A Romantic, Rustic DIY Wedding on a Ranch in California

Photo: Ryan Ray
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Tara and Nick

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Tara and Nick wed exactly five years and five days after they began dating. The duo who met in California during college but now live in Portland, Oregon, where they run Brown Butter Photography, a wedding and portrait photography business. Their November 20, 2011, wedding, was big on DIY details, sustainable elements -- and lots of heart.

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The Location

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Tara and Nick chose a local ranch in Grass Valley, California, for its proximity to the summer camp where they first met as 9-year-olds. It made the ideal setting for the weekend of events which included a rehearsal dinner and welcome bonfire.

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The Fashions

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The groom sported a J.Crew vest and jacket, Old Navy pants, and Timberland shoes. His autumnal tones complimented the bride's "Oysters and Pearls" gown by Elizabeth Dye of The English Dept. Tara added a pop of color with her Asos shoes, and borrowed her grandmother's pearl bracelet as a finishing touch.

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The Flower Girls

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The littlest attendants donned dresses and leggings from H&M.

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The Guys

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Nick's groomsmen wore the same chocolate-brown Old Navy pants, with different-colored shirts, vests, sweaters, and suspenders.

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The Boutonnieres

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The groomsmen's boutonnieres were made of cotton blooms, succulents, and lavender.

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The Girls

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Tara's bridal party chose their own berry-colored dresses and added neutral accessories.

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A Novel Idea

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Instead of bouquets, the bride collected books for each of her bridesmaids. Assisted by her mother and a friend, she decorated them with flowers and ribbon handles.

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A Festive Entrance

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Eucalyptus branches were woven together and draped around the frame of the ceremony site's entrance.

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The Decor

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Small vignettes of greenery and other decorative elements were set around the property.

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The Ceremony

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The early afternoon service took place in the barn, under a simple draping of fabric.

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The Ceremony

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For Tara, the best part of the ceremony was when Nick read his self-penned vows. "He made everyone cry," she says. "It was beautiful."

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A Photo Op

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As a nod to "Anne of Green Gables" -- where Anne reads the aldred Lord Tennyson poem "The Lady of Shallot" about the rowboat -- the bride and groom took a spin around a pond while their photographer, Ryan Ray, snapped away.

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The Reception

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Dinner was held at the nearby Miners Foundry, in Nevada City, California. The 115 guests sat at long tables set with burlap runners, centerpieces made by the bride's mother and a friend, and props and glassware collected by Tara.

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The Escort Cards

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Tag-shaped cards with guests' names and table numbers were strung between two ladders.

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A Warm Welcome

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The newlyweds lit the fireplace in the reception room before guests entered.

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The Centerpieces

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Other groupings of succulents and roses were scattered among old film reels and candles, many of which now populated the pair's home.

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The Guest Book

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Since travel is one of their shared interests, the couple set out a vintage map for guests to sign.

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Decadent Desserts

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Unable to narrow down their favorite desserts, Tara and Nick opted to serve them all: caramel apples, scones, baklava, pies, pastries, and donuts. The confections came from Whole Foods Market and Apple Hill or were baked by Nick's mom.

The banner above read, "These are a few of our favorite things."

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A Surprise Treat

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Tara and Nick, huge cereal fans, set up a summer-camp-style breakfast during the reception. Large Mason jars full of milk and nibbles, and spoons and bowls from Susty Party made up the buffet.

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The Cake

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A friend surprised the couple with a delicious cream cheese-frosted carrot confection. It was crowned with a rustic bird cake topper and rested on an old stove-turned cake stand.

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Ryan Ray

Photography: Ryan Ray Photo

Reception Venue: Miners Foundry

Entertainment: Ryan Hernandez

Rentals: Celebrations Party Rentals

Coordination: Roberta Runyan

Catering: Whole Foods Market

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