A Garden Ceremony and Flower-Filled Dinner Reception at a Resort in Rancho Santa Fe

wedding couple portrait on sunny day
Amy Golding

Chanel and Paul met in New York City in the fall of 2018; shortly after, they shared a first date. They decided to remain friends—at least at first. Their relationship had turned romantic by the end of 2019, and over the course of next year, the two started talking about taking the next step. On a trip to Paul's hometown in the United Kingdom, Chanel had a dream that he proposed. The next day, the couple stopped at a scenic point along the harbor on their way to dinner, and while she took in the sunset, Paul dropped to one knee. The couple celebrated their proposal with a Champagne toast with friends before sharing an intimate dinner together at Pig on the Beach in Studland, Dorset.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the middle of their wedding-planning process, the duo were forced to make a difficult decision to either limit the number of guests at their wedding or legally tie the knot and celebrate with a larger reception in the future. "In the end we found a third way," says Chanel. "We didn't want to hold up getting married or starting our family because of COVID-19." So, the bride and groom put together a small celebration with just the bride's parents in attendance. "Though we missed our friends and more family being there, this intimate event proved to be incredibly special and unforgettable," the bride says.

The couple worked with a planner and event designer from Amorette Events Company and leaned on suggestions from their photographer, Amy Golding, to put together an intimate ceremony and dinner reception in just two weeks' time. Luckily, the couple fell in love with Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in Santa Fe, California, as soon as they saw the property's Tuscan-style walls and lush foliage. With a scenic olive grove as their backdrop, they were married in an informal outdoor ceremony—and enjoyed a black-tie dinner for four afterwards to celebrate.

01 of 16

Sweet Announcements

simple elegant white wedding invitation suite
Amy Golding

With only two guests on their list, Chanel and Paul opted to send big-day announcements in lieu of invitations. They went with a four-piece suite that included an announcement card, an illustrated map, a custom venue illustration vellum insert, and a black-and-white photo from the event.

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The Only One

bride in white on garden path
Amy Golding

Chanel wore her original wedding dress, a strapless crepe number from Justin Alexander Signature. "This was the only one I considered for the day—especially with a bump to accommodate!" Chanel says. On her feet, she donned comfortable, but stylish nude sandals with a block heel from Valentino.

03 of 16

With Mom (and Grandma!)

bride in white dress with mother before ceremony
Amy Golding

On the morning of the wedding, the bride's mother gifted her a heart shaped pendant necklace she had commissioned for the occasion. Chanel also wore her late grandmother's diamond earrings. "It was really symbolic and meaningful to wear these pieces, which connected me to the two most influential women in my life," she says. "I just wish my grandmother could have been there."

04 of 16

In Bloom

bride holding white and green floral wedding bouquet
Amy Golding

She held a full bouquet that included wild and seasonal flowers within the big-day color palette of white, cream, blush, peach, and sage green.

05 of 16

Morning Suit

wedding portrait under palm trees
Amy Golding

Paul wore a traditional morning suit from Gieves and Hawkes. One of his intended groomsman, Sam, gifted him cuff links that had both the United Kingdom and United States flags to represent the couple's union.

06 of 16

On Location

garden wedding ceremony location with palm trees
Amy Golding

The ceremony took place in the rose garden, overlooking an olive grove. The area is flanked by two large palm trees, so Chanel and Paul kept the ceremony décor simple and let the venue's natural beauty take center stage.

07 of 16


pink and white wedding florals in ceremony arch
Amy Golding

Their florist, Erin Ward of Oak and Amble, created a stunning ground-level semi-circle arrangement to frame the ceremony space.

08 of 16

Best Seats in the House

two wedding ceremony guests on wooden chairs
Amy Golding

Chanel and Paul wanted informal seating for their two guests—the bride's parents—so they placed two cross-back wooden chairs on the lawn.

09 of 16

Vow Exchange

wedding couple holding hands during ceremony under palm trees
Amy Golding

Although the ceremony wasn't religious, the pair chose a non-denominational Christian minister to officiate the proceedings. Chanel and Paul recited their own vows, recounting highlights of their relationship and their excitement for the future ahead. Both the bride and groom ended up including their unofficial motto in their vows—GSD, or "Get Stuff Done!"

10 of 16

Portrait Time

wedding couple kissing on santa fe steps
Amy Golding

After the service, the newlyweds posed for some portraits with their photographer, Amy Golding, around the resort grounds. "She took incredible photos, capturing the day and the aesthetic perfectly, making it even easier to remember forever," the bride shares.

11 of 16

Look Twice

couple portrait on patio for second look
Amy Golding

Chanel decided to change into a second look for the dinner portion of the event. She chose a white cocktail dress from Alice & Olivia.

12 of 16

A Table for Four

small white table for four on patio for wedding reception
Amy Golding

The duo enjoyed an intimate dinner with Chanel's parents at a private table in the center of the terrace, where their floral-heavy theme was continued. They re-purposed the ceremony arrangements, which were placed at the ends of the table and at the base of the cake station to enhance the natural surroundings.

13 of 16

Romantic Details

wedding reception white place setting with low florals
Amy Golding

They chose a cream linen for the dinner table; the place settings included gray chargers paired with Monique Lhuillier plates and napkins that Chanel had found and loved. Centerpieces included an arrangement of white, cream, and blush florals, punctuated with several single stems that were placed in delicate glass votives.

14 of 16

Two Tiers

small white wedding cake with little flowers
Amy Golding

Their wedding cake was a tiered white carrot cake—the groom's favorite. The confection was displayed on a round table that was embellished with floral arrangements from the service.

15 of 16

Not a Micro Wedding

wedding couple kissing at table at reception
Amy Golding

Chanel and Paul are grateful they made the decision to get married in a meaningful way, without risking the health and safety of their loved ones. "Nothing needed to be compromised to accommodate the needs or timing of a larger event or lots of guests, so it was really perfect," Chanel says. "Every detail we chose reflected our tastes and style, with family and our future son at the center of the day. It wasn't a micro wedding: It was a perfect wedding day, reflecting the times we are in."

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groom kissing bride's forehead for wedding portrait
Amy Golding

Photography, Amy Golding Photography
Venue, Catering, and Cake, Rancho Valencia
Wedding Planning and Event Design, The Amorette Events Company
Flowers, Erin Ward of Oak and Amble
Paper Products, Salt Paper Co.
Bride's Gown, Justin Alexander
Bride's Second Dress, Alice & Olivia
Bride's Shoes, Valentino
Hair and Makeup, Elwynn + Cass
Groom's Attire, Gieves and Hawkes
Rentals, Rustic Urban Events
Plates and Napkins, Monique Lhuillier

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