When you think of a Las Vegas wedding, the things that maybe come to mind are an officiant dressed as Elvis, photos in front of the Bellagio, a late night buffet in a casino restaurant, a wild night of dancing and a pretty sore head the next day!

You don’t automatically think of gorgeous florals, beautiful tables, fine dining, and a garden setting by a lake.

But Anna & Jeff’s romantic wedding at Lake Las Vegas was filled with elegant style and meaningful moments and their beautiful pictures by Gaby J Photography show there’s so much more than stereotypes to a Vegas wedding.

Beautiful Lake Las Vegas Wedding | Gaby J Photography | Open Invitation Planning | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

With the Florentine Garden at the Hilton as their backdrop (it even has a replica of Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge), Anna & Jeff created an atmospheric outdoor wedding with the help of their planner, Open Invitation and some of Las Vegas’ best wedding vendors.

From the food, to the music, to the gorgeous attire, each detail was thoughtfully curated, with an emphasis on creating a memorable evening for their guests, rather than trying to impress with fancy decor or Pinterest recreations.

And the results? An authentic, romantic, beautiful wedding that paid homage to this sweet couple and their fated love story.

Scroll down to see a new side to a Nevada wedding, and to fall in love with Anna, Jeff and their intimate garden soiree.

Wedding Day Snapshot

Beautiful Lake Las Vegas Wedding | Gaby J Photography | Open Invitation Planning | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Our Love Story

Jeff and I met 18 years ago at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is not where our love story began but it is the prelude to it.

Jeff was the popular quarterback admired by the ladies and I was more concerned with building friendships then chasing after the boys.

We shared a history class and were each others goofy counterparts. Jeff would sing a line from a song and I would finish it and vice versa. We were friends and nothing more.

Jeff and his family moved away to California at the end of our Sophomore year and I believed that would be the last I would ever hear of Jeffrey Cooper.

Fate would say otherwise.

I stayed in Las Vegas while Jeff moved all over. From California to Portland, to Chicago and finally back to Las Vegas. Twelve years had passed since we last spoke and it was the evolution of Facebook that would reunite us.

Jeff likes to think that I was waiting for him all this time but I almost blew him off when he reached out to set up a lunch date. My curiosity got the best of me and we set a date. The stars aligned.

After spending most of the summer of 2012 together, we realized that we had something neither of us had ever felt before and neither of us wanted it to end.

On September 10th, 2012, Jeff became that high school boy I first met and asked me to be his girlfriend. This is where our love story began.

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The Proposal

We had been dating for about two and a half years when Jeff made the move that would set in motion our future together. It was just before Easter and Jeff had inherited his Grandma Bea’s wedding ring.

He knew if he had taken me out to dinner, I would have known something was up. Instead he decided he would propose using an Easter basket. The plan was to propose ON Easter day but when he received the phone call from the jeweler that the refurbishing on his Grandma’s ring was complete, his excitement took over and he drove straight from the jewelers to the store to get all the necessities for his Easter basket.

I walked in after a yoga class to Jeff making dinner and an Easter basket on the table.

I laughed at him for not being able to wait as Easter was still 4 days away. Jeff had me open all the plastic eggs in the basket to discover all the different candies he hid in each one.

One by one, I popped them open until I came across that special one. The egg that held his Grandma’s beautiful ring.

It was April 1st, 2015. Yes, April Fools Day. That’s my Jeff. It wasn’t in his plan but his excitement and inpatient nature made him oblivious to the date. I said yes and we set a date.

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Beautiful Lake Las Vegas Wedding | Gaby J Photography | Open Invitation Planning | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 1

Our Wedding Day

Jeff and I married on March 11th, 2016 in the Florentine Gardens at the Hilton in Lake Las Vegas.

We wanted our wedding day to be a reflection of ourselves. To be a special day shared with our closest family and friends with great food, music and company. We wanted our personalities to shine through all the details and the style to mirror our own.

A former chef for 10 years, Jeff created a custom dinner to be served family style and with the help of his brother, hand selected every song played from beginning to end.

We wanted an evening full of organic moments that we would cherish and our guests would cherish forever. It was a beautiful day that even a little wind couldn’t ruin.

As a stood at the altar, holding Jeff’s hands he whispered, “Do you hear the birds?” It was a surreal moment of calm. The wind had stopped and the birds began to chirp.

As our officiant shared our love story with our guests I was consumed with appreciation for this moment. For fate. Those stars. They aligned in the right moment for us.

They guided us together and as I looked into Jeff’s eyes, I knew he was always part of my destiny.

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Beautiful Lake Las Vegas Wedding | Gaby J Photography | Open Invitation Planning | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 6

The Dresses

I wore a Morilee by Madeline Gardner ivory dress made of chiffon with crystal beading from Bowties Bridal.

