Steph & Derek’s Casual, Cozy and Crafty DIY Wedding in Santa Monica
Happy Monday! Today’s featured wedding is a casual gathering of Steph and Derek’s closest friends and family in their favorite place, Santa Monica. Their guests traveled from Canada, Ohio and Las Vegas just to share the weekend with them and what transpired was exactly what they wanted: “good company having a great time eating a delicious meal,” in the lovely bride’s own words.
Upon seeing the photos, you’ll think that everything played out as planned but the truth is, because of the possibility of rain, what was supposed to be a beach wedding had to be moved to the hotel at the last minute! Fortunately it turned out beautifully, with their celebration dotted by sweet personal touches and quirky DIY crafts like superhero boutonnieres for the guys in the bridal party and huge single-bloom crepe paper flowers (instead of bouquets) for the ladies that the bride and groom made themselves.
Once again we have the always-fabulous JoAnne and Jason Marino of Imagine Photography (see their previous contributions + BTL interview) to thank for the gorgeous photos. Let’s take a look at them now shall we?
Don’t you just love the fresh take on how the bridal gown & bridal party outfits were photographed?!
GORGEOUS shot of Steph walking towards where Derek is waiting!
Sweet! Now from this point on I will let the lovely couple tell us all about their wedding themselves, but first, let’s get to know them a little better:
“Where are you from?” is generally an easy question to answer, but for us, it’s just a little more complicated. Derek is from London, Ontario, and Steph is a Las Vegas native. Derek found himself in Las Vegas for law school. A mutual friend (and now one of our bridesmaids) introduced us. A year and a half into our relationship, Derek moved to Columbus, Ohio while Steph stayed in Las Vegas to finish medical school. Thank goodness for modern technology! Skype allowed us to see each other daily, even through the distance. When Derek finished his last law school exams, he took Steph to Santa Monica, California to celebrate at their favorite restaurant; at least that’s what she thought. After a four-hour drive from Las Vegas, they went for a walk on the beach where Derek pulled out a ring and proposed. While Steph finishes her last year of medical school traveling month-to-month from city to city, we have settled in Columbus (for now). We love the beach, food, movies, travel, and being together.
We love DIY details and wanted to have a much as possible incorporated into the wedding. We threw out the traditional expectations and focused on the things that were most important to us for the big day. There was no first dance, bouquet toss, wedding cake, garter toss, or ugly bridesmaid dresses. We had originally planned three separate events (all within walking distance) for the day, starting with a ceremony on the beach, reception dinner at Latin/Asian fusion restaurant Zengo, and after-party at The Shore Hotel. With expected poor weather conditions, we changed the ceremony site to our hotel four days before our wedding date. We could not have been happier with the results.
As mentioned earlier, Steph and Derek added a lot of personal touches to their wedding. Here are some of them:
* Our friend, Alison, married us
* Derek’s friend, “Rusty” (a true Canadian rock star), played acoustic guitar for our ceremony
* Programs for the ceremony were done on a vintage map of Santa Monica
* We walked down the aisle to Jimmy Eat World’s “Invented”
* Personal vows and a community blessing from our guests
* Our recessional was to Jimmy Eat World’s “Just Watch the Fireworks.” I love that the song starts with, “here, we can be anything”
* Derek made the Superhero boutonnieres and picked matching cufflinks for the groomsmen
* Steph made the bouquets from crepe-paper
More elements that allowed them to put their stamp on their celebration:
* Hand-made guest book featuring tiny folded hearts and the lyrics of “Invented” printed in the background
* Advice from our guests were “prescribed” to us on mock medical prescription pads
* Hand-made poppers filled with salt water taffy and outrageous quotes from real fortune cookies as our favors – these were special for the reception because Derek’s family uses Christmas poppers at their party every year
* Instead of table numbers, each table was a location that marked a milestone in our relationship. Tables included Beauty Bar (where we met), The Bellagio Fountain (the location of our first kiss), Santa Monica (where we got engaged), among a number of others. Our favorite was the table named “972 Mapleridge Drive”, which doubles as where Derek and Steph first said “I love you”, and the address of one of the groomsmen (he had no idea and was quite amused by the table).
* Perhaps the most unique: Dinner catered at a restaurant on a roof-top patio overlooking the gorgeous Third Street Promenade of Santa Monica. Favorite dishes included: Thai chicken empanadas, pork arepas, and Ancho rubbed beef shortribs.
* Following dinner we had a Chinese tea ceremony to pay our respects to our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. This unique ceremony was a fantastic way to bring our cultures and families together.
These two are too cute! Now for some words of advices:
At the very beginning, decide together the things that are the most important for you and create your vision around them. Others might not understand what you’re going for during the planning process, but as long as you and your fiancé get it, that’s all that matters. For us, we decided that we wanted amazing food, the ceremony, dinner, and reception to be reflective of “us”, and for all our guests to enjoy every minute of the day, especially important given the cost of travel involved. Also, with outdoor venues, be flexible as the weather can be unpredictable. Amidst all of the last minute changes, the phrase that kept us sane was, “as long as at the end of the day we’re married, we can’t complain.”
Huge thanks to JoAnne and Jason for sending their amazing-as-always images of this sweet wedding my way, and congratulations to Steph and Derek! Here’s wishing you a lifetime of married bliss!
P.S. Watch out for Steph and Derek’s post-wedding photo session on Friday!
Photographers: JoAnne and Jason Marino of Imagine Photography
Ceremony Venue: The Shore Hotel
Reception Venue: Zengo
Day of Wedding Coordinator: Anna Bellot, It’s All Happening! Events
Florist: Mitsuko’s Floral Design (for the arch at the ceremony)
Hair & Makeup: Catherine Crump, Makeup by Catherine
Dress: Justin Alexander
Veil: Etsy, TheRedMagnolia
Groom’s Attire: Indochino
Program design: Etsy, TheDapperSandlapper