After a Moroccan-inspired welcome cocktail party, this couple tied the knot and celebrated with a Mediterranean-inspired reception at a stunning property.
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After an "accidental and spontaneous" first date set up by Matthew's manager (he's the lead singer for rock band The Wombats), Akemi was intrigued by the musician who was visiting Los Angeles on a last-minute writing excursion. She kept in touch after he returned home to London, and the pair talked about their life dreams. "I thought she was the most beautiful woman I've ever seen," says Matthew, who was also smitten. A couple of months passed and Matthew found himself back in L.A., and he headed straight to meet Akemi immediately after touching down at LAX. "Ever since that day we've been inseparable," he says. "Even when we can't be together due to hectic schedules I know that regardless of the distance, we will always remain inseparable."
Matthew bought a ring and two months later he proposed. "We went to Malibu for dinner and drank Sake, and he booked a hotel. We had flowers, chocolate, and Champagne—it was all very romantic and fun!" says Akemi, who works on various crafts and helps out in dog shelters in Los Angeles, where the couple resides.
Two-and-a-half years after their romance began, Akemi and Matthew flew to Marbella, Spain, for a weekend of festivities and one very special day. They had a Mediterranean-inspired wedding on October 7, 2018, at a finca (country estate) with 120 guests, who traveled from around the world for the couple's day. Guests also celebrated with a Moroccan-themed welcome dinner the night before. "We were longing for a wedding that wouldn't feel typical. We didn't want it to be uptight because we are the total contrary of that," says Akemi, describing the wedding as "unscheduled, unpredictable, imperfect, playful, and absolutely unique."
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Jolly Edition crafted the stationery suite, which included a save-the-date asking guests to "fly away with" the couple for their big day, an invitation, and a map. Watercolor designs in shades of blue, green, red, and pink lent a romantic and whimsical feel, and the couple's beloved dog Daisy even made an appearance. Rabbit Rabbit Design House calligraphed the envelopes with a playful font.
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Akemi and Matthew got married at a country estate in Marbella, Spain. "We chose the place due to its golf facilities and charm. Matthew and my father are devoted golfers, and we have many golfers amongst our friends," says Akemi.
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A cocktail hour the night before the wedding took place on a patio with palm trees and a fountain. All 120 wedding guests attended the event. According to wedding planner and designer Elisabeth Cardich of A Very Beloved Wedding, the color palette was "earthy, with spicy tones of red, yellows, orange, and natural greens. Everything was organic, honest, meaningful, and real."
The weekend began with a full moon—something very important to the couple, who believe in its energy.
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"It was a very special evening where people reconnected after some time without seeing each other," says Akemi. "As Spain has a great influence from the Arabic world, we went for a Moroccan-Spanish theme with authentic furniture, food, and music. It was beautiful."
A lounge area was decorated with Moroccan-inspired furniture in shades of pink and red. Guests relaxed on the chairs and couches while listening to a Spanish acoustic guitarist. Candles and organic flower arrangements in a range of vases, created by Zweigstelle, played up the natural variations and inconsistencies found in nature.
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The Welcome Buffet
At the welcome cocktail party, Grupo Dani Garcia set up several food stations with cheeses, hummus, nuts, ham, fruits, fish, meat and vegetarian paella, dips, olives, and bread. "The food looked spontaneous and natural, displayed with materials like wood and straw," says wedding planner Elisabeth Cardich, adding the aesthetic relied on the natural beauty of fruits, vegetables, bottles, wooden décor pieces, and porcelain.
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Guests drank cocktails, red and white wines, and cava. "The flow was just hanging out together, having drinks at the bar, eating at the food stations, and chilling on the lounge furniture listening to a Spanish acoustic guitar," says Elisabeth. "At some point, Matthew's band manager, Simon, who is a countertenor, performed a beautiful song for the couple."
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The Wedding Dress
The next day, Akemi and Matthew had their wedding ceremony. Akemi wore a Victoria Kyriakides wedding dress with lace details and an open back. She didn't have a precise vision in mind when searching for a dress, but she fell in love with how this one made her feel. "I wanted to have something that wasn't stiff, allowed me to move freely, and is young, original, and simple," she says. Akemi paired the dress with a vintage headpiece from Gossamer.
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Zweigstelle created Akemi's bouquet with dahlias, roses, blushing bride protea, olive branches, and pampas grass.
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Matthew donned a blue suit by Tom Ford. "We didn't know how many blues exist in this world!" he says. "We tried on a lot of suits. Our wedding planner helped us via FaceTime video, and we finally decided on the right shade." He also wore a white Tom Ford shirt and a navy Gucci tie. Matthew's cuff links (also by Gucci) took the shape of a lion, one of his favorite animals.
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Matthew's Gucci shoes were embroidered with flowers. "Matthew is a fun, original, out-of-this-world guy, so his shoes were totally him," says Akemi.
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Akemi's dad walked her down the aisle to "Standing on the Moon" by the Grateful Dead.
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The non-religious ceremony took place on the grounds of the estate overlooking the sea, near an "imperfectly perfect" upward-pointing arch. One of the couple's best friends officiated, and the couple recited emotional, personalized vows. "Angel in the Snow" by Elliot Smith played during the nuptials, while "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles was the recessional song. Guests watched the ceremony from lounge furniture among the trees.
