Crossing paths by chance at a country music festival, Ryan Woodland introduced himself and invited Sarah Orr and her two girlfriends to join him and his friends from the firehouse at their seating area closer to the stage. Making their way through the crowd, someone bumped into Sarah causing her to spill her drink all over Ryan. “So there we were standing amongst 30,000 other strangers, just looking at one another,” he recalls. “I’m laughing and telling her there are better ways to start a conversation and she is looking adorable with her hands over her mouth in embarrassment saying, ‘I’m sorry.’”
“He was so nice about it and didn’t let it faze him at all,” Sarah says. “I think that was the exact moment I fell in love with him.” She had a similar effect on Ryan, who couldn’t stop thinking about her on his drive home. “That’s when I knew something amazing had just happened,” he says. “I was impressed not only by how beautiful she was, but how genuine and honest she was.” By their next meeting, Ryan was certain Sarah was The One.
After obtaining Sarah’s parents’ blessing and selecting the perfect diamond, he staged quite a production for the proposal. Ryan had arranged for a false fire call to come in during Sarah’s visit to the station. When the fire engines drove out, there was Ryan on bended knee holding a ring. “I froze. As I stared at him in shock, tears started to run down my cheeks,” she says. “I finally responded, ‘Yes, of course I’ll marry you!’”
Inspired by Sarah’s grandparents, who have been married for 62 years, the couple chose the same date for their wedding. As for the look of the ceremony and reception, rustic and understated were the guiding principles. Since Sarah grew up on a ranch, the couple wanted a venue that reflected that spirit. After considering different options in California, they found a beautiful inn in the Ojai Valley that encapsulated their vision. Sarah chose complementary soft hues like blush, white, and peach. “Colors that felt natural and not too staged or coordinated,” she says.
With the scenic mountains as a backdrop, the ceremony’s magical setting needed few embellishments. Small bouquets of white and cerise roses, light dahlias with yellow and lavender centers, orange alstroemeria, and greenery wrapped in draping ecru lace dotted the wooden chairs. A burlap runner with an ivory lace trim, framed by large rustic lanterns nestled in cream flower petals, lined the aisle. Lending melodious accompaniment befitting the Spanish Colonial-influenced courtyard, Adam Lasher – Carlos Santana’s nephew – played an acoustic guitar during the nuptials.
Someone advised Sarah to spend some time with her new husband before joining guests at the reception. “No family. No friends. No planner,” the bride says. “That moment, when it was just the two of us, was priceless.”
The reception venue seemed tailor-made for the couple who “knew from the start [they] wanted a barn involved.” The structure’s interior was elegantly transformed and included soft peach sheers and crystal chandeliers suspended from the ceiling. Round and rectangular wood tables were alternately left bare or donned burlap tablecloths or runners. Tabletops were decorated with greenery and an array of blush, pastel apricot, and ivory flowers arranged in bottles and faceted goblets. “They were absolutely gorgeous, but not fussy. They looked as if they could have been picked from a beautiful garden and put on the table for the party. Exactly the feel we were going for,” notes the bride.
Although the couple had a three-layer wedding cake emblazoned with a wood-grain motif and adorned with lace details and lifelike sugar flowers, the groom’s cake was the most memorable. Sarah had secretly commissioned a cake designer to craft a confection copy of Ryan’s fire truck, adding the couple’s two beloved dogs as finishing touches. “It was awesome and I had no idea,” recalls Ryan.
Adam Lasher and his band, along with a DJ, kept the tempo for the lively celebration – which the groom describes as “beyond amazing.” As the night progressed, the silly props from the photo area made it over to the dance floor. “That’s when everyone we love just let go and we created one of the greatest nights ever,” says Ryan. “There is something about having all of your family and closest friends together and having the time of your life.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the details involved with a wedding. Keeping matters in perspective, Sarah advises: “Remember that at the end of the day this is about marrying the person that means more to you than anything in the world. It’s about becoming husband and wife and creating a life together as one.” Ryan adds, “Grooms – don’t believe the hype! If you marry your best friend, the party doesn’t stop, it just gets better because you have more inside jokes to laugh about together and the memories pile up.”