Ryan and I are quickly approaching our three-year wedding anniversary I’ve been looking back at our photos and reminiscing. Wondering where the time goes, because some days it seems like it was just yesterday that we were in the midst of the chaos that can be wedding planning. And at the same time there are days that feel like it’s been much longer than three years of marriage.
We are always trying to connect with our couples on multiple levels and in different ways. We feel like when we really have a feel for each other it not only makes your wedding photos more natural and breathtaking but it also is what makes our jobs so joyful. We wouldn’t be doing this if we were people-people so we love learning about you and you learning about us.
So I thought I would share our wedding with you guys. Ryan had proposed to me in Cabo San Lucas on the beach at a candlelit dinner in August of 2013 after four years of dating (romantic! I was impressed haha). Before we got on the flight home I was purchasing wedding magazines from the stands at the airport, dog-earring every page I loved. It was an exciting time, coming home and wedding planning. We had a two-year engagement partially because the wedding venue we fell in love with wasn’t available in the month and year we wanted. And partially because we really wanted to enjoy the wedding planning process and not have to be so rushed.
Ryan and I moved to the Temecula area in 2012 from the suburbs outside of Chicago, Illinois. So deciding where to have our wedding was a difficult choice. On one hand, California definitely spoke to us more than the Midwest wedding venues back home. But on the other hand we knew having a wedding that would be a destination wedding for most of our guests might make it hard for everyone to attend.
Deciding on the Venue
At the end of the day, when we closed our eyes and envisioned our “dream wedding” it was in California. My birthday falls of the fourth of July and every year since living here we would celebrate at the Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens in Fallbrook, CA. We would walk the gardens and talk to each about 1. How we could try to mirror the amazing landscape at our home and 2. How freaking awesome it would be to get married there.
If we were going to have a destination wedding for our guests we really wanted it to feel like they were transported to another place. Grand Tradition was the perfect spot, it had the waterfalls, lush tropical greenery and it already had some amazing memories. Moving along in the planning process we really gathered inspiration from the fact that we wanted to give guests the California experience while also having the tranquil, earthy feel that I was wanting.
Color Palette Inspiration & Wedding Theme
Both Ryan and I love the color blue. I think it’s safe to say 80% of his closet consists of blue. So there we had it, the inspiration for our wedding color palette. We went with different shades of blue from a deeper indigo to a light sky blue. It was perfect because it brought both our personalities into the mix while also playing to the waterfalls and open skies at Grand Tradition. Once we solidified the color palette everything else in the planning process really fell into place. My mother in law was the biggest help, she was just so excited so everyday she would have something new pulled up on the computer that she found that would be the perfect addition to the wedding.
We brought in the color palette with the napkins and floral centerpieces created by the sweetest Joyce Nobutama out of Carlsbad. She will make you feel so heard and cared for you can tell her business is centered around loving and serving her couples. Table numbers were on watercolor dip-dyed paper creating an ombre blue. I did some DIY bride stuff like the table numbers. We bought the paper but you could easily make them at home, I found a Pinterest tutorial here. Then we purchased little metal table number holders like what you would find at a hot dog stand and I glued moss all over to hide the silver metal. Then I hot glued faux succulents in top of the moss, placed the ombre blue table number on it and voila! I was really happy with the way they turned out.
About The Dress
I found my dress at The Bustle in Del Mar. I have to say, I had a really great experience here. My sister and mother flew out from Chicago so there was this pressure to find “the dress” while they were here. I would have been so sad if I couldn’t find the one and ended up finding it when they weren’t with me. That experience was one of my favorites in the process and I feel like every girl deserves to find “the dress” in the presence of her most important people. We had gone to one other place that my coordinator told me was a must if my mom and sister were in town. Truthfully, while the first spot had a TON of wedding dresses it lacked the personal service and overall feeling that I was looking for and because of it none of the dresses wowed me, or my crew (mom, sis, mother in law).
We headed to The Bustle in Del Mar and the chalkboard outside welcomed me by name (the little details make a difference). When we walked in my mom was concerned we weren’t going to find the one, because it was much smaller than the first location but the stylist asked me a few questions and pulled out three dresses for me to try on. The girls sipped champagne and noshed on cupcakes provided by The Bustle (again, the little details!) while I tried on the options. I walked out in the first dress and my sister began to tear up, my mother in law kept saying “oh, wow” and my mom couldn’t seem to say anything, it was “the one”. They put a veil on me and it was over, I felt like a bride, I felt like me and it was perfect! My wedding dress was a strapless A-line with a sweet heart top, a bit of embellishment at the waist, a corset back and a long train (my favorite), it was everything I could have asked for.