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Guests sat at a lounge area during the ceremony and cocktail hour. "Everybody was on the lawn—some standing on higher tables, some sitting on pillows on the lawn, and some on couches," says Elisabeth.
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After the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktail hour outside on the terrace on the perfect October day. Grupo Dani Garcia catered gazpacho, salad, meat croquettes, mushroom empanadas, chicken wings, fried sea bass, shrimp, and other items. Guests sipped on watermelon sangria, vanilla and caramel whisky sours, cava, and various mixed drinks. In terms of design, "flowers and candles set the mood for what came next without revealing too much," says Elisabeth.
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Guests played an oversized game of Connect Four; the pieces were printed with pictures of a cat and dog. According to Akemi, "We love our dog Daisy (who couldn't join us due to regulations for the long flight), so our planner came up with this oversized game that has Grumpy Cat as the opponent of Daisy!"
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"Our wedding theme was not only about being spontaneous and free, but also about having feelings of positive energy and enjoying the full moon," says Akemi, adding that this theme inspired the escort card display. "We had like a huge dreamcatcher-like construction with escort cards hanging together with crystals. Each guest got a crystal to cut down and keep, and they found a matching crystal with their name on the dinner tables."
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The Mediterranean-themed reception took place by the estate's pool. Flowers and greenery created a cohesive look on and around the long tables to add a sense of connectivity. "The color palette was softer than on day one, going towards a more ethereal mood," says Elisabeth. The colors were natural and soft: shades of blue, white, olive greens, and some pale blush tones." The couple chose décor elements reminiscent of crystals and the sky. Hanging string lights created a "roof" for the festivities.
According to Akemi, "The theme and mood were set by A Very Beloved Wedding based on our love story, personalities, and taste. Our main wish was to not make it appear like a wedding. We didn't want to have typical white wedding flowers, a stiff wedding program, or a typical wedding cake. We wanted it to be very special, spontaneous and free—just like we are!"
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An expansive wall covered in flowers and greenery by Zweigstelle served as a backdrop to the reception setting and signified endless energy, life, and love. Flora included vanda orchids, foxtail lily, hydrangeas, medeola asparagus, cymbidium orchids, and anthurium. To add an exotic touch of Hawaii (part of Akemi's background), orchids in diverse colors were selected, and the foxtail lily from Asia signified Akemi's Japanese heritage. Everything looked very unique, colorful and fun—just like the spirit of the couple.
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In keeping with the Mediterranean theme, the tables were set with blue and white ceramic plates, as well as clear and blue glasses. Napkins and menus were placed asymmetrically to add visual appeal. The table names, written on large pieces of agate, were inspired phases of the moon: new moon, quarter moon, half moon, full moon. Centerpieces added more color, with graphic blooms including anthurium and calla lilies.
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Akemi changed into a long-sleeved silk gown by Bo & Luca for the reception. "I wasn't sure what gown to wear on my wedding day, so I decided to go for two different styles," she says. While the first gown was more traditional, this second number was fashionable and cool," she says. Before and after the outfit swap, Ashley Ludaescher photographed the couple around the property of the estate.
Akemi and Matthew sat in peacock chairs during the reception. "Our planner wanted to put some emphasis on us but in a non-cheesy way," says Akemi.
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"We created an intimate dinner with a lot of good energy and feelings of connectivity," says Elisabeth. Grupo Dani Garcia catered a starter of yellow gazpacho with cherry tartar, prawns, and basil; an intermediate course of black cod marinated in miso; and a main course of pork fillet with blank trumpet puree and slices of mushrooms.
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Cocina con Marta baked a flat vanilla crème cake that resembled a full moon. "We told our planners we didn't want a cake under any circumstance, so they suggested having a full moon as a cake,'" says Akemi. Blush-colored flowers adorned the top of the sweet treat.
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Music and Dancing
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Matthew and his band, The Wombats, also took to the stage for an unplanned performance at the wedding. He played a song called "Turn" from his new album "Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life" that's about Akemi.
Eventually the wedding guests ended up in the pool, and everyone partied until sunrise. "We had a full moon night, with a changing energy to embrace what comes next: a new beginning. A perfect time for new beginnings and next chapters in life," says Elisabeth.
After the wedding, the newlyweds embarked on a spontaneous trip around Europe, visiting Barcelona, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Milan. They took the time to reminisce about their big day. "Of course we'll remember each and every moment of the entire weekend, but in general we love moments with a lot of joyful tears and a lot of laughter," Matthew says. "Our wedding was all about us, what we like, how we are, how we feel," adds Akemi. "In that sense, it was special and unique. Our guests really felt like it could only be Akemi and Matthew's wedding!"
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Photography, Ashley Ludaescher Photography
Event planning and design, A Very Beloved Wedding
Catering, Grupo Dani Garcia
Stationery, Jolly Edition
Calligraphy, Rabbit Rabbit Design House
Cake, Cocina con Marta
Welcome event shoes, Schutz
Hair and makeup, My Wedding Mirror
Hair, Clint Mattoni
Groom's welcome event suit, Suitsupply
Groom's welcome event shoes, Paul Smith
Groom's wedding suit and shirt, Tom Ford
Groom's wedding accessories tie, cufflinks, and shoes, Gucci
Lighting and sound, Visionarea