Organic, Glam & Vintage-Inspired Real Wedding in California

Wendy and Eric

Photographed by: Ether & SmithLocation: Santa Monica, California, United States

When Wendy Lieu and Eric Lee met as sophomores at the University of California Santa Barbara, they had no idea they would be exchanging vows eight years later. When the time was right, Eric secured the blessing of his beloved’s parents and began planning an elaborate proposal at the Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. Once the duo skipped the long line, Wendy became slightly suspicious that something was about to occur. As they posed for a photo in front of a modern sculpture, Eric got down on one knee. “I of course said yes!” exclaims Wendy. As an additional surprise, her new fiancé had arranged for her parents, brother, cousin, and closest friends to witness the moment.

Desiring a color palette of ivory, gold, and dusty rose for the décor of the celebration, the bride worked with Ilana Ashley Events to coordinate the organic, glam, and vintage feel of the nuptials. Since the venue was selected primarily for its gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean, the picturesque vista served as the backdrop for the ceremony. As 170 guests took their seats on either side of an aisle lined with vanilla flower petals and gilt risers topped with lush blooms, string arrangements of popular tunes were performed. “We hired a violinist we found on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica who was amazing,” says the groom.

To the sounds of “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden, the bride walked down the grassy aisle in a striking trumpet gown featuring a lace bodice; she carried an elegant bridal bouquet composed of garden roses, quicksand roses, and café au lait dahlias in soft, muted hues. Wendy met her groom at the altar, which showcased a wooden arbor decorated with greenery and pale-colored blossoms as well as suspended garlands featuring the same blooms, for a touching ceremony personalized by the couple and officiated by the bride’s older cousin.

Following the vow exchange, loved ones found their seating assignments for the reception by way of floral-print frames displayed on gilt bookcases decorated with greenery and photos of Wendy and Eric throughout their relationship. As attendees entered the ballroom, they took their seats atop dark wood chairs with ivory cushions surrounding round tables strewn with textured metallic linens. Centerpieces showcased loose, organic collections of cream and dusty pink roses, greenery, and Queen Anne’s lace billowing from either short bullion-hued pedestals or tall gilt stands. Votive candles surrounded the centerpieces to provide a romantic ambience and illuminate the illustrious arrangements.

The newlyweds enjoyed the sit-down dinner service on a raised stage offering a perfect view of their loved ones. Their vintage-inspired sweetheart table, which was placed in front of an impressive hedge wall adorned with twinkling string lights, was decorated with a garland of vines and roses. A trio of wedding cakes atop white milk-glass pedestals was displayed nearby on an antique bar cart. The larger two-tier confection featured an ombré ruffle design on the bottom layer, and two smaller cakes showcased subtle golden details to complement the décor.

After friends and family had enjoyed the fare and slices of the sweet treats, dancing ensued for the remainder of the evening. To complement the sophisticated, vintage vibe of the celebration, the bride changed into a birdcage veil before her first dance with her newly minted husband to a remixed version of “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur.

Though the couple made sure to spend plenty of time with their guests throughout the evening – even joining the cocktail hour after taking photos – they still felt as though the fête flew by. “I was surprised how emotional of a day it was and how fast it went,” admits the groom, who suggests other couples should do their best to say hello to each attendee. “Take every moment in, any chance you get.”