Thanksgiving-Inspired Backyard Wedding in Southern California

Lauren and Rob

Photographed by: Paul Barnett PhotographerLocation: Lompoc, California, United States

It wasn’t his eyes or even his smile that Lauren Sweeney first noticed about Rob Booher that day. It was the copy of Homer’s Iliad that he was reading while waiting for a taxi in Santa Fe. She happened to be carrying the very same book, and it sparked a conversation about literature, philosophy and life as students at the same college that set their lifelong odyssey together in motion.

After waiting six years to get engaged, Lauren and Rob wasted very little time when it came to planning their wedding. They were quite motivated, mainly because they wanted to get married at the home of Lauren’s mother that was already on the market, ready to sell at any time. With the help of good friends in the event industry and a clear idea of how the wanted their wedding to feel, Lauren and Rob succeeded in organizing the celebration of their dreams in only five months.

Once they decided on their November date, an unofficial theme was easily agreed upon for their wedding: the “best Thanksgiving ever.” Lauren and Rob combined rich colors and seasonal foods with the more sentimental aspects of the holiday, such as the warmth and togetherness of family, to bring the tone of the wedding to life. It was important to the couple that their celebration embodied who they were as a couple – “casual, warm and fun” – while also achieving an approachable level of elegance. Holding their wedding in her mother’s back yard, a place so close to Lauren’s heart, was foremost in establishing a sense of intimacy for their affair. And from the centerpieces of gardenias, dahlias and roses that looked freshly picked from the garden to the caramel apples they gave away as favors, Lauren and Rob created a deeply personal, autumnal celebration that was more of a gathering than an event.

Lauren and Rob carefully designed their ceremony to be wonderfully untraditional. A good friend from college led the proceedings, and each of their parents read a special passage during the service that expressed their own personal feelings about Lauren and Rob’s love. The bride and groom also created an original ritual for blessing their rings which involved circulating their wedding bands throughout the crowd so each guest could wish kindness upon them as they passed through their hands. Exchanging their rings, especially after they were blessed so powerfully, became Lauren and Rob’s most emotional experience from their special day.\

Adding to the very social and gracious atmosphere of the wedding was the couple’s decision to serve the evening meal buffet style. Guests were able to mingle and toast the happy couple while circulating from station to station enjoying such fall dishes as white bean soup, pumpkin ravioli and roasted lamb. The simple five-tier chocolate and strawberry filled wedding cake also brought people together as they savored something sweet in between dancing to the DJ who also happened to be a friend of the couple. In fact, many of their vendors were also Lauren and Rob’s close friends, and they believed the influence their circle of friends lent to the wedding greatly contributed to its uniqueness. The couple recalls, “Every detail, even those we didn’t control, felt personal.”

Sticking to their vision of the kind of uncommon wedding they wanted to have while also embracing their families’ hopes and desires for the affair allowed Lauren and Rob to celebrate their marriage in such harmonious style. An important lesson to learn, especially during those times that every couple goes through during the planning process when making everyone happy seems like an overwhelming task. But sometimes, it’s best to ignore certain lessons and listen to you heart instead. For example, who’s really to say that you should never judge a book…or a man, by its cover?

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