Saddlerock Ranch Wedding | Malibu, California

July 11, 2020

Saddlerock Ranch Wedding

Jameela and Midori prepped for their wedding at Jameela’s dad’s house in Malibu, California before setting out for their first look. Since the couple was originally planning to get married on the coast, Greg and I went location scouting around the area prior to the wedding day to find a location that would give them the closest look to Big Sur. We came across Point Dume, which had a secluded point overlooking the ocean. It was perfect, and ended up being their favorite moment from the wedding day.

“Our most memorable moment for both of us was the First Look.

Jameela: Gazing into the ocean, I anxiously waited for Midori. I started to tear up once she began to rub my shoulders as the breeze kissed us. When I turned around and saw her, it felt like the world stopped so we could have at least a moment to ourselves – it was just she and I. I knew we would have a chaotic day and I had been looking forward to seeing her to have a moment to ourselves. Our first look surpassed the feeling I will forever savor.

Midori: Everything leading up to this moment was hectic, getting ready, making sure everything was set for the ceremony, and just the build up of the anticipation of the day. Once I saw Jameela standing on the edge of the cliff, over looking the ocean, I was able to breath and take it in for a moment. We both stood taking a moment before we actually looked at each other.”

Their ceremony at Saddlerock Ranch was phenomenal, the mountain top where the ceremony was held offered stunning scenery in every direction. (Not to mention Fern and Mist absolutely crushed it with the florals for the ceremony and the bridal bouquet.) Jameela and Midori read the vows they had wrote to each other and created a piece of art with paint. Finally, they sealed their commitment with their secret handshake and a big kiss!

“We both grew up Catholic so we wanted to have something during our ceremony that was in the same respects as handfasting, or lighting of the candles so we decided to do a Unity Paint Blending because we love art and we love to have fun. We love going to paint nights and have our art hung up at home so we wanted to create something special that represented the blending of our hearts as well as families. Although we got a really thick paint and it didn’t fall the way we thought, this piece of art we created together on our wedding day we get to keep forever.”

Following the ceremony we were able to sneak the couple away for sunset portraits as well as some pictures with Stanley, the giraffe at the venue! At the outdoor reception everyone enjoyed the food from The Tropic Truck (I’m still dreaming of those veggie quesadillas..) and the delicious custom drinks from Erika Bowman of EB Bartending Service. The night wrapped up with heart warming toasts and lot’s of dancing thanks to DJ JiJi Sweet!

The Wedding Venue

Saddlerock Ranch is definitely the most unique venue we’ve had the opportunity to photograph a wedding at! It’s a huuuge property in the rolling hills of Malibu, California that has 100 acres of vineyards. They offer safari wine tours as well, where they take you to visit the exotic animals they take care of on the property (zebra, camel, giraffe, llama, alpaca, yaks and more!). Although this venue wasn’t the couples first choice, it was definitely the best plan B (or E?) that they could have possibly found!

They chose rustic, boho décor that reflected them as a couple and as individuals- casual, natural and romantic. For their colors, they opted for sage green & sunset dusty orange to stay true to the Big Sur vibe. Their cake from 12 Oak Desserts paired with the topper from Luxtomi was the most beautiful cake I think I’ve ever seen!

Navigating wedding planning during a pandemic:

Jameela and Midori’s wedding was originally supposed to be at McWay Falls in Big Sur. However, due to the pandemic they were no longer allowing special event permits to continue. Even though they had to change their venue plans nearly 5 different times, they eventually found Saddlerock Ranch less than a month out from the wedding date!

“This was our 5th venue choice due to the pandemic. Originally, we wanted it to be in Big Sur, we were going to have it in the Redwoods with a river flowing next to us and the beach not too far away. After debating between eloping, having it at Jameela’s Dad & Bonus Mom’s house, the beach, a restaurant on the beach, this was a venue we both were just as excited about as we were with our Big Sur Redwoods location. With less than a month from our wedding date, we decided on Saddlerock Ranch in The Vineyard. We loved the intimacy in the hilltop with gorgeous views and open space for social distancing.”

They also had to make the very difficult decision to cut their original guest count of 75 to 25 as a safety precaution. This meant they were only able to have their bridal party and immediate family attend their wedding. Due to this, they decided to only have the ceremony now and are saving the reception for later when their friends and family from near and far can join them to celebrate safely.

One tip we would give to those who are trying to plan a wedding safely during these times is to consider doing what Midori and Jameela did. Have a small outdoor ceremony now, and a big reception later when it’s safe for your loved ones to travel and be in large gatherings together. We also offer live streaming and videography coverage of the ceremony so you can share with those who are unable to attend.

Here’s some great tips from the newlyweds:

“Our advice would be to do what makes YOU and your PARTNER happy. Also, find your support system of family and/or friends or even other COVID brides to help you in those moments of planning, life, balance, and venting. It sounds cheesy to say, but if you can make it during COVID, you can make it through anything. Make sure to check in and communicate with your venue and vendors as things continue to change. Make sure it’s safe for everyone to feel comfortable and social distance.

Remember to treasure this moment for all that it is, stressful to joyful, enjoy this journey and remember why you wanted to get married in the first place. Above all, remember that on your special day it is just about the 2 of you and try not to sweat the small stuff. It’s the moment for both of you, live in that moment because it will go by fast. ”

A huge congrats to Midori and Jameela, two of the sweetest brides we have had the pleasure of photographing. We’re so glad we were able to celebrate you both and bring some joy into the world during these crazy times. We truly can’t wait to see you again soon! (:

You can see our film from their amazing wedding day below!

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If you want to see more photos from Malibu, California check out this El Matador beach engagement session!

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