This Couple Exchanged Vows in Malibu, Surrounded by Oak Trees and Natural Waterfalls
Lauren and Aaron are both doctors with schedules that make it difficult to meet people. One morning after a night shift, Lauren's coworker, who also had worked with Aaron at another hospital, decided to play matchmaker and send Aaron her photo and phone number. Over the next two weeks the pair texted back and forth, unable to meet up easily because of their schedules and the fact that they lived about 90 minutes apart. They eventually met up for a blind date at a restaurant in Claremont and hit it off right away. "Apparently we both knew it was meant to be as we started dating immediately," Lauren says.
After dating for two-and-a-half years, the couple planned a trip to Arizona to visit Aaron's sister, her husband, and their newborn. Once they were there, Lauren was woken up bright and early for a morning hike with Aaron in the 110-degree heat. At the top of the mountain, after getting attacked by a bee, Aaron got down on one knee to pop the question. "We celebrated with some (nearly) boiling Champagne—it was the most perfect proposal that keeps us laughing each time we tell it," Lauren shares.
The couple took about seven months to plan their big day, which took place on March 9, 2019, at The Oak Room at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California. They wanted a Southern California venue that offered a Northern California feel. Inspired by Lauren's love of oak trees and the couple's passion for hiking, they teamed up with Weddings by Susan Dunne to create an elegant affair for 180 guests with an outdoorsy feel.
A Neutral Suite with a Pop
The bride initially envisioned a neutral color palette, but she was convinced by her planner to incorporate some greenery throughout the day for a pop of color. Their stationery was created on simple white cardstock with black letterpress and featured a delicate oak leaf design.
Mom's Always Right
Lauren's mom spotted an Essence of Australia wedding dress in the window of a bridal salon in Carmichael, California, and instantly knew it was the perfect gown for her daughter. Lauren ended up visiting the store, trying on a handful of dresses there, and falling in love with a different one. After paying for it, she woke up in the middle of the night in a panic that she had chosen the wrong dress. "I knew I was meant to be in the one my mom had initially eyed," Lauren says. The lace gown featured a V-neck and simple fitted silhouette with a trailing train.
A White Bouquet
Lauren's bouquet featured garden roses, clooni ranunculus, sweet peas anemones, hellebores, delphinium, spirea, pittosporum, and four varieties of ferns, creating a lush arrangement of white florals and greenery.
A Personal Suit
Aaron is a huge soccer fan, and even played when he was at UC Davis, so it was fitting that, on his wedding day, he wore a charcoal suit that featured the Barcelona Soccer Club logo in the lining; the ensemble was custom-made by Evolution of Style. He wore Cole Haan shoes, a brown belt, and a blush tie from The Tie Bar.
The Wedding Party
Lauren's love for oak trees stems from growing up in Sacramento, California, and although she and Aaron now live in Los Angeles, they felt Calamigos Ranch was the perfect spot for their nuptials. Not only did the property have stunning oak trees all throughout, but Aaron grew up about 10 minutes down the road from the ranch, and his family still lives there.
The First Look
Aaron and Lauren are very private people, so they planned to have a first look where they could share their personal vows, creating an intimate moment before the ceremony. "We had last seen each other the night before at the rehearsal dinner," Lauren says. "It was an incredible feeling to know that our big day had arrived, and we were finally able to celebrate our love."
Signing the Ketubah
Having a traditional Jewish ceremony was important to the couple, who had a ketubah signing ahead of the service.
A Waterfall Marks the Spot
The ceremony took place on a deck surrounded by natural stone waterfalls and low hanging oak trees adorned with twinkle lights and chandeliers. The aisle went over a tranquil pond, symbolizing the couple crossing a bridge into a new life as husband and wife. A traditional chuppah featured crisp white roses and fresh greenery.
Stomping the Glass
After making her way down the aisle with her father to Pachelbel's Canon in D, Lauren joined Aaron underneath the chuppah for the ceremony. The service included several more Jewish rituals: Their wedding party recited seven blessings and their parents recited a blessing while draping them in a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl.
Aaron's most memorable moment of the entire day, however, came at the end of the ceremony: "It was the moment I stomped on the glass and made it official!"
The Cocktail Hour
Guests enjoyed cocktails and mingled while the wedding party took photos. The cocktail hour took place on a deck near the entrance of the ceremony, where some of the surrounding oak trees emerged through the deck itself.
Wooden Seating Chart
Rich wood elements were seen throughout the day, including in the seating chart, where guests found their table assignments on a wooden sign.
The Oak Room
The reception took place in The Oak Room, with floor-to-ceiling oak-trimmed windows bringing the outdoors inside.
On the Tabletops
Each place setting featured a rich wood charger, a dusty green linen napkin tied in a loose knot, and a menu printed on white cardstock with the oak leaf emblem seen on the invitations. The tables were topped with classic white linens; each guest had a minimalistic name card that featured a gold leaf fish design.
A Nod to the Bouquet
The centerpieces, which referenced the bride's bouquet, featured mostly lush greens with pops of white garden roses.
Guests enjoyed a three-course meal that included a locally-sourced green salad with a thyme ricotta crostini to start. Attendees had their choice of marinated prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes and a mushroom aus jus, or roasted halibut with grilled zucchini baba ghanoush and a white wine garlic sauce.
For dessert, Lauren and Aaron worked with their favorite bakery, SusieCakes, to create a combination of chocolate, vanilla, and marble confections. The design of the main three-tiered cake was simple and elegant, and incorporated some greenery to pull in the natural elements of the overall décor.
The First Dance
After their first dance to Jason Aldean's "You Make it Easy," the pair celebrated their union with a traditional Hora dance, which involved them being lifted into their chairs.
For couples currently planning their weddings, Lauren has this piece of advice: "We are not a couple that ever fights, but planning our wedding definitely added a new dimension to our relationship and led to a lot of bickering. Just be patient with each other, because the wedding day itself makes the whole process completely worth it!"
Photography, Anya Kernes
Event planning and Design, Weddings by Susan Dunne
Venue, Calamigos Ranch
Flowers, Mulberry and Moss
Calligraphy, Gabriela Durig
Bride's gown, Essence of Australia
Bride's shoes, Bella Belle
Bride's hairpiece, Blossom Veils
Hair and Makeup, Bridal Bliss Beauty
Groom's suit, Evolution of Style
Groom's tie, The Tie Bar
Groom's shoes, Cole Haan
Lighting, VOX DJ's
Rentals, Borrowed Blu