My bridesmaids each wore a different style of dress by Adrianna Papell in various shades of nude with beading.

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Beautiful Lake Las Vegas Wedding | Gaby J Photography | Open Invitation Planning | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 9

The Venue

We wanted our ceremony and reception to be outside. When we toured the Hilton Lake Las Vegas and saw the Florentine Gardens, we both fell in love.

The location is surrounded by the building which allows for a very intimate, yet open environment. Lots of greenery and very picturesque.

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The Inspiration

With the help of our wedding planner, we wanted to create a whimsical boho-chic garden party, inspired by pops of boldly-colored flowers with tons of greenery and vintage gold accents.

Base Colors: Cream & Rustic Brown. 

Accent Colors: Blush, Coral, Orange, Green and Gold. 

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The Ceremony

Jeff and his brother, David, hand selected every song from beginning to end.

My bridal party walked out to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ by Sparkelhorse.

I walked down the aisle to ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’, by Spiritualized.

The recessional was ‘Ceremony’ by New Order. 

Our first dance was ‘I Put a Spell on You’ by Nina Simone. 

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Favourite Moments

There were so many favorite moments. From getting ready with my girlfriends while overlooking the venue set up, to seeing my family for the first time before walking down the aisle to dancing the night away with my friends and family.

Walking down the aisle with my dad was a special moment. He has been my rock my whole life and to have him right by my side, walking me towards the next chapter of my life was empowering.

Seeing Jeff standing at the altar with tears in his eyes at the sight of me. His love and emotions being displayed to everyone is unforgettable.

My most favorite moment was standing at the alter with Jeff. Holding his hands and looking into his eyes while our officiant, Angie, shared our love story with our guests.

The wind had stopped and the birds began to chirp. It was a surreal moment of love and appreciation. To find my soulmate and have all of our closest family and friends there to celebrate our love was a beautiful moment.

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Beautiful Lake Las Vegas Wedding | Gaby J Photography | Open Invitation Planning | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 40

The Photography

Based on our personalities and explaining the vision of our wedding day to our wedding planner, she felt Gaby J Photography would be of interest for us.

After looking at Gaby’s work, we immediately fell in love. Her style of photography is beautiful, organic, artistic and real.

She is gifted at capturing moments of couples that are genuine while tying in all of the surroundings.

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Beautiful Lake Las Vegas Wedding | Gaby J Photography | Open Invitation Planning | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 42

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Advice for Other Couples

My advice is to set a realistic budget and stick to it. When planning a wedding, you want to have all of the things and that will throw you over your budget.

Consider what is important to you and your groom and what things can be left out. While all the little details in the décor and Pinterest ideas are wonderful, your guests likely won’t remember those.

They are there to celebrate your love for each other and will remember the moments, not what kind of linen was on the table.

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The Refreshments

Jeff was a chef for 10 years, so he was very particular on the style of food. Based on the menu options, Jeff custom tailored every item to his liking and style.

One thing we really wanted was our guests to enjoy great food and it to be served in a way that was fun and interactive. Our meal consisted of artisan breads, panzanella salad, baby greens salad, lemon thyme roasted chicken, seared filet of beef, bucatini pasta, roasted root vegetables and rosemary garlic roasted red potatoes topped with Jeff’s personal Herb Salsa Vinaigrette.

Our meal was served in two courses, family style.

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The Honeymoon

Jeff and I did not take a honeymoon directly after the wedding.

We have planned it for the following year when we can take a few weeks of and travel around. For us, this was the best decision.

So much goes into a wedding that it is nice to relax afterwards. Take it all in, enjoy each other and spend time with friends and family that have traveled from out of town for the wedding.

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Beautiful Lake Las Vegas Wedding | Gaby J Photography | Open Invitation Planning | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 45

So many lovely details, the florals and the cake are my favourite, I think. I love how the splashes of red and coral are so soft and timeless. A broad colour palette like this one makes a wedding really fresh and relaxed, while still looking elegant and tied-together.

Thanks so much to Gaby J Photography, and of course, Anna & Jeff for sharing their beautiful garden wedding with us.

Be inspired by more amazing real weddings

Photographer: Gaby J Photography / Wedding Planner/Coordinator: Open Invitation / Bride’s Dress: Morilee by Madeline Gardner, #6792 / Bridal Salon: Bowties Bridal / Groom’s Attire: Calvin Klein / Bridesmaid Dresses: Adrianna Papell / Venue: Hilton Lake Las Vegas, Florentine Garden / Flowers & Decor: Layers of Lovely / Cake Baker: Freed's Bakery / Invitations & Stationery: Minted / Rentals: RSVP Rentals / DJ: DJ Harry O / Ceremony Officiant: Peachy Keen Unions / Lighting: LED Unplugged