A Detail-Filled Barn Wedding on the California Coast

Kristen McCauley and Ryan Ross met the way many millennials do these days: on Tinder! They both swiped right in November 2013, and sparks flew immediately. It was sparks, too, that got them to their wedding day when, in the middle of a fireworks show on July 4, 2015, Ryan got down on one knee and proposed. “We really wanted to fill our wedding with the fireworks theme that alluded to our engagement,” says Kristen, who turned to smoke bombs, firework motifs, and even faux M-80 fireworks as escort cards for the couple’s October 1, 2016, wedding. “But we also wanted to embrace the venue’s rustic and rural characteristics. Dos Pueblos Ranch really feels like you’re transported back to California’s ranching past!”

The result was a minimalist, rustic-chic look that let the spectacular setting (on a cliff over the Pacific!) really shine, leaving plenty of opportunities for the bride and groom to surprise their guests. Jesi Haack Design and Amber Cowell of The Love Riot brought the elegant (and a little explosive!) vision to life at a setting that felt like it was a lifetime away from the couple’s hometown of San Diego, with Rebecca Fishman of Birds of a Feather Photography there to capture all of the excitement. If you’re looking for ways to really have fun with your wedding, look no further!

“It’s rare to find an untouched and secluded spot right on the coast of Southern California,” says Kristen. “We loved that Goleta was just far enough from San Diego to create a weekend-long getaway for our guests.”

The bride embraced the elegant, laid-back atmosphere in a gathered taffeta gown by Nouvelle Amsale. “I was dreading wedding dress shopping, but it ended up being so much easier than I thought. This was the very first dress I tried on at the boutique, and I immediately felt like a million bucks!” Kristen says. Her bridesmaids also wore Amsale, donning navy lace dresses for a deep, moody contrast against the event’s neutral palette.

Guests were transported to the venue on buses that were personalized with the bride and groom's names.

An aisle lined in greenery led to an organic greenery-covered altar, which was set perfectly in front the coastline.

Kristen planned to arrive at the ceremony in a helicopter shortly after Ryan reached the altar, but there was a slight delay. “Usually, the bride walks down the aisle a minute or two after the groom, but Kristen was almost 10 minutes late,” says Ryan. “My grandmother needed to use the restroom—which required a golf cart drive away from the ceremony. Kristen hovered out of sight, but guests were getting antsy and thought she might not be coming at all!” Thankfully, with everyone back in place, the bride was able to make her entrance as the groom waved to the chopper hovering overhead.

After a dramatic first kiss, the couple exited through the fog of smoke bombs—a nod to their engagement during a fireworks show.

Cocktail hour was centered around a mobile bar, which was positioned so guests could take in the ocean view as they sipped on their drinks. The Á La Cart Bar served the couple's signature cocktail, a Moscow mule.

Embossed napkins were embossed with "A Tinder-ella Story" as a nod to how the newlyweds first met. (Tinder couples, take note!)

Kristen and Ryan used flags and banners to direct everyone from cocktail hour to the reception area—where the real party was!

To continue their sparker theme, Kristen found fake M-80 fireworks and had a calligrapher write each guest’s name and table number on the red cylinders for a totally unique escort card display.

Creamy curtains and garlands of greenery framed the entrance to the reception. An oversized menu board greeted guests as they made their way inside.

A neutral palette of cream, blush, and copper filled the space. Shimmering sand-hued linens provided a clean backdrop, while copper cups and gold flatware gave each place setting a hint of shine. Low centerpieces of garden roses, dahlias, astilbe, and privet berries tied all of the tones together. Kristen and Ryan dined at a sweetheart table set in front of a sign that read “Baby You’re a Firework,” dressed up in bright red marquee letters.

Guests were treated to a fresh and flavorful menu that included BLT gougères with roasted tomatoes and tarragon sauce, pappardelle pasta with broccolini and mushrooms, and wild king salmon on individual cedar planks.

The four-tiered wedding cake, frosted with vanilla buttercream, had layers of carrot cake with vanilla cream cheese filling and chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and fresh strawberries.

The barn was illuminated after dark with candles, uplighting, and bistro lights outside.

Ryan’s brother-in-law not only officiated, he performed “The One” by Kodaline for the couple’s first dance. “Collin was incredible the entire day, and we’ll never forget the role he played,” says Kristen. They performed beneath a sign that read "Baby, You're a Firework"—yer another nod to their Fourth of July engagement!

The couple did their best to really enjoy the process. “We were able to fall in love with planning our wedding instead of hoping it would be over soon,” says the bride. “We always kept our wedding day in mind as a dream we were working toward. It helped us stay in the moment and enjoy all the fun planning a wedding can be!”

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