This Natural California Wedding Will Make You Want to Plan Your Own Outdoor Celebration
In a long-term relationship, one can never predict the moment or experience that sparks the next move. For Kelsey, it was a lonely hotel room. After traveling so much with his then-boyfriend, Court, over the course of their five-year relationship, Kelsey's solo work trip to Ireland felt empty in comparison. So, it was there in that very room that he started to plan the sentimental proposal he'd deliver just a few days later. "I wrote a Christmas card to Court, which I read to him with his close family surrounding him," remembers Kelsey. "It talked about all the wonderful international trips we've made and how I wanted to continue that adventure for the rest of our lives."
As if speaking from the heart wasn't enough, he then presented Kelsey with fake airline tickets on "Marry Me Airlines," complete with baggage tags inscribed with their dogs' names. Of course, all the planning was met with a resounding yes. Shortly after, the two began planning an elegant affair that would take place a year-and-a-half later at the Chalet View Lodge in Graeagle, California.
With help from the venue's event planning team, Kelsey and Court worked together to dream up an elegant affair for 105 friends and family members. They relied heavily on the locale's natural green foliage and crisp white flowers to dictate much of their tasteful aesthetic. The best part? On May 12, 2018, they didn't just become husband and husband—they became travel partners for life.
A Family Affair
A venue that's both elegant and sentimental doesn't come around often, so when it came time to pick a location for their nuptials, Court and Kelsey both instinctively knew The Chalet View Lodge was the spot. "This was Court's family's lodge and it was a beautiful setting," says Kelsey. "It made sense to have a weekend-long celebration so we could spend more time with our friends and family." The ten-acre resort boasted plenty of locations for the party to unfold, as well as breathtaking natural scenery which served as an unforgettable backdrop.
Looking for an understated and sophisticated stationery design, the couple opted for a suite from Minted. The invitations, table cards, and response cards featured a letterpress typeface in a neutral copper hue on lightly textured cotton paper.
To make the most of the gorgeous landscape, Court and Kelsey put aside some time at sunrise on the day before the wedding to take photos at Sardine Lake, about 15 miles north of the venue. "The lighting and backdrop were so beautiful!" says Kelsey. But this pre-emptive session was for more than just golden hour light. "It helped to space out the photo sessions so we didn't feel rushed or overwhelmed the day of the wedding," he explains. While the couple also made the trip day-of, they were able to do so without the pressure of rushing around or missing out on time with family and friends.
Together from the Start
Bucking tradition, the grooms opted to get ready together on the big day, making for a memorable morning and some very sweet photos. "We had picked out our suits, ties, socks, and shoes together so there was no surprise reveal," says Kelsey. "It was exciting to feel like it was all coming together after so many months of planning. It also made things feel real to see each other ready to walk down the aisle."
Both Court, left, and Kelsey, right, wanted timeless looks for the wedding day and ultimately chose matching tailored gray suits from Suitsupply. The three-piece ensembles were formal without feeling stuffy. For an added pop of fun, they chose black ties adorned with small white flowers.
Groomsmen and Groomswomen
A mix of friends and family served as the couple's groomsmen and groomswomen. In what would often be considered a reversal of roles, it was the groomsmen who wore classic black suits to contrast against the groom's gray selections; they completed their look with gray ties. The ladies' mismatched gray dresses offered nice variation to the group's overall aesthetic.
The plan was for the ceremony to be held outside—but there was one problem: A storm system, including a light drizzle and clouds, had moved into the area. Not willing to give up on their outdoor vision just yet, the couple pushed the ceremony back 30 minutes—and Mother Nature obliged. "Just as we started to walk down the aisle, the sun came through the clouds and made for a beautiful ceremony," says Kelsey. "We'd like to think both of our grandmothers who passed earlier in the year (they were both from Hawaii) were giving us a nice Hawaiian blessing with rain and then a warm beautiful sunshine." The ceremony also featured some beautiful décor, including greenery draped along chairs, logs, and candles at the start of the aisle, and a floral circle to frame the happy couple during their nuptials.
