I absolutely adore, ADORE, a Bride that has a lot to say. A Bride that can’t stop gushing over her wedding and could write a book on the day she got to marry her mister. There is just something about that kind of Bride that grabs a hold of my heart strings and doesn’t let go, because I KNOW she put oodles of thought into every.single.detail. This little lady is that kind of Bride. And her gorgeous day was captured to perfection by Hazelnut Photography - which makes it oh so easy to gush right along with her. It’s just as personal as it is pretty, and there is even more sitting pretty right here!

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From Hazelnut Photography…Kristen & Christopher had an absolutely magical wedding at Rancho Las Lomas. Every detail, every nook and cranny, was perfectly orchestrated to showcase the property and our lovely bride & groom. Kristen took so much inspiration from Style Me Pretty, it’s her dream to be featured! Really, she’s been emailing me about your blog for months! She wrote up a bit about the wedding and the road to their decisions…

From The Bride…We tossed around the idea of getting married in Illinois, where we both are from, but ultimately decided to get married in California, our new “home.” There are so many beautiful places to be married in Southern California, but we wanted to find the “perfect” spot for both of us. My dream was to get married at a private estate and have a backyard-type outdoor wedding, while Christopher’s idea of the perfect wedding location was the Zoo! Quite obviously, those are two very different places, so we had our work cut out for us; something outdoors and in a country-type setting, with wildlife all around! After exhaustive Internet research, we came across Rancho Las Lomas. We knew immediately, just from the pictures, that this was the place! It was a private estate with animals! What could be more perfect! We made an appointment to see the property, and as soon as we pulled through the large wooden gates at the entrance, we knew it was the place. We had this feeling of excitement, and a sense of relief! After walking the property, we fell in love with every part of it! With that said, the papers were signed and we were on our way to putting it all together!

Foremost, we wanted our wedding to feature our individual personalities, and our “oneness” as a couple. And of course, we wanted everyone to feel welcomed, loved and to have a great time. I have a very creative side. So I just ran with the DIY projects I found online. Christopher and my dear friend Melissa followed close behind giving me the support I needed in order to make what was in my head become a reality. I wanted every aspect of the wedding to have a personalized touch.

Christopher and I created and hand made each one of our map themed “save the date” cards. Since we were inviting people from all over the United States, we thought it would be fun and original to create a map of the United States, and place a string from each state our guests would be traveling from to a heart that we embossed onto the state of California! This was no small task, but a perfect beginning. With that said, we set a high standard for the rest of the wedding details!

So many people told me that once I found my dress, everything else for the wedding would fall into place. Well, like most brides, I suppose, I had a very difficult time finding my “perfect” dress. My mother flew out to California from Illinois to help me find my dress. For three days straight we searched high and low, and turned up empty handed. Nothing I saw seemed to fit my personality or style! But in the end there was one silver lining, I won all my bridesmaid dresses! My mom forced me to go to one last place, Alfred Angelo, in Huntington Beach. At the time I was not aware of a promotion that they were having, but about a week later, I received a phone call from the Alfred Angelo headquarters stating that I had won six-bridesmaid dresses! Coincidentally, I had six bridesmaids! I was so excited! I called the girls who would be my bridesmaids and together we picked out the dresses! How can you beat “free!” A good start, wouldn’t you say? However, that still did not solve my problem – I still did not have a dress!

In the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to get my dress back home in Illinois. So, that was my next stop! With my matron-of-honor in hand, we flew back to Illinois. After only trying on two dresses, neither of which worked, I came out in the third one and soon saw tears in the eyes of both my mom and matron-of-honor. I knew I had found my dress! Everything about it felt right! I had that giddy feeling! It was perfect and it had everything I dreamed of!

It was about that time that everything about getting married was starting to set in and become real. I had a pensive moment when I thought of everyone who would not be with Christopher and I on our wedding day. My grandfather had passed away when I was in 7th grade. He was my everything – we did everything together, and to realize that he was not going to be there when I got married broke my heart. I was determined to do everything I could to make sure that he was with me on that day. After a lot of thought, I decided to cut a heart shape out of his old denim jacket and have it sewn into the heart of my dress. Going along with the tradition of “something old, something blue . . .,” that “denim heart” became my something old and something blue. I knew that he would be with me as my parents walked me down the aisle. I also had a charm with his picture on it attached to my wedding bouquet.

Christopher had lost both sets of his grandparents before the wedding, but I was fortunate enough to meet the “Grandparents” or “Powells,” before they passed away. Christopher’s grandparents had passed six months apart. His grandfather George just a few days after our engagement. Christopher also wanted to include them in our wedding, so his boutonnière had charms with pictures of his grandparents attached. My family also gave him my grandfather’s cuff links that were silver and had a “C” engraved on them, which stood for “Conception,” my grandfather’s name. As a side note, the girls’ towel wraps were also made by my aunt and I! I think they turned out perfect and were a hit!

