You know, I love to write stories. I love to accompany my massive wedding image posts with words that help take you right there. But I’ve been stumped about this day, because words would just never be enough. How to begin when the intangible magic of this foggy wedding in the redwoods, in the mountains went so beyond words? Meaghen and Nik went to school in Santa Cruz, and they rallied all the people they love to trek back out there for this incredibly dreamy day at a buddhist retreat—of beers in cabins, of misty mountains, of playing cornhole, of towering redwoods, of camping, of the rains breaking just in time for the ceremony, of laughter, of playing guitar on the porch, of meeting people with whole hearts and spirits. You may remember them from their art deco and rooftop apartment engagement sesh earlier this year. Well, not only was their wedding a phenomenal dream and the party a badass celebration, but I left this place with my heart oh-so full. Let me take you on this journey. It started by waking up to a morning of forest shrouded in a thick fog.
There was intermittent periods of rain, but it was a morning primarily of a dense and mystic haze that permeated every little corner of the beautiful land that is the Pema Osel Ling Buddhist Retreat. Campers were parked beneath tall redwoods, and a glowing green pond was punctured with droplets and ripples. Hidden paths cloaked in mood sprawled out in every direction, between tall, tall trees.
The morning began with a hike to a family breakfast gathering in a cabin tucked away. Nothing fussy about it—everyone was low-key, and laughing. These two laid-back, genuine families intermingled for a hearty meal and a mellow start to the day. Then everyone headed out to begin a paced process of rallying the troops to get ready. Of course, this involved dueling guitars on the porch and suit-and-tie cornhole in the haze. You might even spot an impromptu plastic rain poncho fashion shoot. True glamor.
Then getting really officially rolled into high-gear, and the fog continued to roll along. Nestled in cabins, last-minute grooming, pinning, preening, and laughing. Guests arriving, huddled under newspapers and plastic bags and fuzzy coats, avoiding the rains and wet air. Everyone huddled under tents and began to imbibe. Suddenly, just as the ceremony was meant to start, the sun peeked out, and the march into the trees began.
Among Buddhas and old friends and strummed guitars and spirit, the processional started. Enormous redwood giants towered above as these two soulful sweeties hitched their lives together. As Meaghen said her vows, mentioning being there for each other even in tough times, the sky opened up and the rains fell… just for a few minutes. It’s like the weather was in kahoots with their wedding plans.
This big crew of hunky people stood on the wobbliest risers for me and worked it on out. It was gorgeous and magic, and I suppose this might sound redundant, but it led to a lot of laughter. This was the kind of wedding in which laughter abounded. And then suddenly, it was just the two of them, snuggling in the trees, walking through forest tunnels, and basking in the twinkling droplets sitting weighted on all the boughs.
These shots before the tents just kill me. I love how many people camped for this wedding, even in the midst of unexpected weather. This was the feeling. The wonderful, mountain-air, wild-and-free feeling. This is the magic that keeps me hooked on weddings.
The festivities, protected under a tent in a nestled field, were a true delight. I thought that choosing orange as the wedding color proved to be an awesome twist. Not only was the orange a fun shift from the popular neutrals this year, but it was so perfect for celebrating on the autumnal equinox. This was exactly the fall fix I needed. The amazing homemade apple butter treat and gorgeous florals by friend Kristin Yee didn’t hurt, either. Swoon.
After sometimes-hilarious and sometimes-touching speeches from family and friends, it was time to dance, and you can bet these guys didn’t disappoint. We danced for hours, and when the official event shut down, the after party headed to another cabin, where we danced for several more hours, not to mention played some more cornhole, knocked back a whole bunch of booze, and celebrated an amazing love, and an amazing day.
Meaghen and Nik threw the kind of wedding that inspires people: a wedding celebrating on who they are, who they love, and who they will be in the future, supported by a rad community. It’s been a month, and I am still feeling the spirit of that tangible, wonderful goodness, that thing I am ever-chasing: connection. May their connection to each other and their community grow stronger and stronger for all their days to come.
TALENT ROLL CALL: Photography: Let’s Frolic Together / Venue: Pema Osel Ling Retreat, Santa Cruz / Coordinator: Shaunah Stolaroff / Dessert: Buttercup Cakes / Florist: Kristin Yee / Videography: Kevin Martinez / DJ: Scott Trugman / Officiant: Alexis Costa / Hair & Makeup: Jamie Leonard / Dress: Bonny Bridal / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: David’s Bridal / Tuxes: Marc Ecko / Shoes: Ugg Wedges & Custom Converse (designed by the groom!) / Guitarists: Ben Scharf & Bret Hammer
Tags: Camping Wedding, Camping Wedding Photographer, Foggy Wedding, Redwoods Wedding, Redwoods Wedding Photographer, Rustic Wedding, Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Cruz Wedding Photographer, Summer Camp Wedding COMMENTS: JOIN THE DISCUSSION!