Sarah and Gabriel in Pescadero, CA

A couple celebrates for three days at a remote resort with a feel-good vibe

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Costanoa Coastal Lodge and Camp fits Sarah McDowell and Gabriel Cade's vision of a dream wedding locale. The environmentally conscious lodge has the laid-back, feed-the-soul vibe they sought, promotes a wellness philosophy, and offers lots of hiking, mountain biking and kayaking.

Communal Spirit: A country backdrop sets the stage for a leisurely ambience. "We wanted the weekend to be like a retreat, where people could relax and really get to know each other," says Sarah. All 150 guests stayed on-property-some pitched tents, others opted for rooms with whirlpool tubs.

Informality Rules: An outdoor theme lends itself to a creative, less structured event. The night before the wedding, guests were invited to a barbecue where a naturalist lectured about bats, and everyone joined in a game of Capture the Flag. The next morning, they gathered for group yoga.

Simple Ceremony: Bagpipers and a gospel choir would be too showy for a wedding in the wild. Sarah and Gabe exchanged self-written vows in a short and sweet ceremony. A judge who is also a friend officiated on a grassy bluff overlooking the hills and ocean. In a meaningful "giving away" gesture, the walk down the aisle included the couple's parents, stepparents and siblings.

Artisanal Menua: Locally grown food is a must for an outdoor celebration. Sarah and Gabe, both vegetarians, served a buffet dinner that included vegetable napoleons and goat cheese and artichoke crostini. —Nancy Mattia



Vera Wang,


Costanoa Coastal Lodge and Camp,


K. Jacques,


Podesta Baldocchi,


Suzy Clement,