This Sequoia National Park wedding is a rare treat. Sequoia National Park is one of the most spectacular yet underrated parks in the national park system. Nestled in the heart of the Sierra, it offers some of the most majestic and uncrowded park experiences in the nation. Elizabeth and Matthew captured the outdoorsy vibe perfectly with lovely unstructured bouquets, a mountain vintage-inspired invitation suite and save the date postcard, and a delightful, interactive wedding ceremony. All of this loveliness was captured by Bergreen Photography, who I had the pleasure of meeting at WPPI this spring and highly recommend!
Why a Mountain Wedding?
Matt and I both wanted to be married in a sacred place that was full of grace and beauty. It was also important to me that we could easily return to the space throughout our lives in times of celebration and challenge. We discovered Sequoia National Park about a year before our wedding on a road trip. We then returned for our birthdays in the Fall and continued to fall in love with the place. We realized about 6 months before the wedding that it was our space – sacred, beautiful, inspiring and grounding. When I walk into the Giant Forest, I am always so content to discover the sense of calm and serenity. I wanted to incorporate that calm and serenity into our wedding celebration.
Where did you find your inspiration?
I guess the inspiration came from the idea of a forest wedding with a vintage feel. The forest was the inspiration for the colors and themes. I also knew I wanted a lace dress with a nod to the old world. When daydreaming about the wedding through Google searches, I often was taken by the beauty and relative simplicity of the wedding pictures from the 20s and 30s. I also have always loved the old National Park Service posters from the same time period. Those posters were definately the inspiration for the save the date cards and invitations.
What were some personal details you incorporated?
- My father made the tree stump centerpiece bases from a tree that I used to climb in the yard of my family's church in Dallas. The tree had recently died and been cut down when I made the first call to Dad to ask about him helping with the centerpieces. He thought it would be a right and proper use for that beloved old tree. I agreed and was so pleased with the results.
- On my bouquet, I included a broach from my maternal grandmother and a piece of fabric from a quilt that my paternal grandmother had made me when I was three years old. It was important for me to feel them close. I also included the ring that Matt proposed with on the bouquet.
Your favorite moment of the day.
I was feeling over the moon happy, delighted and blessed at the end of the ceremony. I think my favorite part was the “You may kiss the bride” part because it felt like the culmination of the vows we had just shared and the love and support we felt in that commitment. It was made ever more joyful by the first notes of the bagpipes and drums that were then coming over from the forest.
Three things you're glad you did.
- I am glad that our families agreed to come out early in the week to have some time to settle in before the other guests arrived. We had a family dinner with our parents, my sister, and Matt's best man on Wednesday night at a house we rented outside the park. It was a great icebreaker because our parents had not met before and they were able to get to know each other and tell fun family stories. Matt and I had discovered that our mother's shared a signature dish of lasagna when we were growing up. We made lasagna in honor of out mothers for that dinner.
- That group from Wednesday night was then joined by two other friends and our officiant, the Rev. Gabri Ferrer, on Thursday for a fly fishing expedition in the park. It was fabulous to have everyone out in the mountains and literally in the river. We saw a couple bear and had great luck with the trout.
- I am also glad we kept the wedding relatively small (60 guest). This allowed me to feel comfortable and not overwhelmed.
BONUS: I am especially glad that we kept our original dream of having the bagpipes and drums. It was really quite wonderful to have them as a celebratory surprise at the end of the ceremony. All of our guests were really delighted with the surprise and the thrill of seeing them emerge from the forest on the other side of the bridge.
What was the best piece of wedding advice you got?
A trusted friend and teacher suggested that I spend time in the space of the wedding in the days leading up to the ceremony. Each time I walked by the bridge during the week of the wedding, I sat and observed the beauty of the space. When Saturday came around and I was walking with my dad down the “aisle”, I felt like I was entering a comfortable and known place – I knew the trees and the people and the space. It all felt right. When I got to the front and was there with Matt, it literally felt like we were encircled by love, beauty and support.
What piece of wedding planing advice do you wish you followed?
Get as much done before the week of the wedding as possible. I thought that I had done that, but then realized that there were so many little details to tend to in those last days. I was thankful for many friends who jumped in and made it all happen.
Anything you wish you hadn't worried about?
I had originally planned on having a hair stylist from Fresno come out to do my hair and all the bridesmaids. She very unprofessionally cancelled our contract 3 weeks before the wedding and I scrambled to try to find someone to take her place. In the end my sister and one of my bridesmaids aced the day with a really simple updo. I wish I had just gone with the DIY approach from the beginning. It would have been much less stressful.
How did you choose your vendors?
We were limited simply by geography and not living close to the park. We found most of the vendors through lots of online searches and depended upon online reviews and yelp for vetting them. We felt especially lucky to find the Bergreens who have a beautiful skill at capturing the beauty of the space.
What is your very best advice to other mountain brides?
Choose a place where you are inspired and grounded so that even with the whirl of the wedding festivities you can find calm and enjoy the beauty.
Other details that I thought you might like to know about:
On the morning of the wedding, we invited guests to go on a naturalist led hike through the Giant Forest. Knowing that this was the first trip for many to the park, we wanted to give them easy access to some of the most amazing parts of the Giant Forest. This was an easy way for people to have a good introduction to the amazing Sequoia trees in the Giant Forest.
We had a papermoon photo booth that was great fun. An amazing group of friends put it together and troubleshot several technical glitches in the days before the wedding, and it came together fabulously. We now have awesome pics of friends and family in the vintage theme and will be treasured for years to come. The moon even made a surprise appearance ontop of a friend's car at the end of the night to serve as our moon-chariot that picked us up from the reception! Great fun! We will also be sending all of our friends and family the paper moon pictures as a thank you for them honoring us by making the trek out to the forest for the celebration.
My sister and I had some favorite party dresses from the age of about 3-7 that effectively looked like upside down carnations with big poofy skits in bright pastel colors. These dresses had a little jingle bell sewn into the middle layers of the petticoat so that we had a signature little ring as we danced around in our party dresses. Melanie surprised me on the wedding day with a jingle bell to place inside my dress. I loved it! It was a shared little delight from our childhood, and I think I felt as pretty and joyful on June 15th as I did when I was 4 and dancing around in my party dress.
Sequoia National Park Wedding Vendors
Wedding Photography: Bergreen Photography | Wedding Music: Kings River Trio from Three Rivers | Bagpipes: Stag and Thistle from Fresno | Wedding Cake: Goodies Bakery in Visalia | Wedding Flowers: Awesome Blossoms in Fresno | Venue and Catering: Delaware North Company at Wuksachi Lodge | Wedding Dress: Soterro and Midgley from Brides by Liza in Los Angeles | Champagne colored sheeth was made by Brides by Liza | Bridesmaid Dress: Alfred Sung from Bella Bridesmaid in Austin | Bridesmaid Jewelry: A Stone's Throw from Goods in Santa Monica | Save the Date: Nestingprojectwed on Etsy | Invitation & Placecards: Orange81 on Etsy | Custom Rings: Holly d'Lane in Houston | Make Up: Stephanie Ei-Mei Schwartz from Los Angeles | Papermoon: Best Friends Ever from Portland, Los Angeles and San Diego | Fly Fishing Guides: Sierra Fly Fisher | Naturalists: Sequoia Natural History Association
Mountainside Guide Members
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See Bergreen Photography's portfolio HERE.