Though Kiley Bennett and Trevor Dardik reside in Texas, they chose a dreamy property in Rancho Santa Fe, California, for the location of their nuptials since the bride was raised in the area. "I grew up in that town and have so many wonderful memories there," shares Kiley of their decision. With the help of her mother and Merilee Hennings of EverAfter Events, the couple planned a romantic alfresco event with a "relaxed, but structured, vibe" in soft hues.
Although many of today's couples choose to have a "first look," Kiley chose to adhere with tradition. "I did not want to take pictures before the ceremony because I wanted that traditional moment of walking down the aisle and seeing Trevor for the first time," she explains. On the afternoon of the ceremony, loved ones gathered on a verdant lawn to witness Kiley and Trevor exchange vows. "One of our great friends became ordained and married us," shares Kiley of their officiant, who has known the couple since the first day they met. "He has been on this journey with us and was able to include that personal side to the ceremony that nobody else could," adds the bride. The couple also had their immediate family and wedding party write letters, which were dropped in a handmade box at the end of the aisle before the ceremony, for the couple to open on their first anniversary.
Following the short and sweet service, the couple's 130 guests found their seats at long farm tables situated in two rows. Guests received their predetermined entrées – filet mignon, Chilean sea bass, or mushroom pot pie – and sides were served family style. "It was a great way for everyone to mingle," says Kiley. Since the couple wanted their guests to be able to see each other from across the table, centerpieces were kept low and featured white and blush blooms sans greenery – "very simple, but elegant," notes the bride. Golden candle votives offered ambient candlelight once the sun set, as did crystal chandeliers suspended from overhead tree branches.
Guests took home wedding favors featuring two cookies in the shapes of New Jersey (where the proposal took place) and California (where they said "I do") with hearts marking specific locations within the states. A romantic four-tiered wedding cake in white and blush with gold touches featured fresh flowers in a soft color palette between each layer.
Kiley offers this advice to other brides- and grooms-to-be: "Enjoy the process because it goes by so quickly! There were times I worried about the little things when now I wish I hadn't... At the end of the day you get to marry your person and that is all that matters."