Before the ceremony, I asked our photographer, Jordana, to take a few pictures of Christopher and I without seeing one another. She blindfolded Christopher and I. We were able to spend just a few moments prior to the ceremony talking, and holding hands. I have to say that this was the most magical, calming and emotional thing that I have ever done. I can’t describe the feeling but it was so right and so perfect. I would not change those few moments Chris and I had for anything.

We wanted our ceremony to have a personalized touch and reflect us, our personalities and style, so I got creative. I designed a wedding program that I printed from the home printer and embossed with a flower and program stamp. Using a heart-shaped hole punch, we punched out five hearts for each wedding program. With the help of Christopher’s family, we strung five hearts onto string, and wrapped them around the program. Each heart represented a person that was no longer with us. I have to say, they turned out even better than I imagined they would. We also decorated little chairs for the flower girl and ring bearer to sit on during the ceremony. They did not sit but the chairs looked cute! We also had a string quartet for the ceremony this truly was a moment that I will not forget. Christopher has a love for the violin and this was his touch, he picked out all of the ceremony songs. We left as husband and wife to the sounds of Jack Johnson, better together.

Christopher and I also wanted to start a new tradition. So we decided to close the ceremony with the “Irish Blessing.” My friend Melissa and I found beautiful string, and she put them all together to be used at the ceremony. It is something that we will be able to pass down to our children someday!

For cocktail hour we decided to break from tradition and have “fun” appetizers – more in line with our quirky kick-back personalities! I happen to love grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, so that was one of our appetizers, and it was a hit! We had a Mariachi Band, in honor of my grandfather and my grandmother Maria, who picked out all of the songs!

Christopher picked out the cocktail hour centerpieces because he said he wanted something more “masculine.” I think he did a fine job! During the cocktail hour, our guests were able to grab our signature drink, an “Arnold Palmer,” that was poured into individual mason jars. A few days before the wedding, my mother and I tied string around each jar with a tag that had the guest’s name and table number on it. My friend Melissa, who has amazing handwriting, wrote each guest’s name individually onto a tag. We then embossed them with a little heart! It was a fun and original way to place everyone at the table we chose, and one where we felt they would be most comfortable. The catch was, the tables were not numbered 1, 2, 3, but instead, the numbers represented years that were significant in our lives. For example table 1984 was table one, and so on and so forth. Of course, our guests were very curious to know what their table number represented, adding another bit of “individuality” to the day. A friend of mine designed each table number (for the table) using our baby pictures! They were amazing! They turned out beautifully and fit the venue perfectly!

The reception could not have turned out any more magical. On the way to the reception, our guests passed little hanging globes with candles; Christopher hand strung all the bulbs, which took him forever! Along with the bulbs, we had little frames that had pictures of our family inside. It was like a little family tree!
Christopher and I made all the dinner menus. Each menu was personalized to what each guest was eating, and we also made tags and stamped the picture of either a cow, chicken, or fish onto the tag so that the servers knew what to serve the guest! Christopher and my mother chose all dinnerware. Our centerpieces were perfect! They consisted of amazing lanterns that I finally found thanks to my florist, candlelight, and beautiful flowers that smelled heavenly! We had string lighting to set the mood and an amazing DJ that kept everyone dancing all night long!

Our wedding cake was also done to perfection! It had lemon filling, and tiramisu filling. The cake was all butter cream frosting, I would not settle for anything else. The groom’s cake was a perfect replica of a “frog,” that my mom had an artist hand make for Christopher! We also had a popcorn station that included all of our favorite candies that we buy when we go to the movies!

I would not change one thing about our wedding; and most importantly, we were surrounded by all of our loved ones. We have received so many comments from our guests. “Your wedding was the most personal wedding I have ever been too. You made us feel so welcomed, from the drinks with our names on them, to the dinner menu, and the seat card with the little animal. You made all of this for us, and it is amazing and memorable.” The vendors performed their tasks perfectly, taking a lot of stress out of the day. They truly made the night magical, and I feel so happy and lucky to have had such a special wedding day!

Venue: Rancho Las Lomas / Florals: Flower Allie / Coordinator: Les Belles Affaires / Photographer: Hazelnut Photography / Hair & Makeup: Flawless Faces / Catering: 24 Carrots / Linens: Wildflower Linens / DJ: Steve Burdick Events / Rentals: Signature Party Rentals / Ceremony Music: Del Lago Trio / Mariachi Band: Los Azulado Mariachi / Videographer: Click 54 Event Filming / Bakery: Great Dane Bakery / Officiant: Reverand Robert Jabro

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