Once upon a time, a bright-eyed young couple from the city of angels stumbled upon a mystical kingdom called Nestldown. Tucked amid the Santa Cruz Mountains, this wonderland boasted rolling meadows, towering redwoods, curious woodland creatures, waterfalls, and a koi pond, as well as a hobbit-sized home and an abandoned dragon’s lair. They hopped aboard the small train that looped the grounds for a tour.
“This is the place!” they proclaimed jubilantly. “This is where our two hearts will become one!”
As it transpired, we had the good fortune to be present for their extraordinary day. When we arrived, Matthew and his groomsmen were tidying up the cozy cottage in case the hobbit returned from an epic journey. Afterward, he presented them with custom railroad spike bottle openers in appreciation of their friendship. Matthew cleaned up nicely, channeling Prince Charming in a slim gray tuxedo.
Meanwhile, six bridesmaids in raspberry-colored gowns flitted around his betrothed, a beauty named Ashley. She positively shimmered in a cloud of iridescent tulle and love. Her gifts of custom wooden boxes and handkerchiefs embroidered with “No ugly crying” were well received by her bridesmaids.
Matthew and Ashley couldn’t bear to see each other before the ceremony and so settled on a “first touch” around a redwood tree instead. Blindfolded, Matthew shook with nerves, eagerly anticipating the touch of his one true love. Their elation was so palpable when Ashley finally reached around the tree to caress and then kiss his hand, we thought they’d shatter!
The wedding itself was charged with just as much emotion. The ceremony brimmed with love, laughter, and tears (at one point, both Matthew and Ashley were so overwhelmed that they had to pause the proceedings to compose themselves—too cute!). Other touching moments included placing letters they wrote to each other (to be read in a year’s time) in a box made of a Princess Bride book, and their guests collectively offering them wishes of creativity, laughter, friendship, and wonder.
After portraits beneath the redwoods and in a field full of ankle-biting grass, Matthew and Ashley trundled to the reception on the little train. And then the celebration commenced: comfort food was consumed, heartfelt toasts were made, copious adult beverages were downed, sparkly tattoos were applied, and cake was lovingly smashed.
Matthew and Ashley’s love for The Princess Bride, literature, and fairytales imbued the day. Ashley and her talented bridesmaids designed the wedding programs, drew and painted the event signage, printed and assembled the escort cards, and pieced together the Scrabble-and-hardcover-book centerpieces. The tiered cake was topped with Ashley and Matthew as Princess Buttercup and Westley. Other thoughtful details included the bridesmaids’ gorgeous mason jar lanterns filled with flowers and fairylights and a guestbook with an intricately carved wooden cover. Ashley surprised Matthew with a special Darth Vader-topped tower of memories, and they both conjured a portal into a magical forest for the wildbooth!
Shortly into their first dance together, Matthew’s uncle orbited them with his phone, much to their guests’ amusement. And so kicked off the epic dance party before our couple finally escaped into the night in a 1960s British black cab and lived happily ever after. Here are some of our favorite still and animated images from the day.
Dress: Wisteria by Lazaro
Shoes: Christian Louboutin (Decollette pumps in Frost)
Make-up: Ofelia Slater (OSpa Salon, Los Gatos)
Hair: Jennifer Sarkis (OSpa Salon, Los Gatos)
Necklace: BHLDN (Pearly Back Drape necklace)
Hair clip: Hanging by a Thread (Etsy)
Suit & tie: Vera Wang for Men’s Wearhouse
Bridesmaids’ dresses: David’s Bridal
Flowers: Bloomsters (San Jose)
Custom railroad spikes/bottle openers: Northern Crescent Iron (Flat Rock, NC)
Wood box gifts: various shops on Etsy
“No ugly crying” handkerchiefs: WrenBirdArts (Etsy)
Coordinator: Twitterpated Weddings (San Jose)
Caterer: Paradise Catering (Carmel Valley)
Cake: Jen’s Cakes (San Jose)
DJ: Big Fun Disc Jockeys (Cupertino)
Shuttle service: Santa Cruz Experience
Giant bottle of wine: Regan Wines (Napa Valley)
Princess Bride letter holder: Fab Works (Etsy)
Cake toppers: Jess’s Shop (Etsy)
Guestbook: Crearting Creations (Etsy)
Bridesmaids mason jars with twinkle lights: Bragging Bags (Etsy)
Mr. & Mrs. puzzle pieces signs: Bragging Bags (Etsy)
Wooden Batman cufflinks: Stuff About Things (Etsy)
Green tags for escort cards: Green Ridge Designs (Etsy)
Antique keys/bottle openers for escort cards: Vintage86keys (Etsy)
Antique keys: Glowberry Creations (Etsy)
Magical forest photo backdrop: Elifeshop (Etsy)
Twoo Wuv sign: Carolina Vintage Co (Etsy)
Love is Sweet sign: BannerArt (Etsy)
Wood LOVE sign with wedding date: smccathie (Etsy)