I love outdoor weddings and spending the entire weekend out in the hills of Malibu, Calabasas, and Topanga Canyon sounded like just the kind of thing I needed. The weekend started out at a Malibu estate overlooking the Pacific where their families were staying for the week. I can't imagine a better way to relax and get ready for a wedding than sharing a mansion with your family, and that's just what they did.
Wedding at the Inn of the Seventh Ray
Topanga Canyon, CA
Amy and Stephen / Photography by: Ian Grant [contact]
Amy got ready at the Malibu estate [located at 27036 Sea Vista Dr, Malibu, CA] and had a whole crazy gorgeous bathroom to get ready in. Normally these types of setups get a little cramped with everyone in there, no chance of that happening here! And I think there were another few bathrooms down the hall for good measure. There was also wonderful diffused light coming down from the ceiling illuminating the entire room, it was gorgeous!
"I found my dress at Anthropology’s bridal line called BHLDN; the designer is Ana Sui. This dress spoke to me from the moment I saw it online! I decided on this particular gown because it met the following criteria: it was not white, was vintage in appearance and easy to wear. It somehow managed to be traditional and non-traditional all in one. Furthermore, when I looked at how other brides had adorned the gown, it really took on its own unique identity that was specific to them- that was just what I wanted!
My veil was designed by the owner of Veiled Beauty, Kathy. She was great to work with and we worked together out of her studio to create the perfect veil for the dress. Having the opportunity to collaborate with her to create the perfect vision was so special, as I was running into some challenges trying to find way I wanted to accessorize the ornate gown. When I went to go pick it up I was just delighted with the outcome and she then worked with my mother and made her a hairpiece to wear on the special day!"
I absolutely love these getting ready photos, Amy looks straight out of a magazine and the daylight coming in from the balcony window was fantastic!
Immediately upon seeing it I knew this gorgeously thatched driveway would provide the perfect backdrop for Amy and Stephen's first look. The lush greenery was incredibly picturesque and the driveway length gave that nice long anticipation that makes first looks so much fun.
"When the Groom arrived to pick me up, we had a wonderful build up to seeing one another. The estate where I spend the days building up to the wedding had a dramatic and long drive way that was lined by beautiful overgrown trees. Walking down what felt like the endless driveway towards the Groom was nerve wrecking and exhilarating, I couldn’t wait to see him."
Malibu Creek State Park
Something I wish I had more of, is decent time for portrait sessions. Often times in the chaos of the day it seems like they just end up getting nipped until we have 20 minutes to 'grab some shots' and do the best we can. With Amy and Stephen we had lots of flexibility and took advantage by heading over to Malibu Creek State Park, one of my favorite portrait spots in LA. We had a good couple hours to walk around, take in the sights, watch deer and then head over to the Inn of the Seventh Ray for the ceremony. Could there not be a more relaxing thing to do than chill out in some fields and then show up to your wedding? Future clients, take note.
Inn of the Seventh Ray
After a great session and pulling out for some portraits along the Mulholland Highway we headed back to the Inn of the Seventh Ray for the ceremony. Katie Seefeldt of Wedding Kate did an amazing job coordinating our shoot and the venue was ready to go upon our arrival.
"When looking around for wedding venues, the groom and I really struggled to find a venue that was reflective of our personalities and would naturally bring a “soul” to our special day. There were a few key things that we were looking for and the Inn of the Seventh Ray offered it all; most importantly is was a place we felt spoke to our personalities for both our ceremony and reception. Having been to the Inn of the Seventh Ray for brunch many times, we loved the quirky Topanga Canyon atmosphere and outdoor dinging experience. What really finalized our decision was the turnkey service the venue offered. They were able to provide us with everything but an officiant, music and photographer."
"A highlight for me was seeing how everything pulled together at the venue. It was felt like a fairytale to see how all the details really stood out, everything from the Blue Grass Band to the Taxidermy that popped up here and there. I was so nervous walking down the stairs one my pathway to the altar and couldn’t wait to see how everything looked. As my father lovingly helped me make my way down the stairs I was clinging to his watch, afraid to let go, as if it were keeping me from falling. When I looked up and began the flat walk towards our family and friends, there sat a bunny smiling at me. One of the details I was so excited about was a “touch of taxidermy” the florist strategically placed around. When I saw that bunny it instantly made me laugh, relax and remind me I was in the right place. Funny how that worked out!"
"The greatest challenge was finding our venue. We viewed hundreds of venue websites and toured at least 45 venues before we locked in. Although the venue we selected was local to us, it was a destination for majority of our guests. It was important to us to have something that allowed them to experience the California we fell in love with when moving out here 4 years prior. We wanted to make it a journey and unique experience that everyone would remember. Doing this on a budget was not easy. With a great deal of hard work, reinventing of visions and research we found everything we were looking for in Inn of the Seventh Ray. Everything just fell into place from there- with a lot of hard work of course!"
The Little Branch is one of our all time favorite florists and they certainly didn't disappoint. You can see their work at the last Inn of the Seventh Ray wedding we shot, if you want rustic and earthy they're the ones to call.
"My favorite part of the planning experience was dreaming then discovering all the fun details that made it our own. For us, a large part of that was ensuring our out of town guests experienced the California we love and we had parts of our southern roots we loved. I was determined to have a day that was sincere and genuine in every way; most importantly, unique to us. Being on a budget actually enhanced my creativity and made me really dig deep to find special details that made it such a great event! One of my favorite details was the use of the vintage Jim Beam bottles as vases on the tables during the cocktail hour. Since I was marrying a Beam, it was such a fun and cheap way to add some fun character and charm. Everyone loved them!"
"Finding my vendors to support me and the day was very important! It is my belief that you are only as good as those you surround yourself with; and I really applied that to those I chose to partner with. After taking the time to find the design/portfolios, I primarily made my decisions based upon responsiveness. It is my belief this is a key component to the day being such a success. Just about everything we decided to do for the day was non-traditional and we had such great support to make this happen.
A few of our non-traditional elements was the ceremony, starting with the bridal march. I selected an acoustic song called The Magnolia Waltz, this pulled in parts of my Louisiana heritage and our band learned to play the song by ear, as there was no sheet music to be found! Our officiant was the Groom’s closest Shipmate from his time in the Coast Guard and the groom had introduced him to his wife many years ago when they all served together. It was his wife that hand wrote our ceremony for him to perform and she lovingly tied in the elements I was wanting to seal our vows; a tree planting, butterfly release and wrapping. Each of these elements was special, as it and drew in parts of our past, present and future.
Everything about our day has a story and that is what made it special to plan, experience and remember."