An Elegant Summer Wedding on the California Coast

In November 2017, Alexandra Brody surprised her boyfriend, Robert Runkel, with a trip to Half Moon Bay, California, for a belated birthday celebration. But she had no idea that he, too, had a surprise in store for her. “We were on a hike along the coast, and I was totally shocked when Rob got down on one knee," she recalls. Thankfully, someone was able to capture the moment for them. “A stranger, about a mile away, got a few pictures of the moment, and she found us later in the day so she could share them,” Allie adds. To top it all off, their families were also nearby and hosted a surprise dinner full of love and toasts.

For their wedding, Allie and Rob looked to another special place on the Cali coast: Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel Valley, where Allie's family has a home. “We love that it’s a place we’ll be able to go back to forever,” she says. They envisioned an "Old World–inspired wedding" and enlisted the help of Bash Please to take care of the creative details and bring Allie’s vision to life on July 7, 2018. “They were the real magic behind our wedding,” says the bride.

From the beach to the forest, this elegant summer wedding made the most of California's natural beauty. Take a peek at the gorgeous photos by Paige Jones, below!

Rob and Allie set the tone for the destination weekend with their invitation suite, which paired soft gray, taupe, nude, and copper paper with a textured slate blue envelope and California-inspired stamps.

The events kicked off on Thursday night with a rehearsal dinner in the garden—literally! Tables were set within the landscape and decorated to match the setting with a neutral runner, organic centerpieces, and botanical-inspired menus.

On night two, guests headed to the nearby beach for a casual welcome party hosted by the couple.

There, rustic open-air lounges provided plenty of seating in the form of leather butterfly chairs and wooden sofas layered with soft pillows. Textured poufs also surrounded low coffee tables, inviting guests to kick off their shoes and settle into the sand.

At the bar, guests were treated to a margarita featuring jalapeño and green apple, a gin and tonic freshened up with lemon verbena, and a variety of local wines and beers. The couple’s hashtag, #readytorunkel, was displayed on custom cocktail napkins that featured a playful illustration.

The morning of the wedding, Allie and her bridesmaids got ready together and wore matching floral silk robes for photo ops.

Allie knew she wanted a Lihi Hod gown with a simple silhouette and a mermaid skirt, but she admits that she had a hard time finding "the perfect one." “I would love the top of one or the skirt of another, but not together,” she says. “To humor my mom, I tried on one last dress and I knew it was it the moment I put it on.” The winning dress featured a lace-and-tulle mermaid skirt, a blousing camisole top, and subtle sparkle up top.

The bride paired her dress with an organic bouquet of tea and garden roses, ferns, and vines that appeared as if they had been gathered from the surrounding forest.

For her 'maids, Allie selected Joanna August dresses with a gathered V neckline in a pale blue hue. For her MOH, she selected the same style but in a champagne color (featuring shimmering stars on the fabric!) so that she would stand out. “They looked like fabulous angels,” says the bride.

The ceremony took place in a redwood grove, on a wooden platform decorated simply with greenery, grasses, and a few white blooms. “We had all of our parents involved,” says the bride of the ceremony. “My father walked me down the aisle, my mother opened with a short meditation, Rob’s father performed the ceremony, and his mother did a reading.”

After, guests followed a flower-lined path to a nearby lawn for an alfresco cocktail hour that featured Negronis (Allie and Rob’s favorite!), spicy margaritas, and plenty of cabanas for lounging. They later found their seat assignments on a table nearby.

Another path—this one with a champagne pit stop!—let guests to the dinner tent, where long tables were topped with soft white linens, taupe china, and dusty blue napkins. Wood-handled flatware and marble candleholders added a natural touch to the elegant setting.

Menus doubled as place cards, with guests’ names stitched to the thick paper.

Dinner included a field greens salad with watermelon and feta, Chilean sea bass, whole roasted artichokes, and summer ratatouille.

The couple's cake was topped with apricots and edible flowers to tie in with the rest of the setting. Inside, the traditional "princess" cake was made with layers of genoise sponge, Bavarian cream, and raspberry jam.

The night ended with dancing in the barn, which had been transformed with the couple’s custom crest on the dance floor and a disco ball up above. After the couple’s first dance to “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin, Rob fittingly had a final surprise for Allie: an epic flash mob with his groomsmen. “They’d secretly rehearsed twice in San Francisco, and again the day before our wedding when I thought they were golfing,” she says. "We love a good dance party, and this one blew my mind!"

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