Megan and Jeff had agreed not to exchange gifts for Christmas—but for the couple's first holiday in their new California home, stockings were fair game. And when Jeff offered to give Megan one of her stocking stuffers a day early, she didn't protest. "He made me close my eyes, and he started talking and saying all kinds of sweet things," Megan recalls. "When I opened my eyes, he was down on one knee and asked if I would marry him. I shook my head yes, but I couldn't get a word out.
Megan was a bit more verbal when it came to planning the couple's October wedding in Somis, California. "When I first told my mom—aka our wedding planner—that I hoped the wedding would be rustic and elegant, I think she laughed. I'm sure she thought that was a pretty tall order," Megan admits. Yet, by using a soft color palette of sage and ivory and a collection of heartfelt, homespun décor details, "somehow, that's exactly what the wedding ended up being."
Held at Hartley Botanica, with hand-paved walkways leading to intimate gardens built specifically for weddings, Megan and Jeff's outdoor affair was "naturally beautiful and simply perfect," the bride says.
Megan describes her Allure Bridals gown as "very understated." Yet its soft satin ruches, bubbled draping and ever-so-slight train sold the bride on the dress.
The bride tied a pearl-embellished belt to the waistline of her gown—and asked the bridal salon's seamstress to add buttons down the back of the dress. With the changes, the bride says, "it was perfect."
Stella Bloom Designs used roses, dahlias, ranunculus, hydrangea and cymbidium orchids—mixed with Scabiosa pods and fiddle ferns—to create the bride's green and cream-colored bouquet. For bride's something old, the florist attached a charm that had meaning for her grandparents—a gift from her sister and mother.
"I think my wedding vision started with the color I envisioned almost immediately for my bridesmaids' dresses," the bride says. The sage The Dessy Group gowns, though formal, "blended perfectly with the natural surroundings."
Bridesmaids' all-ivory bouquets were made from roses, dahlias, ranunculus, hydrangea and Scabiosa pods.
Jeff and his groomsmen donned cream-colored suits and pinned boutonnieres made of roses, Scabiosa pods and fiddle ferns to their lapels.
Megan's mother designed and assembled the couple's green, ivory and brown ceremony programs, attaching the layered hues together with bronze brads.
Cream-colored carnations strung with clear wire were hung from trees, and became the backdrop for the couple as they exchanged their vows in one of Hartley Botanica's private gardens.
The best man's son, 9-month-old Conner, served as the couple's ring bearer, and "stole the show with his ride down the aisle in a stake-side wagon," the bride recalls. "At the rehearsal, he was gripping onto the sides of the wagon, which made us all laugh."
Megan selected an instrumental version of Glen Hansard's Falling Slowly for her trip down the aisle, which was lined with ivory rose petals.
A mutual friend acted as the couple's officiant, becoming ordained especially for the event. I'm sure not hiring a professional would make some people very nervous but she did an amazing job, interjecting a few personal anecdotes from our journey that added a very special, memorable touch," Megan says. "We wouldn't have had it any other way—our wedding would not have been the same without her."
The couple exchanged vows cobbled together from ceremonies past—"language that we both like, with fairly traditional vows that felt comfortable to both of us," the bride explains.
Guests found their reception seat assignments atop a wine barrel-supported table, made from barrels purchased from a local winery and a tabletop crafted by a family friend.
On top of the display, seat assignments were scrolled across three white-washed frames whose backs had been sprayed with chalkboard paint—a custom creation by the bride's father.
Guests found brown flip flips tied with ivory ribbon as they entered the reception. A sign read, "In case your feet get tired and sore, grab a pair and dance some more."
Megan's mother hand cut yards of burlap fabric, creating custom table runners that covered ivory table cloths. Centerpieces were made from ivory hydrangea.
The couple made table numbers from ivory-painted wooden hearts hung with twine from green wine bottles.
Photos: sun-dance photography
The bride and groom took shots from customized shot glasses after enjoying a dinner that included carved roast trip tip, garlic Parmesan whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus.
Megan and Jeff had hand-selected the music for "the big highlights of the night," Megan says of their reception songs. The couple chose Heartlands' I Loved Her First for the bride's dance with her father, and Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd for the groom's dance with his mother.
Hand-painted Mr. and Mrs. signs hung from the bride and groom's reception chairs.
"One of the smartest decisions we made was to serve cupcakes to our guests," Megan says of the couple's decision to forgo a formal cake. Sweet Arleen's arranged the miniature treats on a cake stand with a double-layer cake on top, allowing the bride and groom "to have a traditional cake-cutting," Megan says.
"My mom asked us both to give her five words of what we hoped the wedding would turn out to be," Megan says. "If I remember correctly, mine were elegant, rustic, casual, happy and family. She always gave me a hard time about the combination of elegant and rustic, but that's exactly how it turned out. Maybe that's not the words most people would choose, but my vision came to life for our wedding. It was perfect. An amazing day that captured all of the words we had used for what we hoped it would be."
"Everyone tells you that the day flies by and that you need to take time to breathe and enjoy it," the bride says. "We did our best to do that. Every step of the way was so perfect, and that's exactly how I felt as we exited with all of our friends and family standing along the walkway with sparklers. Every aspect of the day went as planned, we had the time of our lives and our exit as husband and wife with glowing sparklers was a fairytale ending."
Wedding Planner: Bella Dia Weddings via Hartley Botanica || Ceremony Venue: Hartley Botanica || Reception Venue: Hartley Botanica || Bride's Wedding Dress: Allure Bridals || Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Bride's Accessories: BHLDN || Bride's Wedding Ring: Robbins Brothers || Groom's Tux: Friar Tux Shop || Groom's Shoes: Vans || Groom's Wedding Ring: Robbins Brothers || Bridesmaids' Dresses: The Dessy Group || Groomsmen Attire: Friar Tux Shop || Mother of the Bride's Dress: Adrianna Papell || Florist: Stella Bloom Designs || Stationery: Julie Hanan Design || Cake Baker: Sweet Arleen's || Rentals: Command Performance Catering Group & Event Production || Entertainment: Bruce Barrios Productions || Photography: sun-dance photography