A Boho Wedding in the California Forest

This wedding is right out of a woodland fairytale

Bride in jean jacket with groom

Photo by Carlie Statsky

Chessa Wathen Williams and Jordan Williams have had a string of magical summers. In June 2015, they met when Jordan approached Chessa to talk about the book she was reading. Just over a year later, he picked her up in a 1970s VW bus—her dream car!—and took her hiking through the redwoods in Santa Cruz, specifically to a trail lined with candles that led to a lit-up teepee he’d built by a waterfall. Inside, Cheesa found sunflowers (her favorite flower), champagne, and, of course, a ring. That engagement led to their June 10, 2017, wedding in Carmel Valley, which included a ceremony surrounded by redwoods and a reception for 200 in a barn.

As lovers of the outdoors, the couple decided a wedding in the midst of redwoods would be an appropriate way to celebrate their love. “Truly we wanted a really organic feeling for our wedding day," she says. "It was my vision to have an earthy wedding.” The two laid-back lovebirds hired Allison Smith of Allison Weddings to take care of all the details, and because they gave Smith and her team free rein, much of the day was a surprise for the couple. "It was beyond anything I could have imagined,” Chessa says.

And we'd have to agree. Keep reading to see more of this beautiful, boho wedding, as photographed by Carlie Statsky.

<p>Green wedding invitations</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

Emily Rose Ink created the invitation suite in keeping with the natural tones of the wedding.

Bride getting ready with mother of the bride
Photo by Carlie Statsky

For her wedding, Chessa says she knew she “wanted something long-sleeve, simple, and most of all comfortable!” Her mom, sister, future mother-in-law and Jordan’s Nana all flew from California to Nashville to help her find her dream dress.

<p>Bride solo shot from behind</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky
<p>Bride close up shot smiling</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

The bride chose the cotton-embroidered gown by Rue de Seine not because it made her look like a princess but because it reflected who she is now. “I wanted something awesome and something I could boogie in,” she adds.

<p>Bride shot from the back</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky
<p>Bride veil with greenery accents</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

Chessa loved the uniqueness of the lace on her dress. “Sunflowers are my favorite flower, so it was totally perfect that the dress basically had embroidered sunflowers all over it," she says. Other accessories included rose gold earrings her mom had custom-made for her, a matching bracelet Jordan sent her the morning of the wedding, and clogs from Swedish Hasbeens, which she wears all the time now.

Bride with bridesmaids in jean jackets
Photo by Carlie Statsky

One of the best parts of the day, says the bride, was being woken up in the morning by her best friends.

<p>Bride with bridesmaids in field</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky
<p>Bride and bridesmaids holding bouquets</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

Chessa’s bridal party chose their own dresses in the same ivory hue. “I wanted them all to have something unique,” says the bride. Her bouquet included greenery and some “funky florals” while her bridesmaids carried greenery to match the groomsmen’s boutonnieres.

<p>Forest ceremony venue</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky
<p>Close-up on sunflowers</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

Chessa didn’t have a particular color scheme in mind so she looked to natural colors of the redwood grove.

<p>Bride and groom at altar</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky
<p>Bride and groom during ceremony</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

One of the bride’s primary requests was that the ceremony seating be in a circle. “It seemed more meaningful to stand amidst our family and friends than in front of them,” she says. The pair recited a version of traditional vows, and wrote each other letters the morning of the wedding with more detailed personal vows kept private.

<p>Bride and groom kissing at altar</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

“This is how life happens, amongst your group," says the bride. "We wanted our ceremony to reflect our philosophy of marriage in that we hope to consistently surround ourselves by people who love and encourage us and hold us accountable to the vows we made.”

<p>Bride and groom hugging on mountain top</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

Following the ceremony, the couple took a minute to themselves—and to pose for photos during golden hour.

<p>Guests at wedding reception</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

In keeping with the tree theme, cocktail hour took place outside before a sit-down dinner inside a wood-clad barn.

<p>Reception lounge with bus</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

Music for the ceremony and reception was all live. “As a musician I can be pretty picky about music,” says Chessa, who hired Annachristie, who put her own spin on their favorite tunes.

<p>Wood seating chart</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky
<p>Seating chart close-up</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

The earthy couple kept things natural for their wedding, and chose to have their reception in a rustic barn next to the redwood grove.

<p>Bride and groom at reception</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

The couple made a grand entrance (to plenty of cheers!) to the reception.

<p>Wedding reception venue table setting</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

Cater, who Chessa calls “so brilliant and creative,” immediately understood what she wanted, and decorated the whole reception with little input from the bride. “We had macrame table runners and long green garlands. Christine also made chandeliers out of macrame table runners,” says Chessa.

<p>Reception Table setting with number</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

The hardest part of the planning process, according to the bride, was convincing her family to have an entirely vegetarian wedding. After a seated feast and hours of dancing, they passed grilled cheese and tomato soup as a late-night snack.

Naket wedding cake
Photo by Carlie Statsky

The simple cake was vanilla and lemon with raspberry filling.

<p>Bride and groom first dance</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky

The pair’s first dance was to an acoustic version of “Everywhere,” by Fleetwood Mac.

<p>Bride and Groom in front of Photo Booth Van</p><br><br>
Photo by Carlie Statsky
Photo by Carlie Statsky

In a cute, meaningful touch, the photo booth was inside a VW bus, Chessa’s favorite car. We'd say that's a perfect way to end a wedding, just as Chessa and Jordan started your engagement—in a VW bus!

Wedding Team

Venue & Catering: Santa Lucia Preserve

Planner: Allison Smith

Bride’s Dress: Rue de Seine

Bride’s Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens

Groom’s Attire: J. Hillburn

Hair & Makeup: The Hair and Makeup Co.

Floral Design: Christine Cater

Music: Annachristie

Invitations & Paper Products: Emily Rose Ink

Groom’s Wedding Band: Rhodes Wedding Co.

Photo Booth: The Booth Bus

Rentals: Borrowed Blu

Cake: Edith Meyer Wedding Cakes

Photography: Carlie Statsky

Videography: Spencer Sarson

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