These two city dwellers wanted to swap the hustle and bustle for a serene outdoor wedding, and an intimate garden affair in San Juan Capistrano perfectly fit the bill. With Ether & Smith behind the camera and Amari Productions filming, they married in timeless style, treating their guests to a dining experience by 24 Carrots. Inside The Vault you’ll find what made the celebration so very special.
From the bride… The story of how Steve and I met is not romantic let alone intentional, but it was definitely bound to happen since my best friend in high school became his best friend in college. We first met at a club in 2010 (like I said.. not romantic) and rather than dancing or flirting, we spent the majority of our time together debating on who has a better phone. I was an avid Blackberry user at the time and I just remember thinking ‘what a dork!’ as I watched Steve get pumped up to have this iPhone vs Blackberry debate. Despite my position in our debate, I was soon converted to an iPhone user when we started our long-distance relationship of five years – iMessages and FaceTime really saved our relationship! Fast forward five years, and countless driving and flying to and from San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Arizona, we found ourselves holding hands in front of all of our loved ones at our own dream wedding.
While our long-distance relationship was coming to an end, new long-distance relationships with our family and friends were set in motion as we got ready for our new chapter in Steve’s city of occupation, Phoenix, Arizona. With most of our family and friends in Los Angeles, California, this new chapter in our lives was exciting but also bittersweet. For us, our wedding was an opportunity to throw a big party with our family and close friends before leaving our hometown. Our wedding was for our loved ones as much as it was for us, which made it all the more special.
When we started planning our wedding, there were a lot of ideas up for discussion but there were two things we knew for sure: 1) have an intimate outdoor wedding and 2) keep it simple and neutral colored. Steve and I, along with the majority of our guests, are always in the city and on the go, so we loved the idea of having an outdoor wedding filled with greenery, flowers, and candles for a serene atmosphere and just get away from the entire city feel. But it was important that we find an outdoor venue without a large open space to maintain the intimacy we wanted for our wedding of 120 guests. As for the look of the day, Steve and I are minimalists and lovers of all things in solids and neutrals. We envisioned our wedding to be mostly white with greenery, mixed in with muted blush and gold as accents. As soon as we walked into Franciscan Gardens, we knew the enclosed walls covered in green luscious vines would be the perfect place for it – simple, romantic, and intimate.
Come wedding day, a dear friend of mine, also one of my beautiful bridesmaids, told me to take mental snapshots of moments I want to remember and tell myself that ‘I’m going to remember this moment’ because the day will go by all too quickly and there will be too much happening for one to remember everything that happens that day. This is probably the best advice I can pass onto other brides as well. I specifically remember sitting at our sweetheart table and Steve and I had a brief moment to ourselves. I started to look around and admired all of our visions brought to life. It was surreal to see all our loved ones together at an event we’d been planning for months. As I was taking it all in, I felt like the clock had stopped, or maybe I just wanted time to slow down; in that moment of stillness all I could hear were chatter and laughter of all the people we love and cherish. It felt like a dream I didn’t want to wake up from. When I looked over to my left, there was my husband taking it all in as well and when we both looked at each other, we both knew that we would remember this moment forever.
Another one of my favorite moments is when I danced with my father. As a traditional and conservative parent, my dad was very reluctant to have the father-daughter dance as part of the wedding timeline. My dad and I have never been affectionate, and we probably haven’t even held hands for the past 20 years despite the fact that I’ve lived with him all my life. So the thought of dancing together in front of others was a scary one. In the end, I didn’t give either of us the option to back out and included the father-daughter dance as part of the program because when will we ever get a chance to dance together? We nervously took each other’s hand to the dance floor, and started making steps to Michael Buble’s Crazy Love. I don’t know what had come over me, but I started getting very emotional and my dad took me into his arms with gentle pats on my back to guide the tempo. To my surprise, everything about the dance felt familiar and natural, and in that moment there was no one else but me and my dad. I’ve made many memories living with my dad for the past 29 years, but this wedding gave us the best memory to cherish.
Our wedding day was truly the best day of our lives in so many ways. As others have advised me, my advice for brides as they plan for one of the biggest days of their lives is to not let all the wedding to-do checklists overshadow the real meaning of marriage. And when the day comes, be sure to take the day slowly, and really live in the moment (take mental snapshots!) Lastly, invest in a good photographer and videographer. There’s no better way to relive the best day of your lives than through films and photos that captured your favorite moments and moments you missed!
Photography: Ether & Smith | Cinematography: Amari Productions | Wedding Coordinator: Valentine Entertainment | Floral Design: Shindig Chic | Wedding Dress: Atelier By Dawn | Cake: Sweet Lady Jane | Invitations: Zazzle | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Jewelry: J.Crew | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Lulu's | Catering: 24 Carrots | Hair + Makeup: Theresa Huang Makeup & Hair Design | Groom's Attire: Ryder Tux | Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux | Venue: Franciscan Gardens | DJ + MC: Valentine Entertainment | Dessert: Chunk-n-chip | Photo Booth: Cheesy Photobooths | Robe: BHLDN