Trinidad CA Wedding - College Cove Beach - Jill + Matt - Humboldt County, California
Jan 28, 2020 | By: Carrie Mayfield Photography
Remember your dog but forget your shoes, this small destination barefoot beach wedding at College Cove beach in Trinidad California was totally pawesome.
Sweet bride Jillian contacted me from Los Angeles where she was planning her wedding from a distance. A daunting task but she had a vision for a really relaxed trip to the beach for their family, friends, and their dog Marty. The beach was their venue, the rocky Northern California coast their grand cathedral. Their officiant was the groom Matt's cousin who had become ordained online just for their ceremony.
Wedding dress? nope. Jeans and a beautiful floral flowing top. Tux for the groom? nope. Shorts, a button up, and a bow tie.
In her first inquiry to me about wedding photography, Jillian expressed her vision for a special, smaller, day that would be stress free. While they were also planning for a larger event for their extended family back in Southern California, this day in Humboldt County was the one she had been dreaming of.
For the less prone to motion sickness, all of the roads leading into the Eureka area are so incredibly scenic. Highway 101 takes you right through the redwoods south of Garberville, so close at times you could practically reach out of your car window and touch them. I've seen bald eagles along the Trinity River while driving the 299 and amazing lagoon and coast views coming back to Humboldt from destinations further north.
Our close proximity to the Arcata / Mckinleyville airport makes the the north coast only a short flight from San Francisco or LAX. For family members or guests who don't want to make the drive, it's pretty easy to fly in for the weekend, explore, and then fly back home. This was crucial for the bride's mother who had not traveled outside of her home area in many years.
Homebody or no, Jillian was determined to get her Mom out of Socal and up to Norcal. She knew that having an informal wedding attended by a group with dogs and young kids would be a little chaotic. However she also understands the universal truth that when this kind of chaos hits sand and the leashes come off, chaos turns into fun. I couldn't agree more.
I was so excited that they were bringing their dog of honor / best dog Marty with them. I absolutely love the cute, fluffy, goodness dogs bring to an engagement portrait session or a wedding and I pride myself on my animal whispering abilities in general.
As it turned out upon meeting him, however, Marty would have no whispering and no love from me. Zero. None. My dog lover's heart was broken until the bride and groom told me that they had adopted him from a rescue and that he wasn't quick to like or trust anyone but them.
After learning about his background, my heart went out to him and I was so glad he found his humans who loved him. Before our time was over, I did finally capture Marty's sweet puppy smile and it gave me all the warm tingles.
Pets are our furry, fuzzy, feathery, or scale-y children. Having your pets at your wedding, if only for the ceremony, is such a great way to honor the roles they play in our love stories.*If your pet doesn't travel, check out this blog for a great way to still include your fur babies... as your wedding cake topper*
The couple chose a Tuesday for their Humboldt wedding and when we met in the parking lot on Stagecoach road, we were the only cars in sight. A good sign that we would have the entire stretch of the beach to ourselves. We packed up lunches, flowers, kids, and dogs, and set out into the woods on the Elk Head trail.
This first stretch of the journey is really lush, green, and flat. The trail winds gently through ferns, moss, wild strawberry, and trees including pine, sitka spruce, and red alder. It's a really easy and pleasant walk during the summer. In the winter and spring months, sections of it become a little muddier and harder to navigate.
To traverse the staircase that leads down to the beach requires a greater sense of adventure and shoes with good traction. This crew had packed in quite a bit for their wedding celebration and I found myself putting my gear into my backpack at points to offer my help. The steep grade of this trail makes it hard on the way down to the beach and the way back up to the trail.
For those who want a more secluded feeling than the easier to access adjoining Trinidad State Beach just south of College Cove, the extra time spent on the incline in and out is worth it. As I had guessed by the emptiness of the parking lot, we were the only people in sight that day.
The forecast for Trinidad and the surrounding areas had called for a chance of mist but as luck would have it, we had a high ceiling of bright cloud cover. Clouds that didn't rain on us and provided beautiful soft light on Pewetole Island, the gently lapping waves, and the bluffs for this sweet couple and their entourage.
We walked south along the beach until we reached a spot that Jillian and Matt felt was the perfect place and dropped everything that we had packed in. After putting her flower crown on, the bride walked down the sandy aisle with her Mom to the front of a half circle created by their family and friends. The groom then escorted her to their officiant for the day waited on a patch of sand with zero footprints.
Marty spent some time guarding the wedding from seagulls then joined his family at their altar in time for the exchange of rings, their first kiss, and to walk them down the aisle when their short but sweet ceremony and vows were over. We took some family portraits, some pictures with friends, and a really sweet shot of the whole group together.
While everyone ate the lunch they had packed in, I took some time to photograph the details. Jillian's mostly white with pops of color bridal bouquet from The Flower Boutique in Eureka looked beautiful set on a rock with their laser engraved ring box.
To create the photograph of the rings with the banana slug, I first had to find one. Banana slugs are so common here in Humboldt County that this search doesn't take long wherever you are out in nature. Using a leaf to mostly protect my hand from slug slime I set it gently on top of the rock. He did as slugs do and made his way slowly past their wedding bands and down the side of the boulder while I clicked my shutter.
Once the bride and groom had a chance for a quick lunch, we said goodbye to the attendees who were heading back to the parking lot while we took one final barefoot stroll for some photographs of the two of them together. Jill and Matt held hands, cuddled, and kissed while the Pacific ocean played it's relaxing sounds for us.
After all of the official photos were over, they surprised me by pulling out matching his and hers white framed wedding sunglasses. Then Marty surprised me by smiling for one of the very last photographs. What a perfect day at the beach in Humboldt County.