Garden-Inspired Backyard Wedding in Los Angeles, California

Samantha and Mark

Photographed by: Simone & Martin PhotographyLocation: Los Angeles, California, United States

Even with the continuous laughter and great conversation that permeated their first encounter, Mark’s honesty was really what won Samantha over. Especially when he took a photo from his wallet and confessed, “this is what I’m all about, my children Jacqueline, Danielle, Derek and my oldest daughter Tamara who lives in Canada”. A mother to two daughters herself, Ashley and Jennifer, Samantha understood the importance of prioritizing one’s role as a parent with a potential suitor and was immediately enamored with Mark’s sincerity. It was no surprise to their friend Sam Rubin, a fellow entertainment reporter on KTLA where Mark is a popular weather man, because he introduced the couple in part because they shared this important commitment to their children. A second date to the beach followed, this time with Mark and his kids and from then on, Samantha admits, “we really never left each other’s side after that. It was love at first date!”

Samantha and Mark obviously saw their wedding as more than just their pledge to each other, it was the marriage of two lucky families. To reflect the coming together of both sets of kids, the couple sent out save-the-date cards for their May wedding with a photo of their future extended family. They also determined that the best way to celebrate the building of their new life together was to hold their wedding at their very own home. It wasn’t clear if their property could accommodate the ceremony and reception for 200 that they wanted, but with the help of an expert planner, their dreams were realized. Samantha’s best friend and maid of honor, Wendy Turner, introduced her to Marianne Weiman-Nelson and her company Special Occasions Inc. who wasted no time in mapping out a plan to convert their garden and tennis court into an elegant and enchanted setting.

The couple’s gazebo was outfitted for the ceremony in a palette of butter, cream and gold with 10,000 roses, hydrangea, peonies and strands of ivy. Unfortunately, the unseasonably hot day had begun to wilt some of their gorgeous flowers, and Marianne and their florist had to come to the rescue by replacing and reconfiguring the arrangements before the guests arrived. Instead of utilizing a tent to enclose the dinner and dancing on the tennis court, the reception was left open to the night air and the court was transformed into a romantic European garden. Greenery and fragrant jasmine were woven throughout the entire span of fencing and the court itself was blanketed in creamy carpet. Each table was dressed in custom-made Dupioni silk linens in pale gold and centerpieces alternated between tall candelabras and low crystal edged bowls, bursting with the same floral details as the gazebo.

After spending time with her closest girl friends preparing for her big moment at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Samantha emerged for the ceremony dressed in a strapless ball gown made of ivory silk Caricata satin designed by Monique Lhuillier. Its dropped waist bodice was fully embroidered and hand beaded and it flared simply into a box pleated skirt which featured additional beading and embroidery along its hem. Escorted by her father, Samantha was overcome with emotion as she walked the aisle to meet Mark. After becoming husband and wife, Samantha and Mark surprised their children by inviting them to participate in a very personal addition to their ceremony. Together, the bride, groom and their kids exchanged their own set of promises with one another celebrating their unity as a new family. Not a dry eye could be found among the loved ones who gathered to witness their union and feeling their supportive energy was Samantha and Mark’s most touching moment.

Guests were lead into the reception through the most picturesque part of the décor, an arbor generously covered with vines of greenery and jasmine. From its floral ceiling hung a small crystal chandelier over a quaint loveseat made of the same Dupioni silk fabric that dressed the tables. Once seated within the lush walls of the unrecognizable tennis court, guests dined on mixed baby greens salads with goat cheese croutons, pan seared loup de mer with champagne vinaigrette or filet mignon with a cabernet sauce and a trio of decadent crème brulee — chocolate, espresso and vanilla. Samantha and Mark’s cake was also presented, a creation that the couple designed after sampling from some of the best bakers in Los Angeles. Samantha and Mark had turned their cake tasting task into quite a romantic gesture by bringing the fifteen samples up to their bedroom and feeding each other, piece by piece. Hard work, but someone had to do it, and the fruits of their labor resulted in a white satin cake sprinkled with Grand Marnier and filled alternately with white chocolate mousse and shaved dark chocolate and strawberries on a bed of whipped cream.

After dinner, the band summoned some of Samantha and Mark’s guests to the lively dance floor while others enjoyed luxuriating on couches placed around their moonlit pool. Over 1,000 glowing candles created a warm and ethereal atmosphere for the outdoor reception and foreshadowed the romantic surprise awaiting the couple inside their bedroom. Candles and rose petals covered every inch of their master suite shaping a truly perfect ending to an utterly perfect night.

The attention paid to the aesthetic details of Samantha and Mark’s wedding certainly made it a spectacular feast for the eyes, but it was the underlying warmth and reflection of their devotion to one another that left their guests with the truest sense of their celebration. As Samantha says, “We both feel incredibly blessed to have found each other and we think that came through in the essence of the night.”

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