An Elevated Barn Wedding at a Ranch on California's Central Coast

Planned by Vanessa Noel Events


Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Leanne and Brian had a wild first date. "We went diving with sharks," she says. The adventurous first date (talk about test in trust!) led to a five-year romance, and in July of 2017, Brian proposed in the middle of Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, California. "He took me to my favorite restaurant in L.A. for a celebratory dinner, and when we got home, I realized our backyard was full of our friends and family," Leanne recalls.

For their wedding, the couple wanted to reflect their California home and their laid-back nature and chose Green Gate Ranch in San Luis Obispo as the place to do just that. "It's exactly what you would want if you had all the money in the world for a backyard wedding," says Leanne. "There are three houses on the property with plenty of room for family and the wedding party, as well as beautiful outdoor spaces and a rustic barn in which to celebrate." The sprawling property was the perfect place for the couple to spend the weekend with everyone they love.

While keeping the guest list small was challenging, Leanne and Brian knew they wanted a more intimate celebration and set the cap at 110 guests for their wedding on August 4, 2018. "It was important to us that every single guest had something to do with our relationship. They were each a part of our journey, and every face was familiar," says Leanne. They used a palette of white, green, and neutral tones to blend seamlessly with their venue, giving the celebration a fresh dose of California cool that was easy-going and welcoming. Check out the images by Nicole Leever Photography for all the inspiration below.

bride and bridesmaids
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Monique Lhuillier wedding gown
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Leanne and her bridesmaids all wore white, with the bride in Monique Lhuillier and her 'maids in white tea-length dresses of their choosing.

"Deciding on a dress felt like a huge hurdle, but at the end of the day it was a gut instinct," says Leanne. When she tried on her gathered and draped ball gown, she knew she didn't need to look at anything else. "I felt like a bride, but also like myself."

white bridal bouquet
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Leanne carried an organic white and green bouquet of allium, astilbe, and tuberose with ferns and eucalyptus.

wedding party
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Brian wore a custom blue suit from Suit Supply, while his groomsmen wore gray suits from The Black Tux. "The guys all wore shark printed socks and tie clips, and Brian had a shark pocket square from Hermès, as an homage to our first date," says Leanne.

camper bar
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
ceremony welcome sign
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Guests were greeted at the ceremony site with the mobile camper-turned-bar. "We had a toast during the ceremony, so we wanted to make sure everyone had a drink in their hand," says Leanne.

outdoor wedding ceremony
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
ceremony seating
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

The ceremony took place beneath a stately walnut tree. "We didn't want to compete with the tree, so we used it in place of a traditional arch," says the bride. An aisle lined in white delphinium and lush greenery led the way between two rows of wooden benches.

backyard wedding ceremony
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Brian's brother officiated the couple's al fresco ceremony. "We wrote our own vows, which we kept in leather-bound notebooks with our monograms on them," says Leanne.

escort card display
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
table assigment jars
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

To give the backyard wedding reception a relaxed and residential feel, Brian and Leanne skipped escort cards and instead had guests' names and table numbers written on a collection of glass and ceramic vessels filled with moss, eucalyptus, and olive leaves.

barn wedding reception
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

After guests found their table assignments, everyone made their way to the barn for dinner. The couple had transformed the space with draping, bistro lights, and an unexpected table in the doorway!

barn reception table
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
basket lanterns
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Inside, more stone-hued linens were draped from the beams and woven lanterns hung over the long kings' table. "We kept the colors muted and instead mixed textures for more visual interest," says the bride.

place setting
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
wedding reception tables
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Each place setting combined simple stoneware, hemstitch napkins, and printed menus alongside mismatched flatware and pebbles-turned-place cards. "Our planner wrote each guest's name on a rock to use as their place card. Everyone took them home to keep as a reminder of our day," says Leanne.

bride and groom at wedding reception
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

A lush arrangement of delphinium and ferns was set behind Brian and Leanne's chairs at the head of the table. "We served a clean, California-inspired menu that was presented family-style," says Leanne. "We really wanted it to feel like everyone was dining at our home!" Dinner included courses of meat, fish, pasta, and seasonal salads.

bride and groom at sunset
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Brian and Leanne snuck out into the fields at sunset for photos, then returned to the barn in time for dessert (pies from Leanne's favorite local bakery!) and dancing. "In addition to appreciating all of the people who have helped you get to where you are, take time to appreciate one another," advises the bride. "Your wedding day is the beginning of a life together, as well as an amazing celebration of making the decision to embark on that journey."

Wedding Team

Wedding Planner: Vanessa Noel Events

Venue: Green Gate Ranch

Bride's Dress: Monique Lhuillier

Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka

Hair & Makeup: Blushing Beauty

Groom's Attire: Suit Supply

Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux

Floral Design: Idlewild Floral

Paper Products: Prim and Pixie, Fête and Quill

Catering: Green Gate Ranch

Pies: Ikeda's California Country Market

Music: Dart Collective

Rentals: Theoni Collection, All About Events, La Tavola Fine Linen

Photography: Nicole Leever Photography

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