A Sight in White
With the wedding party in shades of gray and black, it opened up a very special wardrobe opportunity for the moms of the hour. "Because we weren't planning on wearing white, it gave our mothers an opportunity to wear this forbidden wedding color," explains Court. "It kept very well with the simple and elegant theme. They were absolutely gorgeous!" Indeed, the gorgeous mothers of the grooms walked their sons down the aisle as "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge played.
The ceremony was led by two officiants: a good friend and Kelsey's older brother. Since neither groom is particularly religious, the secular ceremony involved a Hawaiian wedding prayer (a nod to Kelsey's heritage) and vows they wrote themselves. "They were very sweet and personal," remembers Kelsey, adding that exchanging promises was the couple's big-day highlight.
Here Come the Grooms
A string rendition of "At Last" by Etta James played as the newlyweds recessed up the aisle hand-in-hand.
For their cocktail hour, the newlyweds raised the bar—and put it on wheels. A mobile bar decorated with string lights and greenery garlands served four beers on tap, as well as the couple's signature cocktails. Instead of the traditional Moscow Mule, the drink menu offered a Mountain Mule (it featured a stronger ginger flavor). In fact, to ensure it was up to snuff, the Petite Street bartenders made their own syrup from freshly pressed ginger.
The couple's planner, Paulette Alkire, put her excellent penmanship to use on this modern mirror by writing down each guest's seating assignment. The chart was displayed at the entrance of the tent and was just one of the many moments in which Court and Kelsey were thankful they had hired a planner from the start. "We didn't have time with our busy schedules to coordinate much" Kelsey admits. "Our wedding planner and team brought our dream wedding to life."
The reception was held in a large, clear tent with unobstructed views of the beautiful woods surrounding the property. Long, wooden tables were a must for the grooms, who felt it added a bit of drama and perfectly aligned with the rest of the elegant décor.
White fabric was draped down the center of each table; a lush greenery runner, woven between tall gold candlesticks, was placed on top. Gold made its way into other aspects of the tablescape's décor, including the flatware, chargers, and drinkware.
Around the World
Designed in the same style as the invitation suite, table numbers paid homage to some of the grooms' favorite travel locations they'd visited over the course of their relationship.
For Kelsey, there was nothing more important to the celebration than the menu. "Growing up, Kelsey developed his passion for food and cooking from watching and helping his grandmother in the kitchen every weeknight," says Court. Everything from the hand-selected bread and the scallops, to the halibut with citrus olive oil was curated by Kelsey and executed by the chefs from Farm to Belly.
Meeting on a dating app isn't often a precursor to long-term love. So, as a testament to their relationship beating the odds, Court and Kelsey chose "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Haley Rheinhart as their first dance song. It's a selection the couple felt was an appropriate reflection of their journey together. "Our falling in love was sort of unexpected," says Kelsey, "...in the best way, of course."
The couple's mutual dislike for cake frosting led them to a minimalist, semi-naked confection from Paris Custom Cakes. For added intrigue, the baker used a sweeping floral arrangement to complete the elegant design. The almond cake with layers of Bavarian cream and fresh berries was a hit among guests—many noted how much they enjoyed it even after the festivities had ended.
Court and Kelsey's beloved pups acted as the reception's guests of honor. "We have had Chloe since six months after we met and Daphne came along a few years ago when we adopted her," says Kelsey. "We knew they would be too much to handle to be at the ceremony, so, we brought them out later during the reception to do some light dancing and for a photo op."
Photography, Kay Kroshus
Location, Event Design, & Planning, Chalet View Lodge
Catering, Farm to Belly
Flowers, Marigold SF
Cinematography, Maru Films
Cake, Paris Custom Cakes
Music, The Novelists
Grooms suits, Suit Supply
Mobile Bar, Petite Street Bistro
Table Settings and Décor: Williams-Sonoma