Big Sur Elopement at Garrapatta State Park Photographed by THE DELAURAS with wedding planner Mariah Green Events

For 13 years two soulmates have adventured and traveled the world together, and we couldn’t have been more excited to photograph Jen and Ben’s Big Sur elopement. The couple was married at Garrapata State Park and celebrated their reception at De Tierra Vineyards. We loved working alongside Big Sur wedding planner, Mariah Green Events to pull off the dreamiest of weddings.

Ben and Jen chose Big Sur for their elopement because they feel a deep, spiritual connection to the ocean. They both grew up near the coast, and when they travel, they always gravitate towards coastal locations. They have travelled to some of the most breathtaking coastlines in the world: Western Ireland, The White Cliffs of Dover, Maine, all along the Pacific Northwest, and the San Juan Islands — but they haven’t found a place that makes their souls feel so connected and alive as Big Sur. It’s also a part of their love story, as they’ve traveled here many times during their relationship, and, of course, for their wedding. 

Jen and Ben met in berline where they were roommates and became very good friends. Ben first fell in love with Jen at the supermarket in Germany. Jen had a particular fascination in finding the squarest bread possible in Germany. Ben was intrigued by this unconventional pursuit, and completely enchanted by her enthusiasm when she finally landed on a flawlessly symmetrical cube of a loaf. He remains enchanted until this day by her enthusiasm for the little things in life, and by her ability to see magic in the ordinary.

Jen knew she was in love with Ben when she could be completely herself around him. She loved that he refused to conform to convention, that he made music, that he was a restless and adventurous soul and that he loved to eat just as much as he did! But most of all, she loved his ability to take both the good and the bad with kindness and endless patience, and to see the perfection in her in days she couldn’t see it in herself.  

You’re going to want to scroll deep for this beautiful union!

