the wedding diaries: where we'll tie the knot.

My bestest gal, Becky, checking out the ceremony site.

On Sunday, the best friend and I made the four hour trek from Santa Cruz to Annapolis, California...to finally check out the wedding location. I spent several hundred miles nervously crossing my fingers, hoping it would be all I dreamed of...especially given that we'd already plopped down $1500 to reserve the ultra-hidden spot, sight unseen.

Ultra-hidden is totallythe word. The drive in is beautiful--past miles of Sonoma wineries, an hour of winding dirt roads. Beautiful vistas. Although my best friend was about to be sick from the loopy roads, and I've never white-knuckled a steering wheel quite that badly...we both agreed that this was seriously awesome. Like a secret wedding hideaway. You'd never, ever find it without seriously specific directions + a gate code.

But, it's perfect. The Anvil Vineyard and Ranch has completely delivered. We've opted for a small wedding...likely around forty guests, and our dream was to find a place that offered lodging for every last one of our guests...and we did. This place is a dream come true. The perfect place for a wedding weekend, a retreat for our nearest and dearest.

Enough blathering. Want to see photos? Mmkay.

Our guests can arrive a few days early, and stay in the three adorable homes on the property...

Including an old horse stable, converted into The Carriage House, which sleeps ten and offers a rec room...

And a gorgeous outdoor breakfast nook, just steps from the hot tub...

Gabe and I will exchange vows under this beautiful old tree, overlooking the valley...

(Becky took this photo. I love it.)

And then we shall party! We'll serve food and plenty of desserts in this little courtyard...

And our guests will spill out to sit at tables on the front lawn, to enjoy the view once again... 

(Full disclosure: I stole this photo from Anvil's website, because my camera died onsite. Creative gal FAIL.)

It is not at all the wedding I thought for years I'd have...the 200 -guest social fete, the lace dress, six bridesmaids + church wedding. It's nothing like that. But, it mirrors my life: not at all what I planned. So much smaller in some ways, and yet so much deeper in others. It's been a twisty, windy, sometimes nauseating, exhaustive search...and in reaching this point, I realize it is everything I always needed...and nothing I ever thought I'd have.

It will be endlessly beautiful. Endlessly us.

And that is all that matters.


  1. The location is beautiful and sounds like it will be perfect for you. I love the converted stable and the breakfast nook area especially. Yay for beautiful outdoor weddings!

    I'm glad you could share photos with us from CA! I'm traveling through you girl!

  2. I love it. It is so, so perfectly you!

  3. that is a marvelous tree. I want to live there... maybe even in the tree.

  4. This place looks so serene! Chills just thinking how exciting this trip must have been for ya! Love Love Love it!

  5. This is a positively beautiful location!!!

    I'm glad that it is turning out so splendid for you.


    P.S. That swing+that view looks so relaxing!!!

  6. You picked the most perfect place

  7. Beautiful! I picture some pretty wedding portraits on the swing!

  8. bethany, this space is gorgeous! that tree! i showed my hubby (we're wedding photographers so we're nerds like that) and we both agreed it's perfect for an intimate wedding. congratulations on everything. i've read your blog for so long now, i feel like i know you. ;)

  9. Hello! Found you by chance.

    I was married outside in a beautiful garden last October and it turned out better than I could have imagined. Good luck with your planning! I can only just now discuss marriage and weddings without having a panic attack. Wedding planning is hard work, for sure.

  10. It's going to be beautiful! I love it!

  11. gorgeous. california is the best.

    and your winding journey to the altar sounds a lot like your winding, driving journey to the ranch. eh? did you think of that? i bet you did.

  12. Um, can I politely crash your wedding? It's going to be a gorgeous day!!! I've almost forgotten the stressful part of planning a wedding. If you asked me now to plan another one I would say YES in a heartbeat. But I'm sure if you asked me 4 years ago I would have said, no way!

    Have fun with all of it. Being engaged is such a unique and special time. I loved it.

  13. That looks simply stunning! I love it when something that you've been thinking about for years doesn't turn out at all the way you think it will, but is more perfect and more 'you' than it ever could be.

    If my husband and I ever visit US I'd love to see this place.

    Also, can I just say how refreshing your love of planning this wedding is? I'm quite happy if you want to bang on about it, because you seem so positive and happy-go-lucky and that makes your blog a joy to read.

  14. Oh my gosh, that is beautiful! I didn't even know places like that existed anywhere but the movies. How exciting!

    x Jasmine

  15. Gorgeous! Think I may need to go visit next time I'm in Cali. The view from the ceremony site has me swooning!!!

    We are so alike! When I got married we chose a location that would house as many of our out of town guests as possible and turned it into a weekend celebration (dinner with everyone Friday, rehearsal dinner Saturday, ceremony Sunday). Our ceremony site was overlooking a little lake :-) You're gonna have a blast!

    In case you're curious here's the link - http://www.hlinn.com/

  16. Ooooh! I hardly know what to say! What a beautiful setting!

  17. My gosh how beautiful! You're having my dream wedding, I wanna get married under a big tree! I'm so excited for you!

  18. breathtaking location. just think of the magical, golden California light you will have. love the idea of small intimate wedding.

  19. Sooo, I am 98% Shannanigans and I are going to crash your wedding. Get used to that idea ;)

    This place is insane!! How did you find it? I LOVE the stable converted into a guest house!


  20. That looks lovely and sounds perfect.

  21. first: your last words gave me chills. so inspiring. that's exactly what i want out of life - smaller, yet deeper. you have such a way with words....

    second: gorgeous!! that is breathtaking! i can only imagine the beautiful photos you will have after that! i think you will enjoy a small wedding too - much more intimate :)

  22. (and you know i want to work this wedding for you, right? can we say DREAMY??)

  23. oh my heart be still... it looks as though you have found the most idyllic space for (what is sure to be) the most beautiful day! just lovely! xo

  24. This is gorgeous! I found you via Pinterest. If you don't mind sharing, what is the rental fee for this gorgeous spot?


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