Forget Favors — This Couple Gave Back to the Cause that Brought Them Together
June 18, 2016
California
Classic WeddingsGlamorousVintage
Reading what this Bride said about her big day, you can tell she and her Groom are a special pair. In lieu of favors, they donated a backpack to United in Harmony's Camp Harmony, a camp for homeless children in the LA area. Trust us, one look at onelove photography's photos in The Vault, and you'll be as in love with this day as we are. (It doesn't hurt that amazing vendors like Stephanie Grace DesignsThe Butter End CakeryFiore BeautyJenny Yoo and Casa de Perrin were part of it!)
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From The Bride...I think, for us, it was most important that the wedding felt authentic and full of love. We are both very real people, and though we love to dress up, dance, and throw a big party - we wanted the wedding, at its core, to feel intimate, authentic, and reflective of our personalities. For us, that began with the ceremony and our officiant. Rabbi Steven Carr-Reuben is the same man that stood next to me at my bat-mitzvah a decade prior to our wedding. I have known him my entire life, and there is no one I would rather have marry me. James spent a great deal of time getting to know Rabbi Reuben leading up to the wedding, discussing the details of our ceremony and learning more about each other. Rabbi Reuben allowed the wedding to be 100% authentically us, even allowing us to write our own translation of the Shevah Brachot (the seven blessings). By the time our wedding rolled around, he knew each of us and our relationship so well that it brought a level of intimacy to our ceremony we could only have dreamt of. Countless people came up to us afterwards and commented on how incredibly genuine his words were, and how intimate and personalized the ceremony felt.

Another great example of how the wedding reflected our personalities were the “favors” for attendees. To us, it just didn’t feel right to have everyone walk away at the end of the night with a cute box of macarons or miniature bottle of champagne. As much as we love dessert, they had already had cake...And as much as we love champagne, I don’t think it would be airline-approved for their carry-ons! So, after much thought, in lieu of favors, we decided to donate to the non-profit organization where James and I met volunteering four years prior. For every guest, one brand new school backpack was donated to a child at United in Harmony’s “Camp Harmony.” Camp Harmony is a twice yearly camp for homeless children from shelters all over Los Angeles county. The camp experience, completely free of cost, gives these children a break from the tension and stress of their daily lives and a place to play freely and build their self-esteem. Honestly, giving back has always been such a huge part of our lives, and that passion played a large part in us falling for each other... so, it made sense to us that donating to Camp Harmony would be the best possible way to celebrate our commitment to spend the rest of our lives together.

For me, the candles and flowers were the most important part of the design. I wanted the ceremony and reception to feel similar in overall atmosphere, but also have distinctly different details.

For the ceremony, which happened at sunset inside the lobby of RCC, I wanted minimal flowers and maximum candlelight. I loved the idea of a dramatic, romantic, intimate ceremony that was barely lit (only Sara could capture such great photos in such bad light!). The only color in the room was white, and the aisle was lined with stacks of floating candles of all different heights and scattered white rose petals. The huppah was taller than any huppah our design coordinator had ever helped create, and it was truly stunning. It had a chandelier inside, accented with flowers, and the entire thing was draped with white fabric, lending it an ethereal and magical quality. It was truly everything I imagined and more.

For the reception, I wanted a livelier feel, while still maintaining the elegance of the ceremony’s aesthetics. Instead of white linens we chose a slight gold/blush color that went ideally with our centerpieces and china. I know it’s traditional, but I just can’t stand tall centerpieces! You can’t see across the table and they imply a level of glamour that didn’t quite fit our style. Through various pinterest boards and many long conversations with Lisa and Stephanie (my floral design team), we were able to create beautiful and visually interesting centerpieces that had a mixture of florals and candles, all at varying heights. They pulled together the gold accents alongside the stunning china we rented from Casa De Perrin. The florals were mostly white, with a few light shades of green and blush. Stephanie helped me find the perfect balance between messy and elegant, because I didn’t want any of the arrangements to look too perfectly prepared.

The last little touch I am thrilled worked out, was the addition of lavender throughout the wedding. I absolutely adore lavender. I love the color, the scent, the calmness it creates...However, both my family and my coordinator were 95% sure it “just wasn’t going to work.” Luckily, I was able to convince them otherwise! In the end we had the bridesmaids walk down the aisle with bouquets made only of lavender. I have to give a special thanks to Lisa from Stephanie Grace Designs for helping me push my lavender agenda! I also decided to add just one sprig of lavender to each place setting, inside the black satin accent bow around the napkin and menu. It was subtle, but beautiful and smelled fantastic.

I think everyone’s experience is unique, so I would be hesitant to share much advice...I suppose, all I will say is this:

No matter what happens...whether you have to change your date and venue three months prior to the big day (yes, that actually happened to me!), or it pours on your wedding day and you have to move your cocktail hour inside (that happened to me too...), or too many sparklers get put in a vase and it literally shatters all over the floor (yup, you guessed it, happened to me as well), all that matters at the end of the day, and I mean all that matters, is who is at the end of the aisle. That sentiment, though we all logically know it’s true, often gets lost in the process of it all... the planning, the stress, the mishaps... but hold onto it and hold onto it tight. Remind yourself of it when things don’t go as planned, because trust me, they will often not go as planned. The love and commitment between you and your partner; that is what everyone has come to witness and to celebrate, not the seamlessly choreographed first dance or the perfect color peony.

*Warning: peonies are extremely finicky flowers, whatever shade it ends up being will be beautiful, and has a 95% chance of not being quite what you expected :)

My biggest highlight from the day was when we read our personal vows to each other during the ceremony. Unfortunately, I ruined every possible photo of the moment by bawling uncontrollably, but it was still magical. We didn’t share them before the ceremony, and were pleasantly surprised to hear how similar ours were to each other. We both share a belief that marriage, while wonderful, is also bound to be difficult. I love that we weren’t afraid to put that in our vows. To be vulnerable and real, to admit that it won’t all be rainbows and butterflies, but that regardless, we are ready to take on whatever comes our way. As cheesy as it sounds, those four minutes that felt like they lasted forever, and everyone around us just faded away. A large part of my schooling as a therapist is about being present; I had never felt so present (and so sure) in my life.
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