Have you wondered whether it’s possible to bring your wildly creative wedding ideas to life so that your event really is one-of-a-kind? Cari and Darrell did more than wonder: they let their imaginations run wild, then committed to following through with grounded expressions of the love and community they value most. Their wedding was a wonderfully honest reflection of their past, present, and future life together.
The Santa Cruz Mountains ended up being the perfect setting for celebrating their union. The Bay Area is the quintessential hub of generous love and community—and tree hugging. So Cari and Darrell’s deal-breaker wish to be married in the trees was right at home. The couple came all the way from Chicago, welcoming loved ones with an all-inclusive destination wedding weekend in the Stone Creek Village.
On Friday evening, they invited guests to participate in an Intention Setting Ceremony, knowing some people would still be settling in and recovering from their travels. Everyone showed up! (Perhaps thanks to all the helpful information Cari provided in preparation for the destination weekend.) And just as Cari and Darrell intended, the event was an incomparable way to bring people into the present, to awaken guests to the power and spirit of their immediate community—their “pop-up village,” as Darrell calls it.
We held the intention that the weekend was for everybody to unplug and enjoy and have fun. And so, to get people into that mindset, we decided let’s not have just a welcome dinner; let’s do something to invite everyone to consciously step out of whatever life they just left for the next 48-72 hours.
The couple created a ritual that involved people stepping up to an altar to write out their intentions for the weekend, and then they honored each other’s commitments and celebrated with music. In this way, Cari and Darrell encouraged people to experience their theme of “One Love” right from the start—words borrowed from the Bob Marley song of the same name, but also a universal embodiment of the diverse, loving energy coming from so many different beings and moving in so many different directions—but all still love. The Intention Ceremony was a way of concentrating that loving vibration for the space of the weekend but also served as a way to sanctify Cari and Darrell’s marriage as one driven by the same love, intimacy, and community driving the weekend.
Their guests all stayed on site in cabin cottages, so everyone was able to return to their own peaceful space to recharge and refresh between events. On the morning of the wedding, more than fifty people came together to practice Stick Yoga with a Santa Cruz teacher. It was unique in that they all flowed through the movements holding long sticks, with reggae music to help sync up their rhythms.
One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (one love)
So shall it be in the end (one heart)
Alright, give thanks and praise to the Lord, and I will feel all right
Let’s get together and feel all right
The stick extends your reach out into space as you practice; it acts like an antenna, flowing through the interconnected spaces of love and shared intention. And, as Cari remembers the experience and the teacher:
He really creates a consciousness, and he really comes from One Love. He set the tone for moving your body and loving yourself and moving from that space. Everything that we did had that intention behind it, and every person that came to do it literally was in that vibration of energy.
Like the perpetual symbol of infinity, love reaches out but always wraps back around to the self at its center. It is past, present, and future; it is all-encompassing and non-discriminating and unconditional; it’s everyone and everything—one love.
Darrell and Cari explain that
Our intention was to have this interconnected infinity loop where no one was necessarily out or pushed away or broken from the group. We wanted to have that connected experience. And that’s what we were inviting our wedding ceremony to be, that’s what we’re inviting our life and our partnership to be—it is about the two of us, but the two of us are our friends and family, our work, and everything that we do.
Darrell is a minister of Religious Science, and Cari is a chiropractor and holistic doctor, so their community is full of spiritual leaders and healers. Beneath Northern California’s famous coast redwoods, their family and friends came together with the intentions and love vibration they’d been building; they watched as a dozen or so spiritual officiates—Mother Nature included— formed a procession and then surrounded Cari and Darrell.
Organically, these officiates spoke up: words of love and affirmation, as well as blessings for what was about to take place and for the couple’s marriage journey. “We’re celebrating love.” “Life is going to be amazing.” “There’s only love.” And Darrell remembers that “You were just kind of consumed by the tone and the quality and the intention and the energy of what they were speaking.”
Even though it was an unfamiliar experience for a lot of the guests, this introduction opened up an infinite space for love before Cari and Darrell proceeded with a ceremony born out of imagination and cherished rituals. A rabbi honored several Jewish traditions, a woman channeled and spoke from a consciousness that was no longer embodied, and a fellow minister performed the ring exchange ceremony. In this way, the gathering celebrated their diverse community, their beautiful differences and beliefs, and, of course, the One Love behind it all—their reason for gathering, the glue that binds them all, and their primary officiate in life.
One Love wasn’t just the source of sweet, intimate moments: “Once the ceremony and the formal dinner part was over, we just wanted to have fun!” said Darrell. Cari has a background in event planning and wanted to offer a variety of opportunities for guests to let loose, recognizing that some people (like the couple) are dancing machines, and some are not.
So they offered gorgeous reception settings for people to relax casually and take photographs—including a separate area with a live photo booth and a generous supply of props for people to get creative—plus an incredible Northern California view of the redwoods and the stars.
Darrell and Cari had done enough planning around the decor, the food, and the fun—and they felt relaxed enough in their connection with Kennolyn’s coordination team—that they were able to really enjoy the reception as a time to party and celebrate their all-encompassing love freely and fully.
The fun continued all weekend long as people got outside and experienced the fresh air and the permission to unplug from their regular days and responsibilities—and from their phones and other trappings. The space at large invited everyone to be present. Hiking, meditation, a campfire with s’mores: the list of memorable experiences went on throughout the weekend, and it was capped off with a ropes course activity high in the redwoods.
This final event went above and beyond, truly encouraging people to grow beyond their comfort zones. Darrell explains, “When you’re 20 feet off the ground, and it feels like you’re gonna fall, and your partner is there and says, ‘Everything is gonna be okay,’ that is deeper than any intellectual understanding that you could ever have.” The local ropes course facilitators from Apex adventures told them:
You two are taking a leap of faith. And this is a way of consciously exercising the trust that’s required. And it’s not only the trust that’s required of the two of you in your union together, but you’re also asking a lot of trust of the people around you—to support you in times not only when everything is great. . . but also those moments where it’s challenging.
The activity called forward the intention of the weekend once again, connecting guests to those they were already close to as well as to people they’d just met that weekend—and, very importantly, connecting them to themselves.
The couple had the whole weekend to spend quality time with their loved ones. As they had intended, there was the perfect amount of space and spaciousness for people to come together and then retreat, to come together again and retreat. Darrell compared this pattern to the movements of an accordion. Of course, each time the accordion spreads out and then comes back together, its vibration builds—just as love and intention grew throughout this ultimate wedding weekend. The destination turned out to be a microcosm of Cari and Darrell’s life and community, but with a macro dose of universal, infinite love.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Cari and Darrell’s wedding weekend grew from the seed of their vision, get in touch with us. We would love to explore the possibilities for your wedding dream.