A few years ago, I happened to sit next to the sweetest event producer at Engage!, Allyson, of Bob Gail Special Events, who has sent us some of the most stunning weddings on the planet. Now fast forward three years and we’ve come full circle; with the modern meets garden extravaganza of Allyson + Steven. It’s a wedding with elegance and grace built into every fiber and imagery by Elizabeth Messina, plus an equally lovely engagement and rehearsal that’ll literally stop your heart. From calligraphy by Laura Hooper to the beautiful vintage conversation spots by Found Vintage Rentals to the heart melting film by Elysium Productions, it’s all right here.
From the Bride… Being tasked with planning your own wedding as an event producer is an extremely vulnerable process. As designers and producers, it is always our goal to infuse the couple’s soul into every aspect of the event and it was a very different experience to approach that process from the side of the couple rather than as the professional.
We chose to host our wedding at Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. Just an hour or so outside of Los Angeles, Ojai has always represented a retreat from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life for us. Immediately when we arrive on property at the Inn, we feel ourselves truly relax. The property also provides such a special community experience for its guests: it truly felt as if all of our guests were on a retreat together.
We approached the design process as we always do in our professional lives: with a feel rather than a look in mind. Steven and I wanted the space to feel inclusive and comfortable and as if we were hosting our wedding from our own dining table in our ideal setting, complete with a live soundtrack of our favorite songs.
For our ceremony, we wanted our guests to feel as if they were invited into a French Garden Courtyard. Upon arrival guests were welcomed with tray passed champagne topped with St. Germain and accented with sprigs of lavender. There, a floral cart, which also doubled as a ceremony program table, was covered with a variety of potted, loose and hanging herbs and plants.
In lieu of the traditional matching bridesmaid’s dresses, we asked our bridesmaids to wear a dress that made them feel comfortable and beautiful, regardless of color or style. To complement the array of dresses, the groomsmen each adorned a classic black tuxedo. The bridal party’s personals varied in whites and greeneries, and each bridesmaid carried her own predominant variety of florals, with boutonnieres to match. We had our mom’s carry their shared favorite flower: fresh lilies-of-the-valley, while the dads wore sweet peas, after the nickname given to me by my dad. Instead of baskets filled with petals, the flowers girls, laden in their own garden-inspired dresses, carried pink protea and wore flower crowns in their hair. My bouquet was a mix of my favorite colorful Spring florals, tied with Ally’s great-grandmother’s kerchief.
Given our shared love for farmer’s markets (it is one of our favorite Sunday morning rituals); we designed a cocktail hour reminiscent of an afternoon spent at the market in the Ojai Valley Inn’s courtyard. Wooden carts filled with lush fruits and veggies, and an elaborate cheese and charcuterie display served a dual purpose as functional perimeter décor and food stations, which perfectly complimented the farm-fresh menu of tray-passed appetizers and fresh, herb-garnished cocktails. The tables were covered with natural-hued gingham linens with wood boxes filled with fresh berries. Tables were shaded by white market umbrellas, as guests were serenaded by a 5-piece band playing our favorite California-born songs.
The reception area began with a blank canvas of white carpet and flax floor-to ceiling draperies around the perimeter of the room. The stage was highlighted with emerald velvet tie-backs, to reveal greenery-filled gold frames—a nod to a residential living art installation. With gingham panels and a deep gold finish, the bar was accented with an oversized coral acrylic heart mirroring the ceremony altar. White shelves held vintage colored glassware and was framed with a garland made of lush greenery. To further enhance the residential design scheme, a living room vignette was built-out in the corner of the room with a mix of garden-inspired velvet furniture and gold and acrylic accent pieces. The space was completed with a functional bar cart and a custom wood wall with a hand painted line from the couple’s ceremony reading.
Always try to remember why you chose to get married in the first place. The planning process can be very stressful and it can be difficult to avoid getting wrapped up in the details. Steven always said that if the entire place burned to the ground, he would still get to marry the love of my life and share that with family and friends. Everything else is just the cherry on top.
Photography: Elizabeth Messina | Videography: Elysium Productions | Floral Design: Bob Gail Special Events | Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Makeup: Makeup Therapy | Hair: The Studio Agency | DJ: Bob Gail Special Events | Band: Bob Gail Special Events | Transportation: Aits Limo | HOTEL: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa | Venue: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa | After-Party Band: Wayward Sons | Bride's Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Bea Millen | Bridesmaids Gifts: Bea Millen | Cakes & Desserts: Vanilla Bake Shop | Calligrapher & Printed Materials: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Ceremony & Cocktail Music: Bob Gail Special Events | Event Planning, Design & Production: Bob Gail Special Events | Furniture Rentals: Form Decor | Furniture Rentals: Found Vintage Rentals | Groom' Mother's Gown: Florie Couture | Groom's Tux: Dolce & Gabbana | Groom's Wedding Band: XIV Karats Ltd | Invitations & Printed Materials: Lilly And Louise | Lighting Design: Peterson Event Lighting | Lighting Production: Bob Gail Special Events | Linen: La Tavola Fine Linen Rental | Mother Of The Bride's Gown: Saks Fifth Avenue | Rentals: Designer Event Rentals | Rentals: Town And Country | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Seamstress/Dresser: A Stitch In Time | Tabletop Rentals: Casa de Perrin | Venue, Food & Beverage: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa