Chic Weddings/Modern Weddings

Elegant, Intimate, Laid-Back LA Wedding

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We’ve got a real wedding for you today that’s not only full of pretty ideas, but crammed with wedding planning wisdom – and a movie-worthy love story.

Melissa & Ryan are one of those couples who prove that just because you’re meant-to-be, doesn’t mean your relationship will be smooth sailing from the start.

After a few years of ‘will they, won’t they’, this sweet pair showed it was all worth it with a LA wedding that was equal parts elegant, intimate and laid back. Despite making a few compromises along the way (make sure you read their advice for other couples!), Melissa & Ryan created a day that felt ‘so them’ – which is really the ultimate compliment, don’t you think?

With photography by Gina Shoots Weddings, planning by Sweet Emilia Jane and a cool setting at The Fig House, along with great food, gorgeous style and simple decor (oh and the prettiest DIY garland made by Melissa’s mom!), this wedding is a lesson in relaxed refinement.

I think you’re going to love it!

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Our Love Story

We always like to joke that our story is actually the plot for a romantic comedy. We met at work in 2008, where he was a senior manager and I was fresh out of college. Our company had a strict policy against fraternization, so I dismissed the whole thing as a silly schoolgirl crush that could never be.

After a year of cultivating a friendship, we went on our first out-of-office outing. I didn’t realize it was a date until Ryan leaned in to kiss me good night and I ruined the moment by pulling away in surprise.

We recovered from that initial blunder, but the years following that first date were fraught with drama and uncertainty. I eventually left the company, hoping we would finally get the chance to try out a relationship. But those three years had done a number on us, and we eventually parted ways.

Some months after our final breakup, Ryan saw me with someone I’d recently begun dating, and he felt a pang of regret seeing how happy I looked. He reached out, and we met for lunch. It was the first time I ever felt like he fought for me.  I’ll never forget the look in his eyes, or how his voice cracked with emotion when he said “M, I adore you.”

I still consider that conversation the true beginning of our relationship. It was another year before we actually decided to give us a shot, but once we did, all the pieces fell into place.  As soon as we put our history behind us, we discovered that everything we’d been searching for. 

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The Proposal

By 2015, we’d bought a new home together, our careers were going well, and our lives were rolling along nicely. 

Over dinner at our favorite pizza place one night, we were making a friendly (and slightly drunken) wager, and I decided that my prize for winning would be marriage. 

Unbeknownst to me, Ryan had already decided that he wanted to propose that fall, during our trip to Boston (where he grew up). 

After a day spent roaming the city, we ended up strolling along the Charles River in beautiful Back Bay, where he shyly presented me with my ring and asked if I’d be his wife. 

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Our Wedding

We’ve both been to our share of large weddings, where the bride and groom rarely have a chance to say more than “hello” and “thank you for coming” before they are whisked away. 

We wanted the opposite experience: a relaxed, stress-free wedding that we would actually enjoy alongside our guests.

We had a very intimate wedding ceremony with only immediate family, including our beloved dog. Ryan’s brother officiated and one of his sisters sang a beautiful rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”  We didn’t want any part of the wedding to feel staged so we didn’t rehearse!  The ceremony ended up feeling organic and everything was a fun surprise. 

We carried that same attitude into the reception. Our goal was to create the feel of an elegant dinner party, where our guests could mingle and converse naturally, untethered by seating assignments and a program and it worked out perfectly! 

Best of all, Ryan and I actually got to enjoy the company of our loved ones without having to worry about being anywhere at a certain time.

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Favourite Moments

Ryan’s friend called our wedding ‘authentically us’. It was laid-back but elegant, comfortable but quietly sophisticated. 

As much as it was ‘our day’, we wanted to make it a celebration shared with our loved ones, not one that just celebrated us. We sat at the same tables as our guests, eschewed big introductions, and kept the food and decor low-key and approachable. 

One of our favorite moments was when Ryan’s brother, who is a bit of a tough guy, struggled to keep his emotions in check while giving a toast. 

He got choked up, giggled, started speaking, giggled a second time, took a drink of his beer, and then got a round of encouraging applause from the crowd.  It was a sweet and heartfelt moment shared by everyone.

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The Photography

We’re neighbors! 

After an introduction by Gina’s incredibly supportive boyfriend, she had us over and we immediately fell in love with her style and personality.

Ryan and I aren’t exactly the most affectionate people, but somehow Gina made us feel comfortable in front of the camera and kept us laughing the entire time. We’ve since become good friends and regularly make it a point to get together.

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The Food & Venue

In keeping with the laid-back vibe, we opted for Roomforty’s made-from-scratch bistro buffet with a comfort food theme. In lieu of a cake, we served up a dessert buffet with some of our favorites – donuts, Chinese egg tarts, olive oil cakes from our local bakery, and homemade cookies and candies. We even had a donut cutting instead of a cake cutting.

The Fig House was the only venue we needed to visit.

It looks like a mix of old Spanish and art deco, with mid-century modern and vintage upholstered décor (which are all favorites of ours), and had the quintessential laid-back indoor/outdoor southern California vibe that we wanted, with a few dashes of elegance.

We felt little need to try and improve on the space, so we opted only for simple blush-toned floral arrangements (by Sweet Emilia Jane) on the three long tables and a wax paper garland my mom had made on the wall. 

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Advice for Other Couples

Don’t stress out and trust your instincts! You can make yourself crazy trying to execute perfection or you can let it happen organically and just enjoy the ride. Figure out what’s important to you and don’t be afraid to trim the excess ‘fat’.

We didn’t want to spend a fortune sending out fancy invitations that would ultimately be thrown away, so we modernized and sent out Paperless Post invitations instead. Although some of our older guests still complained because our methods were ‘untraditional’, everyone made it to the reception and we felt that issue was ultimately inconsequential.

That being said, be open to making compromises. Even those who are close to you will have differing views on how your wedding should be. We’d planned to have a much smaller guest list than what we ended up with. We didn’t want to have a first dance, father-daughter, or mother-son dance. We’d decided against speeches up until the final week. I’d planned to wear a jumpsuit rather than a gown (I ended up changing into pants at the end of the reception).

We compromised on all of these points but ultimately our parents were happy (which kept our stress levels down), the speeches were heartfelt and poignant, and our first dance cleared the way for Ryan’s 92-year-old grandmother to share the dance floor with my 101-year-old grandfather (who has since passed away).

Remember to make time for yourselves. The entire day passed by in a blur, but every hour or two, we stole away and shared a few quiet moments together. That time kept us grounded, prevented us from becoming overwhelmed, and deepened our connection as newlyweds.

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