One Couple's Fairy-Tale Wedding Beneath the California Redwoods

bride and groom hold each other smiling on california hillside
BrittRene Photography

Once a year for the past 25 years, a local couple in Frisco, Colorado, travels by boat to a rock gallery to make rock statues on their anniversary. Another couple, Jenna and Eric, visited the rock gallery while living in Frisco and were moved by its beauty. "I knew then this was where I wanted to propose," says Eric. Two years later, the couple returned to the gallery and—surrounded by 25 years of love and devotion—Eric proposed to Jenna. "I still get teary thinking about it," says the bride.

The couple first crossed paths at a dinner party in Fort Worth, Texas, though Jenna doesn't remember seeing Eric there. They reconnected a year later in Aspen, Colorado, where she met him and his friends for a night of drinks and dancing. Eric pulled Jenna aside and said he'd liked her since the dinner party. "You have an energy and attitude about you that has always left me intrigued," Eric told her then. They dated for four years, bonding over hiking and nature—so it was only fitting that their wedding would take place in a majestic redwood forest. "What better way to preserve our commitment than to do so surrounded by one of God's most beautiful creations?" Jenna says.

The number eight was important to the couple ("It represents infinity," Jenna notes), so on September 8, 2018, Jenna, Eric and 165 guests traveled to the The Island Farm Private Estate in San Gregorio, California for an enchanting forest adventure. Jenna later described the entire experience as magic. "No sentence needed," she says.

Watch Jenna and Eric's wedding video by Matt Williams.

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nature themed wedding stationary suit
BrittRene Photography

The couple's custom invitations—they were created by Kaleigh Wiese at Meldeen—matched the celebration's natural and organic aesthetic.

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The Perfect Dress

Berta F/W 2018 Collection wedding dress
BrittRene Photography

Jenna's wedding dress, which she purchased at a Berta trunk show in Houston, originally featured a full skirt and train—Impression Bridal reduced both to simplify her overall look. Her jewelry was handcrated by her sister, Devan; she also wore platform Jimmy Choo sandals for support while walking in the forest and a made-to-order headpiece by Liv Hart.

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Bride Turned Designer

bride with two sisters California hillside
BrittRene Photography

Jenna personally designed her bridesmaids' dresses and then gave her sketches to Coutures by Laura. The ethereal gowns were inspired by Elie Saab, Jenna's favorite designer. "A style that could catch the wind, then drape organically behind them was a must," says Jenna of her vision.

The bride and her two sisters, seen here, loved dancing in the sunlight in their flowing ensembles.

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Darling Dahlias

dahlias nature inspired floral bouquet with greenery
BrittRene Photography

"I told Darcy from Seascape Flowers that I wanted my bouquet to look as if I were living among the trees, picked a few flowers, and decided to get married," says Jenna of her nontraditional arrangement. Her florist suggested dahlias, which were in-season at the time; Jenna opted to walk down the aisle holding just a few.

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Among the Trees

Island Farm Private Estate in San Gregorio, California
BrittRene Photography

Jenna and Eric knew their wedding had to be in a tree grove. "I knew the trees would carry on the love from our ceremony and that that energy would be preserved for the reception. My idea was that everything you looked at you also wanted to touch, smell, taste, and admire," says Jenna. The Island Farm Private Estate in San Gregorio, California, boasted towering trees, bright flowers, and a clearing for traditional seating arrangements. It was the perfect spot.

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Special Details

pink and green floral centerpiece with greenery
BrittRene Photography

Dahlias also stood out, not only in Jenna's bouquet, but among the various flower arrangements positioned throughout the wedding and on the surrounding trees.

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A Secret Getaway

fuchsia chairs outdoor forest wedding lounge
BrittRene Photography

The venue also featured a secret redwood grove off the main path. Under a gorgeous flower arch, the cozy space featured beautiful Persian rugs, Moroccan poufs, lamb shags, and pillows.

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The First Look

father of the bride walking bride down outdoor forest wedding aisle
BrittRene Photography

At 4 p.m., with the sun still shining through the trees, the wedding began (the couple hadn't seen each other since the previous night). Jenna took in the sunshine, the trees, and fresh air before walking down the aisle. When she and her father began making their way towards the ceremony space, she caught a glimpse of Eric. "I remember thinking how handsome he looked—I noticed his expression and my heart completely sank. I couldn't wait to grab his hand," she says.

