A Surprise Forest Elopement for Essential Workers in Los Angeles

April Mayorga and Alejandro Aguirre

Photographed by: Karina Pires PhotographyLocation: Beverly Hills, California, United States

Like many couples who planned a wedding in 2020, April Mayorga and Alejandro Aguirre’s celebration was impacted by COVID-19. “We had dreams of being the first in our families to host a wedding,” shares April of their May 2020 nuptials, which was to be attended by both sides of their families flying in from out of the country, including Alex’s 98-year-old grandfather from Mexico. “We knew that as much as we wanted our loved ones to attend, it would be unreasonable and unsafe,” Alex confirms. 

To make matters more stressful, both April and Alex’s jobs were in full swing as a result of the pandemic. As the mental health of many individuals and families began to decline, their work as mental-health providers became even more essential. “As heartbreaking as it was for both of us to make the decision to not have our wedding as planned, we knew that it would allow us to focus on the work that we do, give us a mental break, and provide the opportunity to preserve the health of all of our loved ones and would-be guests,” affirms April. 

Taking the advice of April’s dad to heart – “Don’t rely on a pandemic to determine when you two should be married. If you two love each other, then don’t let anything stop you.” – April and Alex began discussing the potential of an elopement. “If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that nothing in life is guaranteed, so we wanted to move forward with marriage,” she adds. It was shortly after that they found an elopement giveaway organized by wedding planner Yvonne Wolf of Yvonne Wolf Events. 

After Yvonne’s father sadly died of COVID-19 in mid-April, she thought of the giveaway as a way to bring joy to a couple whose plans were affected by the pandemic. Inviting 10 creative professionals to also donate their products and services for a deserving pair, Yvonne was pleased to give back in any way she could. To April and Alex’s surprise, they were selected as the essential workers to receive the all-inclusive elopement for themselves and four guests, their parents, that would be designed and produced in accordance with CDC guidelines.

“When people are so kind-hearted and generous enough to provide someone with this type of opportunity, despite the wedding industry being deeply affected by the pandemic, you can’t help but think they are heaven-sent!” muses the bride. “I trust that this entire process happened for a reason. At a moment when we felt very low literally days after announcing our postponement, this amazing gift was given to us.” 

Providing Yvonne with just a color palette – rust, dusty pink, mauve, and green – as well as a vibe – a natural, romantic outdoor feel, the couple was completely surprised by the décor designed and produced by these generous creative partners. “Yvonne and her team created our dream wedding that truly reflected our personalities – simple, romantic, comfortable, and natural, yet dreamy – based on very little knowledge about us and in just 20 days,” confirms the bride of the feat. 

Roses, tulips, and custom-dyed pampas grass designed by Little Hill Floral Designs created the romantic ambience of the alfresco event. The elegant blooms embellished the spot for the vow exchange, along with mirrored elements and oversized floor vases. The couple’s parents found their seats atop velvet settees, which were provided by Archive Rentals along with the additional furniture and décor accents at the park. 

The bride was gorgeous in a sparkling long-sleeve gown as she entered to “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley to meet her groom for the ceremony. To honor their cultures and who they are as a couple, both growing up bilingual, it was important to April and Alex to have a bilingual officiant, Reverend Marlon Martinez of Celestial Wedding Officiants. Once they were pronounced husband and wife, guitarist and singer Mike Gerbrandt performed “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles. To ensure the couple would always remember their special day, Karina Pires Photography took photos of all the magical moments, while Custom Made Productions captured everything on film.

To ensure the elopement was safe for all, Franklin Canyon Recreation and Conservation Authority provided the perfect vast open-air setting. All vendors had their temperatures checked upon arrival, vendors wore face masks and face shields, and roses were used as six-feet markers to indicate the appropriate socially distanced spot for the officiant to stand during the vow exchange. Everyone in attendance wore personalized face masks by Studio 90212, to-go catering served in a picnic basket was provided by Made by Meg Catering, and a table of personalized hand sanitizers was displayed near the petite wedding cake from Sweet E’s Bakeshop, which was cut to the tune of “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” by the Four Tops.

Though April and Alex would have loved to celebrate with all of their friends and family, the newlyweds remind other couples of the reason for marriage: “At the end of it all, all you have is each other,” the bride shares. “As much as you would want to share the moment with loved ones, you owe it to each other to really honor the reason why you are choosing to get married: for the love and union of one another. If you’re blessed enough to be healthy and alongside your best friend and love of your life, then make sure that ultimately it is about that and trust the love you have for one another.”