You might recognize this couple from the Monday Montage which featured that freaking UH-MAZING and mysterious hobbit house. Here's the rest of Carla & Jon's intimate and enchanted forest wedding!

The offbeat bride: Carla, Photographer (and OBT Member)

Her offbeat partner: Jon, Instructional Aide to Kids with Autism

Location & date of wedding: The Sea Ranch, California, in a gnome-hat-shaped chapel created by an experimental architect in the 70s. Our reception was at a beautiful botanical garden in the nearby Del Mar Center — May 15th, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: Owing to both our personalities and our financial situation, we really focussed on what was most important to us. We invited a small group of our closest friends and family, with an appearance by local artist/eccentric, Doug Biggert, who served as our officiant.CJ-S19

Our wedding parties chose what they wore, only obliged to stick with a certain, broad color palette (green for the bridesmaids– and bridesman– and brown for the groomsmen).

Due to California's legislated exclusion of a large segment of the population from the institution of marriage, we were not legally married at the time, but we did elope some time later in a more fair-minded state (word up, Iowa!). We simply didn't want to benefit from a system that our gay friends could not benefit from. We did write and exchange our own vows, which left not a dry eye in the house.

CJ-S24 The backdrop of the Northern California coast was incredible, and local flora and fauna inspired our decorating. The cheese we ate was from local creameries and all the beer from a local brewery. The chapel we were married in was tiny, but a tiny miracle, it was inspired by the lines and textures of the ocean and forest, and was shaped like a gnomish hat.

Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was pretty traditional (other than leaving out all the God stuff) except for the vows which we wrote ourselves. I included a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit and a shout-out to our adored cat. Jon, who is a gifted writer, wove a gorgeously poetic little number. There were a lot of tears and laughs.

Our biggest challenge: Our ceremony site could only hold twenty people. To avoid anyone feeling left out, we took a video of us giving our vows and showed it to our other guests at the reception site while we were having pictures taken. CJ-F34

Also, we ended up spending more than we wanted to on catering, but it was to avoid a cheaper, not very nice or delicious caterer that we had previously thought we would hire. It was worth it to not have a grumpy gus to deal with on the day of, and to have food everyone would really love.

My favorite moment: Carla: Having my sister do my hair and makeup was very special to me. We didn't get along for many years as teenagers and it was one of the first sisterly moments we'd shared since we were little kids. CJ-S59

I loved dancing with Jon, who chose our first dance song (“Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a modern classic) as a surprise for me, as well as dancing with my Dad, who NEVER dances but made an exception for his little girl. Hearing Jon's beautiful vows was of course amazing. And the CAKE, the cake was positively magnificent.

Jon: Hearing Carla's vows above all else. The ritual really felt powerful. My best man, a friend who really is the closest thing I have to a brother, gave a great, clever toast. I didn't get to try both flavors of cake, but the one that I did have was great. I also liked the fact that our friend “accidentally” messed with the amp during our recessional walk and The Velvet Underground's “After Hours” ended up drenched in reverb and delay, sounding like an Alvin Lucier piece.
My funniest moment: Daphne, my cousin who was one and a half at the time, decided she did NOT want to be a flower girl. We got a really funny/cute/sad picture of her running off crying. terrarium centerpiece

Also I made sure to put in a vow from our cat into my vows, the words to which were “meow meow meow meow meow.” Ok, that sounds dumb but trust me, everyone laughed.

My advice for offbeat brides: Stick to your ideals! It would have been MUCH easier had we decided it was ok for us to sign a marriage certificate in California, but we knew we would never feel right about it. Our road-trip honeymoon to Iowa to make it legal as well as moral was the perfect way to start our new life together and hopefully a slap in the face to un-constitutional California legislation. CJ-F14

Also, don't expect anything to turn out perfect. This doesn't have to be the best day of your life. It is just a party, setting you up for a whole bunch of great days to come.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? In the end, the most important thing about my wedding was just having an excuse to be dressed up and have a party with the people I love. It's what comes after that you really need to worry about and look forward to.
Decoration: Seating Assignment Tree
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • My dress: custom made for me by my brilliant designer friend Laura, one of the creators of the fashion line Velvetleaf. Can you believe it was her first wedding dress?
  • Our cake: It was not only the most beautiful wedding cake I ever saw but also the most delicious, was made by Franny of Franny's Cup and Saucer, a magical little bakery in Point Arena, CA.
  • Our gorgeous flowers were done by Garden by The Sea in Gualala, CA.
  • Yummy catering by Pangaea.
  • The AMAZING photographs were taken by my cousin Kris, who is a gifted wedding photographer out of Chicago.
  • Custom Soda Bottles by myJones.
  • And we couldn't have done anything without our tons of amazing etsy sellers!
  • Bride's earrings: ShoogiSpark
  • Groom's cufflinks: Block Party Press
  • Groomsmen's ties: Toy Breaker
  • Favor boxes: Paper Acorn
  • Bride's ring: Sarah Hood Jewelry
  • Groom's ring: Ball and Chain
  • Bride's shoe clips: Kate's Cottage
  • Flower girl's dresses: Faith Works 4 U

Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!

