Real Bride: Jenny S.

Jenny and Nick’s wedding was a simple and intimate affair in the most beautiful of settings- Big Sur, California. By skipping out on tired, stuffy traditions, their guests were able to enjoy a truly memorable day together. Photographer Aly Caroll captured the day so perfectly including a romantic morning after shoot along the cliffs of the coastline.


View More:

View More:

View More:

View More:

View More:


View More:

View More:

From the bride: Nick and I began dating in college even though we went to high school together. Early in our relationship Nick and I made a pact of visiting at least one new place a year and have stuck to it the past 8 years. After 6 years of dating Nick surprised me by proposing at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. and exactly two years later (09/04/16) we got married in Big Sur.

Two reasons we had such a long engagement were us buying and renovating our first house a year into our engagement and myself (Jenny) launching my own consulting business 4 months before us getting married. Since we were able to do those two things and plan a wedding at the same time I’m pretty sure we can make it through anything!

In the beginning stages we both talked about how we never wanted a large wedding where most of our time was spent briefly talking to everyone. We wanted something very intimate with our best friends in the world that felt more like a fantastic dinner party than a blow out wedding. The best part about our wedding was that practically everyone already knew each other and were friends. The kindest words came from a friend after that said “it was the most lighthearted wedding” she had ever been to, which was our ultimate goal.

As most of our closest friends have moved we knew we wanted to visit a place no one had ever been so we could explore and experience it together. In searching for places I stumbled across Big Sur and honestly couldn’t believe a place so beautiful and untouched existed. Although neither of us had ever been (nor made it out during planning – crazy right?) we knew getting married in the cliffs of Big Sur was exactly where we wanted to start our married lives together.

Planning from Iowa was fun but a lot of work! The dress was first on the list and my mom and sister (MOH) found it in Kansas City. It was the third dress I tried and we just went for it! It matched our wedding perfectly. I wanted our “theme” to be understated elegance – where everything was just naturally beautiful and amplified what’s already there. My favorite part about my dress was that I felt it just enhanced me. This was another reason we picked Big Sur. We didn’t want many decorations, just small additions that would amplify the already gorgeous setting.

The one piece of advice for brides to be is to truly follow your heart. Our wedding was the only intimate wedding Nick and I knew of. It’s not a big tradition in Iowa to have such small weddings but it’s what we wanted. The day after we couldn’t stop talking about how it was exactly what we wanted which made our hearts so happy. Don’t hurry into the process – really take time to know what you want!

We also didn’t do cake or favors! Neither of these elements resonated with us so we simply didn’t do them. Instead we had an open bar which trust us, we think went over better than favors ever would (ha!). Again, not traditional but fit our vision!

One of our favorite details were our escort notes. Instead of escort cards we hand wrote individual notes to each guest that acted as their place card. Nick and I both wrote something on each and our guests loved them and said they had never seen them before. Each guest present meant so much to our lives we wanted to let them know.

We invited 30 of our closest friends and made it an entire weekend. We spent a day in Carmel visiting wine tasting rooms and drove down the unbelievable coast to Big Sur together. Seeing those views as a group is one of the best memories and got everyone so excited for the next day.

The day was magical! We got ready at the Big Sur River Inn and then the bridal party plus significant others hopped on our limo bus to take photos in the most beautiful Big Sur locations. First we went to Pfeiffer Beach (where we were later told Leo Dicaprio was spotted – still trying to find him in the background of our photos!), stopped along the many beautiful roads and then ended our portraits in the redwoods at Ventana camp grounds. Big Sur is amazing in that you can have the beach, forest and cliffs within one day.

Our ceremony at Ventana Inn was the most amazing part of the day. Nick and I both wrote our vows which meant the world to me. Then it was on to the reception. One of the reasons we chose Ventana is the beautiful arbor on their patio. Upon seeing this portion I knew we could have our dream of a family style table with our closest friends. I loved this because Nick and I never wanted to be separated at a sweetheart or head table. We wanted to be in the mix with friends and family the whole night. The night had a loose plan but the beauty of an intimate wedding is the spontaneity that can happen!

After the second course my sister had the idea that everyone get up and say how they first met Nick and I and their favorite thing about us. It organically happened and was one of the most beautiful moments of the night.

All weddings are magical but being up in the clouds of Big Sur just added something a little bit extra to our day. It was pure magic.

P.S. Our photographer was amazing and did a morning after shoot at Bixby Bridge the next morning. We may have been on 3 hours of sleep at 6 AM but it was beyond worth it to get that beautiful and iconic bridge in our photos.

Nick and Jenny

September 4, 2016

Venue for Ceremony and Reception: Ventana Inn – Big Sur, California

Photgrapher: Aly Carrol

Florist: Kate Healey

Music: Ben Flanagan

Hair & Makeup: Rhonda Johnson

Videographer: Vernon Alexander