A Simple, Cozy Outdoor Wedding in California
Anika was wearing a face mask and watching television when Max proposed. The day didn't start out so great. "It was the day after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election, and I was super bummed," she recalls. "The next thing I knew Max had a ring in his hand." The pair live in Los Angeles and dated for three years before the engagement. While planning their wedding, they focused on their families and friends, hoping to craft "a laid back but highly designed and personal weekend" at a private residence in Ojai Valley, California, just a few hours from their home.
On October 14, 2017, almost a year after the engagement, Anika, who works in politics, and Max, who works at an architecture firm, arrived at their venue with their two dogs and 160 wedding guests, all ready to celebrate the big day. The guests stayed for the weekend to enjoy additional events, which lent a destination feel to the West Coast nuptials.
The mood, described as "refined California," was intended to showcase the ways Anika and Max find the state "to be simple and beautiful all at the same time." Their event planners and designers at Bash Please created a color palette that was distinctly early fall by looking to local cacti, seasonal herbs, grasses, and trees to inform the décor in a natural, personal way that didn't feel too over-done.
The deckled-edge save-the-dates excitedly announced the upcoming wedding while also hinting at the celebration's laid-back aesthetic.
The Stationery Suite
The couple's invitations were sent in envelopes calligraphed by Emily J. Snyder and featured an assortment of vintage postage. For the invite itself, Stephanie Fishwick created a crest, which was inspired by California's trees and plants, along with a sketch of Anika and Max's dogs and their monogram. Amber Moon Design then used the illustrations on day-of details like cocktail hour napkins, dinner menus, table numbers, and matches.
The Intimate Location
The private residence that served as the setting for the Ojai Valley celebration belongs to a close family friend, and was chosen because the couple loved the grounds and the environment of the home. It encapsulated the simple beauty of a "refined California" theme, and had the added bonus of not being a venue that does tons of other weddings.
This v-neck Calvin Klein wedding dress was "the first and only dress I tried on," Anika says. "I loved the simplicity of it on my small frame." Though a precise cut, the fabric was loose enough for movement, falling straight to the ground and slightly farther out in the back for a small train. The bride wore her hair down and with a veil for the ceremony, but later changed into a dress by The Row for her reception.
The First Look
The couple shared their first look in a quiet section of the property, surrounded by trees and other plants. This is where Max's favorite part of the day took place. "Seeing Anika for the first time," he says. "She looked so beautiful."
Floral Ensembles for the Bridal Party
To complement the surrounding scenery of Ojai Valley, the bridesmaids wore mismatched floral-print dresses. Most kept things casual by wearing their hair down.
The Natural Bouquets
Max's suit was by Theory, and his groomsmen wore dark blue numbers by various designers. Each guy's boutonnière contained a different combination of flowers, but they all wore matching white shirts and solid camel-colored ties.
The Pet-Inclusive Processional
The ceremony took place on a grassy knoll on the property surrounded by olive trees. One of their dogs was escorted down the aisle by a pair of attendants, and the groom's processional proved to be a highlight for the bride, who enjoyed watching Max and their other dog make their entrance. "Our pups are so special to us," she says. "It was important for them to be in our wedding."
A Great Day for All
Family and friends were asked to arrive wearing cocktail attire for the 4:30 p.m. ceremony, and the weather that day was "perfect 70s," according to the bride and groom (a notably enjoyable temperature for human and pet guests alike).
The Flower Girl
With flowers on her dress and a tiny arrangement in her hair, a friend's daughter adorably fulfilled her role as the flower girl.
The Afternoon Ceremony
"The ceremony was simply set with benches so your eyes were drawn to the beautiful olive trees," Ashley Josi of Bash Please says of the design. Anika and Max had an intimate and brief ceremony (so they could join friends and family at the cocktail hour) with some Jewish influences.
Incorporating Jewish Tradition
Floral arrangements defined the space around a grassy patch as the couple's own take on a traditional chuppah. They ended the ceremony by smashing a glass—a staple in Jewish wedding ceremonies.
An Upbeat Recessional
In keeping with the personalized twist on tradition, the newlweds exited the ceremony to "All We Got" by Chance the Rapper, a lighthearted mix of beats highlighted with best-day-ever appropriate lyrical phrases like, "Man I swear my life is perfect."
The Cocktail Hour Lounge
"We wanted to be able to spend time with all of our guests," Anika says of why she and Max chose a venue with various areas that they could use throughout the celebration. The cocktail hour lounge, which was decorated with rentals from Found Vintage, was built around a large square bar atop the home's pool, which had been covered to make more room. Isa Isa made baskets of flowers and grasses, and Bash Please added color to the three lounges with Heather Taylor Home pillows.
Simple Escort Cards
Square escort cards by Amber Moon Designs were attached to a simple board with rustic black nails. The entire display was anchored by potted olive trees. "We wanted an easy and minimal idea which worked perfectly in the space," says Ashley Josi from Bash Please.
A Family-Style Reception Menu
After cocktail hour the group made their way to their seats at tables set under a wood structure draped with trailing greenery. The reception's family-style dinner was prepared by Gjelina and included two salads (one Greek and one with little gem lettuce) and entrées (herbed rotisserie chicken and roasted salmon), and three vegetable plates (grilled squash and za'atar, sunchoke and parmesan, and broccolini).
The Reception's Cozy Design
Bash Please designed a cozy dining space with four rows of farm tables with gauzy runners—topped with off-white terra cotta Japanese ceramics full of pale floral arrangements and beeswax candles—that spilled onto the grass below.
The Place Settings
The plates and stemware gave "a little glam" to the natural place settings, softened by the candles and muted greens, whites, and dusty plum floral palette. The artwork surrounding the menu matched the rest of the event's stationery.
The Wedding Cake
Anika and Max's two-tiered confetti wedding cake was the creation of Alana Jones-Mann, a dessert artist.
The Cake Cutting
The bride changed into her reception dress just in time to cut into a small chocolate cake with her groom.
An Evening of Dancing
Sticking with Jewish wedding tradition, Anika and Max's reception featured the hora, a dance where the wedding party hoists the couple up above them in chairs. They weren't the only ones lifted in the air. Anika's mom, Joyce, got in on the fun, too. The party then moved into the pool house so they could continue dancing to music by DJ Dart.
The couple's relaxed, upbeat spirit was encapsulated by a first dance song choice of "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young. Calvin Harris' hit "We Found Love" brought the night of dancing to a close.
After I Do
Reflecting on their big day, Anika and Max say that knowing what was important to them and trusting and hiring designers who share similar styles to their own allowed them to create a celebration that was "something truly special and personal." True to their California spirits, the newlyweds honeymooned in Big Sur, located off of the state's central coast.
Photography, A Fist Full of Bolts
Event planning and design, Bash Please
Flowers, Isa Isa
Calligraphy, Emily J. Snyder
Cake, Alana Jones-Mann
Music, Dart Collective
Makeup, Katie Danza
Groom's suit, Theory
Lighting, Bella Vista Designs Inc.
Transportation, Signature Parking