A Garden Party Wedding Like You've Never Seen
January 2, 2017
Classic WeddingsGarden WeddingsSpring Weddings
Thanks to Margaret and Darius we're kicking off 2017 in a serious way and it has everything to do with their garden wedding set in the bride's hometown of Pasadena. It's classic pretty to a T, and the pin-worthy blooms by Enchanted Garden Floral Design are only the beginning. See the entire day photographed by Steve Steinhardt in the gallery and don't miss the clip below from New Classic Wedding Films.
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From the Bride... My husband and I wanted to make sure the wedding truly represented us as a couple — so it was very important that the wedding wasn’t distinctly my vision, nor simply his. After all, marriage is not only about compromise, but the idea that you are better together. Our venue was born out of this idea — as I really wanted a garden ceremony, and my husband wanted nothing more than an indoor reception.

When our planner took us to the historical Ambassador Mansion and Gardens in Pasadena, we both feel in love with the expansive and well-manicured grounds which included many smaller gardens and lawns. It was perfect for the progressive evening event that we envisioned. Plus, it was an off-the-beaten-path estate in my hometown of Pasadena, which made our hidden gem feel even more personal.

We loved the idea of getting married in the round, so we planned our ceremony for Merritt Garden where guests were seated around two fountains and an overlooking bridge. Leading up to the bridge was the most stunning backdrop for a garden ceremony — a four-story staircase, which made my walk down the aisle both a breathtaking and dramatic moment. The staircase leading up to the mansion and was lined on both sides by Italian cypress trees, so we were able to leverage the natural beauty of the environment, and added florals to the fountain as well as the bridge. For an added touch of glam, guests were welcomed to sit in ghost chairs while sipping on passed champagne upon their arrival.

Instead of a guest book, we requested that attendees at our wedding send us a message in a bottle, a DIY project I took on. Using 5 champagne bottles, we assigned labels for different anniversaries — 1 year, 5-year, 10-year, etc — and allowed guests to write us words of advice that we would read on our anniversary for those particular years.

Cocktail hour was a short walk to Fowler Garden. Guests were guided by sequined gold arrows and custom wood directional signs built by my father, with calligraphy that matched our romantic garden invitation. My husband and I really tried to surprise our guests at every turn, so guests were met by a 60-foot custom gold sign that was created in partnership by two of our vendors. It really was my favorite piece we created for the wedding. It was installed on a 90-foot natural hedge that bordered Fowler Garden, and was a lyric from our first dance song — How Will I Know by Whitney Houston. Instead of the original, we chose a Sam Smith cover of the timeless classic, which is a more romantic ballad and fitting for our first slow dance as husband and wife.

For cocktail hour, guests got to enjoy a traditional garden party complete with a string quartet, passed hors d’oeuvres and a choice of our signature cocktails — “the southern gentleman” or “la rosette.” Our escort cards were hung on a floral chandelier by silk ribbons at one end of the garden, with a vintage lounge set on the other. I was inspired to bring one of my favorite childhood games to cocktail hour, given that my cousins and I often played croquet on my aunt’s lawn in Pasadena. This made our garden party feel even more family focused — particularly due to the DIY projects which included a hand-painted pastel croquet set and a custom-built bean-bag toss built by my father.

Our reception was held in the Terrace Villa which held two historical ballrooms. We greeted guests after cocktail hour one by one as they entered the villa, surrounded by a floral-lined staircase and candles which made for warm and inviting lighting. Servers passed rosé in gold sugar rimmed glasses, with cocktail napkins that contained advice from loved ones we received during our engagement and other fun facts. We created an indoor/outdoor space on the villa terrace with white trussing, chandeliers, and warm lighting and provided ivory pashminas for guests in case the weather became chilly.

We considered having a sweetheart table but knew that more than anything we wanted our reception to feel like a large family dinner. We choose long rectangular tables inside and out, and filled them with the most glamorous details we could imagine — Chantilly lace runners, gold flatware, and vintage crystal glasses. For a personal touch, we added tiny gold horses for place settings — in remembrance of my grandfather who raised horses as a young man in Illinois. It was a DIY project of mine, and a way to honor family members who were present in spirit. Vintage family wedding photos from my parents, grandparents, and others sat on the mantle in the Great Room as another tribute.

Since we sat with our guests instead of at a sweetheart table, we adorned the back of our chairs with roses and custom gold-mirrored signs with the words “Better Together” — another nod to our garden chic style for the evening. Our cake was created one of my favorite bakeries — and as a compromise, my husband picked the flavors, and I picked the design. We actually made the mistake of forgetting to eat a slice during our reception and didn’t freeze any for our one year anniversary. As a surprise to my husband, for our first anniversary, I had a mini replica cake created and read words of advice from our “message in a bottle” guest book. We’ve also started the tradition of reading our vows each year — so I saved our toasting flutes and vow booklets as keepsakes.

Every time I look at my wedding photos — they inspire the same breathtaking emotion I felt on my wedding day. This is not only because of how incredible our love is, but because of my closest friends and family who celebrated with me — and all of the magical vendors who made my dream day possible.