It was while working at a summer camp in Ojai, California, that Tova Leibovic and Austin Douglas first met and fell in love; so naturally the pair wished to incorporate their appreciation for the outdoors into their nuptials. “I wanted the day to feel like Ojai Valley-meets-Beverly Hills on a warm summer evening,” says the bride of her unique vision for the wedding. And though initially Tova had a rustic décor scheme in mind, she also wanted to include the groom’s personal style. “Austin’s taste is much more classic and traditional,” she explains.
In addition to offering a kosher kitchen and reception facility large enough to accommodate the couple’s 350 guests, The Beverly Hills Hotel also possessed a lovely al fresco setting perfect for Tova and Austin’s wedding ceremony. “We fell absolutely in love with the hotel and its gardens,” shares the bride. Softly hued hydrangeas, orchids, and roses adorned an arch and two pillars that framed the entrance to the aisle, while sections of cheerful sunflowers edged a bright white runner. “Sunflowers were the first flowers that Austin ever gave me, and really evoke the feel of summer for me,” explains Tova of the choice for contrasting florals. Poles of birch wood supported the prayer shawls once owned by the couple’s late grandfathers to form a ceremonial chuppah inside a gazebo covered in flowers. A chandelier suspended from the center of the structure added a flickering glow. “As I watched Tova walk towards me down the aisle with her parents, it was as if time stood still until she was by my side,” describes the groom. “I would go back in time to relive that moment in a heartbeat.”
Traditional Jewish vows were exchanged in Hebrew, and though the couple chose to follow customary rituals, they did opt to alter one: “Instead of the bride circling the groom, we chose to circle each other,” explains Tova. “We wanted to make [the service] as egalitarian as possible.”
A cascade of blooms enhanced the staircase that led to an eye-catching display of seating cards outside the Crystal Ballroom. Cylindrical vases filled with orchids and gardenias were placed among the cards on white tabletops in the anteroom, and a charming tree that boasted a mélange of gleaming lilies, butter-colored roses, and bunchy hydrangeas was positioned in the center.
The dreamy garden design for which the bride had wished transformed the ballroom for the reception. Colorful lighting warmed the room with punchy tones of canary and poppy. Cushioned chairs encircled round tables and featured lacelike patterns of gleaming metalwork. Each place setting featured a menu card topped with a fragrant sprig of lavender and a single orchid blossom. Striking centerpieces fashioned to resemble miniature trees were festooned with an array of flowers in golden hues with accents of white and ivory among contrasting tones of purple. “The arrangements were spectacular!” confirms Tova. Additional clusters of blooms and floral hedges were seen throughout the reception area.
A live band played a musical set that included Classic Rock, Motown, Pop, and Blues. “Months later, we still had friends recalling the fantastic music,” says the groom, happy that he contributed to the choices for the evening. A gleaming white dance floor blanketed a large part of the room, creating an atmosphere conducive to celebrating.
The twosome thoroughly enjoyed their celebration and heeded the oft-quoted advice to let go and enjoy their day. “We relinquished the details of planning and focused on each other,” shares the groom. “It made the day all the more meaningful.”