It was Cecilia’s dream to get married amongst the redwoods, so when she and fiancé Craig discovered Jedediah State Park (home to some of the biggest and oldest redwood trees in the world) during a trip to the Pacific Northwest, they knew they’d found their perfect wedding location. Despite the pouring rain, the couple were determined to exchange their vows outside beneath the trees and were blessed when the skies cleared just minutes before their ceremony, allowing them to have the private and secluded ceremony they had been hoping for. Now that’s what we call serendipity!
A huge thank you to Dennis of Viera Photographics for being equally undeterred by the rain and capturing the couple so perfectly amidst the majestic redwood trees, and for generously sharing those photos with us today.
Cecilia, 27 & Craig, 31
Crescent City, CA
Wedding Date: September 20, 2013 (We chose the date because it’s my parents’ wedding anniversary)
Number of Guests: 9+ a Chihuahua
Wedding Cost: $12,000 including flights and hotels (treehouses, that is)
Wedding Ceremony Location: Stout Grove, Jedediah State Park, Crescent City, CA
Wedding Reception Location: Out N About Treehouses/Lily Pad, Cave Junction, OR
Why did you have an intimate wedding?
We are both pretty introverted and wanted to make sure that we were free to be ourselves and enjoy the day. I think I would have felt self-conscious having so many people watching us do this very intimate, personal, important thing. And I was worried about Craig not being the Craig I know on our wedding day. He’s super silly around me, but that goes away around people he doesn’t know well. For the same reasons, we decided to have Craig’s stepfather officiate the ceremony so that we weren’t standing up there with a person we didn’t know well. He did a great job.
What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?
Most of the challenges we faced had to do with planning a destination wedding in a rather remote area. I had my heart set on Viera Photographics so I was really lucky that they were willing to travel all the way up to the California/Oregon border, and then also travel an hour between the ceremony and reception locations.
Since it is such a remote area, it took me a long time to find a caterer. And a lot of caterers had minimums of 50 guests. Eventually, I found a personal chef who also catered events.
I also really only had one florist to choose from, but they got my bouquet just right.
Why did you chose the Redwoods?
I had a dream of getting married in the redwoods so when Craig and I took a vacation to the Pacific Northwest, we decided to take the opportunity to scope out the redwoods for possible wedding locations. Neither of us had ever seen them before. We drove South from Portland, so Jedediah State Park was our first sight of the redwoods. It houses some of the oldest and biggest Redwoods in the world so it was definitely an appropriate first experience of redwoods. As I had expected, the redwoods were truly magical. There is a profound silence that I have never heard before and the sheer size of the trees is completely humbling. There is also something symbolic about getting married underneath trees that are thousands of years old. It is basically Nature’s own version of a temple and the most spiritual place I can imagine, and, therefore, the perfect place for exchanging our eternal vows.
Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?
By keeping it to immediate family only, we really eliminated any difficult decisions.
Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?
I think some people were disappointed that they weren’t going to be at our wedding, but I had a bridal shower where I was able to celebrate with friends and family, and Craig had a bachelor party/trip with his friends.
What were the highlights of the ceremony?
We had been looking at the weather forecast the week leading up to the big day and it looked rainy. I was still hoping the forecast would change so we held out until the night before to buy any umbrellas. Sure enough, the day of our wedding, it rained. Actually, it POURED. In fact, our photographer was delayed momentarily when a tree fell over in the road. Ironically, we had picked September to get married because it was supposed to be the month with the best weather in the area – summers can be really foggy.
We had come all the way from Denver to get married in the redwoods so there was no way we were going to get married indoors. We had spent the day before picking out the perfect spot in the woods where we would have the ceremony. It was off the path enough that we would have some privacy, but it meant a bit of hiking. When we woke up to the rain, we decided we would have to abandon that plan and go with a spot that was easier to get to.
We discussed a new spot that we thought we remembered, and then crossed our fingers that we were thinking of the same place. It was the prettiest location we had seen and sort of had a natural aisle to walk up. We had initially decided against it because there was a lot of foot traffic nearby and we wanted some privacy. Since it was pouring, however, we decided that getting to the location quickly trumped privacy.
We arrived to find the grove completely vacant so we ended up getting the best location along with complete privacy. Stout Grove is the most popular grove in the park so it was unreal having it entirely to ourselves.
And then minutes before the ceremony, the rain stopped! We were able to have the ceremony without umbrellas, which was really quite a miracle given how hard it had been raining all day.
What were the highlights of the reception?
The rain had really delayed things so we ended up being a full hour late to our reception (which was really just a dinner). I called our caterer to let her know and she was so understanding. I am forever grateful for her reaction because I was already quite stressed about it. She was so gracious.
Anyway, we arrived at the Treehouse resort and made it over to the Lily Pad, which is a private treehouse a mile away from the main resort. We had kept the location of the reception secret from our family, so it was a lot of fun to pull up to the treehouses and see their reactions.
Our caterer and her daughter had decorated an outdoor picnic area for us. I had given her a few photos for inspiration, and she completely blew me away. It was the most beautiful thing to see and it felt so special to be surprised. On top of that, our dinner was one of the best meals we’ve ever had.
What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?
I think we were able to enjoy ourselves a lot more. We didn’t have to spread ourselves thin talking with hundreds of guests like we’ve seen at some weddings. It felt much more like our day instead of putting on a show for guests.
It also allowed us to spend a lot less money and afford a lot more. We spent a lot less than the average wedding, but were able to afford top-notch photographers and filet mignon for dinner. And it was a vacation for our whole family.
What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?
If you are like us and think you would enjoy yourselves more with a smaller guest list, go for it. It’s such an important and personal day and I think couples deserve to have a wedding that they can actually enjoy. For some couples that means a huge party with tons of friends and dancing. For us, it meant just our immediate family, ancient trees, and a magical dinner. Oh, and a rainstorm apparently.
Wedding Dress: Little White Dress (Denver, CO).
Groom’s Clothes: Express
Photography: Viera Photographics – Dennis was amazing. Not only are our photographs beautiful, but Dennis himself really added a lot to our day. He was, after all, 1 of 12 humans present! He was so positive and even made me feel better about the rain. I think he said something like, “OK. Let’s do this!” He also loaded up his own car when we ran out room in our rental cars and helped us transport things from the ceremony to the reception.
Catering: Judy Hardy, Rogue Valley Personal Chef – I can’t say enough wonderful things about Judy and her daughter.
Flowers: Redwood Gardens Florist
Accommodations: Out N’ About Treehouse Resort – Our family stayed here in four different treehouse on the property. They also have ziplines and horseback riding.
Reception Venue: The Lily Pad – This treehouse is located on Sandy Lily’s personal property. We were able to return for our 1-year wedding anniversary as well. Sandy is straight out of the pages of a novel. She has a long braid that reaches down her back and a gentle dog that is part wolf. A very magical place.