When Todd Bradley proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Elyse Weidner, in February 2012, they'd already been dating for a decade. So when planning their long-awaited "I dos," the Kansas natives and high school sweethearts, who now call North Carolina home (Todd is a medical resident at Duke University), decided on a destination wedding for their close-knit group of friends. "Our friends and family are spread out so we decided on a destination for both us and our guests," says Elyse. "It was a reunion or sorts since we live so far away from everyone."
After searching the country for a wedding venue, Elyse and Todd came across the Wind and Sea Estate in Big Sur, California, and knew it was the perfect spot for an outside ceremony and reception. So on November 1, 2014, after 14 years of dating, they invited 50 friends out West for a celebration on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Keep reading to see Evynn LeValley's romantic photos of the big day below.
Elyse says she always pictured herself wearing a color on her wedding day, but she fell hard for this vintage-inspired Theia gown on shopping trip in New York City. "The beading and shape of the gown caught my eye and I had to have it," she says.
Since the dress had such an intricate design, Elyse styled it with a simple rose flower crown and wavy locks. She carried a bouquet of blush pink garden roses to match her crown of baby roses.
The groom looked sharp in a navy three-piece suit from Bar III, pairing it with a striped teal tie, orange polka dot handkerchief, and rose bud boutonniere.
Elyse and Todd kept their wedding party small, asking the two bridesmaids to wear long nude dresses and the two groomsmen to sport their own navy suits.
The high school sweethearts exchanged vows they'd written themselves on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. "It was so beautiful we didn't need to add anything extra," says Elyse. During the personalized ceremony, the couple asked Elyse's grandparents, who've been married more than 50 years, to present their top 10 tips to building a successful marriage — David Letterman style.
After His & Hers signature cocktails, the group moved up to the estate's deck for a seated dinner of local and seasonal foods like roasted squash, grilled wild salmon, and roasted chicken.
The long, family-style table was dressed with white tablecloths, vintage white dollies, and arrangements of pale pink and lavender local blooms.
Guests found their place cards tied to twigs of lavender.
After dinner, the couple cut into their wedding cake, a buttercream-frosted devil's food cake, before munching on chocolate lavender truffles, rosemary shortbread, and macaroons.
The newlyweds ended the night around a fire pit, dancing with friends. "It was wonderful," says the bride.
Elyse and Todd stayed in California for their honeymoon, spending time in the Sonoma wine country. The bride's final tips for planning? "Make decisions based on what will make you happy and rest assured that your loved ones will feel the same," says Elyse.
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Wind & Sea Estate || Bride's Wedding Dress: Theia || Hair & Makeup: Katrina Michelle Christensen of Plays Well With Brushes || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Asos || Groom's Suit: Bar III || Florist: Kate Healey of Big Sur Flowers || Rentals: Stardust Vintage Rentals, Alexis Party Rentals || Music: Sandra Dolores Swanfeldt || Catering & Cake: Jamie Jarrard of Sea Stars || Photography: Evynn LeValley Photography
Did you love this intimate Big Sur wedding? Then watch another couple tie the knot in California in the video below!