A Naturally Beautiful Ojai Wedding

The couple's bucolic setting set the tone of the day—from the welcome bags to the reception decor

bride and groom

Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

Twelve years before they ultimately wed, a mutual friend introduced interior designer Sydney Ackerley Redding and Ray Redding of Houston’s Smith & Associates because of one simple commonality: They’re both tall!“Thankfully we actually liked each other, too,” recalls Sydney, who at 6’3” is just a few inches shorter than her 6’6” beau. Because they’d been together so long, says the bride, the occasion was not about their family and friends meeting for the first time. Their shared vision was one giant party to celebrate finally tying the knot.

“This was about having a fabulous celebration in the most beautiful town in California and having everyone we love enjoy it with us,” says Sydney, whose rehearsal dinner took place in the backyard of her parents’ Ojai, California, vacation home. “Everything about Ojai makes you cool, calm and relaxed,” she says, though she did tell her wedding planner, Beth Helmstetter, it should be upbeat with zero downtime.

Ultimately, the Ojai wedding event for 225 guests took place June 24, 2017 at the bucolic Ojai Valley Inn, and maintained an effortlessly natural atmosphere for a lot of laughs and dancing. Keep reading to see Steve Steinhardt's photo of their gorgeous Ojai wedding, below!

welcome box
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

The Beth Helmstetter Events team assembled and designed personalized welcome boxes for guests. Each included olive oil, candied pecans, and cookies with the couple's dogs on them.

Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

During dress shopping, Sydney says she learned to keep an open mind. “I ended up picking the opposite of what I thought I wanted,” she says of selecting an all-over lace Reem Acra gown with scalloped edges. “I had tried on about 12 dresses before the one and my mom and I instantly knew.”

dog pinatas
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

Along with Stuart Weitzman shoes, the bride wore a veil and belt from Ivory Bridal Shop in Houston. Their rehearsal dinner included piñatas and a fiesta theme so she posed with the leftover props the next day!

Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

The couple had 225 guests, including this adorable little one.

ceremony site
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

“The Ojai Valley Inn is just absolutely stunning,” says the bride of their first choice of venue. They called the hotel after their February 2016 Sydney, Australia, engagement and chose one of a handful of available dates in 2017.

ceremony altar
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

For the ceremony, the pair stood under a romantic floral arch wrapped with lush vines and roses by Holly Flora.

lanterns with flowers
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography
lantern with flowers
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

Along with the floral archway, the florist created loose vines overhead that intertwined with lanterns hanging from the branches of the big, beautiful trees.

Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

Sydney describes their vows as “absolutely hilarious.” Their officiant, Judge Brian Hill, had them complete questionnaires and make notes about each other, and he came up with entertaining, personal vows for them to recite. “Everyone was laughing nonstop,” she says. “I’m pretty sure Ray vowed to continue letting me rescue dogs, and I vowed to understand that Astros baseball is a kind of religion.”

escort cards
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

Escort cards placed on a bed of greenery kept with the natural, earthy aesthetic of the entire event.

open tent
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography
tent details
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

For their reception, the team envisioned a magical open-air structure featuring overgrown vines and a mix of chandeliers and geometric pendants throughout the partially tented space.

table setting
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography
place setting
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

When it came to a color palette, Sydney wanted an earthy and natural look, which included a lot of blue. The floral arrangements, from bouquets to the tables, included gardenias, garden roses and soft leaves for a naturally beautiful look.

For dinner, guests enjoyed brown butter gnocchi, porcini risotto, filet mignon, and Mediterranean branzino.

first dance
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

The couple’s first dance was to “You Are the Best Thing,” by Ray LaMontagne. Instead of a traditional white dance floor, this couple’s was custom made and covered with blue Spanish tiles. There were even bespoke bars built with the same tile facade!

Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography
Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

“Rich linens were threaded throughout, which were a beautiful sight as the sun set,” says the bride of the installation above the dance floor. West Coast Music's Impulse band kept everyone on the said dance floor, where they continued to party through Dart DJ's energetic after-party.

Wedding Team

Venue: Ojai Valley Inn

Planner: Beth Helmstetter Events

Bride’s Dress: Reem Acra

Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman

Groom’s Attire: Burney and Nichols

Hair & Makeup: TEAM Hair & Makeup

Floral Design: Holly Flora

Music: Supernova Events; Impulse by West Coast Music; Dart DJ

Cake: Vanilla Bake Shop

Invitations: Urbanic Paper Boutique

Photo Booth: Smilebooth

Photography: Steve Steinhardt Photography

Videography: Elysium Productions

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