With the gorgeous blue Pacific Ocean as their backdrop, Ryan and Stefani tied the knot on a beach in San Clemente with 60 of their closest friends and family.

Although the couple knew they didn’t a large wedding from the get-go (they initially wanted to elope!), whittling down the guest list wasn’t easy. The couple had lots of friends and family members, so they had to come up with a rule that would prevent their guest list from getting out of hand.

“If the person hadn’t met both Ryan and I, then we wouldn’t be able to invite them,” says Stefani.

The rule did the trick, and they couldn’t have been happier with outcome.

“The best part was that because it was a small group, we got to hang out with everyone for the entire weekend instead of only one night. We had a huge family style dinner on Friday night at our friend’s rental house, a beach day on Saturday morning, and woke up to a group breakfast and great stories on Sunday morning,” explains Stefani.

Thanks to Photography by Ben and Kadin for sharing this gorgeous little wedding with us!

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Stefani, 29 & Ryan, 30

Location: San Juan Capistrano, CA

Wedding Date: September 24, 2016

Number of Guests: 60

Wedding Cost: $9,200

Wedding Ceremony Location: Maid of honor’s aunt’s beach house on Capistrano Beach

Wedding Reception Location: Maid of honor’s aunt’s beach house on Capistrano Beach

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Why did you have an intimate wedding?

Originally, Ryan and I just wanted to elope, get married on a beautiful beach in Hawaii with our two best friends and our moms as our witnesses. However, with our friends and family’s encouragement, and their fear of missing out on a great party, we decided to have a smaller wedding, filled with our dearest friends and our closest family members.

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What are some the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

Because we both grew up out of state, it was hard narrowing down which family members we invited to the wedding, since we only had space for 60 people. And because we didn’t have our wedding at a huge venue, we had to source our own vendors and rentals, which in the end worked out in our favor because we paid less for a “party” instead of a “wedding”.

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Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Extremely! We have so many amazing friends and family involved in our lives, so ultimately we had to come up with a rule: if the person hasn’t met both Ryan and I, then we wouldn’t be able to invite them. We still hope to have a party in Texas and Georgia for our family and friends that weren’t able to make it.

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Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

There were times when we really didn’t know how we weren’t going to invite a couple of people, and kept going back and forth with adding chairs and food orders. But we worked it out knowing that those friends would still be happy with us either way.

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What were the highlights of the ceremony?

The moments leading up to the actual ceremony. There I was with all of my best friends and brother, peeking out of the door to see and watch everyone waiting for us, and I just realized that all of the people there had a part in me and Ryan’s relationship and were there to see our lives come together.

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California beach wedding

What were the highlights of the reception?

The speeches and dancing, of course. The maid of honor, best man, and my mom all gave speeches, and we loved being there with everyone to experience all of the laughs and tears they gave us. And of course dancing the night away was the best part. At one time, my maid of honor was going up to any person standing around talking, and dragged them onto the dance floor. We had to end the party a little early because we didn’t want to upset any neighbors, so we carried the party down the road to a local beach bar, which actually ended up being one of my favorite parts of the night!

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What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

The best part was that because it was a small group, we got to hang out with everyone for the entire weekend instead of only one night. We had a huge family style dinner on Friday night at our friend’s rental house, a beach day on Saturday morning, and woke up to a group breakfast and great stories on Sunday morning.

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What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Do what makes you happy! Don’t feel like you have to have a huge wedding just to make sure you invite your fourth cousin, twice removed. Also, if you splurge at all, do it on the photographer. Ben and Kadin made our wedding look even better than real life!

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Vendors:

Photographers: Photography by Ben and Kadin

Dress: Katie May

Shoes: Steve Madden

Groom Suit: Express

Cake: Jimmie’s Cakes; made by my grandmother

Hair and Makeup: LePique Beauty, Corona Del Mar

Flowers: You + Me Floral, Dallas, TX

Rentals: Baker Party Rentals, Costa Mesa

Food: Soho Taco, Orange County

DJ: DJ Sota Entertainment

Bartender: A Shot Above

Wedding Coordinator: Jessica Lauren Events

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