A Boho Wedding in the California Forest

Chessa Wathen Williams and Jordan Williams have had a string of magical summers. In June 2015, they met when Jordan approached Chessa to talk about the book she was reading. Just over a year later, he picked her up in a 1970s VW bus—her dream car!—and took her hiking through the redwoods in Santa Cruz, specifically to a trail lined with candles that led to a lit-up teepee he’d built by a waterfall. Inside, Cheesa found sunflowers (her favorite flower), champagne, and, of course, a ring. That engagement led to their June 10, 2017, wedding in Carmel Valley, which included a ceremony surrounded by redwoods and a reception for 200 in a barn.

As lovers of the outdoors, the couple decided a wedding in the midst of redwoods would be an appropriate way to celebrate their love. “Truly we wanted a really organic feeling for our wedding day," she says. "It was my vision to have an earthy wedding.” The two laid-back lovebirds hired Allison Smith of Allison Weddings to take care of all the details, and because they gave Smith and her team free rein, much of the day was a surprise for the couple. "It was beyond anything I could have imagined,” Chessa says.

And we'd have to agree. Keep reading to see more of this beautiful, boho wedding, as photographed by Carlie Statsky.

Emily Rose Ink created the invitation suite in keeping with the natural tones of the wedding.

For her wedding, Chessa says she knew she “wanted something long-sleeve, simple, and most of all comfortable!” Her mom, sister, future mother-in-law and Jordan’s Nana all flew from California to Nashville to help her find her dream dress.

The bride chose the cotton-embroidered gown by Rue de Seine not because it made her look like a princess but because it reflected who she is now. “I wanted something awesome and something I could boogie in,” she adds.

Chessa loved the uniqueness of the lace on her dress. “Sunflowers are my favorite flower, so it was totally perfect that the dress basically had embroidered sunflowers all over it," she says. Other accessories included rose gold earrings her mom had custom-made for her, a matching bracelet Jordan sent her the morning of the wedding, and clogs from Swedish Hasbeens, which she wears all the time now.

One of the best parts of the day, says the bride, was being woken up in the morning by her best friends.

Chessa’s bridal party chose their own dresses in the same ivory hue. “I wanted them all to have something unique,” says the bride. Her bouquet included greenery and some “funky florals” while her bridesmaids carried greenery to match the groomsmen’s boutonnieres.

Chessa didn’t have a particular color scheme in mind so she looked to natural colors of the redwood grove.

One of the bride’s primary requests was that the ceremony seating be in a circle. “It seemed more meaningful to stand amidst our family and friends than in front of them,” she says. The pair recited a version of traditional vows, and wrote each other letters the morning of the wedding with more detailed personal vows kept private.

“This is how life happens, amongst your group," says the bride. "We wanted our ceremony to reflect our philosophy of marriage in that we hope to consistently surround ourselves by people who love and encourage us and hold us accountable to the vows we made.”

Following the ceremony, the couple took a minute to themselves—and to pose for photos during golden hour.

In keeping with the tree theme, cocktail hour took place outside before a sit-down dinner inside a wood-clad barn.

Music for the ceremony and reception was all live. “As a musician I can be pretty picky about music,” says Chessa, who hired Annachristie, who put her own spin on their favorite tunes.

The earthy couple kept things natural for their wedding, and chose to have their reception in a rustic barn next to the redwood grove.

The couple made a grand entrance (to plenty of cheers!) to the reception.

Cater, who Chessa calls “so brilliant and creative,” immediately understood what she wanted, and decorated the whole reception with little input from the bride. “We had macrame table runners and long green garlands. Christine also made chandeliers out of macrame table runners,” says Chessa.

The hardest part of the planning process, according to the bride, was convincing her family to have an entirely vegetarian wedding. After a seated feast and hours of dancing, they passed grilled cheese and tomato soup as a late-night snack.

The simple cake was vanilla and lemon with raspberry filling.

The pair’s first dance was to an acoustic version of “Everywhere,” by Fleetwood Mac.

In a cute, meaningful touch, the photo booth was inside a VW bus, Chessa’s favorite car. We'd say that's a perfect way to end a wedding, just as Chessa and Jordan started your engagement—in a VW bus!

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