If eloping is the trend, then let’s make it a grand one. Opting for an adventurous elopement, BriAnna and Katlynn headed to Yosemite National Park to elope in the most hopelessly romantic way possible. With laced, chiffon bridal gowns, matching white boots, and their daughter as their witness, this couple planned a beautiful day with mountain views and a park all to themselves.
They ended their sunset excursion with champagne popping cliffside as the sky turned purple—perfection. Whether you’re looking for yet another excuse to whisk away and elope with your partner or not, grab your boots and let’s go hiking with Junebug member Kylie Farmer Photography to Yosemite National Park. These photos are too good to pass up.
BriAnna and Katlynn
Yosemite National Park, CA
Planning Sunrise To Sunset
The most important part of this day was planning how we were going to do our first look. Since we were doing it at sunrise, we had to really think about what time to get up and where to get ready. We stayed in a camper at AutoCamp, which we highly recommend. Kylie helped with all of that, and it went smoothly for the most part! I got ready in the camper with our daughter, and Bri walked up in the dark to the lobby bathroom to get ready.
Our Eternal Vow
The most memorable part of the day for the two of us was definitely when we exchanged our vows on the top of the mountain with the sunrise peeking through. It was such a magical moment and feeling.
Elopement Wedding Advice
My biggest piece of advice would be to not get too stressed out about your planning. Remember that this is simply a celebration of the love you have for each other. Stay in the present and enjoy the planning. The day comes and goes so fast! Choose what is most important to you and do just that.
Why They Chose A Yosemite National Park Elopement
California holds a special place in our hearts. We got engaged in March of 2019 on the coast of California in Mendocino. We knew we wanted to be surrounded by the beauty of trees and mountains, and Yosemite just felt right.
We were looking on Pinterest and Etsy for artificial bouquets because we didn’t want to go through the hassle to find real ones out in California. Plus, we didn’t know how we’d preserve them before we went home. Since we paid for everything ourselves, we weren’t able to afford the Etsy bouquets we loved. Then, I had an idea to try and make our bouquets! So I masked up, went to the nearest craft store, and bought flowers, filling, twine and ribbon. They survived checking them on our plane, hiking with them all day, and shoving them in suitcases, and are now a keepsake.
When you can’t decide on a venue, sometimes it’s best to go with a place that you’re sure to be comfortable in—like your own backyard. Thankfully for Aubrey and Dimitri, their backyard is their family’s private estate in the mountains of Escondido, California. The gorgeous natural colors of the ranch mixed with some beautiful pops of pink made this couple’s I do’s picturesque, to say the least.
Almost every inch of this wedding was a “do it yourself” project—making it the ultimate DIY wedding. From a handcrafted arch to the bar inside the barn, this couple created an elegant, rustic, chic wedding with their two hands—and some help from their families too.
Keep scrolling to see some seriously gorgeous photos captured by Tayler Ashley Photography that include a donut bar, a beautiful red barn reception, and a star-embellished reception gown.
The Couple: Aubrey and Dimitri
The Wedding: Escondido, CA
A Backyard DIY Wedding
The entire wedding was pretty much DIY since a wedding had never been hosted there before. My dad built the circular arch used for our ceremony. We painted things, we grew flowers, and we added power for lighting in some areas. We also built the deck over the pool to have the ceremony on top of it and then we built the bar inside the barn. We pretty much did everything ourselves.
Two Dresses Are Better Than One
My wedding dress had a little bit of every style that I loved. Wedding dress shopping was definitely a highlight, but it was very difficult because I really liked every dress I tried on. I wanted something A-line, but also fitted—something with 3D flowers and sparkle. The dress I chose had it all. My Wedding gown is Muse by Berta in the style “Caroline.” I got it at The Bustle store in Del Mar, California. This store is the only location in San Diego that carries designer Berta dresses. My Reception gown or “Cake Cutting Dress” was a Willoby by Watters Orion gown that I got from Bhldn. I fell in love with it because of the stars. Knowing this would be one of the only opportunities to wear such beautiful gowns, I decided I might as well take advantage and wear two!
Backyards Are A Perfect Venue
My family’s ranch was always in the back of my mind as a venue option. After touring a few different venues, none of them felt special. I wanted our wedding to be one-of-a-kind and knew that hosting it at my family’s ranch would be incredibly unique, and meaningful to me. It’s where I grew up and I wanted to create more memories in that place.
