The words I have been waiting to write on this dang blog since the start, but glad I didn’t write them since the start because your girl needed to grow up before writing said words . . . RIGHT! The words **clears throat**
Oh. My. Gosh. I’m married! Scream with me! Jump with me! Let’s just be giddy school girls for a quick second.
AHHHH *jump jump jump*
*exhales* OK. We cool.
I don’t even know where to begin! I promise I’ll get to all the nitty-gritty details, but first I just need to get some things off my chest. Planning a wedding is very full-on and I wish I could say I loved every second of it. If I’m being honest, which I’m always honest, the wedding industry is out of control when it comes to pricing. NOW, hear me out. I totally understand that a lot of hard work and dedication goes into creating a beautiful day, but I just feel like $20,000+ is a BIT MUCH for a venue alone. I mean that’s literally a down payment on a house!
If I have one piece of advice for you it is to not get caught up in the “things that make a wedding” or the things you “have to have”. Don’t compare. It’s really easy to do but just don’t. It’s not worth it and the stress is bad for your hormones ;). Just because Hayley had chivari chairs, a $7,000 dress, and pampas grass shooting from every angle, doesn’t mean you have to. Remember to have the right purpose in mind for your day. Jesus is the purpose. To have the gospel proclaimed and for you and your forever mate to become one. Keep repeating that over and over to yourself because the spectacle of a wedding that the world has made to this day, has nothing to do with the way God intended marriage to be celebrated. Celebrate, drink, and be merry! But don’t let the flowers, colors of napkins, and that balloon arch that you don’t need, take away from the beauty of the creation of marriage.
McCormick Home Ranch, also known as the Father of The Bride house of my dreams. If you follow me on Instagram you probably already know that my favorite movie director is Nancy Meyers. The absolute legend of a woman behind The Holiday, Father of The Bride l and ll, and The Parent Trap just to name a few. Her movies brought so much inspiration to me growing up and when we visited McCormick in person, I felt like I stepped into a Nancy Meyers movie and I was the main character. When we first started looking into where we wanted to get married, I started searching high and low for a little white church in the middle of nowhere. Well turns out all the adorable little white churches are NOT in Southern California, so that dream came crashing down quickly. We googled and found so many beautiful venues. We emailed many beautiful venues, and many beautiful venues were WAY too much money. People would always say, “how was the first venue you looked at, the one!?” See the thing is, we weren’t even interested in seeing a venue in person if it was out of our price point. It wasn’t worth falling in love with someplace that wasn’t attainable for us . . . and then we found McCormick. It was the only venue that we liked that had a flat rate across the board. It wasn’t this much money if we wanted to get married on a Tuesday, and this much money if we wanted a Saturday. That is why ladies and gentlemen we drove almost 3 hrs to the small town of Camarillo CA and walked the grounds of what quickly became our perfect venue.
If you were to look at McCormick you would see that many many couples go the “ranch route”. The ranch route was the route I wanted to avoid. Personally, for my wedding, I wanted to bring out the whites, the greens, and the gardens of this beautiful home. I would say that photos don’t do this place justice, but Beba (@bebavowels) absolutely killed it bringing out the essence of the European touches all around the property.
I didn’t want my wedding to feel like a wedding. I wanted it to feel like a garden party centered around Jesus. I’m not joking when I told literally everyone involved with this wedding those exact words followed with a lot of politely saying, “no thank you, I don’t want that brown table . . . that gets a white tablecloth and that gets a white tablecloth, please”. . . and that’s exactly what we got! Pretty sure Sally the owner thought I was a crazy person, but Austin kept looking at her and saying, “she knows what she wants” with a shrug.
To be honest, I think there were more things that I knew I didn’t want than I knew what I wanted. I didn’t have a wedding planner, there weren’t a lot of weddings that I had seen that I loved, and I needed a bit of guidance. I leaned on my Mum and best friends/bridesmaids a lot. They were my guidance- including my birdie bestie, Bree.
The night before the wedding I was a bit of a mess. This was something I had been waiting for for 8 years and praying for 3 years, and it was all happening. It makes a girl a little crazy, and a little emotional for sure. After our rehearsal dinner, the girls and I went back to our Airbnb and put on my favorite movie, “The Holiday”. Yes, I watch that movie year-round. As the movie started I snuck away into the bedroom alone to write my vows down in my journal and have some quiet time with the Lord. I praised Him and thanked Him for all the ways He had answered my prayers in ways that I could have never imagined. I prayed over our wedding day and I prayed that the day would go by slow (it did).
