How did you meet your (now) husband? We met as neighbors in the dorms at UCLA in 2006. I’d wave at him through his living room window in the mornings before leaving for class, and he’d come knocking at my door in the afternoons asking if I wanted to eat with him in the dining halls. Little by little, we just spent more and more time together – and even though all our friends could see we were secretly in love, the two of us denied it for way longer than we should have. Eventually, a couple years later at a mutual friend’s birthday, some tequila imbibed the necessary extra courage for him to declare his love, and we’ve been together ever since.
How long have you been together? Since 2008!
Do you have a proposal story? We got engaged during a visit to The Getty Center here in Los Angeles. It was a favorite spot of ours while we were in school, but since graduating, we hadn’t been able to spend much time there. We took a picnic from our favorite restaurant and just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon as enthusiastic museumgoers. After a few hours, Nicholas pulled me aside to enjoy the view – really spectacular because you can see all the way to the ocean. In the middle of some sweet talk, he asked me if he could spend forever with me and then pull the ring out of his pocket. I’m not easily surprised but on that occasion, I was speechless.
What was your wedding date? December 6, 2014
Location (Ceremony and Reception) Los Angeles, California
1. Where? Our ceremony was at the Old Plaza Church and our reception was at the Pico House at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument
2. What made you choose there? For years before I had even met Nicholas, I would walk by the Pico House and gaze lovingly through the windows and tell pretty much anyone that would listen to me that I wanted to get married there one day. After grad school, I found myself working here and I fell in love with the building all over again. When we got engaged, we actually went through quite a few different options but we kept circling back on this space in the end. It was a lovely fit. Since I already spend a lot of time in the space for my job, it was like having our wedding in the home of a old friend.
3. How did you find it? My family has been coming to the park area here for as long as I can remember. It’s a 42-acre state historic park located on the site where Los Angeles was founded in 1781. I was a history major in college so I’ve always felt that strong pull toward old spaces.
How was the weather on the day? Early December in Los Angeles can range from unseasonably warm to dark and stormy. Luckily, the weather that day was a beautiful medium – nice and brisk, but the rains had just passed through the day before.
What made you decide to get married on this particular date? My favorite holiday is Halloween and Nick’s favorite holiday is Christmas. We wanted something sandwiched in the middle of our favorite time of the year, so we picked the first week of December because we wanted to enjoy that transition out of autumn into winter.
The Wedding Details
Theme (if any – colours, features, etc.)? We let the season dictate a lot of the colors we chose. We opted for deep wintery reds and shades of blue running the spectrum from icy blue to dark navy. Our beautiful reception venue was built in 1871 and we felt it really didn’t need much alteration. With most of the walls taken up by those gorgeous windows, and with the building itself located in the city’s oldest district, we wanted to have that feel coming in all around us. We opted for fairly minimal décor and what we did add in had a vintage feel running throughout. The copper and brass vases for our centerpieces were brought in by our florist, who had her aunt ship them over from India. We only provided her with a rough concept of what we wanted – wild, untamed, winter flowers. What she gave us exceeded our expectations! We also wanted to honor the strong tradition of long-lasting marriages in our families, particularly our parents and grandparents. The large picture frame over our gift table had photos of family weddings going back three generations.
Where did you draw your inspiration/ideas from? Early on, my sister/ maid-of-honor described our wedding as Game of Thrones meets Downton Abbey…only no one dies and everyone lives happily ever after. We just kept going from there! That blend of elegant vintage and warm rustics speaks heavily to who we are, so any aesthetic decisions we made grew organically out of the things we happen to like in our everyday lives.
1. Bridesmaids – who/relationship? I only had one bridesmaid/maid-of-honor. It was my sister, Melinna. My parents only had the two of us. We’re four years apart and growing up, we fought constantly! As we both came into our own as adults, though, we’ve formed a stronger connection. She’s not the biggest fan of weddings but she embraced her role as my maid-of-honor. Having her as my only bridesmaid was important to me because I wanted us to be able to share that experience just between the two of us.
