Your venue naturally has a big impact on your wedding day, and Jessica and Nima’s pick – a modern private estate in Dallas – was perfect when this long-time pair tied the knot. From the bride’s embroidered Valentino shift to the spectacular modern sites for the ceremony, dinner and poolside dancing, this modern celebration speaks to every bride who’s ever eyed a Eames chair.
“At a fundraising event at a client’s estate, Jessica and I met an elderly couple, and shared with them that, although we had been dating for 10 years and known each other for nearly 15, we were not convinced that marriage was a necessary next step. The couple cautioned that there would be limitations if we were unmarried – in critical moments, being officially recognized as spouses can make all the difference as partners. This conversation occurred at the wonderful home of one of my clients, and it planted the seed that convinced me that my life partner and best friend should also be my wife.
Months later, after asking Jessica to marry me, I asked my client and dear friend if we could host our ceremony and reception at their beautiful estate, sharing the story of the significance. She graciously obliged, and the setting could not have been more meaningful.”
“It was most important to us that the ceremony felt ‘true to us’ and didn’t abide by traditions just for tradition’s sake. We were fortunate that our families were open-minded and supportive of whatever way we wanted to express our love and celebrate our marriage. With their support and the help of close family friends, we crafted a secular ceremony, knowing from the start that our ceremony would feel unconventional. Jessica’s father passed away several years ago, and since he could not walk her down the aisle, we decided to walk into the ceremony hand in hand. Symbolically, we felt we were coming into the ceremony together and strengthening our union.”
Your ceremony in three words. Modest, Intimate, Sincere.
Who officiated your ceremony? A family friend, David, officiated our ceremony. He and his wife, Clair, are second parents to Nima, and their son who passed away was truly a younger brother to the groom. Their bond is so strong that Clair offered the ring she had planned to offer her son to Nima and Jessica. It is Jessica’s wedding ring, and we chose not to exchange wedding bands in order to leave this significant symbol unadulterated. We feel it not only unites Jessica and Nima, but honors and strengthens these strong familial ties.
What were your ceremony readings? A friend of the bride read a passage from Earnest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, and a friend of the groom read a passage from Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows, albeit very late in the game, but they really came together. We decided we would have one part that was personal to each of us, and also create communal vows that we both repeated. The day before our wedding, we woke up early, went into separate rooms to write our personal pieces. After sharing these meaningful words of admiration and commitment, we realized how complementary our vows were. Then we then sat together and wrote our communal vows, and rather enjoyed doing it!
What was your ceremony music? We we honored that Jessica’s cousin provided the music for our ceremony. We walked out to the ceremony together to a song she had set to the E.E. Cummings poem “I carry your heart with me.” After our readings, Erica played her rendition of Sade’s “By Your Side.” The song embodies our commitment and intimacy, and it evokes memories of the earliest days of our relationship.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Although it was very short, time seemed to stand still in certain moments. The day was such a beautiful blur, and yet we can remember certain parts so clearly. At one point during the ceremony, we stood together arm-in-arm with David, our officiant, while Erica sang one of our favorite songs. Everyone was listening together with the sun warm our backs, and it was as though nothing else existed in the world but that moment. I remember wishing we could stay like that for hours on the hill, in the grass and the sun, surrounded by our most cherished, listening together to my cousin play songs on her guitar.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Don’t skimp on a photographer. It’s a big expense, but it’s all you have left to remember that day by. Going through the pictures together has been such a joy, and we plan to do again and again. That said, do skimp on numbers and sizes of flower arrangements; if you have a great florist, less can be more. Because we were flexible about the musical selections, we hired a band that didn’t advertise themselves as a “wedding band” – or charge us “wedding band” rates. They were absolutely fantastic!
Did you give your guests wedding favors? We chose a series of our favorite things to give to our guests from some places that were special to us. Each guest received a letterpress postcard from Lilco with a handwritten note, Perfect Granola from Urban Acres, a few sticks of Palo Santo wood, chocolates from Dude Sweet Chocolate, and Marfa Brand’s Ranch Road Soap. Since we were using small vendors, many of them were able to work with us on sizing and pricing!