ABOUT J+B BIG SUR ELOPEMENT

  • What was the inspiration for your wedding day? The theme of our wedding could maybe be described as “California coast meets Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  We had our ceremony on the Garrapata Bluff Trails and our reception at De Tierra, a vineyard property. We wanted all the aesthetic choices to reflect not only our personalities but the natural splendor of the central coast itself. We chose to use candles and lanterns (both led and real flame) to create a magical, golden atmosphere and used flowers sparingly. We included some nods to the region, including the use of olive branches (that grow in abundance on the property), using all local California wines, and showcasing our wedding cake on a wine barrel. We hoped to create a relaxed atmosphere that was natural but still sumptuous and magical.
  • How and why did you pick Big Sur for your destination wedding? Ben and I both feel that Big Sur is a big part of our story and our spiritual home.  We are avid travelers, but we’ve never known a place to bring us such a sense of peace and spiritual connection as Big Sur, CA. I have always felt that the central coast is the beating heart of California, a place that just radiates beauty and life energy. We just knew there was no other place on earth that we wanted to get married. It was also a place we couldn’t wait to share with friends and family.
  • How and why did you pick De Tierra for your reception? We were really excited to give our guests two different sides of the Central Coast experience, the stunning Big Sur coastline, as well as the rolling hills and vineyards of Carmel and Salinas. We loved that De Tierra was private and that we could stay on the property with our entire party. It allowed us to have a whole wedding experience, versus just a single wedding day. We looked at SO MANY venues before we found De Tierra. I had always had this fantasy of having our reception under an oak tree surrounded by candles, hanging lights, and a long pathway around the grounds. We had essentially given up on that idea however, because no venue we saw in the area really fit that description. When we finally saw De Tierra, I couldn’t believe my eyes; it was perfect! We knew immediately that it was the one.
  • What special details did you include in your wedding or reception?? We loved all the light we used in our wedding! We had DIY mason jar lanterns hanging from the oak tree, which our lovely family and friends helped us hang, luminaries that lit the long pathways around the property and a table filled with candles. We wanted to whole place to twinkle and glow!
  • Most memorable moment (s) of your wedding day?
    Ben: “The most memorable moment for me was actually when everyone had left the ceremony on Garrpata Bluff Trail to get to our reception location in Salinas. It was just us two looking out at this surreal sunset over the water. Because most of the day was such a whirlwind, it was important for us to have that quiet moment to be alone together and soak in the moment.”
    Jen: “The most memorable moment for me was when we arrived at our reception site to see the table and lights set up under the oak tree. I felt like I was looking at my pinterest board come to life! I couldn’t believe how stunning everything looked and how beautifully our vendors were able to execute our vision. It went above and beyond my expectations”.
  • What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process? Wedding cake tasting!
  • Any advice for those planning now? It’s really easy to get lost in the idea of pleasing other people, but in the end, you have to remember your wedding is about you two and no one else. When you start planning a wedding, you might get a lot of opinions thrown your way. You might even have people close to you question your judgment or decisions. It’s wonderful to have other people there to support you, but remember to stand your ground on what’s important and–key word–authentic, to you. Don’t have someone else’s wedding. Luckily, we are pretty stubborn people. =)Ben and I were not very traditional in that we didn’t have a dance floor or a band or even that many flowers (we opted for a green garland instead) because that just wasn’t us. We instead focused our limited budget on things that were personally important like quality food, a stunning wedding cake and a beautiful private venue.  If you have a limited budget like we did, I would recommend choosing the atmosphere and venue location over decor. Just my humble opinion, but I think it’s better to be surrounded by natural splendor with minimal decor than be in an ordinary room filled with flowers. We used candlelight, as opposed to flowers, to really enhance the drama and atmosphere.  Also, if you can, consider inviting only your nearest and dearest to the wedding. Our small party (we only invited our immediate family, two maids of honor, one best man, and two cousins) allowed us to have an entire wedding weekend together and spend two nights at a private vineyard property–something we could not have afforded had our guest count been larger. But more importantly, our small guest count really allowed the whole group to bond and get to know each other over the weekend, as we all stayed on the same property, cooking and eating dinner together, and just hanging out. We got to take trips to the coast, enjoy Carmel, and feel like we were vacationing together before the big day. A lot of people commented afterward how different our wedding was to any other they had attended, because of the intimacy of that experience. 
  • Music
    • Processional: Can’t Help Falling in Love, Elvis
    • Recessional: Mendelssohn’s Wedding March
    • First Dance: Kathy’s Song by Simon and Garfunkel
  • How was your experience working with The DeLauras??  Ben and I feel incredibly lucky to have Kendal and Anthony shoot our wedding in Big Sur and Salinas. We loved the flexibility they offered, from a la carte hours all the way to full day wedding coverage, and communication with Kendal was a breeze. Right away, we could tell that The DeLauras were experienced, expert photographers who knew exactly how to capture the perfect angles, which locations would result in the most dramatic, flattering shots, and how to really make a wedding dress move!   We had a sunset shoot so there was a lot of pressure to get the light just before it faded but The DeLauras were able to do that with skill and precision. Even though both of us are normally a bit awkward in front of a camera, we felt immediately at ease with both of our photographers, as Kendal’s humor paired with her clear direction, making it very easy to pose in a way that felt natural to us. Kendal and Anthony are adventurous photographers, and have you really moving around in your environment, which resulted in dramatic, editorial-looking shots. When we received the photos, we were absolutely blown away by how stunning they were! What we loved most about our photos is that the DeLauras were not only able to capture the sheer joy we felt, but also the deep connection we have with Big Sur and the land itself. Kendal and Anthony went above and beyond to capture pictures that will remind us for the rest of our lives the magic of our big day, and we can’t recommend them enough to anyone who is looking for adventurous, off the beaten path, fine art style photography for their wedding!!

getting ready + reception  DE TIERRA VINEYARDS| destination BIG SUR| floral crown CASSIA FORET other florals DIY by bridesmaid and bridewedding dress designer MY WONY BRIDALshoes  CLARKS| bridesmaids dresses  TULLE AND CHANTILLY | grooms suit  SLATER OF MANCHESTER|wedding planner  MARIAH GREEN EVENTS catering CHEF HYSON| officant BRIAN BORGIA WEDDING IN MONTEREY | photography THE DELAURAS 

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