Real Weddings

Earthen Beauty in Big Sur

Holly & Nick by Lauren Balingit

A place where poets and artists find solace and inspiration, with it’s redwood forests and ocean vistas, it’s hard to not be enthralled by the iconic beauty of Big Sur. Surrounded by sweeping ocean views, Holly & Nick exchanged vows where forest meets the sea.

Drawing on the wild beauty of the location, the reception was grounded in raw timber and organic details offset with elegant glassware. Dramatic displays of anemones and Californian blooms in a spectrum of desert tints lined tables with trailing vines that cascaded to the floor. The Bride adorned in an effortlessly sculpted slip silhouette falling in liquid lines.

Behind the lens capturing every detail in dreamy natural light was Lauren Balingit.

Our Story

Names / Holly & Nickolaus

Wedding Date / August 27, 2016

Guest Numbers / 88

How we met…

Oh, our favorite story!  We met in the desert early one morning – at Burning Man.  I’d set my alarm to wake up and attend a sunrise party.  My friends decided to continue sleeping, so I went alone. Upon leaving the event, I couldn’t find my bike. Nick walked up to me and kindly introduced himself.  He offered his me his own bike before successfully helping me find mine.


Our Engagement Story…

We live in New York City, but at the time Nick was working a temporary job in LA.  I’d planned a visit, and we rented a place to stay in Malibu. We spent the weekend and drinking eating well, taking a short hike, and a dip in the ocean. At the end, we went to the Rain Room exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  He proposed in the exhibit – surrounded by rain — and we celebrated with friends after.


Marriage to us means…

Kindness, passion, and showing support as we each grow and work towards personal and professional goals.

The Details



We narrowed in on California because of the beautiful weather and the personal connection. Nick was born in Northern California and lived in San Diego and LA for several years following law school. We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding – one with an ambience that drew more from its natural surroundings than any physical item we might bring in.  With this in mind, it was hard not to be enthralled with Big Sur. Nick visited Big Sur before, but it wasn’t until we scouted out venues that I first experienced its beauty. Big Sur is a magical place and a hikers’ paradise that blends redwood forests with wild ocean vistas. Paion Estate is also a vision.  The tree-lined private property has spiralling ocean views and is located just off Route 1. We loved the idea of bringing our guests on an adventure.



Natural elegance and simplicity, with an emphasis on the raw beauty of the surroundings and a dose of “California cool.”



We worked with Lauren Balingit and her husband Alex.  We couldn’t have asked for a better team. Lauren’s photos so perfectly captured our joy and her attention to detail and movement is stunning.


Bridesmaids & Wedding Guests

Find our handpicked edit of Ready-to-Wear brands for Bridesmaids and Weddings Guests on the Directory.

Fashion Notes


Bride’s Dress

I was honoured to have my friend and talented designer, Maud Heline, design my wedding dress.  She designed her own wedding dress and jumped at the opportunity to help me.  I’m so grateful she did.  I knew I didn’t want a traditional wedding dress and was having a hard time finding one that felt modern and chic, and yet special enough to wear on my wedding day.  Maud sketched a few design options based on my feedback, and we together arrived at the final design.  My friend connected us with an expert pattern maker and a sewer from Ralph Lauren.  The dress had a just-low-enough v-neck in the front.  The back was accented with lace details and beads sourced by friends Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato of Lizzie Fortunato Jewels.  It was a team effort!


Bride’s Shoes

I wanted something easy to wear throughout the night.  I chose a pair of two-inch gold sandal heels by Manolo Blahnik from Barneys.


Bridesmaids’ Dresses

My two sisters were my bridesmaids, and I had them pick their own dresses, regardless of style or brand. They each selected shades of blue, one from BCBG and one from Anthropologie.


Wedding Rings

After receiving some direction from my closest friends, Nick went with an LA-based designer, Kathryn Bentley of Dream Collective, for my engagement ring.  It’s a beautiful oval shaped diamond that runs horizontally across my finger and is set flat in rose gold.  Our wedding bands are from WWAKE, a Brooklyn-based jewelry line.  His is a slightly hammered white gold band.  Mine is a very thin rose gold band modelled after topographic landscapes.



I went with delicate gold drop down earrings by Jennifer Zeuner from Saks Fifth Avenue.  For my hair accessory, I worked Kate Thompson of Amaroq whose work I’ve known for some time. Kate’s pieces tend to be bold, raw and ornate (which I love), but I knew she also made more delicate custom pieces. I asked her for help at the 11th hour and she shipped several options to California so I could determine the one I liked best.



