This is one divine wedding! But then again … what else would you expect from Karen Tran?

First, a little background from Darby, today’s exquisite bride!

the proposal

Two folding beach chairs, one cleverly concealed bottle of splurge champagne, two plastic champagne glasses minus the attached bottoms, one extra large bag of Kettle Korn acquired the previous night at the San Diego County Fair, a countless number of prize-winning mosquitoes, and an evening sky filled with requisite fireworks. Fourth of July 2009 on Dog Beach in Del Mar, California … a perfectly memorable setting for an unexpected yet secretly anticipated marriage proposal.

Karen Tran Florals Darby Bouquet

the dress

What wedding story would be complete without a delicious tale about the bride finding the dress of her dreams? (I’ll make it quick!). I wore a stunning light ivory satin sheath v-neck Vera Wang gown that truly looked as if it were made just for me!  Ivory velvet roses adorned the nape of my neck. The light ivory satin contrasted beautifully with the tulle bodice. To “up” the vintage quality of the dress I added a round antique broach at the base of the deep v-neck. When I was purchasing the broach at a quaint antique store in a small town in Texas, I found the most beautiful pair of antique earrings and my accessorizing was complete. Back to the dress ~

Karen Tran Darby Wedding Gown Once Wed

I purchased the dress of my dreams on Once Wed from a delightful bride in Atlanta who had worn it only a few months earlier. Maria, my best gal pal, enlightened me and I fell in love with the concept of purchasing a spectacular wedding dress (at half the price) replete with a tale of its own. I know the idea can be scary but I was lucky enough to find a bridal boutique that carried the exact dress. I tried on the sample and fell head-over-heals for it. It was fate … the bride in Atlanta was close to my size and a type A personality. It arrived beautifully packaged and preserved with a sweet handwritten note wishing me a wonderful wedding day.

photography courtesy of darin fong

the plan

We decided that Thanksgiving weekend would be ideal. Our two families could spend Thanksgiving dinner together (aka rehearsal dinner and friends could celebrate the holiday with their respective families and arrive by Friday evening for our welcome cocktail reception. Perfect. All we needed was to determine where exactly in Southern California our wedding would take place. Luckily for us, Thanksgiving weekend isn’t a highly sought-after wedding weekend. Everywhere and everyone was available ~ we just needed to start making some major decisions and quickly! We had a mere four months to pull this life event together. At this point I should have been panicking but a year prior, I’d opened my own event planning company in Las Vegas called Open Invitation. Although my company doesn’t specialize in wedding planning, I knew by assembling the right team of professionals it could be done!

The first time I stepped foot in La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, California was in 1992. Built in the mid-20s it oozed vintage glamour and I vividly remember thinking how utterly perfect it would be for a wedding…my wedding…one day. Rod was keen on La Jolla so that was an easy sell.  I just hoped he would fall in love with La Valencia like I had seventeen years earlier. Bingo! He loved the location, we were impressed with Victor Lopez, the onsite wedding specialist and in a heartbeat we were signing the venue contract. Victor’s team quickly reserved a block of hotel rooms for our guests and provided me with a list of preferred vendors, which ultimately led me to Karen Tran Florals.

the color palette

Karen’s spectacularly creative reputation preceded her. Like any prepared bride with a vision, I had amassed copious photos from stacks of bridal magazines, websites and blogs. Karen quickly and artfully narrowed in on my design affinity. And so it was decided…vintage glamour. The ever-important wedding palette was born – platinum and ivory. All was quickly falling into place.

the ceremony

Karen’s team transformed The Garden into a beautiful vintage ceremony setting featuring a deep solid ivory rose petal path and an unbelievable canopy draped in platinum chiffon fabric, ivory roses, hydrangeas, orchids and hanging crystals. A few minutes before sunset while David Patrone and his three-piece band were playing Michael Buble’s version of I’ve Got The World On A String. The sky was strewn with shades of yellow and pink as I eagerly walked toward my husband-to-be (who, by the way, looked incredibly handsome in his dark gray Hugo Boss suit)! All the hand-wringing stress over the weather melted away and I was immersed in happiness. There is nothing more life affirming than walking down the aisle with your father ensuring you don’t stumble and the slow recognition that everyone near and dear to you have their eyes steadied on you.

Karen Tran Darby Rod Wedding La Jolla

the weather

Oh, wait. Did I tell you? We awoke to the perky weather girl reporting a dreary, cold, rainy day in typically sunny 70-degree Southern California. NOT what anyone wants to hear when they’re planning an outdoor ceremony! Of course we’d been tracking the weather moment to moment on weather.com but it was like salt in an open wound when the weather girl highlighted the beautiful weather forecast for Sunday….urrgh! Before I could brush my teeth, my cell phone was ringing and Catherine Bachelier Smith, our superwoman wedding coordinator, was talking Plan B. Together with Catherine, Karen, Victor and countless others we crossed our fingers and stuck with Plan A. The heavy morning rain subsided and the weather eventually played a roll in the evening. Toward the end of our outdoor cocktail hour and the beginning of our indoor dinner party, the skies literally opened up like I’ve never seen in Southern California. Our guests were making a mad dash toward the Veranda Room. One of our funniest memories is watching Catherine, bless her heart, calmly trying to hand a sparkler to everyone. The idea was to have bride and groom gracefully enter the dinner party through a shower of sparklers. I really wanted that photo for our New Year’s cards. As I am running past Darin Fong our wonderful photographer, he gently said, “I don’t think I got that shot the way you’d envisioned.” At that moment David Patrone darted by me carrying a cymbal stand like an umbrella, trying to keep his fedora dry.

the reception

I understand it’s supposedly good luck for it to rain on your wedding, but what about on your indoor dinner reception? Clearly La Valencia’s roof had not seen a monsoon of the likes of this before. Karen’s incredible vintage tables adorned with tall mercury glass candles, phenomenal florals, and cleverly wrapped candied LOVE apples were delicately being moved by staff and even our guests to accommodate massive leaks while housekeeping had every available towel soaking up rainwater. It was surreal for sure but as Rod and I raised our crystal toasting champagne flutes we basked in the incredible moment.

Wedding coordination by CBS Weddings

Thank you, Karen ~ your work is awesome!

Congratulations ~ Darby & Rod!


So if you’re not already on inspiration overload, we have a few more links for you that will totally saturate your floral senses! From Karen’s extraordinarily talented daughter, Aileen, a profusion of bridal bouquets featured every Monday on Karen’s blog:

Aileen’s Bouquet Mondays…
Deep Purple Bouquet
Bon Voyage Bouquet
Rustic Vintage Bouquet
Succulents + Pink + White Bouquet
Green Lady’s Slipper Bouquet
Black + White Art Deco Bouquet
Fuschia Calla’s + Leather Accents Bouquet
Vibrant Sping Bouquet
Luxurious Lavender Bouquet

Vera Wang is a member of our Look Book. For more information on how members are chosen, click here.