What do you get when you combine happily relaxed elegance with the towering majesty of California’s redwood forests? In one word: magic. At least that’s how we describe this gorgeous gathering at the Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel Valley.
Alison Events styled a playfully chic destination wedding at the Preserve for New England-based couple Justin and Laura. The couple grew up in Connecticut and met on Martha's Vineyard. Justin proposed to Laura in 2009 and she immediately knew that Santa Lucia preserve, where her parents own a house, would be the most magical, idyllic setting for their nuptials.
“[Laura’s] family has a home on the property, so the place has special meaning. And it offers something most east coasters would not experience.” – Alison Events
The Venue - History Lesson
Originally inhabited by Native Americans for some 1,500 years, this 20,000-acre piece of heaven has served as a working farm and even a private bachelor pad over the last two centuries. In the 1990s, the land was sold to create what is now Santa Lucia Preserve: a member-owned community and conservancy with a mix of estate homes, lodging, equestrian facilities, a private golf club and more. It is a breathtaking place to behold, and a popular choice for wedding ceremonies and other celebrations.
“The redwood forest is unreal. It’s so beautiful and something you just don’t see. Guests love the adventure to get there and are blown away by the grandness of the forest.”
The Guest List
“The site is ideally suited to weddings and large parties—we think the perfect guest count is from 124 to 175 people—but they have a great area for smaller rehearsal dinners too. We suggest hosting your welcome party in town.”
“Our clients wanted the wedding to be fun and unique and playful…we love that.” Invitations by stationer Jenny Pennywood set the tone for the weekend of ‘love under the redwoods.’
The venue was perfectly set up to allow for everything they wanted to do.” And by everything, we mean a grand piano in the middle of the forest (!) and luxurious seating arrangements to create cozy enclaves.
Towering Tree-Lined Ceremony
The redwoods offered a stunning backdrop for the “I do’s” all on their own, but Alison Events also added a turquoise window for a subtle pop of color amidst all the lush greenery. ""We were all blown away by the setting," says Laura, the bride.
The Barn Reception
For the reception, guests grabbed a signature cocktail and headed inside the gorgeous barn. “The barn is spectacular, with dramatic large doors. You can either dress it up or leave it rustic—it works for all styles.”
In this instance, a few chandeliers hung from the rafters and vintage mirrors lined the walls, adding just a touch of sparkle against the aged wooden structure. Simple centerpieces were cultivated from local, in-season flowers, and graphic elements from the invitations were carried through to the wedding favors and table runners.
Hosting Events at Santa Lucia Preserve
Nature-lovers will be hard-pressed to find another venue that offers this perfect combination of unspoiled natural elements and the conveniences of a five-star resort. You get all the magnificence of the forest without “roughing it.”
“The food is great. The service is great. The weather is generally lovely. And you can have some guests stay on the property. It is such a treat to be in the wilderness, yet have so many amenities.”
One note: because the Santa Lucia Preserve is a private community, you either have to be a member or be sponsored by a current member in order to host an event there.
Centerpieces of dahlias, peonies, and ranunculus meandered down the long feasting tables. Guests were served dished like foraged-mushroom quiche and pork chops on vintage Haviland china plates.
• Because most hotels are at least 15 minutes away, Alison Events recommends bridal parties stay at one of the property’s two small lodging facilities to ensure smooth sailing on the day of the wedding.
• If you choose to hold your ceremony in the redwood grove, you must have a site representative from the transportation company to oversee logistics on the day of the event.
One of Alison Events favorite existing design elements at the venue are "the dramatic large barn doors and existing bar and of course the redwoods for ceremony."
Because lodging at Santa Lucia Preserve is limited, most of your guests will need to stay in nearby Carmel. The city center is just 15 minutes down the road and offers many upscale accommodations, shopping and dining.
The Alison Events crew typically rents a house in town—a great option for your extended family members who may be traveling and want to be together.
Corkscrew Café is a favorite for lunch or dinner, and be sure to stop off for a little adult grape juice at the Georis tasting room.
As night falls on the barn it is nothing short of magic. The couple served specialty cocktails like 'Dark and Stormy'.
Venue: Santa Lucia Preserve | Designer & Planning: Alison Events | Photography: Jesse Leake Photography | Florals: Brown Paper Design | Paper & Custom Textiles: Jenny Pennywood | Tabletop: Small Masterpiece |
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