A Surprise Wedding at the Bride's Rose Farm in California
Floral and event designer Nancy Teasley was loading up after an installation at a wedding when she was hit by a car. A knee injury required several rounds of physical therapy and, ultimately, surgery. Post-op, she was back at PT and noticed a tall, handsome therapist she hadn't seen before. "I had no interest in dating. I was busy with my son and businesses, but I couldn't get him off my mind, and I always looked forward to seeing him," she says of spotting Todd Dickman. Similarly, Todd found Nancy alluring—noting that he was drawn to how she appeared calm, capable, and confident.
But they never connected other than some eye contact across the clinic. Until six months later when her knee gave out and she fell, causing enough damage for another surgery. She posted a photo of her bandaged leg on Facebook and Todd commented to ask if she was alright, if she needed anything, and if he could bring her dinner. They hadn't even had a real conversation, but it made an impression on her. "The next day, he commented that he was at a new clinic and that he'd love to be my therapist," Nancy recalls. "Believe it or not, I knew if I said yes, I would end up marrying him. So it took me a while to commit to the idea because I wasn't sure that was what I wanted." But she went ahead with it and it was the best decision of her life.
Exactly a year to the day that Todd told Nancy he liked her, he walked her down to the rose field at Ella Rose Farm, the garden rose farm she operates with her parents, and got down on one knee to propose. They originally envisioned an April wedding in that very spot, during first bloom. But once Nancy started planning she got stressed out and actually started resenting the wedding (even though she was doing what she does for a living). She didn't want the stress, and three weeks before their engagement party, the decision was made to turn that event into a surprise wedding. Todd was on board.
The cocktail-party-turned-wedding took place on February 19, 2017, on the farm in Fallbrook, California. On the big day, 65 guests (the majority of whom had no idea what was actually in store) witnessed the personalized ceremony which incorporated many family members, including Nancy and Todd's sons. The reception that followed had an elegant farm-to-table aesthetic with fun pops of color and texture. In all, the surprise nuptials and all the celebrating were, as the groom puts it, "sheer epic awesomeness."
Caroline Curtin McGah from Lovely Paper Things took the black-and-white scheme that Nancy loved so much and mixed it with the colors inspired by the farm (like the pale aqua and blush of the chicken eggs) for the stationery's sophisticated design. "I love the monogram she came up with," Nancy says. "It felt strong, and somewhat masculine, while still being elegant."
One Fashionable Family
Put a Ring on It
Nancy was at the flower market one day in 2016 when she was approached by two floral designers who recognized her from social media. She noticed one of their engagement rings, and, since she and Todd had been discussing rings, asked where it came from. "It was gorgeous," Nancy explains. "Her husband designed it for her and he was a jewelry designer who had just opened his own company called Honey Jewelry." Todd emailed the jeweler and they met up a few weeks later. The couple had ideas for the size, cut, and setting, and knew that the stone would be an aquamarine. The jeweler and his stone guy sourced the perfect uncut gem, which they cut to fit as the perfect center stone.
At the time of the wedding, Nancy's band was a $14.99 ring from Target. But for their one-year anniversary, Todd had their jeweler create an X-shaped band for her.
The Bridal Bouquet
February is one of Nancy's favorite times of year for flowers, so she was so happy to design her day's décor with the early spring blooms that were available. She made her bouquet using Japanese ranunculus, several types of fritillaria, garden roses from her farm, hellebores, orchids, and spray roses.
Father and Son
Todd's eleven-year-old son, Maxwell, joined him for the processional and then stood by his side for the ceremony. "Helping Maxwell get dressed in his tux was a really special moment that I'll never forget," says Todd. "Those quiet moments before being around everyone were really special. As was helping Nancy's son, Bass, get dressed. It was a quiet and connecting moment with both of them."
The Ceremony Spot
Bistro chairs and benches were set in rows overlooking the rose field and in the direction of the sunset. Wood bowls were filled with rose petals for guests to toss during the recessional up the heavily-petaled aisle. "It was made entirely of 'quicksand' roses and was the prettiest dusty rose, matching my dress and the sky," Nancy says of the aisle.