The morning was perfect, but I wouldn’t say my night’s sleep was perfect. I’m sure Austin slept like a rock. *eye-roll* Men. We all slowly woke up, Shayna made avocado toast for breakfast, and Sydney (@hairandmakeupbysydney) arrived to start on hair and makeup. Quick little sidebar about Sydney- Sydney has been doing my makeup since high school. She was always the girl you wanted to get ready with for prom or any other high school dance because then she would do your makeup. I guess you could say she’s been doing my makeup for quite some time now and knows my face like the back of her hand. To this day, she is truly one of the only makeup artists that I let touch my face. She just gets it.
All-day long we had my favorite rom-com’s on the television while playing music in the background. Meanwhile, Austin, the gem of a man he is, was running around Costco with my Dad getting last-minute water and lemonade. Pure Father of the Bride moment, just minus the hotdog buns.
Instead of buying my bridesmaid’s robes as most brides do, I got them these white linen sets that I am still so obsessed with. The sweetest woman on Etsy named Egita from egitalinen + @e.gitalinen handmade each one for every girl. She personalized them and wrote their names on the inside of every top and even included white scrunchies that we then used for my flower girls’ hair. My two nieces, Clay and Paxton were our flower girls and they wore their own little white linen dresses by Chloe and Amelie (@chloe_and_amelie). My white linen dress was designed and made by my Mum! Yes my Mum is so talented, isn’t it just sickening?
I went to 4 different shops to find this beautiful piece of art, and wouldn’t have changed a thing. Before I went on the adventure to find “the dress” I had in mind what I was looking for, but nothing super exact. I knew I wanted something simple and timeless. That was the keyword for this entire wedding- timeless. A wedding to look back on and still love the choices we made. I wanted the same thing for the dress.
I spent one day going to BHLDN by Anthropologie (@bhldn), The Dress Theory in SD (@thedresstheorysandiego), and Grace Loves Lace (@grace_loves_lace). I had great experiences in each one of these shops. I tried on beautiful dresses, but there wasn’t a dress where I was certain it was the one I should wear. Another piece of advice I can give you is, don’t look for the over-the-top feeling of a crying sensation when you try on the dress you’re going to wear. Sometimes that just doesn’t come. It didn’t for me, but what did come was I was stoked. I just knew, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
There was a brand new bridal boutique called Stone Bridal (@stonebridal). I actually found Stone because Ashlyn and Kylie from SagebrushCo did a photoshoot collaboration with them! To my surprise, they were based out of Laguna Beach, right off PCH, and were a sustainable dress company! I reached out to the owner Anna right away and made one last appointment. I knew that if I didn’t find a dress here, I would choose another that I tried on . . . probably from BHLDN. We stepped into the boutique on a quiet Wednesday, where it was just myself, my mum, and Bree. The assortment Anna has is incredible. It’s not overwhelmingly huge (which I loved) and she has tasteful dresses for literally every kind of bride. I didn’t know what kind of bride I would be, so I tried on everything from bohemian, Bridgerton-esque, and simple dresses. My mum is actually the one that pulled the Ritual Union’s (@ritualunions) dress. The second I walked out and stepped in front of the mirror I knew it was the one. No one cried. We were all just like, “heck yes, this is the one”. It just made sense and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind. I hadn’t found anything close to it. It was sexy, yet elegant, and then had this rocker edge with the sheer overlay top. It was a done deal, and now I wish I could wear it every day.
We got Austin’s suit custom-made. I know a lot of men rent their suit or tux, and we almost went this route, but we figured you only get married once! Since we also went a traditional black suit we thought he would be able to wear it again and again to any other occasion where he would need a suit. So it was worth it, and my gosh did he look good in it. Mmm, mmm, good. We went to Zeglio Custom Clothiers (@zegliosd) in La Jolla CA. The owner is the sweetest man with an entrepreneurial spirit and a pure passion for men’s fashion. We designed everything! From the color to the lining on the inside, to how many buttons, the color of the thread, all of it! He even custom-made Austin’s white shirt with the mandarin collar. After all, was said and done, Austin looked like **chef’s kiss** on our special day.
Just like the dress I kept my accessories simple, all the way down to the shoes. I didn’t bother with a necklace because of the high neckline of my dress, but I did bother with earrings and rings! My saltwater pearls were from Mejuri (@mejuri), my cuff was Melinda Maria Jewelry (@melindamaria_jewelry), and as a wedding gift, my sweet sweet muffin bought me the most perfect baguettes for my second hole by Marrow Fine (@marrowfine_)- also the designers of my engagement ring.
