A California-Cool Wedding in Laguna Beach

alex drew california wedding couple embracing outdoors
Jose Villa

Since Alex Williams and Drew Allen met in Milan, Italy, it made perfect sense that their engagement (which came five years later) would take place in the same magical city. "We went back to Italy for our five-year dating anniversary," says Alex, who visited Rome, Cinque Terre, and Milan with her soon-to-be fiancé. "Drew thought it would be fun to walk by his old apartment—which is where we first met—on our way to dinner, and that is where he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him." After Alex said yes, she saw a few roses fall from the sky, and looked up to see her best friend and her husband smiling down at her. "I hadn't been able to see [them] for two years," she says, "and Drew knew how happy it would make me to have her there. That's probably when I really lost it." The foursome went out to dinner afterwards and had a memorable evening celebrating the couple's engagement.

After initially considering an elopement in Italy, the pair instead chose a breathtaking outdoor location near their future home as the site for their September nuptials: The Ranch at Laguna Beach. "By the end of our deliberations it just made sense to get married in Laguna," says Alex, who, together with Drew, hosted 184 guests. "The venue was a beautiful canvas with the open space to create the vision I had." Throughout the planning process, the bride kept referring to the mood she wished to evoke as "California-cool"—the ambiance she achieved with the help of event planner Brooke Keegan.

"I didn't really know how to put it into words because it was more like a feeling, but it was very true to who we are," Alex explains. Looking to create a laidback, ethereal atmosphere, Alex sought to enhance the gorgeous backdrop the venue offered. "I decided on the neutral color palette because I wanted some fun, unexpected elements to pop," she adds. "After the wedding was over, people wanted to talk about all those little details and how much of our personalities they saw in them," Alex advises, "so if little details make you happy, I say do it!"

Drew's favorite element of the wedding was the fact that so many loved ones could be there. "People that I haven't been able to see in years made it out to share the day with us," he says.

01 of 19

A Natural Invitation Suite

alex drew california wedding invitation stationary suite
Jose Villa

The couple's combined names served as the key design element on their vanilla-hued stationery suite by Yonder Design.

02 of 19

Tasteful Welcome Baskets

alex drew california wedding welcome basket
Jose Villa

In keeping with the "California-cool" aesthetic, each welcome basket featured brightly-colored tassels and was filled with bottled water, Rusty's Chips, candy from Sugarfina, and a beach towel from a local company.

03 of 19

A Stunning Embroidered Wedding Dress

alex drew california wedding couple first look outdoors
Jose Villa

Alex's long-sleeved Monique Lhullier wedding dress fit like a second skin and featured hand-painted, pistachio-hued flowers throughout. "I was looking for something minimal with a touch of bohemian, and when I tried on this dress, it was perfect—minimal with a little quirkiness that really matched my personality," says the bride. Jewelry was of Alex's own design.

04 of 19

Bohemian Bridal Shoes

alex drew california wedding shoes and flower arrangement
Jose Villa

The highlight of the bride's blush-colored sandals by Charlotte Olympia was a gathering of fabric daisies across the delicate straps.

05 of 19

A Breathtaking Bridal Party

alex drew california wedding party and couple
Jose Villa

Bridesmaids wore blush-colored gowns by Joanna August in the style and silhouette of their choosing, while groomsmen wore navy suits from Men's Wearhouse. Drew stepped out in a Hugo Boss ensemble in an understated plaid—a subtle nod to the rather shocking plaid blazer he wore on the couple's first dinner date.

06 of 19

A Lush, Open-Air Ceremony Site

alex drew california wedding outdoor ceremony space
Jose Villa

Set on the ninth green of the property's golf course, the ceremony was nestled against a beautiful hillside; the aesthetic that floral designer Sarah Winward achieved was one of untamed, natural beauty. Garlands of flowers were strung from tree branches at the site, which was further enhanced with aisle arrangements of pieris blossoms, maidenhair fern, and fleece vine. Wooden benches served as seating, while a neutral aisle runner paved the way to the altar.

07 of 19

A Lavish Bridal Bouquet

alex drew california wedding bouquet couple
Jose Villa

The bride's textural, monochromatic bouquet featured garden, spray, and iceberg roses, as well as clematis blooms. Accents of pieris and greenery completed the verdant look.