2. Groomsmen – who/relationship? Nick’s best man was his cousin, Ryan. They’re less than a year apart and essentially grew up as brothers. Having only one person each in our wedding party was a good fit, especially because they were part of our wedding ceremony in the church. They’re both family but they’re also some of our closest friends. We wanted them to know how important they are to us.
Wedding Gown (the most important part!)
What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? “Caitlyn” was my first and only love! I saw a picture of the dress from a promotional shoot and knew instantly that this was my dream dress.
Where have you seen our gowns (if at all) before? I first saw the gowns on a late night Pinterest binge shortly after getting engaged. I thought it was out of the question since you’re based in Australia, but I thought I’d just follow the Karen Willis Holmes Facebook page out of wishful thinking.
How many gowns did you try? Only about five total. Three at Claire Pettibone here in Los Angeles, and the “Alexandra” dress in addition to “Caitlyn.”
Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? From Ceremony Boston. At the time I was dress shopping, there were only a handful of shops in the States that carried Karen Willis Holmes gowns, and none were anywhere near me in California. I found Ceremony Boston after seeing an announcement on the Karen Willis Holmes Facebook page and contacted Alix, the owner, to see if we could sort something out. My sister was living in New York at the time and we decided that we’d drive to Boston on my next trip to visit her, rent a car, and do the four-hour drive up there. It was just my mom, my sister, and I on this adventure. Alix was so helpful! This was in November of 2012. Her shop was set to open later than month but we had already booked our NY trip for early November. She very sweetly arranged for us to meet with her in her lovely apartment where we had a clandestine bridal appointment over cookies and tea. My mind was made up as soon as I put that dress on.
What did you especially like about your gown? A lot of my close family and friends were surprised that I chose a dress covered in sequins! I think they may have had preconceived notions of sequin dresses being gaudy or ostentatious. What I really loved about my dress was that the simplicity of the silhouette was really complimented by the sequins, so that it was understated yet full of character. And the back was just breathtaking. That’s what won me over in the first place. My husband and I are nature lovers and I had really wanted to find a way to incorporate that in my dress. It was all a perfect fit.
Who is your bridesmaid dress supplier? Anthropologie.
Where did you get the groom and groomsmen’s suits? Jos. A. Bank.
What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party? I wore earrings that Nicholas had given me some five years ago for Christmas. And the cape? I bought it on a whim and wondered if people would think I was crazy, but I just ran with the idea and wore it anyway. If I wasn’t feeling glamorous already, that definitely put me over the edge. I also wore a silver watch that had been a gift from my parents on my fifteenth birthday. My sister only wore a coral ring that belonged to our late-grandmother and an art deco-inspired necklace.
Where did you get your shoes from? My shoes are Kron by KronKron and I found them through Anthropologie. They were also a pipe dream that somehow came to fruition since KronKron is based out of Iceland! I had seen them online months before and had saved a picture of them because they were crafted so beautifully. I found them on clearance at Anthropologie and couldn’t believe my luck. They were so comfortable for being close to 4-inch heels. My mother and sister actually tried to talk me out of wearing them because they said they didn’t match anything else in our wedding. I was indignant and wore them anyway because I was just bowled over by how eye-catching they were. I packed them with me on our honeymoon and paraded around Paris with them.
Did you wear a veil/headpiece? Where did you get this from? I chose to wear a veil for our church ceremony and then switch into a halo crown for the reception. I knew a Juliet cap veil would be the perfect fit for the vintage-theme we were trying to create. We found it at an accessories trunk show and my mother decorated it with leftover sequins that were saved from alterations.
What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding? Don’t waste time trying to find things that fit a specific theme or look. Just go with what you love and let that be your main motivation. You’ll find that everything winds up going together in the end, possibly even better than you had anticipated.
What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown? I realized that choosing my dress was very similar to choosing my husband. I didn’t do a whole lot of shopping around before making up my mind. It wasn’t a decision that I had to stress a lot over, either. I suppose in both instances, I thought about how I’d feel if I wound up with something different and, in both cases, I knew I’d regret it and always be wondering, “What if?”
