On occasion, as a photographer, I find myself falling in love with the details of a client’s wedding, which is precisely what happened while second shooting for Katie and Doug’s wedding at Gardner Ranch in Carmel Valley. Being a second shooter typically means I get to hang back just a little more than I typically would on a wedding day. As the second shooter, my job is to capture the smaller details the day and venue have to offer while the primary photographer works through the client’s shot list. Luckily for me, Gardner Ranch had an abundance of swoon-worthy details, and Katie and Doug’s touches played off of those details beautifully.
Gardener Ranch is a 24-acre property about 25 minutes southwest of Monterey nestled in the sun-soaked hills of Carmel Valley. The canopies of oak, sycamore, and willow trees create a romantic diffused light as the sun streams through the leaves on the tree-studded ranch. One of the most picturesque parts of the property is the Woodland Lawn. The naturally styled grassy field and greenery beneath the trees make you feel as though you’ve stumbled into a previously undiscovered California meadow. This tranquil scene is where Katie and Doug chose to exchange their vows.
Katie and Doug let the beauty of their surroundings speak almost wholly for themselves. Their only addition to the backdrop was arrangements of eucalyptus, feathery pampas grass, and muted florals to line the aisle. They let the branches of a sycamore tree be their wedding arch, and the lush grass be their aisle runner. The bridesmaids wore blush-hued dresses, and the groomsmen wore navy blue suits. Katie’s gown had a beaded lace bodice and a-line tulle skirt that felt airy and ethereal in the dappled lighting. With vows exchanged, and their union sealed with a kiss, Katie and Doug left the Woodland Lawn hand in hand as husband and wife.
After the ceremony, the celebration shifted to Gardener Ranch’s Clubhouse Patio beside its sparkling pool. Katie and Doug chose to host their reception outdoors under market lights strung from the treetops. The weather stayed perfect all day long for the outdoor ceremony and toasting the new couple in the open air. When it came time for dessert and dancing, guests were welcomed inside by a cozy brick fireplace and retro black and white tile flooring beneath their feet. The energy of the space and the joy of Katie and Doug’s guests ensured that the day ended full of fun.
Gardner Ranch’s mix of rustic, natural overtones and its chic, elegant details lend themselves to almost any couple’s style while ensuring romance stays at the forefront of the occasion. Gardner Ranch also offers onsite lodging just as beautiful as its celebration spaces, allowing its guests the option of spending their entire wedding weekend with the property as their private paradise.
While I find details I love at all the weddings I have the privilege of photographing, I have to admit that Gardner Ranch swept me off my feet. I hope I have the opportunity to return there to celebrate another couple soon.