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Comments on Carla & Jon’s intimate and enchanted forest wedding

  1. Carla and Jon

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I love every little thing about your wedding. Thanks for giving a shout out to Iowa, which is my home state, and it is only recently that I have started feeling proud to say that to people. What a great way to spend your first days as an official “couple” to drive somewhere so far away to send that awesome message.

    Also, thanks for saying this “Also, don’t expect anything to turn out perfect. This doesn’t have to be the best day of your life. It is just a party, setting you up for a whole bunch of great days to come. ” So true, and absolutely easy to forget.

    AND (one more thing) I love that you had a small ceremony but didn’t want people to feel left out so you played the tape at the reception whilst you were getting your photos done. That time is such “dead” time for the guests, while they wait for you, it was great of you to think of them and give them something of value to do during that time.

    AWESOME, all the way around!

  2. Very nice wedding!! I loved the colors of green and brown. The cake is very cool. Everyone looks like they had a great time. Congrats to the couple!!

  3. I love all the little woodland details of this wedding, the flowers & birds nests, the terrariums, the gnome hat! It is all so very charming! I also applaud your efforts to travel to a state that recognizes all marriages equally.

  4. ” In the end, the most important thing about my wedding was just having an excuse to be dressed up and have a party with the people I love. It’s what comes after that you really need to worry about and look forward to.”

    Hear Hear!! We need more brides in the world who think like this.

  5. This wedding is so gorgeous! I find it amazing how all the little details that went into it fit so perfectly together! The chapel is beautiful and makes an excellent backdrop for the photos. I love the cake and the bird’s nest on the shoes. I also love the small wooden vases holding the flowers. Where did you get them?

    • The vases were provided by my florist, garden by the sea. she also sells them in her shop. we just borrowed them but then i couldn’t resist and went back and bought one for myself.


  6. I admit that when I saw the term ‘Hobbit-house’ to describe your chapel, I was expecting a round door. But the chapel looked amazing; more like Gandalf’s hat. Did you take any more photos of the inside?

    I love love love your use of the different shades of green and brown in your wedding party! And that people wore what they wanted without needing to match each other. What a fabulous effect! And it worked so well with your theme! And great job on the wedding dress, Laura!!

    All the little details…such a wonderful day you put together. And more than anything, I admire that you stuck with your ethics and waited to legally marry in a place that would not exclude so many people from the joy and experience of being married.

    You guys, quite simply, rock.

    Be well,

  7. Congratulations on your wedding and marriage!
    Your mini terrarium centerpieces are darling! I also love your personalized vows. Meow Meow Meow!

    Also,props for coming to Iowa to make it legal! I’m always proud of Iowa, but when we equalized marriage rights I gained another point of pride.

  8. Beautiful wedding, loved the different greens and browns together. And what a wonderful idea to come to Iowa and make it official. We take a lot of pride here that everyone can get married! It’s an amazing place to live and I’m so happy it could be part of joining your lives together. Congratulations to the lovely couple!

  9. Tell your cousin her photography is just beautiful 🙂 Loved the colors and location, and THE CAKE. Looks like you have a fun group of friends. Congratulations

  10. All the pics are *gorgeous* and they actually remind me of a beautiful old story book. Congrats!!!

  11. Beautiful wedding!!! I’ll echo all the other comments: I love the colors, the woodland touches, the headin’-to-Iowa… really inspiring. Congratulations! I really love your invitations, too — who made them/where did them come from?

  12. Whenever I read about hetero couples refusing to marry in a place that refuses to recognize my marriage as real, I tear up a bit for reals. The world needs more people like you.

  13. I absolutely love your cake! The shoes were amazing with the nest and eggs, the bouquet just gorgeous with the ferns and the centerpieces too! What a great wedding! Congrats!

  14. So lucky! I love the little church by the ocean. Way to have a beautiful ceremony!

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