I’d gone to Kristen Keller at Little Axe Salon in Brooklyn for a cut and told her I was still figuring out what to do for my wedding hair. Kristen threw together a flat yet loose horizontal braid at the nape of my neck that I loved. I took some photos and shared them with my makeup and hair stylists, Mimi Rickett and Taylor Pham of mimi & taylor. On my wedding day, they did a slightly more polished version of the hairstyle – it was perfect.



I wanted my makeup to look natural and glowing, and a little more impactful than what I typically wear, which isn’t much.  I went with a fresh look with a peach lip and slightly more accented eyes.

Style Notes



I worked with Carla Fahden of Color Me Carla. Her floral invitations were on point for our Big Sur wedding.


Flowers & Bouquet

I was inspired by an elegant, wild and natural look. The wedding location itself packed so much beauty that we didn’t want to do anything to compete with it. We leaned heavily on green garlands and other natural pieces, and incorporated a light gold-peach hue at the brilliant recommendation of our florist, Kelly Lenard of Intertwine. The dining tables were lined with simple green garlands and a few centrepieces.


Wedding Planner

We didn’t have a wedding planner or stylist, but we did have a wedding coordinator, Diane Allen of Elegant Events. Diane knows what works for the property both functionality and visually, and she partners with some great rental companies.  Nick and I poured through the websites and made our selections, but not before changing our minds a number of times.  Pinterest boards were a great help!  When we were in doubt, we picked the thing that felt most like us.

Reception Notes


Ceremony & Reception Décor

We wanted the day to feel casual enough, but also elegant and magical. We brought in few vintage couches and chairs, some wooden benches, Moroccan carpets and several lanterns.  Kelly placed small floral arrangements on the cocktail tables and in the lounge areas.  We lined the property with the benches so guests could enjoy the ocean views at sunset.  We strung small white lights over the dining area and dance floor, and around the fire pit we had hay bales and Mexican blankets.



Nick and I went with a “naked” style mixed berry tiramisu cake with flour less almond and mascarpone by Aimee Page of Hollyhock Cakes. It was DIVINE. We received so many compliments about the cake, and Aimee is a breeze to work with.


Wedding Songs

For our first dance, we picked the Rolling Stones cover of “That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding.



Nick and I had selected the majority of the songs played at our wedding and worked with DNA Entertainment as our DJ. For the ceremony music and after-hours entertainment, we had Nacho Arimany perform on the harp, the guitar and various world percussion instruments.

Special Details


Any other special details…

Our guests saw whales mating in the background during our ceremony!



Nick and I knew that we wanted to write our own vows. We had two of my closest friends, also the celebrants, review each of them to make sure we were generally on par with one another. I incorporated a piece from T.B. LaBerge and Nick drew from a quote by David Foster Wallace.


A memorable moment…

Roughly five weeks before the wedding we learned that the Soberanes Fire was threatening Big Sur and the surrounding area.  The fire started in Garrapata State Park by illegal campfire and burned down several homes and thousands of forest acres.  We thought we had to call off the wedding, and wavered between canceling it and relocating it. Ultimately, we decided to move forward and lock in our vendors 6 days before the wedding and hope that the fire would not spread back to Big Sur Village or cause a closure of Highway 1. Our gamble paid off. Nick’s most memorable moment during the wedding was his stepfather surprising us with a brief, but powerful speech that brought everyone to tears. For me, it was my parents both walking me down the aisle and seeing Nick standing there waiting for me. He was perfect. 


One thing I wish I knew before starting my wedding plans…

The wedding will be 20% more expensive than you thought. Coordinator fees and small details can add up. It’s difficult to know where you’ll end when everything is said and done.


If I could give Brides-To-Be one piece of advice…

Make sure your wedding represents you and your husband. Go for a personal touch rather than anything out of the box. You want the day to reflect you as a couple whether that’s the location, your choice of music, food or décor.  It’ll make the day that much more special, relaxing, and one hell of a party.

Our Contacts

Photography / Lauren Balingit 

Bride’s Dress / Maud Heline

Bride’s Shoes / Manolo Blahnik 

Bridesmaids’ Dresses / BCBG and Anthropologie

Wedding Rings / WWAKE

Jewelry / Jennifer Zeuner and Amaroq

Hair / mimi & taylor

Makeup / mimi & taylor

Stationery / Color Me Carla 

Florist / Intertwine by Kelly Lenard

Cake / Hollyhock Cakes 

Catering / Classic Catering 

Wedding Coordinator / Elegant Events by Diane Allen

Wedding Venue / Paion Estate

Entertainment / DNA Entertainment and Nacho Arimany

Transport / Aits

Gift Registry / Zola 

Other / Lizzie Fortunato Jewels