Fall Military Wedding in Northern California

When Lauren and Ben decided to get married in the mountains, they knew they wanted to make it a weekend event so that they and their guests could relax, fish, camp, and celebrate the great outdoors, not just their wedding day! Ben is in the Coast Guard Reserve so they incorporated a military ceremony into the program and family members and friends on both sides dressed for the event. As they were married on a private estate, it was a bit of a walk from the ceremony to the reception space so at the end of the ceremony, the bridal party started a second line and handed noise makers to the guests so they could join in on the fun! When everyone arrived at the reception, they dined under twinkling bistro lights with a variety of rich fall florals by Sweet Roots Farm & Floral Design and even mini pumpkins lining the long farm tables. In these photos from Anita Martin Photography it's clear that spending quality time with all of their guests was a priority for Lauren and Ben and it looks like the weekend will be remembered by all who joined in on the fun for a long time!

How did you meet?

We met in a management training at work on February 14 (Valentine's Day!) when I was living in New York and Ben in California. We were put in the same discussion group and immediately hit it off. After the training ended we exchanged numbers and pretty soon we were dating long distance.

What is your proposal story?

I moved to California a year into our relationship. The next summer, Ben and I took a road trip from California to Montana to visit a friend. I wasn't expecting the proposal even though we had already talked about marriage, in part because I thought we would go ring shopping together. Early one morning outside of Bozeman, Ben popped the question in front of a beautiful backdrop of a mountain lake. He proposed using a family ring and told me it was a placeholder if I didn't like it. The ring was beautiful and I was immediately sentimentally attached to it, so no ring shopping necessary.

What was the most important to the two of you while planning? Was there anything that you chose to splurge on or skip?

We chose to splurge on the venue because in addition to wanting a beautiful natural setting, we also wanted a place that could accommodate our entire wedding party onsite. For food we went with BBQ and tacos, which in addition to fitting the relaxed, comfortable vibe we wanted to create, had the added benefit of being relatively less expensive than a more formal meal.

What were your favorite parts of the day?

I was surprised to enjoy the ceremony as much as I did. I'm not someone who typically likes to be the center of attention, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling to have such an important event be witnessed by so many friends and family. We also loved the time we got to spend just the two of us in the early evening, when we snuck away to take photos at sunset. We used the opportunity to do a little fishing in the pond on the property, and as fishing is something we both enjoy, it was a fun and somewhat unexpected activity to factor into our night of celebration.

Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?

We hung Ben's grandfather's American flag above the barn where the reception was held. We also included traditional military elements into our ceremony, including having Ben's military colleagues serve as swordsmen.

Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?

The best decision we made was hiring our wedding planner, Jamie. She found the venue we loved and made the wedding of our dreams a reality. There is no shortage of details and decisions to keep track of when planning a destination mountain wedding, and for two people working busy jobs, a wedding planner makes it possible to have your dream wedding without turning the planning experience into a nightmare. Jamie kept us organized and on track, dealt with all the vendor issues, provided guidance on questions big and small, and overall made the entire event memorable and enjoyable for both us and our guests.

Why a Mountain Wedding?

If you love the outdoors you can't go wrong with a mountain wedding. What's more personal than inviting all your loved ones to a place special in your heart? A mountain wedding also offers you a sense of privacy and beauty many other locales couldn't match.

What's your biggest piece of advice for other couples planning a mountain wedding?

As for advice, we recommend finding a venue that is experienced hosting weddings as they can offer invaluable recommendations (vendors, weather, accessibility) specific to the area that will help make your wedding go successfully.