Fall Wedding with Outdoor Ceremony + Tented Reception in California

Erin and David

Photographed by: Paul Barnett PhotographerLocation: San Diego, California, United States

After meeting through a mutual friend, Erin Fink and David Levy went on their first date. “We stayed until we were the last ones in the restaurant and the place closed for the night,” shares Erin. From that evening on, the pair could not have been more perfect for one another. Remembers the groom of his decision to propose: “We were so compatible. We were in love and were best friends. It became clear we wanted to grow old with each other, so I wanted to make it official.” With an engagement ring in tow, the pair enjoyed a hike overlooking the ocean that ended with a picnic on the beach. Midway through their sandwiches, David popped the question.

Though the couple resides in New York City, they chose to wed in Erin’s hometown of Rancho Santa Fe, California. On a beautiful day in October, 180 guests gathered in the courtyard of a luxurious property to witness the sweet vow exchange as a flamenco guitarist and bass player performed romantic melodies. The bride was exquisite in a gorgeous gown with thin straps and a tulle skirt embellished with floral lace, which also adorned her sheer blouse worn throughout the service. Erin met her groom beneath the chuppah, which was placed under a trellis adorned with climbing white roses and verdure.

“We wanted to incorporate Jewish traditions,” says the bride of the ceremony, “but we also wanted to make it inclusive, so we included explanations in the programs.” Though they included the Jewish customs of the seven circles, breaking of the glass, and prayers over wine – which were especially important to the groom – the lovebirds chose to write their own vows to personalize the ceremony.

Once Erin and David were pronounced husband and wife, guests enjoyed an alfresco cocktail hour, finding their reception seating assignments displayed on a custom-made wooden sign emblazoned with calligraphy and bordered with greenery and ivory blooms. As loved ones made their way into the clear-top tent on the lawn, they entered an elegant garden-inspired space. Alabaster drapery added dimension to the tent, which housed a blend of rectangular wooden tables and round varieties covered with vanilla-hued linens. Centerpieces showcased either antique-style candlesticks or towering arrangements of white hydrangeas and roses, creamy spray roses, dusty miller, and additional foliage.

In keeping with Jewish tradition, loved ones took part in the hora on a wooden dance floor, which was placed beneath an impressive chandelier composed of greenery and suspended glass orbs. Dancing ensued throughout the evening to the sounds of a live band, which performed a mix of top hits from today as well as older classics. Following the sit-down dinner service, guests couldn’t wait to sample the delectable treats at the dessert bar, which was placed beneath a sign in modern calligraphy that read, “How Sweet It Is” – an ode to the treats as well as the couple’s first dance song by James Taylor. “Instead of a wedding cake, we had a sweets bar with assorted desserts, candy, and donuts from a popular local donut shop,” adds the bride. Attendees were invited to take to-go bags home as favors.

Despite some things not going as smoothly as planned during the festivities – like the rings not being immediately available during the ceremony, the couple insists they wouldn’t do anything differently. “It was perfect!” shares Erin of their special day. The groom, who was involved in the larger planning decisions, shares some sound advice for future engaged couples: “This is the bride’s day first, so make sure her needs go before anyone else’s.”