My dress was relatively simple so I went with a cathedral length veil that had a rhinestone-encrusted edge that I found on Etsy AND (yes, this is where I got extra with it) an elbow length veil with a blusher that I found on Amazon (clearly I’m a fan of veils). I rented all of my jewelry from Rent The Runway, which allowed me to wear some really classic elegant pieces at an affordable price.
The Guys & Wedding Favors
Ryan and his guys wore the line from Vera Wang available at Men’s Wearhouse, they were gray tux with a black lapel and suspenders (and dang! He looked good). We have 17 macadamia nut trees at home so for wedding favors we bagged the nuts in little blue sachets and put a tag on them that said “We’re Nuts for Each Other” with our names and wedding date.
Honoring Loved Ones Lost
I lost my father in 2012, when I was 24. So I had my mother walk me down the aisle to Ryan. To honor my father I had a picture of him in a locket clipped to my bouquet. Before the ceremony my sister took the small urn I have of my fathers ashes and released a small amount at the outdoor ceremony site. I know this may be strange to some and beautiful to others. And although I know that in line with my beliefs he would be there whether we did that or not, it just felt right to leave some of him there, in that moment and on that day. We also had a small table at the reception for the photos of those that we lost that year in addition to my dad.
We had a string quartet for the ceremony and the cocktail hour. The bridal party walked in to Canon by Pachelbel and I walked in to Hallelujah. I wanted something different than I had seen before and the instrumental of Hallelujah on strings just spoke to my soul. Ryan’s father got his officiant certification to marry us, and it was one of the best choices we could’ve made. The difference of having someone who truly knew us, and our journey together to get to a place of wanting to bear witness to one another’s lives was amazing. He knows how important music is to us and the role its played in both of our lives so he was able to connect messages in the ceremony to music. I cried more than I would have if someone else had married us but they were happy tears because everything he was saying resonated with us deeply. We also chose to write our own vows, which was so nerve racking because I am a horrible public speaker. I was asking myself before the ceremony “why did you do this to yourself?” but afterwards I was so happy we did it because again it just made the day even more uniquely ours. One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was when Ryan’s father invited the married couples to stand and renew their vows. We wanted our wedding to feel like a day of celebrating love and not just our love but love in general. Many of our guests approached us and told us how much they loved looking into each other’s eyes and renewing their vows to one another, we saw tears and smiles and it was beautiful. We exited to “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles.
We did our first dance to the overplayed “All of Me” by John Legend, we knew the radio had over played it and that it was going to be the first dance song of the season so a lot of other people would be using it but we loved it and it felt like us, so we went with it (a close runner up, James Bay “Move Together”) though we were worried the lyrics may be a bit racy. Our cake was a champagne mango cake keeping on that tropical vibe but we had sheet cakes of more traditional flavors for everyone to enjoy. We danced into the night until the sparkler exit, then kept the celebration going with an after party at our favorite spot in town 127 West Social House. This is the perfect location for an after party from a Grand Tradition wedding. It is right down the street and they have an entire back patio area that can be closed off for you. We had 3 different beers on tap and they made appetizers to pass, market lights strung in the trees added to a beautiful ambience.
So there you have it- our wedding. It was so fun remembering all of these little details of the day and reliving the emotion that went with each moment. I hope that maybe this helped inspire you in some way, maybe with an idea or how to make your wedding day uniquely yours but even if it didn’t I just hope that you feel more connected to us as your wedding photographers, or possible wedding photographers if you haven’t decided yet. The wedding planning process is so fun, and we like to remind everyone of that. It doesn’t have to be stressful. Below I will link all of our amazing vendors who helped our vision come to life and created an atmosphere that allowed us to soak in every last second of our day.
Shoutout to our creative team: Venue: Grand Tradition Estate Florist: Hair: Makeup: Tux: Dress: Strings: DJ: Bridesmaid Dresses: Veil: Ring Bearer sign: Cake: Jewelry: After Party Location:
We are wedding photographers for those who believe in love, because Emry originated out of love. Love for each other, for imagery and for creating things that were made to last. We serve southern California & beyond. Outside of photography, our life revolves around our son, Jude and our families.