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As Walt Whitman pointed out, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” Apt, when you’re standing in the light of golden hour on the grassy butte overlooking La Cuesta Ranch. Behind you, one of the vast arteries of beautiful Cuesta Canyon. Before you, the picturesque valley of San Luis Obispo. Tucked directly below, you’re overlooking one of the most charming rustic barn wedding venues in California.

The re-purposing of barns and working ranches led to a transformation of the Central Coast wedding industry. It’s also provided a miraculous second act to many families who, for generations, subsisted on the increasingly consolidated agriculture and husbandry traditions. But in terms of wedding venues, not all barns are created equal. The care that Gabe and his family have put into the landscape, the integration of its natural geographical features, babbling brook and prodigious red oak trees culminate in one of the county’s best-kept secrets.

And it truly feels like a secret from the moment you arrive. Nestled within Cuesta Canyon just behind the hills straddling Cal Poly’s eastern flank, La Cuesta Ranch feels like SLO County’s very own Narnia.

On May 25, 2019, our little Narnia-Esque realm was inhabited by the matrimonial party of the year between Kaitlin & Cameron. In so many ways, this was a wedding that not only united two people but showcased a marriage between intimate details and an equally intimate setting. From bouquets that rained blushing pink ribbons to trees draped and swimming in fabric – taming the brooding power of the red oaks with hues of pink and powder blue. Idyllwild Floral, at the behest of kickass planner Jennifer Clary’s Burlap & Rose, breathed an otherworldly fairytale of charm into the rustic retreat.

Having met at Cal Poly, there’s special significance for Kaitlin & Cameron to say their vows near the place where their paths first converged. Like Date #1 at downtown SLO’s Black Horse Coffee, the town proudly holds in its treasure chest the inciting memories for this sweet couple. To that end, it’s no surprise that their special day made use of more than a few locations where significant moments were first charted.

Cameron and his groomsmen started the day by making a pilgrimage to Bull’s Tavern where they commemorated the occasion. Kaitlin and the girls found a fantastic Airbnb in SLO, ideal for their own pre-wedding revelries. Hair was attended by Jennifer of The Queens Bees, with makeup by Candace Miller Makeup.

Kaitlin’s wedding gown, a Marchesa piece, was splendidly streamlined. Tapering and elegant, it was detailed with delicately woven floral features—or what Kaitlin coined “floofy poofs”. We’re confident this new term will be enshrined and used by everyone in the wedding gown industry going forward.

This couple paid genuine homage to the family’s generations who preceded them. Evident through the tiniest details, like handmade bags made by Kaitlin’s grandmother to hold her jewelry—made of reclaimed fabric that had significance to the family; and the displaying of their own parents’ wedding portraits at the venue was also a deeply touching gesture.

In wedding videography, our product is crafted to enshrine the splendor of moments that our minds and memories are only so good at holding onto. In essence, our videos preserve precious details in trust—to revisit, rekindle and reclaim the magic of a day that felt like it flashed by in a blink. We can’t count the number of times couples have watched their wedding video only to gush over an intimate detail that even they missed. At their own wedding, no less. Nothing encapsulates the importance of wedding videography like that!

In this case, we just so happened to collect a bounty of special messages from cherished friends and close family—little asides where people spoke directly to the camera about their love for these two wonderful people. In this way, watching their video was like reliving the day anew.

Kaitlin arrived to her First Look in a beautiful black Audi, the moment itself set atop the lovely arched bridge over the creek winding through La Cuesta Ranch.

Our coconspirator on the camera was photographer Michelle Roller. Her pastel signature style is breathtaking in its elegance, and she’s a blast to work alongside.

Travis Moelter presided over the ceremony. The groom’s close friend, his personal touch resonated profoundly as Kaitlin & Cameron joined hands to certify their union.

 DJ Malik was like an ocean breeze. Mixed with brut champagne. Mixed with lemon zest and pine needle extract. What I’m trying to say is FRESH. Eclectic indy style electric beats are not your everyday wedding staple, but we loved it.

Libations overflowed and cuisine made the mouth water thanks to Old SLO BBQ. Dessert came care of Sea Breeze Cupcakes.  

Capping off the evening with music and dancing beneath the barn’s multi-colored wine bottle chandelier, La Cuesta Ranch owner provided a surprise of his own. An impromptu nightcap comprised of enormous commercial sparklers and the power of butane, and before you knew it, the fairytale beat back the darkness once more. Spilling the magical light our lenses so crave, we sent Kaitlin & Cameron out in style.