Eric was bobbing and weaving while waiting at the altar, trying to catch a good glimpse of Jenna as she made her way through the trees toward him. "I still had tears as Jenna walked up, as we stood at the altar and during my speech," says Eric. "I am not a super emotional guy, so this was a joyful surprise for me."

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A Very Cello Ceremony

cello musicians wedding music outdoor forest
BrittRene Photography

Jenna and Eric chose Cello Street Quartet to play during the ceremony. Jenna coordinated each unique piece with the cellists.

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Beneath the Florals

floral wedding ceremony arch in forest
BrittRene Photography

The couple gathered underneath a lush flower arch to say their vows. "This may sound strange, but it was as if the flowers had something to say while we were underneath them getting married," says the bride.

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Ancient Traditions

bride and groom during outdoor forest wedding ceremony
BrittRene Photography

Maintaining ancient traditions was important to the couple, so they worked with Donna Gardner to create a custom ceremony, which included handfasting—a practice in which couples bind their hands together during the ceremony as a symbol of their devotion and love for each other. Jenna made a handfasting cord with lace, silk ribbon, and jewels at the ends; their mothers wrapped the cord around their bonded hands.

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Poetry Abounds

bride and groom facing each other in forest
BrittRene Photography

During the ceremony, Eric read a beautiful poem he had written for Jenna, which moved her to tears for the first time that day. Eric's sister also read "I Carry Your Heart With Me" by e.e. Cummings, a poem the bride has loved since high school and always wanted read on her wedding day. Though she never expected to be married under the trees, the poem's theme fit the day perfectly ("Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life...").

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The Reception

outdoor woods cocktail hour bar set up
BrittRene Photography

The reception also took place under the redwoods. It began with a wandering cocktail hour, complete with hors d'oeuvres and a display of charcuterie, cheese, and fruits. There were three bars around the venue, including the main station and a martini bar (situated next to a masculine lounge).

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Wrapped Trees

pink and red array of florals decorate side of the tree
BrittRene Photography

The third bar—a rosé station—was accentuated with flower installations climbing the nearby redwoods.

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Blush and Gold Tabletops

tall pink and green floral centerpiece in stand
BrittRene Photography

To complement the trees' scale, Jenna and Eric dotted several tables (a mix of round and farm options) with four-foot centerpieces. The florals also featured moss and fruits, and were grounded by blush velvet linens, which paired prettily with the gold-rimmed glassware and flatware.

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A Feast Fit for Newlyweds

medieval-feast-style outdoor wedding reception set up
BrittRene Photography

Dinner was served "medieval-feast-style," says Jenna, with moss dripping and overflowing from the tables; everything on the menu was "earthy and scrumptious." Urban Organics made the food and displays, which included rustic salads, potatoes, and lamb skewers. Small scrolls made by Meldeen labeled the dishes.

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First Dance

bride and groom hold hands during first dance
BrittRene Photography

The couple's first dance was to "All My Life" by K-Ci & JoJo. They chose the song because "the words are so sweet! And so true when it comes to the love between me and Eric," says Jenna.

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An Organic Approach

bride and groom standing in forest under tall trees
BrittRene Photography

"I can't say that I had a strategic plan for the wedding, as everything happened so organically," says Jenna, adding all she knew was that originality and detail were key. The organic and symbolic mood of the ceremony and reception stemmed from her fairy-tale visions of spiritual influence.

In the end, says Eric, it was all worth it: "All the travel, all the planning, everything."

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bride and groom kissing on california hillside
BrittRene Photography

Photography, Britt Rene
Venue, The Island Farm Private Estate
Event planning, Coastside Couture
Catering, Urban Organics
Flowers, Seascape Flowers
Videography, Matt Williams
Officiant, Donna Gardner with Honey in the Heart Ceremonies
Stationery, Meldeen
Calligraphy, Sandy Odom
Music, VIPs Entertainment
Rentals, Standard Rentals; Pieces by Violet
Bride's gown, Berta
Bride's veil, Liv Hart
Bride's jewelry, Devan Collection
Hair and Makeup, Carly Wise
Bridesmaids' dresses, Laura at Coutures
Groom's jacket, Armani
Groom's accessories, Lucchese (shoes), Lanvin (bow tie)

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