Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey Bay & Big Sur, California ~ Personal Trip Photos

We still have film photos getting developed from our trip to California last week – but I couldn’t help but share our personal photos in the meantime and share more about what we were up to while there (other than shooting Eric & Aya’s beautiful wedding – which will be on the blog this week)!!! 🙂 I cannot say enough about how GORGEOUS this part of California is and I hoped this post might help anyone who is looking to plan a trip and get some ideas for what to do!! (If you’re thinking of going – just do it!!)

Here’s what we were up to!! (All photos taken on my iPhone 6… not the most fantastic option for a professional photographer – but it did the job. 😉 And like I said – film photos of the trip are yet to come!)


Day 1 (Thursday): We flew out to San Jose early morning on the Thursday before the wedding. As usual, we had our airport tradition of bagels and bloodies! 😉 This was the same day I started hormone replacement therapy for our upcoming frozen embryo transfer … so I was feeling a teeeensy bit emotional, resulting in me crying because a woman gave up her seat to another woman who wanted the aisle. haha. At least it was happy emotional! 😉 (To give you an idea – the normal prescription is for ONE of these estrogen patches and I’m on four patches every couple days! ha!)


Upon landing, we rented a car and headed to Pacific Grove (just under a 2 hour drive in traffic) – where we were staying for the next 5 nights. When we finally arrived around 4pm we were soooo hungry and ready to get out of the car!! So we found the first restaurant on Yelp that sounded good and went straight there! The view of the bay wasn’t too shabby either! Oh my BLUE!


Two words: FRESH SEAFOOD!!! (Even though the only seafood I really like is crab – I was still sooooo happy – because it was GOOD.)


Then we picked up some groceries at Trader Joe’s and headed to check into our adorable little AirBnB for the week!!! AHHHH!!! HOW CUTE IS IT?! We LOVED this little cottage!!! (We really cannot say enough about how much we LOVE staying in AirBnB’s on our trips!! We get to feel like we live wherever we are staying and have our own private space. It also saves us a ton of money because we can grocery shop and have breakfast at the house and usually a picnic lunch we make out somewhere, and then go out to dinner! It’s great! If you’re considering staying at an AirBnB – use this link!


(I was kind of obsessed with the tile work in this bathroom and the charm of this little place! It was built in the early 1900’s and has the original door frames so you had to duck going through doors because they were so much smaller then! I didn’t mind, but James may have hit his head a few times! Eeps! ha! Also – they made tubs WAY bigger and way more awesome then too. :))


Day 2 (Friday): Our breakfast routine… followed by sipping our coffee/tea in our little cozy outdoor space in the sun. Oh my gosh. Take me back!


This day we headed out to scope out the locations for Saturday’s wedding! We drove to Carmel to see the hotel where they’d be getting ready, and the venue across the street (Il Fornaio). We scouted some portrait locations in the area, picked up some bath goodies at LUSH, and then walked down the main street to see what we would find… and found THIS!!! Carmel Beach – SOooooo pretty.


Then we were off to our next stop – the ceremony location: Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove. We decided to take the scenic route from Carmel and did the 17-mile-drive (just the portion along the coast) and wow was it worth the extra time!!! Just so stunningly beautiful.


Cypress Point was so awesome!! It actually took us a minute to realize these rocks in the photos below were covered in seals!!! I wished we had James’ 70-200mm lens to get some closer shots of these guys just sunbathing! 🙂


We made it to the ceremony location and were blown away!!! (The little beach nook on the left between the rocks is where they held it!)


We approved! 😉


Then we found ourselves at International Cuisine in Pacific Grove for our usual pre-wedding vegetarian dinner (we’re too paranoid to eat meat the day before a wedding, especially when eating out)! We were kind of obsessed with how delicious their Greek salad and homemade pizza were!! I’d like some more now, please!

Then we headed back to the AirBnB to relax, and when I spotted the golden light peaking from down the street I begged James to go for a walk with me (just far enough to stand in the light… as you do)! 😉


(Golden hour – a photographer’s happy place!!! Nerding out here over the light!!! haha)


Day 3 (Saturday): Wedding Day!!!! We had a low-key morning with a tasty and filling breakfast to hold us over, and I broke in my new coloring book! (I’m obsessed, in case you weren’t following this trip on Instagram.) I got a kick out of the first page… haha…


A few snaps from the wedding day!! So many more “real” photos to come to the blog!! So hang in there!!


Eric and Aya fed us well!!! This ravioli was SO GOOD. And they spoiled us (and Chloe) with this gift!!! I mean… a BOW TIE?! YES!!! ha!


We wrapped up work just before sunset and decided to grab a couple of beers and head to the beach to watch the sunset! On the way there – we saw these two fawns just hanging out, grazing in this parking lot!! How cute are they?! Then oddly enough, we woke a day or two later to find them grazing directly across the street from our AirBnB! I swear they were following us! (James was like, “Christy… TWO fawns following us around town?! Twins?!” Maybe we read too much into things, but I like to think these little guys were a sign. :))


Anyway – off we went (still in our dress clothes for work) to the beach for sunset. Totally worth it.


Ending a wedding day with a bubble bath and some wine, is my kind of night cap!


Day 4 (Sunday): We were in recovery mode!! I promised James no plans, except that we were going to have a bonfire at the beach at sunset (because we saw all kinds of people having bonfires at the beach the night before! So fun!) So Sunday we slept in, I colored like crazy, James read, we napped, we ate, and we headed to the beach at sunset. I’d say it was a nice day. 🙂


If you know me – you know I’m OBSESSED with s’mores – and especially obsessed with making the PERFECT s’more. Unfortunately, the ENTIRE TOWN of Pacific Grove was somehow out of marshmallows?! SERIOUSLY. So James picked up these mini marshmallows and insisted it was the same difference. hahaha!! Wrong, sir!! But nice try!! LOL. But alas, I can’t say no to s’mores in any form – so I did my best. (Spoiler alert: They were nowhere near as satisfying as regular sized marshmallow s’mores since they didn’t even get an ooey gooey center, but any s’mores eaten on the beach at sunset are fine by me!)



Day 5 (Monday): We headed down Highway 1 to explore Big Sur and see all the beauty along the coast – and OH MY WORD – it did not disappoint!!!


Bixby Bridge!


Then we went hiking at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park! It wasn’t exactly Muir Woods – but it was still beautiful and a great workout!!


Then we drove down the road to Pfeiffer Beach and ate our picnic lunch on a blanket, took a nap (before we got rained on by sand – LOL), and relaxed for a bit. In the words of some British guy there with his friends, “This is like, the least chill beach, evah.” Seriously – it was SO WINDY you really couldn’t sit and relax except in this little nook James and I found at the far side of the beach!!! And even there it was pretty windy! The other part of the beach was soooo windy the sand was just whipping at you and actually burning your legs (like sandpaper on your skin) and nearly blowing you over! It was crazy!!!


One last photo on the drive back home for a relaxing final night at the AirBnB!


Day 6 (Tuesday): Our travel home day. We slept in, packed up, checked out, and drove back to San Jose to catch our flight. We flew into Chicago right at sunset and needless to say – Chicago reminded us that it was okay at sunsets too. 😉 It was the prettiest deep red sunset we flew into!!! Unreal!!!


Chloe was just a *little* happy to see us after six days away!! And you know she rocked that bow tie Eric and Aya gave her! 😉 haha


If you have any questions about any of our trip – let me know!!! I’m happy to answer anything (and am already kind of dying to go back)!! The perfect trip before our big week next week with the embryo transfer!!! Ah! xoxo (And I cannot wait to get the film back from this one too!!)


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chicago & worldwide

Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!