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Rustic Summer Wedding at Orcutt Ranch

I think I’ve seen the prettiest of the pretty and then along comes a show stopper like this one. These two beautiful brides captured my heart and my time, because I literally can’t stop going through every single photo in this gallery by Laurie Wilson of Gather West Photography. The Little Branch and Lavender Grey Events have lifelong fans in me and I’m starting my weekend off early with all this lovely right here.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Ranch
Styles
Rustic

From A.J…. It was eight years ago that I met my wife on a snowy location while we were filming a movie. At the time, same-sex marriage was far from being legal, and as the years went on, our hopes of getting married in front of our family and friends started to fade. But our love didn’t. So, seven years into our relationship I decided to propose on another cold, snowy night in Boston, and thought that even if it wasn’t legal in our home state of California, at least we would be starting a new chapter. What we didn’t expect was same-sex marriage passing just months later and the outpouring of calls we received from friends and family asking – when’s the big day? Yikes! The pressure was on. It was really happening and we knew we had to start planning.

At first we didn’t know exactly where to begin – but we knew one thing. After two cold, snowy nights of memories, we wanted a warm night of dancing under twinkle lights at a location that felt intimate, yet still expansive, merging our East Coast and Midwest backgrounds, yet keeping in Los Angeles, and putting together a celebration that would share what we love – creative design, a communal feel, and culinary deliciousness.

With a small budget to work with, we had difficulty finding an outdoor venue in our range. We were close to giving up and then I discovered one last option – Orcutt Ranch in West Hills – an affordable location that provided a beautiful blank canvas to make our own. I had scored big points with my wife on this venue find, but the truth is everything else is the DIY magic of Annie. From the invitation and ceremony program design, to the hand-stamped lavender satchels for blessings during and after the ceremony, to the glitter gold A & A that glistened in the window of our on-site pop-up Sweet Shoppe. Granted, the DIY projects didn’t always go so smoothly. To this day there’s still disco shrubs in our backyard covered in gold paint!

As Annie continued month after month with DIY projects, and we were guided by our extraordinary coordinator, Lauren, I entered the decision making on the things I knew best – food and flowers. And since we saved money on our venue cost, we were able to splurge a little. We eat organic and love farm-to-table so Heirloom was a definite to create a foodie’s paradise complete with a Crostini Station. While sipping Lavender Whiskey Sours and nibbling on pickled everything, our guests then segued to a rustic family style dinner offering 24-hour braised short rib, halibut with fennel, and beet ravioli.

When it came to florals we wanted them to feel unique and alive – each table to have its own terrarium of succulents and moss cohabitating with pops of fresh flowers. We wanted it to feel earthy and grounded. The Little Branch took these ideas and delivered beyond our expectations. From the centerpieces to the bridal bouquet to the ceremony backdrop, we fell in love with the beauty surrounding us. It’s rare that life feels magical, but it did that day.

Of course the day before we had a panic attack because the forecast predicted rain on our wedding day. When does it ever rain in August in LA?!? Our officiant, Venice-based Kundalini instructor Guru Jagat, calmed us and said that if it rained a little it would be auspicious, and if we were lucky, we’d even have a rainbow. Well, light drizzle that morning gave way to gorgeous light, and as our first dance was ending, our DJ grabbed the attention of everyone and pointed up. Yes, unbelievably so, a rainbow. A most perfect, surreal moment, on a most perfect, surreal day overflowing with love and endless sweets, of course.

Photography: Laurie Wilson Of Gather West Photography | Design: Brides And Lauren Colley - Lavender Grey Events | Floral Design: The Little Branch | Wedding Dress: BHLDN | Jewelry: Topshop | Rings: Tiffany's | Catering: Heirloom LA | DJ: Haute Mobile Disco | Officiant: Guru Jagat Of Roma Institute | AJ's Shoes: Tory Burch | Andrea's Shirt: Burberry | Andrea's Shoes: Tory Burch | Annie's Comb: BHLDN | Annie's Shoes: J. Crew | Bar: Sunseris | Bridesmaids' Dress: Delia's | Coordination: Lauren Colley - Lavender Grey Events | Desserts: Cake Monkey | Makeup/Hair: Brittany Leslie | Rentals: Town And Country | Suit: Dolce And Gabbana | Wedding Venue: Orcutt Ranch

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Elegant Navy and Grey Summer Wedding

When these law school sweeties set out to plan their summer wedding, pulling off an elegant garden party at Meadowood Napa Valley was at the top of their agenda. Think an al fresco dinner layered in neutrals with a pop of navy thrown in for good measure. Downey Street Events came along side them to coordinate the day, and we’ve got the goodies straight from the lens of Jesse Leake.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Resort
Styles
Elegant

From Jesse LeakeFew couples can claim that they found love while studying for the bar exam, but that is precisely what happened with Kristin and Adam. The couple met in law school, and began dating just a few months before graduation. Adam had already accepted a position at a law firm in Los Angeles, and Kristin had accepted a position at a firm in Palo Alto. With bar studying looming over the summer, and jobs in different cities following graduation, neither necessarily expected a long-term commitment.

Leading up to graduation, Kristin had told Adam that she planned on locking herself in the library to study by herself all summer and would have no time to see him. Growing up, Kristin had heard the story of her parents getting married two weeks after her mother took the bar exam, and her mother had actually moved out of the house and into an apartment to have time to study on her own. The family lore was that Kristin’s mother said to her father “Bryan, I love you, I am going to marry you, but I cannot live with you while studying for the bar.” Considering Kristin’s parents have worked together for thirty years and clearly work well together, Kristin assumed bar exam studying was a beast of its own, and something that she had to do solo.