The rings I chose to wear were two that I hold very near and dear to me, other than my now wedding rings. The first was the pearl diamond ring that my Papa gave to my Nana many many years ago, and the simple skinny gold band that I bought for myself and all my best friends one Christmas as friendship rings. Every single one of my bridesmaids owns this ring.
It took me what felt like forever to find the right shoes for this dress. Everything I found was literally $800, not even kidding. I just cannot, could not justify that much money for a pair of shoes. Enter stage right my Vince Camuto Louise et Cie closed-toed mules coming to a total of . . . wait for it . . . $75. Heck to the yes. Sometimes you just have to take your time and look a little harder.
Austin and I chose to not do a first look, but I did choose to do one with my Dad. It was such a special moment, Bree absolutely lost it (photo below), and my Dad was grateful that we did one so he didn’t look like such a blubbering baby down the aisle (lol). Make no mistake, he still cried as we walked down.
The point of our ceremony was to have Jesus as the main focus point and to glorify Him for all that He had done through both of our lives up to that moment. It was important to me that whoever did our premarital counseling, would also be the one to marry us. We came to the decision that person would be Brian, my pastor from The W Church.
Pre-marital is such a gift and I encourage everyone to do it before they get married, ESPECIALLY if you are a Christian. God has created a perfect foundation for what marriage should look like. During our first session, we went verse by verse through Ephesians chapter 5. God has ordained roles for the man and the woman, to not hinder a relationship, but to make that relationship flourish. It’s when we step into those roles boldly, leaning on Him every step of the way, and continuously referring back to His Word, that our marriages thrive!
Going over the ceremony with Brian before the wedding we honestly just had one request . . . share the gospel, and don’t hold back. If someone was in the crowd and had never heard the gospel before, this would be a time for them to hear it. We also didn’t do anything during the ceremony like communion, combining sand, or braiding a rope. Instead, we had Brian, Austin’s two pastors, our parents, and siblings come up to the front and pray over us. The guests sat and listened to the beautiful sounds of my dear friend Abby playing the piano and singing “Your Glory/Nothing But The Blood” by All Sons and Daughters, accompanied by Austin’s brother Jacob on violin.
While we were praying, the girls thought it was a good idea to go back down the aisle and collect the flowers they previously threw, and place them back into their baskets.
We wrote and shared personal vows to one another, then followed with traditional vows while exchanging rings. We loved the way Brian explained our wedding bands and the significance of why we exchange and wear wedding bands. He said, “In the Bible for those that are followers of Jesus Christ, God gives them the seal of the Holy Spirit. God said, “I have given you the seal of the Holy Spirit and I will never leave you or forsake you” (Eph. 1:13-14). In the same way, Austin and Makenzie want to make a similar commitment to one another, so they have chosen rings as a sign and seal of the vows they are making today to each other, and to God. They are reminders that they have vowed to never leave nor forsake one another.”
The birds in their natural habitat.
Place settings, flowers, centerpieces, napkins, do I do a sweetheart table, do I not . . . also known as, all the things that will keep you up at night. I seriously lost sleep over the silliest things. I say silly because things truly do just fall into place. I owe the beautiful tablescapes to my girls Ashlyn and Kylie from SageBrushCo. They took my vision and brought it to LIFE. I wanted minimal elegance. I wanted dimension and the girls created that with the napkins, the plates, the amazing drapery they did for our sweetheart table, the vintage books, and the floating votive candles on each table. We also didn’t do party favors because I think they are a waste of money but to each their own! Sadly, the girls have decided to take a pause on their business for now, but I do hope they come back to it because they truly are just so talented. I am forever grateful that they were able to do our engagement AND our wedding.
Gosh, I loved the centerpieces. My one note on centerpieces- I didn’t want them to be so large that it was an extreme sport for the guests to speak to one another. Not only were the flowers so perfectly subtle, but the ceramic compotes were made with hardworking love. My Mum and I searched EVERYWHERE for the perfect ceramic compote. I found them, I found them easy, but I didn’t want to pay $60-$80 per compote when I needed about 12 of them. That was definitely not in the budget. We searched Amazon, nothing. Target, nothing. Walmart, nothing. Googled it all and came up with a big fat zero. UNTIL . . . Shinoda Design Center. It is a wholesale shop that has literally everything. It’s a decorator’s super warehouse, but you have to have a card (kind of like a membership) to get in. Well, my Mum, the crazy creative she is, had that card and that’s where we found them. The perfect glass compotes that we then planned to spray paint an eggshell white with a matte finish to make them look like they were ceramic, and by we I mean my angel of a Mother. They came out absolutely perfect, and she did the exact same thing to every single vase at our wedding. Every vase from cocktail hour, to the dessert table, started off as clear glass and ended up either staying clear or being spray-painted a shade of pink or white. It saved us SO MUCH MONEY. So get creative! Don’t just settle for the expensive option. With a little creativity, you can have the same thing for more than half the price! Austin was stoked, my little budget keeper.
