An Elegant Wedding Where the Mountains Meet the Sea in Big Sur, California

Real Weddings

Katrina Connor and Gregg Nelson are proof that it just might be worth it to let your friends drag you out with them for the evening. "Neither of us was planning on being out that night," says Katrina, who spotted a 6'7" tall, dark, and handsome stranger who reminded her of an old-time movie star. What followed was a year-long whirlwind romance, including multiple trips west to Big Sur. On one such trip, after a long hike and a romantic picnic on a secluded beach, Katrina slipped off her shoes to wade in the surf, and Gregg got down on one knee as the waves rolled in around them.

For their August 23, 2014 wedding, Katrina and Gregg knew they'd be retuning to Big Sur once again. So they planned a ceremony at the Carmel Mission Basilica, then an open-air dinner for 120 at the Ventana Inn and Spa. They hired Connor & Max Events to plan the rustically elegant celebration, photographed by Allyson Magda.

Katrina brought her parents and her best friend Jay with her to shop for a wedding dress at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. "The first dress I tried on was what I thought I'd want, but when I came out of the dressing room? Crickets," she says. But the second dress, an Alencon lace a-line dress by Ines Di Santo with a subtle blush hue, brought on the waterworks from Dad and gushing approval from Mom and Jay. "I tried on a few more, but when you know, you know."

She paired her gown with a 10-foot lace-trimmed veil. When Katrina found her gown, her mom gave her a lace handkerchief that Gregg had bought for her. She used the handkerchief to wrap her bouquet of garden roses and jasmine.

Gregg wore a bespoke tan suit, perfect for the late-summer nuptials.

For a touch of glam, Katrina wore bejeweled René Caovilla sandals and diamond studs borrowed from her mother.

Guests were invited to the West Coast with laser-cut invitations decorated with flowers, trees, and birds, designed by Alpine Creative Group.

Katrina's four bridesmaids wore blush-hued gowns, two by Monique Lhuillier and two by Aidan Mattox. The flower girls wore white dresses with blush sashes and crowns of flowers and greenery.

The bride walked down the aisle on her father's arm. "The church is so beautiful that we didn't use any flowers to decorate it," Katrina says. "It felt so sacred to stand in the 18th-century church and profess our love with traditional vows."

At the Ventana Inn and Spa, long tables were arranged on the patio. Small arrangements of garden and spray roses, hydrangeas, and dahlias were arranged down the middle of the tables. Each table was named after a classic couple, ranging from Mickey and Minnie to Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

Entertainment included a swing band, a DJ spinning Motown favorites, and a late-night performance by Mark Banks.

"Amazing food was a huge priority," says Katrina of the four-course menu. Every course, from roasted corn risotto with prawns to grilled salmon with quinoa and English peas, was paired with a local California wine.

For dessert, Gregg and Katrina cut into a ladyfinger cake, with passion fruit, lemon-raspberry, and chocolate ganache fillings.

After dinner, the dance floor stayed packed all night. "I'll never forget seeing everyone flood the dance floor to celebrate with us under the stars. You could feel the love in the air," Katrina remembers. She and Gregg took a mini-moon to Napa Valley's Calistoga Ranch, and are planning a longer honeymoon to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Jose Ignacio, Uraguay.

Says the bride, "Remember that it will all work out, so have fun planning, and enjoy every minute. It goes by so fast!"

Ceremony Venue: Carmel Mission Basilica || Reception Venue: Ventana Inn & Spa || Wedding Planner: Connor & Max Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Ines Di Santo || Shoes: René Caovilla || Hair: Edgar Parra || Makeup: Rasheeda Bogle || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier, Aidan Mattox || Groom's Attire: Imparali || Groomsmen's Ties: Charvet || Engagement Ring: Asprey || Floral Design: Burst & Bloom || Invitations & Paper Goods: Alpine Creative Group || Music: Wally's Swing World, DJ Peter Burkhard, Mark Banks || Catering: Ventana Inn & Spa || Cake & Favors: Parker-Lusseau Pastries & Cafe || Rentals: Chic Event Rentals, La Tavola Linens || Photography: Allyson Magda Photography

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