Anything extra that is special or you would like to share about your big day. Just after our exchange of vows, when the priest came down from the altar to do communion and the two of us were on our own, side by side, with our wedding bands new on our fingers. We both have fairly Catholic families and chose to do a full mass for the ceremony. The wonderful Trio that played throughout the service was a gift to us from my uncle and we were able to request the songs. One special memory was of us sitting hand-in-hand while “O Holy Night” played on their guitars in the background. Everything else sort of faded away in that moment and any stress we had been feeling leading up to the wedding just melted.
Something Old? My wedding band is 1920s vintage.
Something New? My long-search-for underwear! I spent weeks trying to find something that would go with the low back and deep-V neckline and finally found Gossard and their 1940s-cut slips. Fanciest underthings I’ve ever worn!
Something Borrowed? We used the lasso my parents used at their wedding during our ceremony. It’s draped over the new bride and groom as they receive a blessing after exchanging vows.
Something Blue? My engagement ring! I requested aquamarine, my birthstone, and Nicholas had an Edwardian reproduction made with my ice blue stone.
Florist – Blue Box Flowers | Our flowers were done by my high school friend, Opal. She understood us perfectly when we said we wanted flowers that weren’t traditional wedding flowers. We had done a test run with her the week before at the flower market here in L.A. to see what would be in season. However, when she went back, everything we had picked was suddenly out of stock! She had to improvise and ended up giving us amazing pieces that we still can’t believe came out of last minute decisions and a modest budget.
Photographer – Gather West Photography | Nicholas and I are somewhat camera shy so it was important for us to find a photographer that wouldn’t be heavy handed or forceful in trying to get us to do unnatural posed pictures. We wanted candid pictures that captured us as we’d normally interact with one another and with our loved ones. We couldn’t be happier with the end result! Everyone who has seen our pictures has just been so impressed.
Music – Trio Ellas | We both wanted to find ways to work our Latin heritage throughout the day. I had heard Trio Ellas play at a mariachi festival here in Los Angeles and just loved the way they blended traditional Mexican music with older jazz influences, while still maintaining the finesse of a trio. We asked them to play both at our church ceremony and during our cocktail hour through our first dance, which was to an old bolero song, “Piel Canela.”
Celebrant – One of our favorite parts of our church service was hanging Nick’s high school friend, Andrew, deliver the homily. They’ve been friends for years and Andrew is currently going through the seminary. Having someone who knew us both made all the difference. He even quoted John Legend’s “All of Me” at the altar. It was great.
Menu – Gaby’s Mediterranean | The day we got engaged, we had taken a picnic from Gaby’s Mediterranean – and old favorite of ours from back when we were still at UCLA. When planning our wedding, I told Nick he would be in charge of selecting food and he instantly picked Gaby’s. The owner was so helpful in creating a menu of our own personal favorites as well as other dishes that would take our vegetarian guests into consideration.
Cake – Alcove Café & Bakery | The traditional three-tiered cake wasn’t a big priority for us – both budget-wise and what either of us likes. One of my family’s favorite eateries in Los Angeles is the Alcove, and we’ve all gushed over the amazing desserts they have. On a whim after one such family brunch, I casually said that we might as well just order a bunch of different cakes and have that be the end of it. Turns out, it was! And it proved to be one of our guests’ favorite parts of the wedding. They’re still talking about those cakes, months later.
Make up – Zoa Lopez | Zoa is a friend of my sister’s who does professional work for television and film. As an actress, my sister has very exacting specifications when it comes to her own makeup and there are very few people she will let touch her face! Zoa is one of them. She did makeup for my sister, my mom, and myself. For my mother and I, especially, we’re pretty minimal on most days so we had no idea what we needed to look like but we knew we didn’t want to look unnatural. Zoa had a very gentle hand and made all three of us look perfect.
Wedding Bands – We each found our wedding bands on Etsy. We wanted them to have a reflection of who we are. Mine is a vintage 1920s white gold band engraved with stalks of wheat – a popular motif during that time period meant to represent bounty and prosperity. His is a titanium band inlayed with Honduran ironwood, which he picked because the metal is both strong yet light, and the wood to reference his love of nature.