Liz and Allen’s Mexico-Inspired California Wedding
Elizabeth Reed met Allen Drennan when she was hired to work at his software company. They worked down the hall from each other for six years and eventually started dating. Two years later, on September 7, 2013, they tied the knot. They chose the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in California for their soirée, which was inspired by Mexico and evoked the last days of summer.
Petite clusters of dusty miller, viburnum berries, and mini succulents tied with striped ribbon served as the gents’ boutonnieres.
The Bridal Bouquet
Liz wanted full, layered flowers for her bouquet, so dahlias, ranunculus, peonies, and Juliet roses were combined, along with succulents and viburnum berries.
A Private Moment
The couple saw each other prior to the ceremony in a small garden behind the house. “Our photographer, Marisa Holmes, really recommended that we do a first look,” Liz says. “I am so glad that we did. It was so intimate and incredibly significant. It allowed us to take a moment away from the craziness and really look at each other and talk before the wedding began.”
Random groupings of stenciled terra-cotta tiles, interspersed with potted, flowering plants, lined the sides of the aisle.
The Ceremony Setup
A table set off to the side of the couple and their officiant housed plants, flowers, and candles. This arrangement and a variety of large planters on the ground behind the couple provided a focal point and created the feeling of a Spanish garden.
“All I Want Is You” by U2 played as the bride walked down the aisle; it’s a song the groom often sang to her and was an apropos choice. The ceremony featured a recitation of Roy Croft’s “On Love and Friendship.”
A Special Guest
The couple’s adorable 8-month-old daughter, Moira, was a big part of the day too. Sporting a Tea Collection dress, she got plenty of love from her parents and a special mention in the ceremony, in which she was celebrated as a reminder of Liz and Allen’s love for one another. “She was a doll throughout the ceremony,” Liz says, “calmly eating her baby Goldfish while Mom and Dad were tying the knot.”
Up in the Air
Just as Liz and Allen were saying their vows, hot air balloons rose behind them and continued to float overhead as the newlyweds kissed. “We heard people gasp,” Liz recalls. “But we didn’t actually notice until people told us because we were so focused on each other. It was a magnificent fluke and just another example of this great feeling of rightness for the day.”
The Wedding Party
Liz’s dear friend Jennifer served as the matron of honor and sole member of Liz’s bridal party. For the occasion, she selected a vibrant and verdant Ann Taylor dress. The two first met when Jennifer interviewed Liz to work at Allen’s company 10 years before the wedding.
Allen’s best man and two groomsmen wore suits from Friar Tux. Like the bride and her attendant, the groom and his guys have all known each other for years.
The Flower Girl
Flower girl Emma, the matron of honor’s daughter, wore a colorful floral crown and carried a twig basket full of white rose petals to toss down the aisle.
Following the ceremony, the 65 guests headed over to the croquet lawn for cocktail hour, where they sipped kir royales while singer-songwriter Matt Commerce played live music.
Servers passed trays of six different appetizers during cocktail hour: crostini of goat cheese, grilled and marinated squash, and balsamic syrup; wild mushroom and truffle arancini with Parmesan cheese and parsley; mini croques with Black Mission fig jam; cilantro-lime tequila-marinated chicken satay with roasted tomato dipping salsa; harissa-marinated beef kebabs with tzatziki; and shredded ropa vieja beef tostadas with pico de gallo, crema, and cilantro.
Cocktail Hour Décor
Arrangements of tulips, viburnum berries, hydrangea, scabiosa pods, eucalyptus calophylla pods, privet berries, dahlia buds, wild grasses, and calla lilies anchored each of the tables at cocktail hour.
Bottles of lemon-flavored extra-virgin olive oil doubled as escort cards and favors. Calligraphed tags with the guests’ names and table assignments were tied around the neck of each bottle, which boasted labels with Liz's and Allen’s names and wedding date.
Long tables were set up on the back patio and courtyard for the seated dinner, during which everyone enjoyed tomato and basil bisque; iceberg lettuce BLT salad; oven-roasted chicken with charred artichokes, roasted mushrooms, wild rice, cherry confit, and garlic jus; and grilled ahi tuna loin with white bean and spinach cassoulet, charred artichoke, local mushrooms, and barigoule sauce.
The Place Settings
Calligraphed place cards guided guests to their seats at wooden tables set with the venue’s graphic plates, green La Tavola napkins, and centerpieces of dahlias, tulips, pomegranate, viburnum berries, eucalyptus calophylla pods, and pincushion protea. Menus matching the invites were tucked into each envelope.
The Table Numbers
Wendy Ware calligraphed the table numbers in green. Made to mirror the stationery, with the orange tile motif on the top and bottom, they were displayed in gold frames.
Vibrant ceramic vessels held cheerful arrangements of dahlias, tulips, ranunculus, and hydrangeas.
In lieu of a traditional guest book and in keeping with the style of the event, Liz and Allen asked guests to write their words of love, wisdom, wit, and well wishes on ceramic tiles.
A Keepsake Mosaic
Using a Sharpie fine-point oil-based marker, guests wrote well wishes on white tiles, which were displayed amid patterned ones. The guest-book mosaic now hangs on a wall in the couple’s home.
The Wedding Cake
A ring of fresh flowers arranged in a gradient from soft yellow to bright red decorated the white buttercream-covered, mocha-filled chocolate cake.
Location and Catering: Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa
Event Planning: Francine Ribeau Events
Flowers: Tam Ashworth with Isari Flower Studio
Photography: Marisa Holmes
Officiant: Patricia Coleman
Calligraphy: Wendy Ware Designer
Cake: VG Bakery
Hair and Makeup: Team Nicole