W E D D I N G S • E V E N T S • D É C O R

FOR THE LOVE OF CALIFORNIA: A Big Sur and Carmel Wedding


By Liese Gardner

For two New Yorkers in love with California as their wedding destination, the mandate to us as their planner and designer was: Great wine and food enjoyed with 150 friends and family, and coastal views. With a luxurious timeline of 15 months to plan, our search for the perfect venue along the coast began! 

We traveled from Mendocino to Santa Barbara to find just the right setting. Ultimately, we found everything our couple desired along the legendary Pacific Coast Highway between Big Sur to Monterey and Carmel, easily the most spectacular stretch of the highway.

Ventana Inn in Big Sur was chosen as the rehearsal dinner with its expansive view of the Pacific Ocean from high atop a craggy bluff. On one side of the al fresco space they experienced a stunning sunset over the water as the golden sun kissed the hills on the other side. 

That glow extended to our couple and their guests at an event that feature simple yet elegant design with a color palette of sea foam green, purple and metallic hues. Gourmet fare and local wines were served as the sun set. Bistro lights and firepits took up where the sun left off.

Carmel Valley Ranch, a five-star modern elegant resort, was chosen for the wedding and as the weekend base as it offered many activities such as a spa and golf course, as well as a central location. 

On the day of the wedding, we used four areas of the resort beginning with the Vineyard Lawn for the daytime ceremony. The color palette for the wedding was similar to the rehearsal dinner yet with an emphasis on purple.

A personalized procession included one of their dogs as a ring bearer. He was one of the couple’s two dogs, both of whom were “dressed” appropriately! 

From the ceremony, guests took a vintage trolley to the Golf Club Terrace for cocktails and then proceeded down a dramatic stone staircase that offered the perfect view of dinner – myriad long tables nestled in amid the hills of the Valley Lawn. 

On the tables, we added more personalization. The couple loved Disney, but had already used it as a theme for their engagement party. We jointly decided to add it, along with their love of travel, to the wedding sparingly and so guests found their tables via Disney films and locations meaningful to the couple. At the tables, which were set with lush purple flowers and accents, guests enjoyed a gourmet meal served by candlelight. Bistro lights overhead sparkled in the night sky.

After dinner guests were invited up to the Golf Clubhouse for dessert, coffee and dancing. We had transformed it to a hip nightclub and lounge area with 10-piece dance band. The couple danced their first dance to a medley of Disney tunes and cut the cake, topped with Disney elements.

As the evening ended, we began getting the morning-after brunch ready while the couple and the guests went off to bed. We hope, after a weekend of the best the state had to offer, they were California dreaming!


The Team

Wedding and Floral Design: Mandy Scott

Wedding Planning and Logistics: Mandy Scott Events

Rehearsal Dinner: Ventana Inn, Big Sur

Ceremony and Reception: Carmel Valley Ranch

Photographer: Anna Kuperberg Photography

Stationery: Twig and Fig Couture Stationery

Cake: Pretty Please Bakeshop