A Mendocino Wedding
If you are dreaming of a weekend wedding in Mendocino in the redwoods at a magical farm with a big barn where you can dance all night and soak in a wood-fired hot tub as you watch the sunrise, then read on. Oz Farm is located just outside of the town of Point Arena in Mendocino County. It is far enough inland to be sheltered from the thick fog and harsh winds on the coast. However, the farm is close enough to the coast to get some protection against the hot dry inland weather just a few miles further East.
For out-of-town travelers, it is a bit trek to get out there. The major airports in Sacramento, Oakland, and San Francisco are all about 3.5 hours away. Fortunately, the ride to Oz farm is gorgeous. The journey out is part of the magic. While off-site accommodations are harder to find than in the City, there always seems to be enough options for guests. And the Farm can sleep about 60 people in tiny houses, yurts, and domes they have on the property. There is additional space for guests who don’t mind camping.
Emily and Luey booked me to shoot their wedding at Oz Farm in January of 2020. We bonded over a love for hiking and mushroom hunting. Because of Covid, their 2020 celebration was postponed to 2021. Once they knew that all their wedding guests were vaccinated against Covid, they felt more comfortable throwing a multi-day event. I drove up on Friday for their rehearsal, pizza dinner, and murder mystery party. Saturday was filled with casual wedding prep at the domes, a ceremony in the redwoods, and dinner and dancing at the barn. It was an unforgettable weekend.
Friday Pizza Dinner and Murder Mystery Party
I headed out to Oz Farm on Friday. While listening to podcasts, I soaked in the majestic views of highway 1. I rolled down the dirt road to Oz Farm a little after 4 pm, pulled out my gear, and headed to the redwood grove where the ceremony rehearsal was happening. I offered some advice about the setup of the ceremony and headed over to the pizza oven for some snacks. Some of the Oz Farm crew was prepping pizza and getting an appetizer table ready while guests played corn hole, and got drinks. The wedding party and family joined the guests for pizza and food and the party began. Gradually people changed into their Murder Mystery outfits and gathered in the barn for the night’s festivities.
Saturday – Getting Ready at the Dome
After a leisurely morning at the Point Arena Lighthouse, and a quick stop at Fanny’s Cup and Saucer in Point Arena, I headed back to the Oz Farm for getting ready photos. Emily and Luey were getting ready in the Domes along with the rest of the wedding party. It was a casual affair with people helping one another with makeup, hair, ties, and the rest of it. Once Emily was in her dress, we took some quick photos in the domes before heading to the redwood grove for family portraits and the ceremony.
Immediate Family and Wedding Party Portraits
After doing some quick tree trimming, the spot in the redwoods was just right for immediate family and wedding party pictures. I went through my usual combos plus a couple extra and then we walked a few hundred feet to the ceremony site.
Ceremony in the Redwoods
The ceremony was short and sweet. I felt thankful that we had adjusted the placement of things the day before. The redwood trees make for a great backdrop.
Parade to Cocktail Hour and a Big Group Shot
After the ceremony, Emily and Luey lead their guests on a parade around the gardens to the cocktail hour. Folks sported fun hats, played kazoos, and kicked up dust to the beats coming from a portable speaker. Emily kept the sun off with a beautiful paper umbrella she hand-painted. Once we arrived at the cocktail hour location, we took a group shot of everyone at the wedding. Someone had brought bubble guns, and before long there were bubbles everywhere.
Couple Portraits in the Gardens and Cocktail Hour in Front of the Barn
With the help of two of Emily’s friends, we took some bubble-filled photos in the orchard and then went to the cocktail hour. One of the benefits of taking wedding party and family pictures before the ceremony is that you get to spend time at the cocktail hour. Folks chatted and enjoyed drinks and toward the end of cocktail hour, we popped into the flower gardens for a few more couple pics. The gardens at Oz Farm are so close to the main area where events take place, and it is easy to step out briefly for photos.
Dinner, Speeches, and Dancing
Emily and Luey had tacos for dinner. I personally think tacos are perfect wedding food. Speeches were made and pie from the local bakery (Franny’s Cup and Saucer) was enjoyed. After dinner and pie, the party moved into the Barn for dancing. Their friend played piano and sang for their first dance. Then other friends acted as DJs, and the party went late into the night. Margaret and the rest of the Oz Farm event staff were great to work with. Emily and Luey’s friends and family were super friendly and welcoming. I had such a great time at this wedding.
It had been a few years since I shot at Oz Farm. If you want to check out the last wedding I shot there, take a look at Amber and Jack’s celebration. I love this place and hope to do many more weddings here in the future.