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A Beautiful, Nature-Inspired Summer Wedding in Big Sur

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Norman & Blake

Emily Marie David and Nicholas Bancroft Farrell, who co-founded education technology company Bites Media, met while they were visiting mutual friends in Chicago. They danced the night away at the blues club Kingston Mines, thinking that they would never see each other again, but they fatefully bumped into each other again a few months later in Nantucket. After two years of dating, he proposed at the top of the Brant Point Lighthouse. “The island has true meaning to us—Nick grew up spending his summers in Nantucket, I lived there one summer in college, it’s where we ‘re-met,’ and now where we were engaged,” Emily says.

Alison Bryan Destinations was the brains behind choosing the location for the wedding. The couple wanted the venue to embody them as a couple, and Big Sur was the clear choice— “Nick loves to surf and is the true embodiment of a water baby, while I love everything mountains (hiking, skiing, etc.),” Emily says. Alison and Bryan worked tirelessly in the eight-month planning period to secure Ventana Big Sur and bring their vision to life. “From the invitations to the flowers to the reusable welcome bag (that everyone still uses today!), everything tied perfectly together and spoke towards our personality as individuals.”

The bride wanted what she wore on her big day to reflect the entire weekend—simple yet elegant. She knew Elizabeth Fillmore was known for her slip dresses, and the second she tried one on, she knew it was the right fit for her. “Elizabeth was so kind in helping design a custom look for the ceremony and a lace jacket to wear over the slip,” Emily says.

In early August at the historic Carmel Mission Basilica, Father Stan married the couple in a traditional Catholic ceremony. “The most memorable part of the ceremony was Father Stan’s homily. He asked us to look back at the chairs we were sitting in for the ceremony, each had a scallop shell carved into the back. He then handed us two scallop shells he found in Paris, to not only remind us of the ceremony and weekend but also as a symbol of us now traveling life together. What he didn’t know is how we scalloped the weekend of our engagement,” Emily recalls.

After walking out of the basilica as a married couple, everyone re-joined the couple on the Ventana lawn, overlooking the water. “No words can describe the energy and love that was outpouring that night. It may be a combination of celebrating outside with the Pacific Ocean on one side, the redwood forest on the other, and the Santa Lucia range as a backdrop,” the bride says.

Once the delicious, al-fresco, surf-and-turf meal was finished off with a lemon cake, guests made their way to the dance floor, where they grooved to funk music by The Walk-Ons. The newlyweds had their first dance to “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson and then remained partying under the stars.

For the after-party, Nick’s sister, Olivia, and the couple’s friend, Dan, deejayed. “Having them DJ started off as an inside joke—they used to DJ at Bamboo in Nantucket when we were in college. Their ‘reunion’ was the perfect way to end the night,” Emily says.