When Lara gathered her courage and walked into an audition for a show in Los Angeles, she couldn’t have guessed what the opportunity would afford her. “Ren did the music for [the show] – he was so shy in the audition room, I thought he was the assistant, not a songwriter,” Lara recalls. “After working together and forging a friendship, the show closed, and he finally asked me out: I learned that he wasn’t shy at all!” Following a romantic courtship, the couple became engaged on a typical date night in Malibu. “We got [to the restaurant] early on an extremely hot day, and Ren suggested we take a walk on the cliffs. He brought his guitar and we walked to a stunning private overlook of the Pacific,” tells Lara. “He started playing a song – which didn’t seem out of the ordinary – until I realized there were wedding vows in the song.” Ren strummed out the last line of the tune – “Won’t you marry me?” – as he transitioned to bended knee. In a state of excitement and shock, the bride-to-be took a full minute to accept his proposal while trying to catch her breath.

The happy pair spent a full year planning their nuptials, ensuring the day captured their aesthetic concept and love for one another. Lara was decisive and particular when it came to selecting each element involved with the wedding – asking herself pertinent questions about each option; “For vendors: did they understand our vision and did they come recommended from a source we already trusted? For the planner: would I choose to sit down to dinner with this person? – because there’s a lot of contact! For everything else: was it in line with our vision?” After consulting her groom, her mother, and her planner, Lara was more than satisfied with each choice – especially when it came to the look of her venue. Having grown up in Germany – along with keep the groom’s great love of the outdoors in mind – the bride wanted their location to have an “old Europe,” rustic feel, and this was perfectly embodied in their North Carolina event space.

Prior to the ceremony, Lara and her five bridesmaids donned specially made robes made by the maid of honor, who works as a fashion designer. Genya O'Neall of Vue Photography snapped pictures of the ladies frolicking in the fall leaves and sipping hot coffee as they readied themselves. After the fun, the gals – wearing blush-colored, flowing ensembles – helped Lara into her custom A-line gown featuring lace straps and a four-tiered skirt. Before they descended the aisle, the women seized their rich floral bouquets, complete with an array of blooms in wine and cream hues, accented with sage foliage to match the forest setting. After watching the pair’s beloved Chihuahua walk as the ring bearer, guests rose to their feet to greet the bride, and Lara heard a familiar tune. “I walked down the aisle to the song that Ren wrote when he proposed to me,” she smiles. “[Additionally,] we wrote our own vows, and at the end of [each], we finished with, ‘I promise to love you to the end of the counting,’ which was a phrase Ren’s mother always said to him in childhood.” The service finished with a handfasting, an Irish tradition, to pay tribute to both the bride and groom’s cultural backgrounds.

The reception space epitomized the old Europe countryside concept for which Lara had hoped. Long wooden banquet tables were topped with brass candlesticks, bud vases, and mercury-glass vessels for a touch of elegance. Verdant floral arrangements to match the bridal bouquets rested on brass trays and featured roses, peonies, dahlias, clematis, amaranthus, and astrantia in shades of champagne, ivory, taupe, and marsala wine. Vintage signs signifying the names of the streets that Lara and Ren grew up on, respectively, acted as table names – “The roads that brought us together,” beams the bride. A four-tier naked pumpkin spice pound cake with cinnamon and caramel cream filling complemented the hall – and attendees’ stomachs – with its fresh rosemary, sage, berry, and fig toppings.

The groom had one last surprise for his new wife: a fully choreographed dance to a popular *NSYNC song performed by him and his groomsmen – a moment the bride selects as one of her favorites. As for the memory that topped them all: “Hearing his [vows] for the first time, surrounded by everyone we loved, was absolute magic,” she shares.