“We were inspired by the feeling we wanted to evoke at our reception. We collected photographs that evoked the ambiance we wanted, rather than a particular style or color, and focused on textures and sentiments that spoke to us. We found Kinfolk Magazine to be a wonderful source of inspiration. Overall, we ended up with something that was one part modern minimalist, one part rustic, and three parts our personal aesthetic.”
How would you describe your reception? There were more guests at our reception than our actual ceremony, but it was still very intimate. Our reception was laid back and communal, while still being very moving and so much fun!
How did you go about planning your reception? The manager of the estate, Jeff Bogert, has restaurant, catering, and event planning experience. He volunteered his time to consult with us on settings for the ceremony, pre-dinner reception, dinner, and dancing. He suggested caterers and vendors he respected and were familiar with the home from previous fundraisers. Together, we spent many hours thinking through the day’s transitions and the experiences we wanted our guests to have during each stage of the event.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? Dinner was served in a grove of crepe myrtles. We wanted a relaxed, family-style meal and the rows of trees strung with lights seemed like the perfect spot for a fall feast! After dinner, everyone strolled across the lawn to the pool house, which was set up for dancing and merriment! Plus, it allowed for sort of a group procession across the property late at night. We all had flashlights and went in groups on this walk together.
What was your wedding menu? We wanted to make dinner a large part of the event, a communal meal like Thanksgiving, so that our guests could really bond over dinner. We had three rounds of shared plates, all served family style:
First Course: Whitefish Ceviche, Fried Castelvetrano Olives, Grilled Radicchio with Aged Balsamic & Parmigiano Reggiano, and Chick Pea Fritters with Whipped Goat Cheese // Second Course: Fried Lamb Meatballs with Spiced Yogurt Sauce, Fontina Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Speck, Roasted Fennel with Gaeta Olive Tapenade, and Zucchini Rolls with Ricotta and Oregano // Third Course: Applewood Bacon Wrapped Quail Halves with Homemade Chow Chow, Grilled Salmon with Salsa Verde, Roasted Acorn Squash Wedges with Calabrian Chiles, and Roasted Cauliflower with Smoked Paprika
What type of dessert did you serve? We aren’t big wedding cake fans, so we dug into ½ pints of our favorite Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Salty Caramel, Dark Chocolate, The Buckeye State, Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean, Pistachio & Honey, and Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso.
Did you have a signature cocktail? We had three! An Infused Cucumber Margarita, a Gin-Gin Mule, and a Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? David and Clair mentioned to us a few days before our wedding that we should probably make room for people to toast or give speeches. We didn’t anticipate so many people standing up to speak. At dinner, we were taken aback by the number of people who felt moved to share their feelings. It was one of the most humbling experiences of our lives.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? At first we really wanted to elope or have a tiny destination wedding, but our moms both encouraged us to have this celebration and supported us throughout the planning process. The weekend of our wedding, their presence meant so much to us. Nima’s mom hosted a Persian feast Thursday night before our wedding, and Jessica’s mom helped her remain calm and collected throughout the weekend. They both gave such beautiful toasts at our reception, and Jessica’s mom was a riot on the dance floor. We certainly owe the best night of our lives to their encouragement and wisdom.
What was your first dance song? We didn’t hire a typical wedding band – Shoot Low Sherriff played their own songs and music, and we gave them no other orders than “jazz it up a little.” They were just the right balance of soul and class. Our first dance together was impromptu. Jessica was inside the pool house grabbing some popcorn when Nima’s mom ran inside, snatched it out of her hands, and ushered her onto the dance floor! We shook our booties and had the time of our lives.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Think most about the energy and emotions you want people to experience, and less about the details. Everyone said it would be the best day of our lives, but the planning process was hard and on multiple occasions we felt ready to give up. We might not voluntarily repeat all the work we did, but if we could live one day 100 times over, it would be our wedding day. It was worth it, but only because our guests embraced it. We focused on what we wanted our friends and family to feel, and in turn, they made our night unforgettable.