and champagne flutes in hand as we walked through the dunes.
We walked back through the patio, said hello and happy birthday to Janelle again, and walked back to our room to FaceTime with family. After a few minutes recounting the day’s events with Tom’s family and then with my parents, it was time for dinner. We walked to Roy’s, a restaurant within the hotel and a favorite of ours for celebratory dinners. Tom and I hadn’t had a meal together in a restaurant since the pandemic began almost 11 months earlier- so this was lovely. With Ryan and Melissa seated across from us, we shared drinks, a delicious meal, laughter, and a precious few carefree hours. At the end of our meal, a cake was brought out. Since Tom is vegan, I’d found a great local baker to make a special vegan cake for everyone to enjoy. The vanilla frosted cake was made all that much more fun when we cut into it and saw Tom’s request of funfetti cake fulfilled!
All the photos from this point on are from our phones, Polaroids, and a few from disposable cameras my best friend had sent us. I didn’t want to be thinking about photos too much on our wedding day, so the disposable cameras were perfect because we could just have fun with them and I wasn’t going to get into photographer mode.
The next morning was spent quietly soaking up the comforts of Spanish Bay, some room service breakfast, and enjoying the incredible view from our room- it was perfectly situated to overlook our ceremony location and the beach. We took a nice walk back down to the beach before checking out and soaked in one last moment in that ceremony spot in the equally chilly and windy morning.
We packed up and drove home to drop off a wedding dress, suit, and all of our wedding things only to fill the car back up with a tent, sleeping bags, firewood, and a cooler of food and drinks. Another drive back down to Big Sur brought us to our second location for the weekend- the campsites at Ventana!
I had spent a lot of time planning the wedding day and our stay at Spanish Bay that night and spaced on the rest of our wedding weekend. By the time I realized we didn’t have plans for the rest of it, every single hotel in the area was booked because it was Valentine’s Day weekend. We also didn’t want to travel far or go on a honeymoon right away- that can wait until the pandemic is over and we can fully enjoy it. So Tom suggested looking up camping sites in Big Sur and we found the perfect one at Ventana! A drastic but lovely change from the luxury of the day before, we spent the evening cooking up camp burritos, playing cards, and enjoying the quiet among the redwoods. A slow morning the next day followed by lunch with beautiful views at Nepenthe, and we came home to our doggies and getting back to life!
We’re so thankful that this weekend unfolded so beautifully and that so many things lined up perfectly. Our vendors were amazing and I’m so grateful to them for helping make our day magical. Amandarose and Kristin- you guys are the best! Thank you for your energy on the day of and for these beautiful photos we’ll cherish forever! It was so special to have our photographers be friends and made the day that much more fun! Marysu- thank you for making my floral dreams come true! The bouquet was everything and I was honored to carry it for the day! Aime- thank you for putting up with me knowing nothing about hair and makeup and having the patience to let me see what I didn’t like before listening to you like I should have the first time! I appreciated your skills so much! All of our other vendors and sources are listed below.
Photography: AGS Photo Art
Florals: Cassia Forêt
Hair and Makeup: Aime Gruber/ Glamology
Wedding Cake: M Baked Goods
Dress Alterations: Epiphany Boutique, Carmel
Shoes: The Point in Blush by Rothy’s
Clutch: The Daily Edited
Fragrance: Jo Malone
Bridal Robe: Amazon
Suit: Men’s Wearhouse & Macy’s