Intimate & Kitsch Madonna Inn Wedding

Aimlee Photography

August 17, 2020

The Madonna Inn, located in San Luis Obispo, California, might just be our dream wedding venue. Perfectly pink, kitsch and retro, it was also the ideal location for Chelsea and Tim’s whimsical wedding too. They were married in July 2019.

“We embraced the craziness of The Madonna Inn and had a full on Madonna Inn wedding theme”, Chelsea began. “Since we knew that all of our guests would be travelling, we wanted to create a weekend space where everyone could stay, hang out by the pool, dine at the restaurants and mingle with each other and get to share in the bizarre experience of staying in one of the 110 unique rooms. Guests who had never met would invite each other to check out the crazy rock shower, their shag-carpeted spiral staircase or the glitter wallpaper in their room; instant ice breaker.”

The bride wore a dress made from vintage lace by Saldana Vintage with vintage hair pins and rings. They opted not to have a bridal party. “Tim and I really looked at all of what goes into a traditional wedding and boiled it down to what actually felt meaningful/memorable to us, what was an old trapping of superstition and what was done only for the sake of tradition,” she continued. “In this process we eschewed the bridal party, bachelor/bachelorette parties (we took a trip to New Orleans together instead), a wedding registry, being walked down the aisle and a ton of other things we felt didn’t suit us.”

“I think the biggest money saver was not having a bridal party. We have both been in multiple bridal parties and as we get older, the idea becomes less and less appealing. We wanted our guests to feel at ease at our wedding and the idea of wrangling 6-10 of our friends into matching outfits for staged photo sessions just seemed insane.”

“There were a few people during the planning process that would tell us ‘You know it’s bad luck if you don’t do this,’ and we would just smile and tell them we don’t believe in bad luck. Having our wedding feel as true to us as possible was the most important part, and in the end our guests didn’t miss all of the traditions that we decided to forgo.”

The Madonna Inn provided all the food and the cake, Chelsea explains, “We chose three of the world famous cakes from their Copper Cafe bakery, which still uses the same massive oven from when they opened in the 60s. We had carrot cake (our personal favourite), German chocolate and The Madonna’s speciality, pink champagne. We decided to forgo traditional wedding cake decoration and just let the bakery create the cake’s in their normal, whimsical style.”

As the venue really didn’t need much in the way of extra decor, the bride, her sister and her mother-in-law collected vintage vases and candlesticks and created the simple flower arrangements (with blooms bought from the LA and San Luis Obispo flower markets) for the tables. As the bride works in design, she also created all their stationery herself including using a wax seal as this was Tim’s only request! “We decided early on that it would be easiest if we just embraced the uniqueness of our setting and didn’t go against type. Having our wedding in the gardens, we really didn’t need any decorations because we were surrounded by so much beautiful landscaping and flowers.”

The couple were so pleased that they trusted their gut during the planning process and ended up with a wedding that really felt right for them. “Don’t worry about pleasing others, they honestly don’t care what your wedding looks like!” Chelsea says. “In the end, everything should reflect you as a couple, perfectly imperfect. Also shared Google Docs and spreadsheets are LIFE!”