I’m always on the lookout for cool, new approaches to traditionally themed styles. Take the beach wedding for example. I totally heart how this couple took a style that has been done and done and done again…infusing it with a modern style and clean, simple details. The effect is still very beachy and yet the whole day has this insanely chic vibe threaded throughout every moment. Love, love, love that. Photographed by Marianne Wilson, you beach inspired girls are going to obsess over this one. Click here to see even more!
When Kevin and I first started planning our wedding, we both knew we wanted a beachy theme. After trekking up and down the California coastline for weeks in search of a venue, we ironically found our place—the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach—which is about a 10 minute walk from our house. Everything about the tiny boutique beachy-meets-modern hotel “screamed” us.
Getting married in the same town where we met four years prior held more meaning to us than having the ceremony in one of our respective hometowns (me, from Connecticut, Kevin from Oregon). Plus, having more than eighty people fly to Manhattan Beach from all over the country was a dream to us, and a sweet vacation for them.
We soon realized our wedding was starting to become not only a one-day affair, but a full-on event. Before we knew it, friends and family were collaborating cross-country on emails for house rentals and hotel bookings for the whole week. The week was kicked off with a 50-person bar crawl, followed by a fiesta welcome party we held in our backyard.
The entire planning process was DIY—right down to the invitations and the chuppah we got married under. Beginning with the save-the-dates, we had a good friend take pics of us on the beach with our date 7-17-10 written in the sand. My brother Quinn fabulously photoshopped it into a postcard, and off they went. Next were the invites. Lucky for us, LA is full off wholesale stores. So I bought everything I needed at Kelly Paper, hired the fabulous Sarah Guse Brown off Etsy to design my invites, and randomly lucked out with a printer who made them look better than Crane!
My dress by Allure Bridals was the one thing I never hesitated on. I brought along two of my best friends to buy it, and the looks on their faces when I put it on said it all. Of course I put my own spin on it, changing the neckline to sweetheart, adding buttons down the back, and—my favorite—the most stunning diamond sash made by Amanda of Untamed Petals.
Our centerpieces were done completely by us, and our amazing wedding coordinator Kelsie Hopkins of Bride & Bloom Designs. Vases, seaglass and curly willow were bought at Michaels, Kels took care of all the flowers at the downtown LA flower mart, and my lovely husband made several early morning trips to the beach to retrieve the coolest shells and sand dollars for our tables. My mother-in-law Bruna also donated all 150 Oregon sand dollars from her beach house that were collected through the years, and those became our aisle runners.
I’d always wanted to be married under a chuppah, not because I’m Jewish (Kev and I are actually both Catholic, go figure) but they’re so pretty! So our handyman friend Drew built the entire thing—plus a podium on the wedding day itself—from bamboo stalks. It couldn’t have looked better. As for our minister, Kev and I asked our dear friend Amanda, who is one of the most gorgeous, non-judging, open-hearted people we know. The poor girl sliced 3 fingers open two hours before our ceremony and had to be rushed to urgent care, and still made it there with a huge smile on her face…and caught the bouquet I might add…
Our cocktail reception was held on the roofdeck over looking the Pacific, as our talented friends Justin Hopkins and Scott Fisher serenaded our guests, who munched on apps like mini sliders and ahi tartar cones. Once the sun setted, our DJ Kris Bunya led everyone to the courtyard for dinner, lit by turquoise and white mood lighting and a giant monogram of our names on the far wall.
Guests popped in and out of the photobooth we rented from PhotoBox LA, complete with outrageous costume options like a Darth Vader mask, or a pimp hat my dad seemed to like the best. We set up a scrapbook with pens and stickers for the guests, and the messages we got were so hysterical, we know we’ll have that thing forever.
After dinner, we all went back upstairs and cranked the music up, singing family favorites like “Country Roads” (for Kev’s dad who passed away and was from West Virginia) so loud that we got a little warning from the po-po. After delicious red velvet cupcakes made by a friend and a few more dances that started rivaling Dancing With the Stars, we skipped through sparkers, and were off.
The party was far from over, though. 50 of our guests joined us at our local hangout (and first date) Sharks Cove in Manhattan Beach. I changed from my Louboutins into flip flops, and finally let Kev take his tie off so we could hang til the wee hours with our favorite people. The bottom of my dress is black as night from the bar floor. But as we look at it, the sign of a really great party. It may be unwearable for my daughter, but I vowed to my mother to save a swatch to sew inside her wedding dress!
The week was the best one of our lives—filled with laughter, family, friends and a new beginning. Our guests are already asking if we’re interested in hosting a vow renewal party every year…
Photography: Marianne Wilson Photography / Venue: Shade Hotel / Paper Elements and Design: Brightly Designed / Florals: The Blooming Bride / Wedding Coordinator: Kelsie Hopkins / Videographer: Dan Ferraro / Band & DJ: Kris Bunya DJFX / Limo service: Simply Elegant Limousine Service / Bridal Party Makeup: Erika Lynn / Bridal Party Hair: Hush Hush Hair Salon / Bride’s gown: La Soie Bridal / Bride’s shoes: Louboutin / Groomsmen attire: Mens Wearhouse, ties by Express Men, tie clips by The Tie Bar, Shoes by Ben Sherman / Bridesmaids attire: French Connection UK