I’m a big fan of weddings that feel thoughtful designed yet entirely effortless. And when a bride, alongside her team of vendors, is able to pull off both simultaneously it’s cause for celebration. Jen Huang photographed these Ojai Valley Inn nuptials complete with a Monique Lhuillier gown that’s basically everything. (Two words: detachable skirt). Follow me to The Vault for so much more.
From the Bride… Ramin and I envisioned a wedding weekend that would celebrate the warmth and love that surrounds us. As native Californians, we sought a setting close to family and friends but far enough away from daily life to feel like a weekend escape. After some searching, we found what we were looking for in the Ojai Valley Inn. The natural beauty of the Inn kindled our imaginations at first sight. The Inn’s iconic oak tree provided a shaded, intimate spot that was perfect for the ceremony. We also experienced one of Ojai’s magical “pink moment” sunsets. After we visited with my parents, we knew we had found our venue.
The first stop was shopping for the dress. I never imagined that I would find the dress; rather, I assumed there would be several that I’d want to bring home. Also, wedding white is most certainly not my color. I visited nearly every designer in nearly every major city. After having waited until the last possible moment to make my decision, I went back to Monique Lhuillier to buy one of the first dresses I wore. However, I timed this final visit to coincide with their most recent trunk show, just in case there happened to be something new that caught my eye. And the first thing I saw when I walked into the showroom was a gorgeous cap sleeve gown with high-low removable skirt. It was classic, but also fashion-forward. I tried it on and did a little twirl and curtsy. It felt so comfortable and fun. My mom knew it was the dress. She gave me a big hug and said “mazel tov”.
Since childhood, I’ve loved design and details, and so naturally I had countless ideas and was incredibly excited — though admittedly overwhelmed — by the opportunity to design our wedding. For better or worse, I’m an optimizer, which means that I review every possible option before making a decision. I was spending countless hours on Pinterest and Instagram.
Carissa Jones-Jowett, a designer with immaculate taste and boundless creative energy, helped me pull together a vision for the overall wedding design. In San Francisco, we often hear about so-called “unicorns”, technology companies of immense value. Carissa is a real, live unicorn. She took Ojai’s natural and seemingly perfect beauty, and made it even better. She helped us create a simple, elegant, gorgeous, and textural spring-flower arrangement and table decor that included gold lanterns, candles, cream linens, rose gold flatware and Heath ceramics dinnerware. She even employed some special magic to bring my favorite flowers, peonies, into season early, just in time for our wedding. We brought the indoors outside with casually luxurious lounge vignettes and a fabulous gilded bar. Our guests spent a lot of time in the lounges, and even more time at the bar, enjoying our favorite signature cocktails — bellinis, cucumber gimlets and whisky cocktails.
More about the details… Beautiful calligraphy — a hobby my mother and I share — was essential to the design. The talented Anne Robin lent her hand to our invitation suite, programs, placecards and menus, which were pressed with my favorite color, rose gold. Ramin and I also wrote a personalized, modern version of the ketubah (the Jewish wedding contract), which was hand lettered. My mom designed and hand prepared the personalized welcome bags, which included Ramin’s favorite candy (jelly beans) and Ojai’s famous pixie tangerines.
The speeches were a highlight for all. We were lovingly toasted and roasted. My mom shared priceless, practical wisdom from 39 years of marriage. My dad, a rocket scientist, found a way to connect us to the cosmos, and talked about the infinite ways he hopes we, as a couple, can make the world a better place. He didn’t miss the chance to insert a few of his classic jokes. My maid of honor and Ramin’s best man followed with speeches that provided the perfect mix of sweetness and hilarity. We were overwhelmed by love and emotion.
DJ Swon inspired the most fantastic and high energy dance party under the tent, which continued on to an after party that lasted well into the morning. Our friends and family are still talking about it!
The experience was documented beautifully by Jen Huang, who also photographed the wedding of our dear friends Laura and Nes the year before. Jen’s images captured the emotion and context of the day in the most wonderful and warm light.
The best (and easiest) decision I made was working with Shannon and Vikki of All You Need is Love Events. They were first and foremost friends, and their guidance was my north star throughout the entire planning process. The wedding weekend was completely seamless, and I was able to let go and enjoy our wedding without worry (which I’ll admit is not typically my strong suit). I always could trust that the weekend was in their incredibly capable hands.
I’ll never forget the look on Ramin’s face when he turned around and saw me in the dress for the first time before our ceremony. From that moment on, we shared the most amazing day together. From our first look, then under the chuppah holding hands, surrounded by everyone we love, and finally having a blast at a great dinner and dance party. It wish I could have captured and held on to every moment from that amazing day, and I’m so grateful for all the people that came together to make it a reality.
Photography: Jen Huang | Coordination: All You Need Is Love Events | Florist: JL Designs & Events | Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Stationery: Lupa & Pepi | Ceremony Venue: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa | Reception Venue: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa | Hair And Makeup: 10.11 Makeup | DJ: Red Shoe Productions | Ceremony Music: Teahouse Company | Linens: La Tavola Fine Linen Rental | Rentals: Found Vintage Rentals | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Video: Austin Hendrix Productions