The French Estate Wedding

Cakes and Kisses Wedding Photography

Ashley and Raul’s early autumn wedding at The French Estate in Orange, California, was a romantic affair with red and vintage Paris-inspired details. Cakes and Kisses Wedding Photography captured their beautiful wedding, and Ashley shares the story of her relationship with Raul!

I remember hearing a study about propinquity once – that 51% of people find their mates within 50 miles of their birthplace, and tend to root their lives within this proximity. I thought that this theory was a bunch of baloney – I never thought in a million years that I would be the prime example of this. Raul and I were bound to find one another and fall in love. Propinquity or fate? Think what you will, but I like to think that it is fate…

Cakes and Kisses Wedding Photography

We grew up within miles of each other, hanging out at the same locations, doing the same things at the same time. We had mutual friends in high school, had similar interests in music, art and style – we were bound to cross paths sooner than later. To be honest, I can recall hearing about Raul as early as when I was 17 years old. Surprisingly, he also knew who I was. Both of us moved outside this proximity, and we both returned. The first time we met, we were in our early 20s and at a mutual friend’s birthday party in 1999. I had just returned from living in England, and Raul had a girlfriend at the time. I can recall checking him out that night and thinking that he was “hot stuff.” Both of us moved away shortly after thereafter (he to Los Angeles, and I headed to Santa Cruz), and then returned, yet again…

The second time we met was much later. It was the summer of 2006. This time, I was briefly dating someone, while Raul was single. Raul started hanging out, while I began to fancy him more and more. I didn’t realize it, but he was finding excuses to hang out! He would pop up to at my work (at the mall), stating that he needed to buy jeans (I worked at the Levi’s Store at the time). We were very flirty, and it was pretty obvious. Finally, the day came that I was single again, and Raul finally seized the opportunity and jumped on it – he stole my number from our mutual friend’s cell phone (ironically, this was the same friend who introduced us at 20 years old), and Raul started to text me. Raul spared no time and asked me out to dinner and a movie. I was THRILLED! I felt like it was the first date I was ever on, and he made me so nervous and giddy – I felt like a teenager! We were boyfriend and girlfriend within a week after our first date (no joke)!

Cakes and Kisses Wedding Photography

Raul and I had been living together for a few years when he agreed to go on a one-month study abroad trip with Cal State Long Beach during the summer of 2010. Because Raul was a History major, he jumped on the opportunity to do a tour of Eastern Europe to study Holocaust sites (he looooves WWII history). It was the longest we had ever been apart, which caused many sleepless nights. It’s difficult to sleep when you are so used to having someone there for you, all the time. It felt like my heart was missing… Apparently, he felt the same way, because this spurred him to buy an engagement ring while he was in Prague. When he returned from his Study Abroad, I picked Raul up at the airport. Raul was extremely excited to see me, and was begging to show me all of the souvenirs that he brought home from his trip. I gave in when we arrived at home, and he quickly began to unpack his luggage… The last souvenir he pulled out of his suitcase was a ring box, and he got down on one knee (what a romantic)!!!

Cakes and Kisses Wedding Photography

We wanted a simple wedding. We originally wanted to go to the courthouse, so that we could save our money to hurry up and start our lives together. We discussed a reception afterwards for family and close friends but couldn’t find a backyard large enough to accommodate our families. Well, when we started announcing to our families that we were getting married, my father declared that we should have a wedding, that “no daughter of his will be going to the courthouse!” So, it turns out that we do have a traditional family. We both discussed it, and also weren’t against having a wedding. Raul and I decided that we weren’t THAT traditional and did not want a church wedding BUT we love the romantic idea of a wedding. We wanted to celebrate our love and wanted it to be ‘us.’ We began our search for the appropriate venue, where I came across The French Estate, in Orange, CA. This place was perfect and I fell in love with it instantly! It was filled with antiques, it was in an historic house, and the owner is AMAZING.

I never imagined that I would be a bride, so I had no vision of my “perfect” wedding. All I know is I wanted to have a romantic wedding, I wanted it to be sort-of dramatic, and I wanted it to be crafty. Raul and I both have a mutual love for traveling, movies, music and art. The colors we selected were a deep red, grey and ivory. We were inspired to have a French-inspired wedding, without it being obviously that. Sorry, no Eiffel towers, only the ones that came with the house. Nicole Krenzin from Garden Party Floral Design was my flower guru and design buddy – she had so many great ideas! I was very lucky to have someone who “GOT ME.” We decided to have a ceremony in all white and grey – the aisles were lined with pom-poms and mason jars filled with baby’s breath. The only color was in the bouquets & boutonnieres, which were filled with red dahlias, roses and chocolate cosmos – bound by grey and white Grosgrain ribbon. We decided that the color will all be in the reception! The tables were decorated with red French market buckets, white hobnail vases and red votives – each table was named after a Parisian landmark, documented by a vintage postcard or two. The flowers were a deep red color, displaying tulips, dahlias, roses, ranunculus, etc. We decided to have a sweetheart table, which was decorated with Anthropologie mugs with our initials, “R” + “A, with beautiful, red flowers.

Cakes and Kisses Wedding Photography

When the day arrived – I was so excited, I could hardly sleep the night before! I could not wait to marry Raul, and I was anxious to see how the day turned out. It’s a lot of work for just one day… and I was curious to see it as a reality. I wore a Pronovias wedding gown (purchased at Mariposa Bridal Salon), which is entirely double-embroidered French lace, fit-and-flare style. The dress was customized to be strapless, and had a lengthy train. My co-worker, Kim Furlong, designed my veil, which had an Art Deco-style brooch on each side of my temples. My sister, Erin, selected my jewelry for me – antique jewelry from Philadelphia (where my sister lives), all silver marcasite with onxy stones. The final touch was the sultry red, creamy lip stain – making it very dramatic-looking. Once I was finally finished dressing for the ‘Big Day’, I was absolutely shocked with the final product – I felt like a classic movie star from the 1930s. I was absolutely amazed, I had to pinch myself to make sure it was me, after all.

One of the best decisions Raul and I made was that we agreed not to see each other until the ceremony – it was a total surprise for him to see me in my wedding gown… Our intense, climactic wedding march – “The Ecstasy of Gold” composed by Ennio Morricone (the score to the final scene of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”) was the perfect ceremony music. When I finally arrived at the altar – the music stopped, and I was greeted by the sobs of my wedding party. Raul whispered to me that I took his breath away – I could tell that he had fought tears while I walked down the aisle with my father. – Ashley


Desserts: Impressions Catering – Carlsbad, CA
Flowers, Decor and Event Design: Nicole Krenzin, Garden Party Floral Design – CA
Ceremony and Reception Venues: The French Estate – Orange, CA
Invitations: Letter Box Ink by Laura Nehls – Chicago, IL
Headpiece: Custom Veil by Kim Furlong
Shoes: Seychelles Footwear
Dress: Pronovias
Groom’s Attire: Friar’s Tux
Bridesmaids Attire: Custom by Laura Bravo
Photography: Holly Steen and Megan Small, Cakes and Kisses Wedding Photography – La Crescenta, CA