A Rustic, DIY Outdoor Wedding at Rancho Soquel in Aptos, California

Danielle Petersen (24 and a visual merchandising specialist) married Nicholas Bettencourt (24 and a bartender) in an outdoor ceremony at Rancho Sequel

Danielle Petersen (24 and a visual merchandising specialist) married Nicholas Bettencourt (24 and a bartender) in an outdoor ceremony at Rancho Sequel in Aptos, California. Two years after meeting through friends at college, Nicholas proposed to Danielle on a hike in the Azores; their interest in globe-trotting informed many decorative aspects of their wedding day. Rancho Soquel, a private ranch-style estate just north of Santa Cruz, was an ideal fit for Danielle and Nicholas’s relaxed, handcrafted aesthetic. “We fell in love with the natural beauty, and it was so easy to add our personal touches to the established grounds,” Danielle says. “We embraced our love for travel and the outdoors by using a rustic travel theme.” Danielle—with the help of friends and family members—made most of the outdoor event’s decor, from the wedding arch and escort cards to a bountiful dessert snack bar. “Let your wedding be a reflection of who you and your partner are, not a challenge to impress people,” she says. "We laughed and smiled and let our day flow in whichever direction it did. When things didn't go as planned, we brushed it off and found the bright side to it. If you want your wedding to be a stress-free day to remember, let it be.” —Carolyn Meers

Violet and pink blossoms were the focal point of the invitations and wedding programs. Danielle created her own designs inspired by artwork she saw online.
Danielle's princess-cut diamond engagement ring was made with a vintage-style halo setting. Nicholas's cobalt band is from Shane Company and was made with three diamonds, representing the couple's past, present and future.
Danielle wore a refurbished version of her mother's wedding gown. "We completely transformed her old dress, thanks to our seamstress, Lori Le at Elegant Design Boutique," Danielle says. "We removed the lace sleeves, cut the turtle neck off and added new bustles for the beautiful train. The lace overlay was vintage and very much fit in with our theme."
Danielle's cousin and florist, Roxana Napoli, helped create the floral designs. "She brought together succulents, pieces of lace from my dress—which had been my mother's—and complementing flowers to create the most beautiful bouquets I've ever laid my eyes on," Danielle says.
Danielle's bridesmaids selected their own dresses within a palette that ranged from pale peach to fuchsia.
Nicholas and his groomsmen brightened their light gray suits with vibrant peach pocket squares and ties. To add a level of casualness, each also sported Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers.
As a gift to her husband-to-be, Danielle made a special fabric heart with the couple's wedding date and initials and sewed it onto the back of Nicholas's tie.
Danielle handcrafted many elements of the wedding, including this sign post that helped guide guests around the sprawling property.
Danielle and Nicholas wed in a scenic field, under a handcrafted arch, in front of 150 guests. Shepherd's hooks holding succulents decorated the aisle.
Danielle and Nicholas exchanged vows under a wooden arch on a grassy side yard near the property's barn. "My florist made a beautiful piece for the altar, and my mom put together birdcage succulent plants that hung on shepherd hooks lining the aisle," Danielle says.
Danielle's cousin Roxana Napoli called upon her skills as a floral designer to help personalize all the day's floral decorations, one being the couple's wedding arch, which incorporates fragments of fabric from Danielle's mother's wedding gown.
Crisp white tablecloths and umbrellas cover communal dining tables at the reception, which took place adjacent to the ceremony site.
Danielle used materials from thrift stores to make the guests' name cards, which were hung from twine with a clothespin at the reception at Rancho Soquel in Aptos, California.
"My mom's favorite hobby is designing succulent gardens, and we spent the year before our wedding creating centerpieces and decorative pieces that would double as gifts for our guests after the event," Danielle says. "They looked incredible and our guests absolutely loved being able to take home a piece of our wedding."
Mason jars of almonds, popcorn and candies were made available to guests at the reception at Rancho Soquel in Aptos, California. Danielle made the "N&D" initials from dozens of corks.
A range of snacks and desserts were made available to guests at this crafty table, from cupcakes and mini Bundt cakes to nuts and popcorn.