Last January, my husband Ian proposed to me on the steps of a snow-covered cabin in the forests of Alaska’s Chugach State Park. He got down on one knee — to tie my shoes — and surprised me with a custom-designed engagement ring, inspired by a ring my mother had given to me.
We scoured the Northern California coast for the perfect venue in the woods, but none of them exceeded our first choice, which was Ian’s parents’ home in Nevada City, California. After deciding on the date, we had less than five months to turn a nearly untouched wooded area into an outdoor wedding venue for more than 100 people.
The design of our wedding was heavily influenced by nature, particularly the venue itself. Many of the materials we used in the construction – stumps and branches of birch, oak and manzanita – were amassed from the property or donated to us by friends and were used to make laser-engraved signs, wood buttons and many other decorations.
We created our invitations with a design that would give our guests a sneak peek of the event that they would be attending. The front card included a laser-cut, pop-up forest surrounding the phrase “Join Us in the Woods.” Also included was an RSVP card that doubled as a map of the area and a handmade Field Guide with illustrations of local wildlife. We bundled these three things together with butcher’s twine from Annie42 and The Missing Th
One of my favorite components of the wedding was a trail that we created that snaked through the woods down to the ceremony site. Along the trail, we hung a timeline of photos on the trees from the six years we’d been together, so guests would be able to “Walk Our Story.” The white chippy frames we used were from Dirt Road Decor.
The most intense and memorable part of our wedding was the ceremony. Ian and his dad created an amphitheater using a fallen pine tree to seat the 110 guests. It was made all the better by having our closest friend, Tarla, officiate our marriage. We were married on a stage constructed from old deck boards and decorated with fabric streamers made from bedsheets.
I wore a simple, yet elegant dress and accessorized it with necklaces and earrings from Edor and a beaded belt my sister made. The bridesmaids wore beautiful gem necklaces that were also from Edor. Ian, the groomsmen and both our fathers sported handmade ties that I had made to match our colors. We loved the bow ties from Xoelle, so we got one for Ian to change into during the reception.
My gorgeous bouquet and all the boutonnieres were created by my sister, Carol Srivongse, using flowers from a local wildflower farm down the road. She also made all the flower arrangements that decorated the dining tables. Ian’s mother, an avid gardener, also covered the grounds with plant-life she had grown.
Our reception was located on a terraced hillside next to the house. Escort cards hand-stamped with names, “table numbers” (different woodland animals or vegetables), and their food choice were hung on a nearby tree. We added an elastic band to the cards which was used for wrapping around the rim of a mason jar, which would be taken to a handmade bar made from a gorgeous six-inch slab of madrone tree. Some of the other smaller reception decor included laser-engraved table numbers of woodland animals and vegetables, green tea test tube favors with hand-stamped linen labels, clothespin place cards and dusty miller planted in soup cans decorated with burlap and wood buttons. We also made coasters from slices of logs with our C/I logo engraved into them.
On our guestbook table — an old door that we painted — we placed a fingerprint guestbook with a drawing of the back of our car and a variety of vintage items we had been collecting. We had a photo booth and made a backdrop from an old pallet decorated with wallpaper.
For the food, we converted the basement into a “food cart” with three windows, each serving a different style of food. Framed chalkboards made from old planks of wood were used to create the menus. The bride and groom table was constructed between two trees and elevated off the ground so we would be able to see all our guests. We didn’t plan for it to be as high as it was, but we ended up feeling like a queen and king — as every bride and groom should on their wedding day.
Dessert was a red velvet cake with cream cheese filling. Our cake topper was made from blank wood kokeshi dolls and we painted them to match our outfits. We glued the dolls to a birch round and decorated it with plastic pine trees from SweetTreatsSupplies with a mini version of our fabric streamers between them.
All photos by Stone Crandall Photography.