During her bat mitzvah at the Skirball Cultural Center, Erica Levin was already having glimmers of her future. Since that momentous occasion, “I dreamed of walking down the aisle and getting married [in its] courtyard,” she reveals. As it turns out, Erica had also already met her groom-to-be. “We became friends [quite early in junior high] and by ninth grade we spoke on the phone every night before going to sleep,” recalls Justin Nussen. And so their love story began.
When the couple became engaged many years later, they visited the venue and were delighted to find a blank canvas in which to orchestrate the elegant and romantic celebration they envisioned – complete with an outdoor ceremony and cocktail hour followed by an indoor reception at which kosher dishes were served. “I was surprised by how much fun I had throughout the [planning] process,” admits the bride. “A lot of this is because my wedding [consultant] and her team were an absolute pleasure to work with.”
Receiving plenty of support, Erica made all decisions with input from Justin and her mother, garnering some valuable lessons along the way. “When it comes to asking your groom his opinions, make sure you feed him first and try to consolidate your questions into one conversation rather than bothering him all day, every day!” she advises future brides. This path to mutual understanding is clearly two way. “‘Yes’ and ‘whatever you decide’ are always your best answers,” notes Justin with a smile. “Keep your bride happy.”
A year and a day from the proposal, the soothing sounds of an instrumental trio mingled with the cheery chirping of birds perched on nearby trees as guests took their seats for the traditional Jewish service. Arrangements of white and pale purple flowers, including hydrangeas, roses, and Café au Lait dahlias in varied glass vessels, and cylinder vases with floating candles atop acrylic stands decorated the aisleway. A domed chuppah was composed of ivory, lavender, and pink blooms, as well as branches and greenery. “Our chuppah was simply a dream come true,” attests the bride of her florist’s creation.
Erica was radiant in a pearly white gown with a keyhole back and feminine cap sleeves dotted with crystals. A sparkling hair clip gathered her loose curls and she clutched a bouquet of white peonies and roses. Justin and Erica agree that the moment she approached her awaiting groom, who was dapperly attired in a smart black tuxedo, was the most unforgettable memory of the ceremony.
Following the customary breaking of the glass and cocktail hour, friends and family walked only a few steps to enter the modern reception space framed in amethyst uplighting. Round tables were draped in silver linens and surrounded by chiavari chairs in the same hue. Two floral designs brought some natural elements of the alfresco ceremony indoors. A contemporary grouping of cylinder vessels set on mirror discs contained single-variety bouquets of vanilla roses, orchids, hydrangeas, Café au Lait dahlias, and foliage. Stylish trumpet vases brimmed with blush roses and additional dahlias, as well as ivory orchids and hydrangeas. Floating candles intermixed with low votives throughout the tablescapes.
Before their grand entrance, a video slideshow of the couple incorporated some of Erica’s diary entries written 10 years prior. The loving messages included writings detailing her devotion to Justin and her hope that they would one day marry. Her wish fulfilled, she was soon dancing with her beloved to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne – truly an incredible moment for the bride.
The careful process of choosing the entertainment for the evening was entirely worth it since the dance floor could hardly contain all the revelers. “We spent weeks deciding which West Coast Music band to go with, as they were all so perfect in their own ways,” explains the groom. “We ultimately decided on the Cowling Band after realizing their selection of songs would lend itself to the greatest dance party.”
The energetic crowd was refreshed with tasty summer sorbets before enjoying slices of the couple’s magnificent wedding cake. A showstopper confection was composed of four white layers with an embossed quilted pattern, three of which were covered in edible silver beads. The alternating chocolate bourbon cake and banana chocolate-chip cake were finished with a royal icing flower donning a rhinestone center.
Looking back on their big day, “Linda Howard and her team went above and beyond to create a magical look,” marveled the groom. “The theme ‘elegant and romantic’ was carried throughout every aspect of the décor, down to the most minor details.”