Nicolas Gerard messaged Alison Zarrow via Hinge right as she was at the top of a mountain in Patagonia trying to determine her next moves both professionally and personally. She snapped a selfie and sent it to him saying that she would love to go on a date assuming she made her way back to the states in a few weeks. Nicolas assured her he would message her in a few weeks, set a calendar reminder, and he did! They had their first date a few days after she returned home. “I had a good feeling about it!” she shares.
One day as they walked to dinner, joking around and talking, it hit Nicolas: Alison was The One. He took her mom to lunch shortly after and mid-sentence in asking permission to marry her daughter, she said, “Well, you don’t need my permission!” Later, his future mother-in-law lovingly helped Nicolas select the perfect diamond dazzler that he would use to get on bended knee.
Beginning in December 2019, the couple planned and planned again, at least five times, to organize their dream wedding day. “I guess you can say we spent three years planning because of Covid,” she exclaims. They finally opted to wed in Santa Barbara since they lived in the seaside city. “It was easier to plan a wedding near where we lived,” explains Alison, who was happy to have Nicolas and her mother by her side to make final decisions for the nuptials.
The bride had a specific, gorgeous concept in mind for the ceremony. “I wanted to have Jacaranda trees as the chuppah,” she explains of her idea. “Unfortunately, we could not find Jacaranda trees that were blooming at the time of our wedding, so our floral designers [at Lilla Bello] went above and beyond to make my dream a reality. They found a way to create a chuppah that looked exactly as I had hoped it would!” she happily describes.
Alison had also envisioned the aisle florals to be arranged in an ombré pattern that progressed from white to shades of purple – her favorite color – as the blooms got closer to the chuppah. “The execution of this idea was impeccable. It looked stunning,” she affirms of the unique garden-inspired look.
As the bride’s mom and sister readied to walk her down the aisle, Alison gripped the bouquet of purple orchids that had been secured with a necktie belonging to her late father to honor him. “We chose not to cut the tie and to instead let it hang off the bouquet. It made me feel like he was present with me walking down the aisle,” confides Alison of the sweet gesture.
“I wanted to have Jacaranda trees as the chuppah... [Lilla Bello] went above and beyond to make my dream a reality.”
Since both the bride and groom’s parents loved The Beatles, they felt it would be a nice touch to have a string quartet play favorite hits from the band for the ceremony. As the mother of the groom is fully handicapped, it was a sentimental moment as Nicolas pushed his mother in her wheelchair down the aisle, preceding the bride and the two adorable ring bearers dressed in classic black tuxedos.
Alison looked resplendent wearing a feminine mermaid gown with an illusion V-neck bodice. All of the previously played tunes by The Beatles were instrumental only, but when the bride appeared, a vocalist began to sing “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” She walked towards the strikingly beautiful enchanted garden to meet her beloved.
Nicolas was wearing a smart tuxedo paired with a bow tie, a bright-purple orchid boutonniere, and a big grin as Alison neared him. Together, they recited their own handwritten vows and participated in Jewish wedding traditions. At the conclusion of the service, the newlyweds included their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lucy, by having her walk with them up the aisle leading the way to cocktail hour.
The same bold color scheme was carried over into the décor of the reception designed and executed by Lotus and Lily Floral Design Studio, but the bride aimed to keep it more elegant and not overpowering. Round floral arrangements were large, but not so much that they discouraged guests from free-flowing conversation across the mirrored tables surrounded by plush off-white chairs. Hundreds of candles in varying shapes and sizes helped to create a romantic ambience in the space, as well.
Alison and Nicolas were encouraged by their wedding planner to stay together on the dance floor and throughout cocktail hour, so that they didn’t get too caught up with any one guest. “That created a memorable night for both of us, and it was the best advice of the day,” emphasizes the bride. Having great music was also essential, since the couple had perfected choreography for their first dance as husband and wife. “Worth it! Very glad we took the lessons,” says Nicolas, who also adds the band from Bob Gail Music and Entertainment was high energy and a hit with the crowd.
The couple enjoyed the revelry into the night with their loved ones, stopping only to eat late-night tacos, which was a favorite memory for Nicolas. The groom’s one regret? “Not having slices of wedding cake waiting for us in our hotel room at the end of the night!” he confirms.
This real wedding was originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of Inside Weddings magazine.
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