A Boho Wedding at a Working Ranch in Wine Country

  • By Jen Hart
  • California Wedding, Real Weddings
  • comments 0

Emily and Chris met in high school, their first day of freshman year in the first period. So many firsts! Chris held the door open for Emily, and she was smitten. “I instantly thought he was so cute, and we crushed on each other since,” Emily said. As fate would have it, they never dated in high school. It wasn’t until seven years later, after Emily had moved from their hometown in California to Hawaii, that they made dating official. They reconnected, and Chris visited her in Hawaii and sparked flew. The couple got engaged less than two years later. Ahhhh, the magic of Hawaii!

Most of their relationship has been long-distance. Since Chris is in the military, the two wouldnt see each other very often at the beginning of their dating relationship. After he visited her in Hawaii for a few weeks, they didnt see each other for six months. Good thing Emily moved back home to California. Did that mean they saw each other regularly? Unfortunately, no. Chris was stationed in California, but they were still a 2.5-hour drive away from each other.  Consequently, they saw each other only on weekends, not all, but most. 2 weeks after they got engaged, Chris was sent on a 7-month deployment. By now, you probably think Emily & Chris is the most patient couple ever. The things we do for love, and all so worth it. 

Wedding planning was a challenge for these two lovebirds. Trying to plan their wedding while working and going to school full-time, paired with the time difference from California to Guam, made it a challenge. Conversations themselves were difficult. There were financial stressors, and “going through all the emotions of deployment and not having each other was very tough, but we got through it!” Emily stated. Their faith brought them closer together. They would regularly pray together and help to keep each other laughing and optimistic for the future. FaceTime was their saving grace! “Thank God for technology!”

The two had their dream bohemian ranch wedding at a working ranch in California Wine Country. Love does conquer all. You know what else? Emily sprained her ankle 10 minutes into the wedding reception, but that did not cause her to take a seat at her ranch wedding. She still danced the night away. Now, that’s a Dreamers & Lovers girl!



The Proposal

Emily set up a beach photo shoot; she planned to take family pictures for their friends before their men headed out to their deployment. One of their favorite beaches in SoCal- is Carlsbad. Chris tagged along since they were going to get dinner afterward, and Emily’s friend offered to take photos of the couple. While the friend was snapping away, Chris fell on one knee at sunset.  Emily was so surprised and described it as “the perfect moment. I felt like I sort of blacked out (LOL), but I was on cloud 9. The man of my dreams gave me the ring of my dreams, and it was extraordinary!”




Wedding Vendors & Moments that Made the Day Magical

The couple had 165 guests present to witness their love story unfold. Much of the couple’s vendors were a family affair.  Emily’s dad was the officiant. The couple was also elated with Emily’s Aunt Monica. She is the owner of Sweet Makery, an event company specializing in event styling + design and custom dessert tables. “She is simply the best and made my dreams come true with our cake and dessert table,” Emily noted. The couple is also happy with their chosen venue, a working ranch in Wine Country. Most of their family and close friends stayed on the property, making it a fun rehearsal dinner. They got a headstart on dancing the night away, even before the wedding! Chris’s brother tattooed lots of the wedding party in the groomsmens bunker, including Chris and Emily. Emily got her first tattoo! “It was small but significant, especially since he did it,” Emily noted.

Emily decided to DIY her flowers, and they are stunning. She does admit, “flowers were probably my biggest headache, LOL.” “I also think I slightly have OCD and wanted to make my bouquets and my nine bridesmaids and my groomsmen and three mini groomsmen.” She got dried flowers from small businesses through a flea market and Etsy. The day before the wedding, the bride and friends bought loads of eucalyptus and carnations from Trader Joe’s. She admits that even though she is a strict planner, some things, “I just wing it!” The morning of their wedding, while all the girls got ready together, they built their bouquets with a mix of dried boho flowers and pampas and mixed them with fresh eucalyptus, carnations, roses, and babies breath. It turned out way better than Emily expected, and it was a fun way to get creative with her girls. “A special shoutout to my girls Emma and Rachel for making the bouquet of my dreams; I am such a blessed woman!” the bride notes.

MORE INSPIRATION: Megan & Scott’s Dreamy Bohemian Ranch Wedding.

Finding her Wedding Dress

Dreamers & Lovers was only the second place Emily looked for a dress. She did not have a great experience at the first dress shop she visited, but at Dreamers and Lovers, it was “truly the most special time,” Emily added. She went dress shopping with her mom and now her mother-in-law. Emily feels very blessed to have such a great relationship with both her moms and their bond with each other. Win, win! The Caroline dress was the first one she tried on after stalking the website because she immediately fell in love! The bride said, “It was everything I loved about wedding dresses such as these.” She loved they were elegant, romantic, and a little different! She wanted an off-the-shoulder dress with the kind of lace Caroline had. She tried a few more to be sure, but the bridal consultant told her she could tell that Emily was in love with the Caroline dress. She was right! Emily said yes that day! She says it was the “best decision ever.”





The Wedding Vows


The couple wrote their vows! Emily’s favorite lines from Chris’s vows were:

I promise to put God in the center of our marriage and to rely on Him and to seek wisdom and strength in our relationship.” 

I promise to watch Iron Man 2 with you and let you quote every line. The couple are Marvel fans..


The Bride’s Favorite Memory of the Weddings

This was a difficult question for the bride because there were so many memorable moments. She did come up with two. For Emily, the first dance as husband and wife was incredible. She recalls looking around the room and seeing their loved ones surrounding them. It was special having them all in one room and witnessing all the smiles and happy tears. “It was an indescribable feeling, full of love and joy and bliss all in one,” she said.  Emily was also pleasantly surprised when Chris became emotional. “Before the wedding, Chris said he would not cry, but he cried about four times throughout our wedding ceremony; that was pretty sweet too! Love ya, honey ;).”

Emily’s Advice to Other Brides

“Wedding planning can be very stressful, but don’t forget to have fun! You only do this once, so enjoy it. Another tip is to remember the focus of the day; you are marrying the love of your life. That is such a gift! Don’t get caught up in the little things; some people will try to get their way at your wedding, but it’s YOUR wedding. Don’t feel bad about making decisions that are a little bit selfish. Enjoy the moment, and don’t you dare to look at your phone- I didn’t even think about mine. Best thing ever.”

MORE INSPIRATION: Laura and Ryan’s Countryside Wedding


Emily & Chris’s Next Chapters

Congrats to the couple. They purchased their first home in Florida two days before their wedding. Chris’s military job has led them to Florida, and they bought their home without ever seeing it. Emily has mentioned it’s crazy, but this couple has proven that it all works out. Love conquers all. They took a leap of faith, and the deal closed the morning of their wedding! How meant to be? They love their home, and they now have a dog they love. Emily is finishing school and working. They are hoping for many kids in the future. Thanks to Emily for sharing their beautiful love story.





PHOTOGRAPHER: Wildlands Photo


TATTOO ARTIST: Art By Adrian Martin