"For Louisa Eckersley and John Kimble, the initial planning of their summer nuptials seemed practically effortless with the gracious help of the bride’s mother and the enlisted aid of consultant Beth Helmstetter. “They both told me not to worry about the details and to simply enjoy myself,” remembers the bride. While Louisa and John consider themselves unconventional, their families are more on the traditional side, so it was important to the couple that they settle on a style that fit everyone’s expectations. Having decided on the wild beauty and rugged coastline of Big Sur for their event location, the nature-loving couple chose to stick to an organic theme that incorporated an abundance of rural elements.

Five days before the wedding, however, Big Sur was in the midst of a raging fire and the entire area had to be evacuated. “Every single thing had to change at the last minute,” the bride says of the unexpected ordeal. Though the natural disaster created many new obstacles, it reminded Louisa and John of one very important factor: “To stay focused on what a wedding is really all about – the love between you and your partner.” Much to the couple’s relief, a generous friend offered her family’s Malibu home for the celebration, and some eleventh-hour planning ensued. “Everyone really stepped up to the plate when everything had to be changed at the last minute,” the grateful groom recalls.

The sprawling backyard of the private residence provided the necessary space for the original event layout, and the area’s lush landscape and plentiful foliage added a fresh, woodsy ambiance. An altar was created using driftwood decorated with vines and leafy greenery, while aisles were kept simple with chairs placed on either side of a grassy center lane. Pretty parasols placed in wicker baskets gave guests the option of shade, and the bucolic appeal that Louisa and John had hoped for had everyone feeling comfortable and relaxed. A friend of the couple played a song on his ukulele written especially for the occasion, while a non-traditional bridal party (best man, two flower girls, a ring bearer, and Louisa’s beloved Yorkshire Terrier) processed down the aisle. Once the couple joined hands at the altar, they turned towards their loved ones for the remainder of the ceremony. “We had an amazing minister who custom-tailored our service,” says John. “We paused between reciting our vows to embrace, kiss, and take it all in... I’m forever grateful to him for suggesting this.” One of Louisa’s favorite moments was when she kicked aside her shoes in the middle of the sermon. “My heels were sinking into the grass, so I kicked them off and got married in bare feet!” she laughs. “I wanted to just be myself.”

Guests casually shifted to the opposite side of the yard for the reception, where they found their names on a rustic wood-framed seating chart. Tables were draped in crisp fl ax linens, while vases wrapped in birch wood held beautiful mixtures of flowers accented with sweet pea, mint, sage, or basil. A white gardenia paired with herbs was placed at each attendee’s place setting, and pretty pearl containers with organic lemon almonds were offered as favors. In keeping with the theme of Louisa and John’s love for nature, a tree stump was used in lieu of a typical stand for the couple’s four-tiered wedding cake.

Everyone appreciated the couple’s philosophy of “less is more” as they drifted from simply arranged areas set with plush couches and lounge chairs. “We focused on creating an intimate, genuine atmosphere and I think we achieved something really special,” says the bride. Organically, of course.