With its pastoral vistas and old-timey charm, happy couples wanting to get hitched have been flocking to Ferndale for years. Several colorful and rambling Victorians operate as bucolic bed and breakfasts, offering the ideal location for an intimate wedding or romantic getaway. But another treasure of the Eel River Valley lies beyond the charming townscape.

Go west on Centerville Road and you’ll soon be immersed in the stunning agricultural landscape that is truly Ferndale’s heritage. Driving past cows idly grazing around century old farmhouses, suddenly the Pacific Ocean appears dead ahead, crashing wildly to shore at Centerville Beach. Practically close enough to dip your toe in the seawater, the slim road traverses across the beach before steeply crawling up into the green hills. Drive another 2.6 miles through the rugged terrain and you’ll arrive at Humboldt County’s newest wedding venue, a destination worthy of the greatest romance — the Lost Coast Ranch.

click to enlarge Banquet-ready kitchen, complete with a wood-fire oven. - LOST COAST RANCH
  • Lost Coast Ranch
  • Banquet-ready kitchen, complete with a wood-fire oven.

“I couldn’t have found a more beautiful and exquisite place,” says Cindy Olsen-Bugenig, a Loleta resident and the first bride to say “I do” at the ranch last summer. Both local and active in the community, Olsen-Bugenig and her husband, Clare Bugenig, struggled to keep their guest list under 200. Seeking a rural locale that reflected their agricultural values, the couple had been hunting for a wedding venue for more than two years. On their first drive to the Ranch, Olsen-Bugenig said to her husband, “I know this is it.” And it was. On a June summer’s night, the couple married on the grassy bluff perched over the Pacific, with breaching whales blowing seawater in view of the newlyweds. Then the couple danced the night away with 175 of their dearest family and friends.

“We are located away from all distractions, so you can focus on what matters, family and loved ones,” says Seta Mesrobian, who operates Lost Coast Ranch with her husband, Harry Boyajian. The ranch consists of 108 acres of rolling pastureland and an expansive ranch house, offering panoramic views of the Pacific from the kitchen, wraparound decks and most of the 18 bedrooms. Boyajian has added on substantially to the structure, which was originally built in 1982, building a formal dining room and commercial kitchen with floor-to-ceiling windows, an industrial mixer, espresso bar and wood-fired oven. Whether wedding parties book the ranch for an evening ceremony or the entire weekend, it’s their private oasis during the event. Wedding guests staying overnight can choose from 16 uniquely decorated rooms, each with a full private bathroom. The formal living room is filled with regal, high-backed armchairs, fit for a ship captain’s quarters, anchored by a massive fireplace and flanked by an equally spacious sitting room. Overall, the ranch has no shortage of cozy hideaways to catch a moment of solitude or enjoy a nightcap. There’s even decent cell service.

click to enlarge Epic scenery. - LOST COAST RANCH
  • Lost Coast Ranch
  • Epic scenery.

The heart of the ranch, the kitchen, overlooks the aquamarine expanse of the Lost Coast, appearing ready to host a North Coast edition of Iron Chef at a moment’s notice. On the big day, couples can choose their own professional caterers or Boyajian and Mesrobian are happy to provide their own culinary team. The couple also owns and operates the historic Gingerbread Mansion in Ferndale, where they honed their hospitality chops and learned to appreciate the special madness of the wedding business.

“Very few places offer such a closeness with nature, while enjoying all the comfort and amenities offered at the Ranch,” explains Mesrobian. If a couple books the entire weekend, there’s no shortage of activities to keep out-of-town guests entertained: Centerville Beach, where the brave can feel the ocean spray sting their faces and the wise can enjoy a picnic, is less than 3 miles away. Another 10 minutes drive away, the hive of culture, shopping and dining in downtown Ferndale beckons, in addition to offering extra lodging for wedding guests. Back on the ranch, miles upon miles of private hiking trails are waiting to be explored by birders, hikers and anyone craving nature therapy. Just ask and Boyajian will draw you a personal map.
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Nora Mounce

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