An Oceanfront Ranch Wedding
in Santa Barbara, CA

Real Weddings
oceanfront ranch wedding

Photo: Corbin Gurkin

Katie and Spencer go way back—all the way back to 1994, when they were both students at Lake Forest Country Day School, near Chicago. "I was in seventh grade, and Spencer was in ninth. I had a huge crush on him," says Katie. "One night we were at a school function, and he asked me to dance. He still remembers what I wore that night!" They went on a couple of dates during college, but things didn't get serious until Katie asked him out for drinks the Thanksgiving after graduation—just when she was about to move to Santa Barbara, California, for photography school. "We started texting and IMing, and soon he was flying out to visit every few weeks," says Katie. "That's why Santa Barbara is so special to us—it's where we fell in love as adults."

For their venue, they chose Rancho Dos Pueblos, a 3,000-acre oceanfront ranch with a wood-slatted barn and a private sandy beach just 15 minutes outside of town. Says Katie: "We planned every part of the day to take place on a different part of the property to keep everyone's excitement piqued."

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Katie's look was quintessential cowgirl bride: strapless ball gown ("I loved the sweetheart neckline and the pickup skirt," says Katie of her Pronovias dress), pearl choker, cathedral-length veil--and Golden Goose boots. "The terrain at the ranch gets pretty treacherous," she says, grinning. "I still wear them!" To accessorize her look, Kaite wore family heirloom pearl earrings, a double-strand necklace, and a bracelet. The bride carried a round bouquet of English garden roses in bold Latin-inspired colors.

english garden rose bouquet
boutonnieres of bougainvillea, thistles, and fiddlehead ferns

The groomsmen wore colorful boutonnieres of bougainvillea, thistles, and fiddlehead ferns. Bridesmaids wore French blue chiffon dresses by Amsale purchased from The Wedding Library.

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oceanfront wedding ceremony ideas

On the afternoon of October 22, 2011, 140 guests gathered on a grassy cliff to watch Katie and Spencer say "I do." During the ceremony, a string quartet performed everything from Pachelbel's Canon in D to Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." "It was misty and so romantic," says Katie of the ceremony. Décor included two doors secured into the grass and draped in bougainvillea, rectangular fuschia boxes filled with baby's breath, and two handmade trees by Blue Magnolia flanking the aisle. After the vows, guests took a staircase down to the oceanfront cocktail hour for margaritas and crispy artichoke hearts.

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centerpieces of dahlias, ranunculus, and tulip
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For the family-style dinner of Chianti-braised short ribs and wild salmon on a nearby lawn, guests were seated at long wooden farmhouse tables topped with linen runners and amber glassware. "Everyone was passing food around and talking. We loved how communal it was," Katie says. On the tables, moss-covered vases overflowed with vibrant dahlias, ranunculus, and tulips, and the table numbers were formed out of moss. The menus were calligraphed with guests' names and tucked into linen napkins. The cake was decorated with fresh flowers and ombre ribbons of purple fondant.

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At dusk, a trio of horn musicians led guests along a lantern-lit path to the barn. White couches, candles, and gold chandeliers transformed the rustic space into a cozy lounge where guests rocked out to the Beatles and Phish, and helped themselves to lollipops and gummy bears from the candy bar. Two guests took a spin on the dance floor: "We encouraged everyone to wear cowboy boots and ranch-appropriate attire," says Katie.

The flower girl—Katie's five-year-old niece, Addison—partied down (and up!) on the dance floor. Before cutting the cake, the bride changed into a short chiffon dress by Marchesa. "I'm a crazy dancer and wanted to be comfortable," she says. Her boots? "Of course, I kept them on."

barn wedding dance floor

Photos: Corbin Gurkin

Photographer: Corbin Gurkin || Hair and Makeup: LunaBella || Bride's Dress: Pronovias || Bride's Reception Dress: Marchesa || Bride's Veil: Basia Custom Headdresses & Accessories; 212-874-6720 || Bride's Boots: Golden Goose || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Groom's Suit: Brooks Brothers || Groom's Tie: Hermés || Florist: Blue Magnolia Floral & Event Design || Caterer: Omni Fresco Catering || Event Planning: Keri Clavin and Lindsay Freylack; || Stationery: Sloane Design || Calligraphy: Lettering by Liz || Ceremony Music: Fifth Avenue Orchestras & Entertainment || Reception Music: West Coast Music || Venue: Rancho Dos Pueblos || Rentals: Classic Party Rentals || Linens: LaTavola || Lighting: Ambient Event Design || Cake: Montecito Confections

Visit our Real Weddings page to find more beach style inspiration.

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