Southern California Wedding from Matt Grashaw + Shurie Saxelby
February 20, 2013
United States
RusticVintageGarden Weddings
This Hartley Botanica stunner from Matt Grashaw + Shurie Saxelby is the perfect example of a theme-wedding done right. The bride + groom, both pursuing doctorates in scientific fields, infused their big day with whimsical touches and DIY-projects (like their amazing invitations + reception centerpieces!) With gorgeous florals from Silver Lake Farms and a custom gown by Wedding Dress Fantasy, this beautiful fête has me wishing I'd incorporated beakers in my wedding decor!  See the rest right here!
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From the Bride... When Zach and I were planning our wedding, we decided early on that we wanted science to be a main theme in our day. We are currently both pursuing doctorate degrees in scientific fields, and aside from it being a large part of our day-to-day, a passion for science is also an important aspect of our bond. In accordance with the science theme, we also wanted our venue and decor to be infused with organic and natural elements. Hartley Botanica, in Somis, California, was the second venue we visited, but we knew instantly it was the one. The aisle was lined with tress that canopied above, creating a cathedral-like ceiling, and nearly every inch of the property was covered with colorful flowers.

Our venue was the inspiration behind our invitations. Due to our somewhat limited budget (and high expectations), I took on a lot of the wedding duties myself, the invitations being one of them. To create our invitations, I painted a picture of Zach and me under the canopy for the front, as well as a map. I then scanned them into my computer and printed them on canvas paper that I hand-tore, to give a vintage or worn appearance. In addition, I also wrote up a text that read like a research write up—with a hypothesis (that our guests will endeavor to attend our wedding), an algorithm upon which they could calculate the likelihood they’ll attend (they have a suit/dress, they’re available, they like us, etc.), and finally, a conclusion, which was the RSVP (to be written by the guest).

Aside from the invitations, our science theme was most apparent in our centerpieces. I spent months on ebay and amazon looking for deals on chemistry glassware, such as erlenmeyer beakers, boiling flasks, stands, and test-tubes, which could be used as vases. To create a natural look against the industrial-looking lab equipment, my sister and I went out to a flower farm on the day before my wedding and picked wildflowers and dahlias, which we then arranged in an un-manicured fashion, to serve as floral centerpieces for the “science vases” I had collected. In addition, Zach and I had decided that, instead of numbers, we wanted our tables to be labeled with the names of famous scientists and a picture that represented their field of study. Finally, instead of a traditional seating chart, I wrote the table names and guest list on an old wooden door that I had found in my parents’ garage and then created a floral piece that hung on the top.

While making the floral piece for the seating chart door, I also made two headpieces (one for me and one for my sister/maid-of-honor), that were inspired by the ones worn by the indie singer, Lana del Rey. I thought the floral crown went perfectly with my one-of-a-kind dress which I had custom made by Tova Marc at Wedding Dress Fantasy, for a fraction of the price of buying a designer gown. Finally, to complete my look, I also crafted a beaded sash out of an applique that I found on ebay.

The day of our wedding was perfect, and everything turned out even more wonderful than Zach or I could have imagined. The wedding was very intimate with only approximately 90 guests. Our Rabbi, and his wonderful rabbinic intern officiated, while my aunt played the harp for our procession and recession. The reception was equally amazing. We felt that the décor was perfect—long wooden tables lined with taper candles and our wildflower-filled chemistry vases. A single crystal chandelier hung over the center of the dance floor, which was the main hangout for the rest of the night. The only time it wasn't full was when dinner was served and during our glorious sparkler exit.

In planning the wedding, Zach and I wanted an event that was unique, but also personal. Although, all the DIY projects took months to plan and carry-out, it was all worth it in the end. The day was truly perfect. Our only complaint is that it didn't last longer. Luckily, with the help of our two friends, who also happen to be amazing professional photographers, we can relive it whenever we like.


Wedding Photography: Matt Grashaw + Shurie Saxelby / Wedding Venue: Hartley Botanica in Somis, California / Event Planning: Karen from  Bella Dia Weddings (818.651.2071) / Wedding Cinematography: Matt Grashaw / Floral Design: Silver Lake Farms / Wedding Invitations: DIY by the Bride / Wedding Dress: Tova Marc from Wedding Dress Fantasy / Bride's Shoes: David's Bridal / Bridesmaids' Attire: Monique Lhuillier via Bella Bridesmaids