English Garden Style Wedding in California
February 16, 2016
Al FrescoLuxury VenueOutdoor Weddings
Any man who proposes with a sweet little Frenchie is a total keeper. But more than that he's the kind man you want to marry immediately. Coordinated by Sugar Rush Events and photographed by Michele Beckwith, this darling couple made it a priority to sprinkle in personal touches like incorporating the bride's Greek heritage and emerald birthstone for an al fresco affair with a English garden vibe. Pretty sure your afternoon just got infinitely better.
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From The Bride...Aaron and I met while living in San Francisco and after two years of dating, Aaron popped the question in the most special way a girl could ever imagine. Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with dogs, particularly with French bulldogs. We were headed to Aaron’s parents' house a few hours away for a family barbecue to celebrate Aaron’s birthday which was the day before….or so I thought. Once we arrived, he took me to the backyard where he began his proposal. I wish I could remember everything he said but I blacked out! After he got down on one knee, he told me that that wasn’t all and turned me around to see the tiniest, cutest, most perfect little French bulldog puppy sitting behind me! Having no idea where he came from I just scooped him up immediately and could not stop crying (meanwhile, Aaron was still holding the ring)! At the same time, my entire family, his family, and our closest friends all came pouring out of the house. We enjoyed a sunny celebration by the pool with our family and friends and our new fur baby “Phoebo” (if you love the TV show "Friends" as much as I do, you will know his namesake). After such a perfect and intimate engagement, we could not wait to plan our wedding day!

We chose Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, California as our venue. It was only an hour from where I grew up and an hour from where we live in San Francisco, so it made planning a breeze. We were immediately drawn to the classic and elegant estate for it’s old world beauty and its lush grounds. It was important for both of us that our venue had natural beauty and landscaping, since we knew we did not want "flashy" decor but instead wanted something soft and classic that complimented our already-stunning surroundings. We wanted a wedding with timeless elegance so that we could go look back on our photos years from now and still feel like it could be yesterday. Not to mention the Villa reminded me of the wedding venue in one of my favorite movies, My Best Friend’s Wedding!

I would call our theme "english garden meets mediterranean" - a lot of classic neutrals with olive branch accents and subtle hints of emerald green. I am a May baby and I have always loved my emerald birthstone so I knew that I wanted to incorporate the color into our wedding somehow. I am also very classic and drawn to neutral color palates at the same time – so using both neutral and emerald was a little tricky at first, but I think we nailed it. We also decided to incorporate olive branches and leaves throughout the event to honor my Greek heritage and because they went so well with the stately columns and statues throughout the property. I could not get over how stunningly beautiful our flowers were and our florist, Amanda Terpstra completely outdid herself in executing my vision! Between the olive branch crowns for the bridesmaids, the garland in the ceremony, my breathtaking bouquet, the centerpieces – I could not get over how stunning it all was. Our ceremony was just perfect and felt so intimate, even though we had close to 250 guests. There were a lot of tears, laughter and very touching moments as our Pastor read personal letters we wrote to each other. Our guests were such troopers, because it was a very hot day and the ceremony was outside. Needless to say the program fans were a must!

Our cocktail hour was beautiful with champagne sequin tablecloths, simple votives, and one of my favorite parts of the whole wedding - a hand-painted bar sign with a custom portrait of our little Phoebo. Niki from Paper Tangent is so talented and created exactly what I had in mind. The portrait she painted was so spot on, it could've been mistaken for a photo of our little man!

In the weeks leading up to the wedding, my amazing mom and a group of her friends painstakingly cut and pre-tied all of the emerald velvet ribbons to be placed around our napkins with an olive leaf sprig, and made the rosemary olive oil favors for our guests. Bless their hearts - we could not have done it without them! For the olive oil table, I came up with a short story about the meaning behind the olive oil gift and had a calligrapher write it on hanging canvas so that our guests understood the special meaning behind the olive theme throughout the wedding.

Dinner was delicious, with a breathtaking view looking out over the sprawling lawn during sunset…it was so magical that a group of deer even graced us with their presence as we looked on from the veranda! And of course our photographer, Michele Beckwith, captured every single moment in a way that I didn’t know was possible. She is truly one of the most talented photographers and so much fun to have around. She has a way of making you feel so comfortable and at ease in front of the camera and captures the most special moments. She even managed to get our crazy little Phoebo to sit still and pose in his dapper little bow tie!

I had a very specific vision for our wedding and without the help of all of our vendors, family and friends, it would not have been possible. Our wedding coordinator nailed every tiny little detail and really brought my vision to life...she was a God-send! It truly was a spectacular and perfect day and we are so lucky to have each other and to have such wonderful family and friends. After dancing the night away, we would describe our big day as magical, classic, elegant, and so so so much fun!

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