The venue was so gorgeous that we didn’t need this huge array of flowers . . . at least in my opinion we didn’t. One of the reasons why I loved this venue so much was because the beauty was in the venue alone. Flowers here and there just made it that much better. We went with lisianthus, posies, cosmos, and roses. Rachel from Bloomology Florals (@bloomologyflorals) added just the right touch and just enough pink. I know- I can’t believe I wanted pink as my main accent color at my wedding. I remember watching on TV Trista and Ryan’s wedding from The Bachelorette, and seeing that her main color was pink. I clearly stated that I would never have pink at my wedding. HA! Oh Kenny, you silly little girl. In the words of Justin Bieber, never say never. But in all fairness, I had hints of pink, hints! And they were soft shades, so I guess little Kenny was onto something.
The welcome table
Another thing I knew I didn’t want- a welcome sign that said: “Welcome to Austin and Makenzie’s Wedding”. I just . . . ugh . . . you know where you are, you clearly drove all the way here, there’s only one wedding happening, so why do I need a sign for that?? That was my logic. BUT! One “wedding thing” that I knew I wanted was a polaroid guestbook. I love those things, and I ordered the most perfect linen book off of Etsy. With a guestbook, came a welcome table. I wanted this table to be inviting, yet subtle (like everything else). It came together so beautifully. What Ashlyn and Kylie did to that dresser, Rachel’s touch with the florals and Aireal’s glass photo guestbook sign (@madebymerms) made me want to cry . . . and I did cry. Aireal also did all of my table numbers, which matched exactly to the photo sign. Definitely reach out to her for all your signage needs! She is so stupidly talented. I sent her inspiration of what I was looking for and she completely nailed it.
I mean just look at the photo below, it’s such a dream. You may also notice the white roses in the wicker basket. Those were later picked apart and placed in little white cones. When each guest came to the welcome table they were given a white cone with rose petals. This was to toss the petals at us when Austin and I came back down the aisle. I love love love in old movies when the bride and groom would exit the church, and they would throw rice or petals at the couple. Swoon!
Food, glorious food! One of the best parts about our wedding was the food. NO RAGRETS when it came to the catering we used, and to tell you the truth we didn’t even do a taste test. We just trusted off of reviews and the good Lord that Olive Wood Pizza‘s woodfire pizza would be fire . . . and it was, oh it so was. Highly recommend using them for all your wedding/event needs. They have a traveling woodfire pizza oven, something I never knew I needed in my life. It’s like an outdoor pizza extravaganza where they are rolling, flipping, and creating pizza goodness right before your very eyes. Everything was freshly made, and can confirm that every single guest LOVED the pizza! They also have gluten-free vegan options! Olive Wood was also what we used for cocktail hour treats- massive charcuterie boards, veggie hummus platters, and more.
You know when you go to a wedding and you basically leave hungry. That wasn’t the case for our wedding. We had plenty of pizza and appetizers to go around. I think everyone’s regret was not eating more of it!
As I previously stated, we didn’t have a wedding planner. I planned the whole thing. The whole. dang. thing. If you have the means then I would say invest in a planner/coordinator. If you don’t have the means, AT LEAST invest in a coordinator. Something I knew we needed. Her name was Elizabeth (@herestothemevents) and she was an angel sent from heaven. Elizabeth and her team went above and beyond for Austin and me. There were MANY things, little things, that we would have never thought of if it wasn’t for Elizabeth, and I mean that wholeheartedly. If we didn’t have Elizabeth and her girls on our day, I don’t think it would have run so smoothly. No one had to think about anything! It was just done and it happened because of her. I could honestly go on and on, but I’ll stop there. You’ll just have to hire her and see for yourself!
Runaway Indie is their name and absolutely smashing events is their game. Nikki and her husband Craig are my sweet sweet friends that not only brought their incredible tap wall for our custom-made beer, but they were our bartenders as well. Having them at my wedding was hands down one of my most favorite decisions we made. I had the honor of singing their first dance song at their wedding and they had the honor (hehe) of making sure our wine glasses were never not filled and our bellies were full. To be clear I shared a bottle of wine with Austin for our wedding and that was it. It was lovely.
