Real Wedding | Jessica & Jonathan

Wow.  This wedding is totally amazing.  It is so intimate, warm and personal.  It feels both like a labor of love and a perfectly executed vision. And when you read the details, you’ll see that was just what the bride and groom intended.

Jessica & Jonathan | October 10, 2009 | A private estate in Temecula, California

The ceremony
We were married at a friend’s Tuscan style home—built around an inner courtyard, complete with stunning views and a small vineyard. It was an intimate wedding with seventy of our closest friends and family.

As his wedding gift to me, Jonathan had secretly asked an artist who was a close friend to paint throughout our ceremony—a landscape of two trees growing up separately with branches bending towards one another and growing together. The moment I stepped through the gateway to walk down the aisle, I saw Jonathan’s face, glowing with anticipation, then saw the painting and the tears of joy started flowing.

The reception
Immediately following our ceremony we invited our guests through the vineyard to the patio for antipasti created by our friend, the owner and chef at our favorite Italian restaurant outside of Italy. Our chef insisted that sauteed prawns, marinated scallops, bruschetta on homemade bread with fresh olive tapenade, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, and stuffed mushrooms all needed to be served as appetizers.

We wanted our celebration to embody elements of the creativity and uniqueness that are expressions of our love for one another—in the food, the music, the drink, the decor, in every large theme and every minute detail.

We invited our guests into dancing before the feast. Our aim in selecting music was to draw upon the communal and folk elements of dancing as well as including playful and joyous strains. Our dancing began with a traditional circle dance that drew in everyone from grandparents to our four year old flower girl.

After working up a sweat on the dance floor, we invited our guests to the courtyard for the family style Italian meal—made on site and served directly from the kitchen. It was our vision to have a single long table, and we stopped referring to the meal and instead spoke of the feast. Seated at one long banqueting table with a middle cross section, we feasted with our guests on rigatoni and salmon cannelloni, roasted autumn vegetables, chicken marsala, and veal scaloppini, drank Italian wine from Chianti, and enjoyed our company throughout the rest of the evening.

Rather than having guests purchase gifts off of a registry, we asked that they bring some creative contribution to share during the feast. Innuendo laden limericks from Jonathan’s brothers, several hand-crafted works of art, a basket of homemade caramels and biscotti, a choreographed dance performance, and many words of love and blessing were shared. To end the evening, we sipped coffee and ate tiramisu shipped from Italy for the occasion.

My husband and I had a modest budget and a grand vision. We knew the style and atmosphere we wanted to create. Because of my experience in event planning I also knew what I was getting us into. Jonathan and I are both artists and knew we wanted an intimate wedding overflowing with artistic details, yet held together with a simple warmth and beauty.

All the hours and days, the late nights and passing tensions created between Jonathan and me were all worth it. We did not merely organize or plan a wedding. Our wedding was a work of art in itself.

I handmade most of our decor, including: fabric chargers beneath our guests’ plates, the invitations, chalkboard placeholders, two large chalkboards displaying the seating assignments and menu, all of the linens, mason jar lanterns, and the basil-seed-pot guest favors. With the help of our friend whose house the wedding was held at, I bought all of our flowers from the downtown Los Angeles Flower Mart and arranged all of our flowers in the twenty four hours leading up to the celebration. Everything else—secondhand plates, stemware, silverware, vases, lanterns, globe lights, even the sound system—my husband found inexpensively at local thrift shops and flea markets. The only things we had to rent were the tables and chairs.

How she knew her wedding dress was “The One”

I searched online for quite some time before I started dress shopping. When I came across Monique Lhuillier’s line I could not wait to head over to her boutique in Beverly Hills. I knew the style I liked but I could not make up my mind between two of her dresses. But, when I put “Claire” on I felt, in the simplest description,  me. I felt in the same moment natural and comfortable yet radiant and exquisite.

Her advice for other brides

Planning your wedding:
Throughout your wedding planning remind yourself (especially when you feel overwhelmed) that entering into marriage is more than the tableware, seating arrangements, or the sound system. You are going to marry your best friend in the presence of the people you love most. In the end, it is that simple.

When you are planning your wedding day create space within it to enjoy yourself and your spouse. The celebration goes QUICKLY. Do not feel bad asking for help from your friends and family when planning and preparing for your wedding.

During your wedding:
Make sure to actually enjoy your guests. The point of investing enormous amounts of time and energy into planning a wedding is not only for it to be a work of art, but a work of art enjoyed by people. Once the wedding begins, just let go and savor the goodness of being in the midst of something beautiful with your favorite people. We intentionally went straight from the ceremony to a greeting all of our guests over antipasti and only after this did we take photos.
Details & order of service do not matter. It will not be perfect according to how you planned, but the day will be beautiful and beyond your expectations. So, breath deep and enjoy.

Their favorite moments
Jessica’s:   Our feast. I felt beyond blessed to be sitting amongst my closest friends & family, eating the best meal & receiving their blessings & creative gifts.

Jonathan’s: The moment Jessica stepped out to walk down the aisle. In that instant all of   the planning, not just for our wedding day but for our marriage felt to come into beautiful harmony with the realization of our dream to live life together. She was breathtaking. I have been to many weddings and never have I witnessed a bride so radiant.

Jessica’s Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier Claire
Artwork: Nathan Huff
Decor: the bride, Jessica
Photography: Heather Armstrong