For this wedding on a private estate in Malibu, event planner Lisa Gorjestani of Details Event Planners wanted to showcase every inch of the stunning property. The result? A day of gardens, lawns and flowers— the ultimate outdoor do.
Staff was there all along the way to make sure each guest knew just where to go. “Signs are fun and cute, but you also need staff to direct guests so everyone feels comfortable,” says Lisa. (Speaking of comfort: Lisa made sure guests were informed of the outdoor terrain — a good tip to keep in mind if grass, gravel or uneven grounds are in your game plan. That way, women can leave their stilettos at home.)
She completed the tablescape with pewter chargers and, for an extra touch of elan, ruby red cut-crystal goblets. While the mention of an outdoor wedding often conjures up visions of casual, country affairs, this event shows that even white-tie formality is achievable in the great outdoors. Sometimes the best fairy lights of all are the summer stars.
Tucked into the hills of California’s Napa Valley is Calistoga Ranch, on a rolling stretch of land strewn with wildflowers — the setting for a wedding that seemed to capture the mellow summer sunshine. Alyssa Brown of San Francisco and New York’s Alison Events planned the day and tells us how to create that California feeling of effortless ease.
Alyssa didn’t want to compete with the stunning surroundings, so she kept the ceremony site simple. “The environment spoke for itself,” she says. A clutch of flowers placed on a wooden stool served as the altar, and the couple stood before a Manzanita tree strewn with purple and lavender ribbons and strings of paper flowers. The ceremony seating was simple as well: dark wood chairs with cream cushions.
Bite-size appetizers were served on porcelain spoons. Cocktails were held on a meandering path lit with luminaries, while preparations for dinner were made on the lawn. A favorite cocktail from the night? Champagne and elderflower liqueur, with a sprig of lavender.
The tables encapsulated the evening’s aesthetic, with low centerpieces of dahlias, astilbe, scabiosa and wildflowers in glass vessels covered in mismatched wallpaper. Alyssa chose vintage silverware and formal silver-rimmed chargers and glasses to bring a dash of easy elegance.
After dinner, guests enjoyed a photo booth and danced the night away under wrought-iron chandeliers. While each detail was fully considered, all was done with the lightest of touches. The bride created a wedding that felt as easy as falling in love, all by letting the beauty of the nature around her carry the day.
Event planner Cortnie Purdy of Canvas and Canopy in San Diego takes us through the day. The wedding started with a morning ceremony right on the beach, under a driftwood frame hung with sea glass, rope, ivy and flowers for a romantic, castaway feeling.
The morning festivities soon segued to an adjacent beach. Guests kickedoff their shoes and changed into bathing suits for a full-on Gidget-style beach party. There was a bar right on the water, waiters circulating with appetizier menus and lounge chairs laid out with striped towels. "You're outside, so it's more playful," says Cortnie. "You can serve more casual food."
What the guests ran for were the games — bocce, volleyball and more, complete with scorecards. As guests splashed and swam, Cortnie brought in pizzas. The party wasn’t meant to last into the evening, but the day was such a beach fantasy no one wanted it to end. How much fun was had? The last guests finally left the sand at nine o’clock that night.