Photography by Lauren & Abby Ross.
I get so excited to see a couple enjoying their entire wedding day as much as these two did. There is barely one photo where Nicole doesn’t have a huge smile on her face – and it’s easy to see why. They kicked things off with a family-focused ceremony beneath an amazing hanging floral chuppah (and a full moon!), then celebrated with an elegant candlelit reception, where they barely left the dance floor!
Nicole knew wearing her mom’s wedding dress or veil wasn’t for her, but she still wanted to combine elements of her mom’s wedding day with her own. She told us “my seamstress took a piece of lace from Mom’s dress and sewed it onto mine, as my something old.”
The First Look
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? Choosing a location was actually one of the easiest parts of the planning process. We both knew immediately we wanted a destination wedding, but wanted to choose a place that wasn’t too far of a drive from Los Angeles, where we live. Ojai has always been one of our favorite weekend escapes. It’s just a magical place that we wanted to share with our closest friends and family.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? The hanging chuppah!
How did you go about planning your ceremony? One of the reasons we chose the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa was because of their iconic oak tree. We knew right away that we wanted to get married under the tree and somehow incorporate it into our chuppah. On our first walk through with our wedding planner, Kim Curtis of TOAST Santa Barbara, she had the brilliant idea to hang the chuppah from the tree. We really wanted that to be the focal point with minimal flowers (other than the greenery hanging) and a lot of candles. We trusted her vision and the chuppah and ceremony ended up being my favorite part of the weekend. It was exactly what I had envisioned.
Your ceremony in three words. Intimate, spiritual, emotional.
Nicole told us she loved “looking around and seeing all of our closest family and friends surrounding us. Our immediate family stood under the chuppah with us and Kim, our planner, placed benches surrounding the chuppah for our bridal party. We were surrounded by the people we love the most.”
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your ceremony? As the sun set, the sky turned pink and you could see this insane super moon start to appear. I was not able to see it but everyone was raving about how magical it was afterwards.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? We actually had not one but two rabbis officiate our wedding. And a cantor! One of our rabbis, Rabbi Herscher, along with Cantor Lam, officiated my parents’ wedding thirty-one years ago. I thought that was so special and always knew we wanted them to marry us too.
What were your vows like? We opted out of reading our own vows. We felt we would be too emotional and nervous in front of all those people. Instead, we wrote them separately and gave them to our Rabbis. They incorporated the words we wrote throughout the entire ceremony. We were laughing and crying as we heard what the other wrote for the first time.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We included the blessings from a traditional Jewish ceremony. They wrapped us in a tallit that my grandmother bought for Mark, just as she had for all of her grandchildren for our bar or bat mitvahs. We also used my grandmother’s kidish cup. And we said blessings for those who couldn’t be there, including Mark’s father, who passed away when he was young.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? No!
How would you describe your reception? Romantic, warm, joyful.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? We initially wanted everything to be outside, but California has strict curfew rules. I didn’t want to break up the party at 10pm – it was important to us to keep the party going as long as possible! The Inn has a gorgeous ballroom with wood beam ceilings and a beautiful big fireplace. Kim walked me through her vision of hanging greenery and candles from the chandeliers and I was sold!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff. It won’t matter in the end and no one is going to remember the color of the carpet. It is the couple that matters!
What was your wedding menu? All our tables were long and our meal was served family style to get that intimate dinner-party feel. First Course: Duo Salad of Tomato & Burrata, and Mushroom, Pepper, Arugula // Second Course: Pan Roasted Salmon Braised Short Rib Cast Iron Chicken // Shared Sides: Black Truffle Mac & Cheese / Crispy Brussel Sprouts / Sauteed Corn.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a small wedding cake – we are not huge cake people but we had the chef replicate our favorite Triple Berry Cake from Sweet Lady Jane.
What was your first dance song? Heroes by David Bowie, one of Mark’s all-time favorites!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Don’t leave your groom’s side! We received that advice and are so happy we made a conscious effort to stick together throughout the night. Mark and I didn’t leave each other’s side all night long.