The guest’s wine selection was between a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Zinfandel, or a Chardonnay all from Herzog Wine Sellers. A local kosher winery! We actually did do a tasting because we thought we may have our rehearsal dinner here. We ended up choosing a different location for the rehearsal dinner, but highly recommend their wine and their food! All their wine is organic as well, which I’m personally all about.
Lastly, the guests could also choose between our custom-made beer. One of Austin’s pastors, yes pastors you read that right, is a jack of all trades! Not only is he an incredible preacher, but he’s also a worship leader and a chemist that creates his own beer! It was beyond an honor for us to have his delicious wheaty creations for our special day. He made a Blonde Ale, a Hazy IPA, and a Coffee Stout. The Coffee Stout was surely a crowd favorite amongst the men at our wedding.
We chose not to do hard alcohol at our wedding. We aren’t a heavy drinking couple, and neither are our friends and family. But a smooth wine or tasty beer, we’re all about, so tequila and vodka weren’t missed.
This cake. My gosh, I swear I just typed out “this cake”, and my mouth started to water. My absolute angel of a best friend, Shayna from @shaynas.kitchen, slaved in her kitchen creating the most perfect cake for us. She didn’t just make one cake, she made 2 so it would taste just right! Shayna has been one of my best friends for almost 10 years and it was so special to have her make our cake. I can’t say enough how important it was to us to have people that we love and know do anything and everything they could for this wedding. I would much rather have our money go to humans we adore, than a massive company. The cake was supposed to be just for Austin and me, but everyone was so intrigued that they had to try a piece. Shayna made a gluten-free, vanilla cake with buttercream frosting, all organic dairy, and sugar, with fresh raspberries on the inside. Are you drooling yet? It was insane. Everyone LOVED it. And yes, we did smash it into each other’s face.
We paired the cake with the best cheesecake on the planet, thinking this is what the guests would eat for dessert, but instead they had a little bit of everything. Now when I say it is the best cheesecake on the planet, I don’t say that lightly. I say it with full confidence. Cheesecake has always been one of my favorite desserts; that and crème brûlée. So I’ve had my fair share of cheesecake in my day. Instead of cake for my birthday, my parents would always buy me a cheesecake instead. His name is Kris Parker and he went to my church The W in Newport Beach Ca. The first time I tried his family’s secret recipe cheesecake was at a bible study. So after sinking my teeth into Kris’ cheesecake, there was no doubt in my mind that this is what we NEEDED for our dessert.
We kept to the traditions
From the father-daughter dance to the mother-son dance, bouquet toss, and garter toss, we kept to all the traditions. We made the decision to do the bouquet and garter toss last minute because we weren’t sure if we were going to have enough single men and ladies for them! Austin and I are one of the last couples to be married amongst both of our friend groups, so just in case I went over to our DJ Anthony Donatelli (@anthony_donatelli) and told him to announce it was for the singles AND the ones that wanted a baby. Then we basically had almost everyone at the wedding on the floor. Haha, just kidding, but we had a lot more!
Another something that I never thought I would want to do- a sparkler send-off, but it ended up being so perfect. It felt like a movie. Watching all our friends run to the heaters to light their sparklers and get in two lines while Anthony played “Mother, We Just Can’t Get Enough” by New Radicals. As we ran through the crowd and even as we drove away I just kept saying to Austin, “But I don’t want it to end! Wait! Go back!”. He didn’t of course.
Looking back we honestly wouldn’t change a thing. When I started receiving messages about our wedding there was one thing that was always the first thing that was said. It wasn’t how beautiful my dress was, how incredible the centerpieces were, or even how great the food was . . . it was how our wedding was the most Christ-centered wedding they had ever been to. That in and of itself was an answered prayer. Even though there were many moments of un-needed stress leading up to the day, I really did try to always go back to what the point was, and the point was always Jesus. The point was always His creation of marriage, and the point was to give Him all the glory that this wedding was even happening! After so many years of whining about singleness on this blog, it then turned into prayer in my own private moments, which then by the grace of God turned into an answered prayer.
If there is a wedding in your future, ask yourself, what is the purpose? What do you want the purpose of your wedding to be? What do you want people to walk away with? Because when you look back, that’s what will matter. That and the fact that you married your best friend. xx
Table numbers: @madebymerms
Bridesmaid Linen: @e.gitalinen
Bridesmaid Dresses: @girlandthesun
Hair and Makeup: @hairandmakeupbysydney
the wedding video Arika Jean (@arikajean) made for us