Adam accepted her neurosis, but figured they didn’t have to cut ties for the entire summer. Adam started bar review classes in San Francisco, and Kristin started a few days later in Berkeley. She assumed they would be apart for the summer, and then move to different cities, and did not know how their new relationship would progress after that. Kristin’s master plan changed two hours into the first day of her bar review. After the first session of multiple-choice diagnostics, she called Adam and sheepishly asked if he perhaps wanted to study together. He did. In fact, he was on the next BART over to Berkeley from the city, moved into Kristin’s house for the summer, and the two of them spent every day for the next ten weeks studying together. They both realized that regardless of how stressful the studying was, they worked exceptionally well together. Adam calmed Kristin down when she stressed out, and Kristin made Adam study far more than he would have otherwise. 1,400 bar flashcards, thousands of multiple choice questions, hundreds of hours of bar review videos, dozens of practice essays, and three days of torture later, the California bar exam was over, and Kristin and Adam were closer than ever.

To celebrate, Kristin’s parents treated the couple to a dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood, a resort close to Kristin’s family’s heart, as they had spent Mother’s Day there when Kristin was growing up. Having spent little time with Adam as the couple had just started dating before spending the summer studying for the bar, Kristin’s family finally was able to understand how Kristin could have spent every moment of the summer with Adam. Kristin’s younger brother tested Adam’s knowledge, not of constitutional law, but of obscure Simpson’s references (Adam passed with flying colors). Adam won Kristin’s father over with Monty Python quotes. By the end of dinner, Kristin’s brother and father had invited Adam on a family vacation without actually consulting Kristin first (Kristin was fine with it).

Unfortunately, after their actually enjoyable summer of studying for the bar (they both passed), Kristin and Adam had to part ways; he to LA, she to San Francisco. Over the course of first year as law firm associates, the two traveled back and forth to see each other almost every weekend. Finally, when Adam received the news at 6:00 pm on a Friday evening that his firm was moving him to the San Francisco office, he packed all his belongings that night and drove up to San Francisco.

At the point Adam got the news he was being transferred to San Francisco, he was already in the process of designing an engagement ring with a jeweler in Santa Monica. Having moved, there was no way for him to choose the diamond. So, Adam sent two of his best friends (and future groomsmen) to select the stone. They did a very good job spending Adam’s money for him. Adam proposed in a secluded redwood grove in the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California.

Choosing a wedding venue was a simple decision for the couple. They immediately thought back to the dinner they had with Kristin’s family at Meadowood. They loved the fact that Meadowood had meaning in their past, but was also a location they could always return to in the future to relive their wedding memories.

Kristin and Adam wanted the wedding to feel like an elegant, intimate mid-summer garden party – similar to parties Kristin’s parents have hosted over the years in their garden. The couple loves good food and wine, and wanted to take advantage of the abundance Northern California offers. They dreamed of long kings tables, and a farm-to-table family style dinner, ensuring that their guests would share in the experience of the dinner together. Though bringing together two families, and friends from around the world, Kristin and Adam wanted everyone to feel comfortable enough with each other that by the time dancing started everyone would be dancing with each other! They truly wanted their guests to feel part of one big family instead of multiple, disparate groups.

Given that the celebration was a destination wedding for most invitees, the couple decided on the Fourth of July weekend so that guests would be able to make a vacation out of it. Kristin and Adam wanted to ensure that guests were able to experience the bucolic Napa Valley lifestyle. In the days leading up to the wedding, guests wine tasted, played croquet on the famed Meadowood lawn, and went for bicycle rides. The rehearsal dinner was held on the Fourth of July at Rutherford Hill Winery, and all wedding guests were invited to experience an authentic California taco truck and play lawn games as they watched the sun set over the valley.

Kristin and Adam wrote the ceremony themselves, and it was officiated by a dear law school friend. A Berkeley Law professor, and Kristin’s godmother, performed one of the ceremony readings. The ceremony took place under a chuppah that Adam and Kristin’s father and brother built together.

As the midsummer sun dipped beneath the trees and the bistro lights flickered on, the celebration moved inside for dancing with the amazing San Francisco-based band, Pop Rocks. Kristin and Adam’s dream came true with a packed dance floor spanning all generations. At the end of the night, Kristin and Adam were whisked away by their brothers in the getaway car: Kristin’s brother’s restored 1967 VW bus. In all, it was truly the perfect event, filled with amazing food, friends and family, and effortless sophistication.

Photography: Jesse Leake | Event Coordinator: Lauren Geissler; Downey Street Events | Florist: Sharla Flock Designs | Wedding Gown: Monique L'huillier | Cake: Sweet Things Bakery | Invitations: Alexandra Rinde; The Aerialist Press | Shoes: Valentino | Bridesmaid Dresses: Kate Spade | Hair And Makeup: Meaganne McCandess | Band: Pop Rocks | Groom's Attire: Jcrew | Guitarist: Elizabeth Lowery | Linens: La Travola | Venue: Meadowood Napa Valley

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
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How-To: French Twist Ponytail

I’m on a constant mission to find ways to manage my (unruly) mane, so when I stumble on hair tutorials that are not only drop dead gorgeous but also totally doable, I make sure to pay attention. Whipped up by the master of all things beauty, BE.NYLA, and captured by Betsi Ewing Studio, you’ll want to tuck away this french twist ponytail so you can turn around your next bad hair day.

step-1

Tease the crown lightly, grab sections around the crown and tease again lightly, and gently brush everything back-going over the pouf.

step-2
Gather all the hair together into a ponytail. Twist hair and pin until secure.

step-3
With an elastic band tie the ponytail. This ensures that it does not go loose. Spray a light hairspray on ends and lightly tease the ponytail with your fingers.

Photography: Betsi Ewing Studio | Hair + Make Up: BE.NYLA | Model: Angela Lanter

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