What Planning An Elegant Ranch Wedding In A Backyard Really Means
As far as planning a wedding “in your own backyard” versus a normal venue—it’s a whole new world! There are many details that you have to think about when having a wedding at your own home. Like, “how many people can you fit in this area? Is there power, lighting, restroom availability, wheelchair access, shelter for bad weather, parking?” The list of questions you have to think about goes on and on. However, there are a lot of positives too. We were able to work on it whenever we wanted, try our ideas out, have rentals delivered a day or two earlier, basically there are none of the limitations. My favorite bonus is that you get to put so much of your time, money, and effort into your own place.
Don’t Stress The Small Stuff
It’s not all going to be perfect. At the end of the day, it feels like it was perfect though. Go over your timeline a bajillion times and then do a walk through at the actual times to see what your lighting, etc will be like in those moments. I didn’t think I needed to say this, but remind your vendors that you’d prefer they dress to blend in with the background or with your guests. Otherwise, you might end up with vendors drawing attention in a way that you didn’t expect.
Wedding Advice For Nearlyweds
Research vendors carefully! Don’t feel pressured to choose someone you’re not excited to work with just because they are all telling you that you’re running out of time. If they aren’t exactly what you are looking for, don’t commit.
Caitlin and Farley’s Australian-inspired wedding at The Highlands Estate was full of tiki drinks, an oyster bar, a life-size cardboard cut out of Steve Irwin, and a 90-year-old grandpa dancing to Marvin Gaye. Sound fun? We know! The couple proved they know how to throw one serious party.
With the help of planner Brianna Lopez, the two combined their love for the land down under and San Francisco–where the two met. While we could do all of the talking about this colorful DIY affair, we love how their photographer Paige Nelson described the details!
Photographer Paige Nelson On The Couple’s Special Day
The couple currently lives in Australia and planned their destination wedding day at The Highlands Estate–just outside San Francisco, where the couple began their journey. Farley has a Ph.D. in Ornithology, and his research focused on the Australian magpie, so his suit jacket lining had a custom embroidery of the bird. All of his groomsmen had personalized Indochino jacket linings with embroidered inside jokes as well.
Caitlin, Farley, and her mom made the cheesecloth table runners. The mother of the bride made all of the bouquets. Her sister, Megan, made the three cakes that featured handmade toppers of their cat and dog. Her best friend and bridesmaid, Sarah, did her hair and makeup.
The oyster bar–one of Caitlin and Farley’s food obsessions–opened at cocktail hour. Farley is passionate about tiki drinks and Caitlin loves gin, so the couple offered a “his” and “hers” cocktail. For her speech, the groom’s sister brought in a life-size cardboard cutout of Steve Irwin.
Our relationship evolved in San Francisco, and we spent a lot of time exploring the more rural areas of California. We both love the Californian landscape–vineyards mixed into the rolling hills and the surrounding forests. Australia became home for the last four years, so it was important to combine the two lifestyles together. Family and community are incredibly important to us, so we wanted to create a vibe that connected everyone and everything that matters to us. This is how the farm table, family-style meal came to be. Touches like the table names of where our guests traveled from, hints of our obsession with games, and our two favorite cocktails helped us create this personal “us” vibe.
Why The Highlands Estate
We wanted an outdoor venue. We liked the option of having the barn in case the weather was bad. What really sold us were the included farm tables. Those were non-negotiable for me, and including them in the venue cost sealed the deal.
Personalizing The Ceremony
Farley’s father and best friend were our celebrants. Mike told a personal story of us, and Jack (Farley’s Dad) did the official ceremony. We did a handfasting ceremony with rope from his family sailboat. We said our own vows. Then, we toasted with everyone after we said, “I do.”
Wedding Planning Date Nights
Farley established “wine wedding Wednesdays” where every Wednesday for most of the year in the lead-up, we ate dinner and drank wine while we planned. Not every night was productive, some ended in fights, but it meant the wedding was planned together, and it ensured both our voices were heard.
A Non-Stop Dance Party
The dance floor was incredible. We kicked the reception off with a shared first dance–inviting our guests to join us, rather than watch us. This ignited a dance party that had nearly every single guest on the dance floor most of the night. Caitlin’s Irish 90-year-old reserved Grandfather even grabbed her for a dance that shocked everyone.
Congratulations again to Caitlin and Farley on their colorful DIY Aussie-inspired wedding at The Highlands Estate. We’re so glad Paige Nelson Photography was there to capture every detail. If you’re feeling inspired to add some DIY touches to your wedding, check out our DIY wedding guide where we breakdown everything you need to know about planning your own!