The bride's six-year-old son walked her down the aisle, which was one of her favorite parts of the day. "Holding his hand and seeing all our friends and family beaming at us was so special," she says. "We got some of the best pictures from that since he's such a people person and loved interacting with our guests when we walked down." The Gentleman Outfit sang and played "Heart on Fire" by Passenger on the guitar.
Todd is a retired Air Force chaplain so adding religion to the ceremony was important, but Nancy isn't religious and they wanted to honor that, too. One of the groom's best friends, Craig, officiated the ceremony, which was funny, personal, meaningful, and sweet. Craig had the bride and groom share their ten favorite things about one another and incorporated those into the service. Todd's other best friend, Dale, said a prayer, and Nancy's friend Tristan read a bible verse. At the conclusion, the happy couple walked up the aisle to an instrumental rendition of Dave Matthews Band's "You and Me."
In addition to making her own bouquet and several of the day's floral arrangements, Nancy focused on the smaller details like the boutonnières. "I do this for so many families; I wanted to make sure I did it for mine as well," she says of these pieces that adorned the lapels of Todd, their boys, and Nancy's father.
Cocktail Hour with Loved Ones
The guest list was a balance of family and friends—including some industry pals they're really close with, including Jamie and Steve Moore from Sinclair and Moore, who flew in from Seattle for the big day.
Cocktail hour took place behind the ceremony area, where guests enjoyed tray-passed ceviche, chips and salsa, and rolled tacos.
The floral pattern from the invitations reappeared on the calligraphed escort cards by Lovely Paper Things. They coordinated with pashminas sporting black-and-white rose prints that helped keep guests warm on the chilly winter day.
Leading by Example
At the time of the wedding, Nancy's parents had been married for 46 years. "I'm very close to my parents, and it was important to me that if I were to get married again, that my husband would be happy and comfortable staying close to them in proximity and in relationship," Nancy explains. "I found that in Todd and because my parents got to know him they felt confident in our decision to marry."
The group moved into a tent for the reception. Since the bride is a sucker for color and texture, and because it was a winter wedding, tables were set with deep aqua velvet linens. Nancy wanted the flower arrangements to feel lush, garden-style, and somewhat opulent. "I went big and bold with them and loved the freedom I had in creating for myself and Todd," she says. Since Nancy had arranged all of her own flowers at her first wedding, she knew better than to attempt that again and called in the help of a friend from the industry to help tackle some of the centerpieces.
Standard and skinny taper candles in Tiffany blue were displayed in Nancy's vintage brass holders.
Vintage brass and pewter pieces were mixed on the tables, with bowls of eggs gracing the tables next to flowers and candles. "Since I wanted the farm to permeate the entire event, and our chickens laid eggs in the most beautiful shades of blue and green, I just thought simple bowls full of their eggs would be a beautiful touch," Nancy says of the hard-boiled décor. She was surprised when all the kids started eating them—and by the end of the night the bowls were empty.
The Place Settings
Gold-rimmed plates and flatware and cut-crystal stemware were set for guests. Mexico City Cuisine prepared street-style tacos, beans, and rice—which ended up being a real crowd-pleaser.
The Wedding Cake
Nancy sent the wedding's mood board to Stevi Auble from Hey There, Cupcake! and described her overall vision, but ultimately gave the pro Stevi free rein to come up with something. So Stevi baked a sandwich cookie cake and covered it with buttercream frosting, and then added hand-drawn black-and-white flowers on wafer paper, and some fresh blooms Nancy had set aside for the confection.
Macarons, bars, and meringue cookies were set out on platters and pedestals for guests to enjoy.
As favors, guests took home handcrafted soaps in assorted combinations, including pear, black raspberry, lavender with oatmeal, and gardenia.
Photography, Carmen Santorelli Photography
Location, Ella Rose Farm
Event planning and Flowers, Oak & the Owl
Catering, Mexico City Cuisine
Stationery and Calligraphy, Lovely Paper Things
Cake, Hey There, Cupcake!
Music, The Gentleman Outfit
Bride's gown, Aidan Mattox
Hair and Makeup, 10.11 Hair & Makeup
Menswear, Class Act Tuxedo
Lighting, Abbey Party Rentals
Favors, Brayer Ridge Soap