08 of 19

A Powerful Vow Exchange

alex drew california wedding outdoor ceremony couple teary eyes
Jose Villa

A close friend of the couple officiated the ceremony, which brought both the bride and groom to tears. "We trusted James to do whatever he wanted, and didn't ask for anything in particular," says Alex of the service. "It was a little religious, pleasantly funky, and perfectly unexpected."

"The moment before we were officially married, our officiant asked us to take the time to look out at all our friends and family," adds Drew. "The moment was incredibly powerful, and I'll never forget it."

09 of 19

A Chic Cocktail Hour

alex drew california wedding outdoor lounge
Jose Villa

Guests enjoyed drinks on the grounds of the property, which featured chic outdoor lounge and dining areas strung with hundreds of overhead lanterns, each of which was hand-woven by an artist in Thailand.

10 of 19

Round Bar

alex and drew wedding round bar
Jose Villa

Full of character and natural details that fit with Alex's vision, a round, wooden bar functioned as the focal point that tied the outdoor cocktail and reception spaces together. Garlands of flowers gave it an extra dose of elegance while potted plants pulled in the natural surroundings.

11 of 19

A Dreamy Seating Chart

alex drew california wedding seating chart sign with lanterns
Jose Villa

Shades of vanilla and cream were used in the couple's seating chart, which was mounted on linen paper and propped on an antique wooden easel accented with flower garlands.

12 of 19

Ethereal Reception Tables

alex drew california wedding reception tables lanterns
Jose Villa

Wooden tables and chairs set the scene for the reception, working seamlessly with the natural setting. A mix of white blooms and a variety of greenery provided the tables an untamed beauty similar to that of the ceremony.

13 of 19

Crisp Place Settings

alex drew california wedding place setting on table with centerpiece
Jose Villa

White-on-white place settings added crispness to the tabletops and worked cohesively with the creamy flowers and candles. Seating cards were accented with stones handpicked by bride. "I go to the Tucson Gem show every year, so I thought it would be really fun to source rocks for the escort cards," says Alex. "It brought some fun color to the tablescape and it was very special to me."

14 of 19

Captivating Centerpieces

alex drew california wedding candle flowers centerpiece
Jose Villa

Handmade porcelain bowls grounded the centerpieces. Candles, potted plants, baskets of flowers, and wooden bowls enhanced the tablescape's earthy quality.

15 of 19

An Enchanting First Dance

alex drew california wedding couple first dance outdoor dance floor
Jose Villa

The pair took their first dance as husband and wife was to "Gotta Have You" by The Weepies—and preceded yet another special moment. "After our first dance, one of the band members said, 'If you love this couple come out onto the dance floor,' and every person who was able got up and danced," says Alex. "It was honestly the most fun I have ever had."

16 of 19

An All-White Wedding Cake

alex drew california wedding white cake lunaria
Jose Villa

The couple commissioned a simple wedding cake design from Sweet Lady Jane. The "Triple Berry" flavor—for which the bakery and café is known—was a huge hit with guests.

17 of 19

Ice Cream Treats

alex drew california wedding ice cream sandwiches and twinkle lights
Jose Villa

The couple worked with Chunk N-Chip to create a special dessert: Custom ice cream sandwiches, which were inspired by the bride and groom's favorite flavors.

18 of 19

A Vintage Van Photo Booth

alex drew california wedding photobooth van
Jose Villa

A white VW bus from The Booth & Bus Co. presented the perfect photo op throughout the evening.

19 of 19


alex drew california wedding couple embracing black and white
Jose Villa

Photography, Jose Villa Photographer

Location, The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Event Planning, Brooke Keegan Special Events

Catering, The Ranch at Laguna Beach (dinner); Chunk-N-Chip (dessert)

Flowers, Sarah Winward

Videography, Living Cinema

Stationery, Yonder Design

Cake, Sweet Lady Jane

Music, PawnShop Kings (ceremony, cocktail hour); West Coast Music (reception); Unite Entertainment (after-party)

Rentals, Barker Décor Service; Bright Event Rentals; Casa de Perrin; Elan Event Rentals; La Tavola; Revelry Event Designers

Hair and Makeup, Heidi Marie Garrett

Lighting, Lighten Up Inc.

Bride's gown, Monique Lhuillier

Bride's shoes, Charlotte Olympia

Engagement ring and wedding bands, Tiffany & Co.

Bridesmaids' dresses, Joanna August

Groom's suit, Hugo Boss

Groomsmen's suits, Men's Wearhouse

Photo Booth, The Booth & Bus Co.

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