Date and location of wedding: Esports Arena in Oakland, CA — August 18, 2019
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had a very specific theme and vibe. Cynthia and I are huge nerds as we play a lot of games, watch anime, and read a lot of manga.
We wanted our special day to reflect these interests and our planner, Two Perfect Events, helped us formulate what we wanted and generated awesome ideas. Since we’ve never been married before, this type of planning was completely foreign to us.
We had gaming hubs for our guests to play our favorite games and gaming chairs were our thrones. Our dog, Truffle, was also an integral part of our wedding and we also held a tea ceremony as an expression of our gratitude and respect to our families.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Excerpt from the bride’s vows:
I actually started writing these vows before you even proposed. Before I was even engaged to you, I knew that I wanted to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you.
You make me a better person and it was both very hard and very easy to write this. Ronnie, you are the kindest, most caring and thoughtful person that I know.
I love how you relentlessly pursue your passions and you work so hard to keep getting even better than you already are. And so I vow to support you and keep building you up because you are so smart, you are so funny, and you’re crazy talented in everything you put your mind to.
Thank you for putting up with my ups and downs, for pushing me to always be better, for building me up in the many places I’m lacking, and just loving me so unconditionally. I vow that I will never give up on us and I will never stop trying. I vow to love you unconditionally today, tomorrow, and always.
Excerpt from the groom’s vows:
Looking back, any relationship with you felt improbable at the time. We were so different. Every possible reservation was telling me that there was no way an amazing girl like you would ever be interested in someone like me, yet I still found myself pursuing you, and I am thankful to God every single day that I didn’t let social norms stop me.
Fast forward 13 years later. You are my confidant, lover, and best friend. Thank you for always believing in me and loving me unconditionally regardless of all the mistakes I have made.
Cynthia, I promise to always put our marriage first and be the best husband possible to you. I promise to stand up for you, fight for you, and support you when times are hard. I promise to always look for ways to celebrate you and encourage you to be the best version of yourself, even if that means going to taco bell in the late hours of the day or driving you around to play Pokemon Go. I promise to remind you of how beautiful you are and that you are loved every single day.
I am determined and committed to love you this way and even when the time comes when we are physically separated, I want you to know you will always be my soulmate. I love you.
Tell us about the reception: We played a shoe game where we were asked a series of questions as we were seated back-to-back. We were to raise the shoe for the answer we each thought was a better match for the question, such as who is the better cook and who is more stubborn.
We had slideshows of our childhood photos played in the background during our parent dances.
We opted to toss a CACTUAR and a basketball instead of bouquet and garter tosses. They were a much better fit for our personalities than the regular traditions.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Since we rented a facility (eSports Arena) that has never done a wedding before, everything had to be managed on our own for the most part. I was nervous about this but with our planner’s help, we felt like we could actually enjoy the wedding planning and day despite the number of things going on.
We would highly recommend hiring a planner to help make your dream wedding a reality!
Panoramic ocean views and epic mountain backdrops––we’re obsessed with Jenn and Zack’s Bodega Ridge wedding in British Columbia! Every detail of this whimsical party was captured by Ronnie Lee Hill Photography, including the ceramic vases handmade by the bride along with the flowers, desserts, and stationery DIYed by the couple’s friends. While Jenn planned on originally wearing a simple slip dress, we’re loving the subtle patterned Truvelle a-line gown she chose. After all, when else do you get to dress up like a real-life princess?! As for the bridesmaids, the bride gave them a color palette and let them choose their own dresses so they could pick out something that was comfortable and in their budget. The results were stunning! We’re pining for a weekend spent in cabins enjoying a taco feast and karaoke after seeing these whimsical nuptials!
At first, I was thinking I was going to keep it simple with a slip dress and no veil, but as I was trying on dresses and accessories I just fully embraced it and got a dress with a dramatic train and wore a long veil because when else am I ever going to!? I still kept it simple with pearl drop earrings and white shoes form a local boutique that I can wear again, so I tried to balance it out.
We wanted family and friends to spend more than just one evening together, so we decided on spending a weekend at our venue, Bodega Ridge located on Galiano Island, which is just a two-hour ferry from Vancouver. The venue is made up of cozy, rustic cabins near the ocean so we were aiming to have some summer camp vibes with a taco feast and karaoke party the first night and then Sunday being the big event.
Incorporate your creative friends where you can! And give them and your other vendors some room for creativity. We gave some inspiration and then trusted them to do their thing. It took way more pressure off of us and still left some room for surprise on the day seeing how everything turned out.