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 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