Traditional Catholic Ceremony + Reception at a California Racetrack

Natasha and Donovan

Photographed by: Lucas Rossi PhotographyLocation: Pasadena, California, United States

Natasha Larsson and Donovan Brambila had more than a summer romance. Upon meeting on a warm July evening, they discovered that their encounter was truly fate. “[We] had grown up together, played at the same playgrounds, sung in the same choirs, and gone to the same school dances [but] just never met until that electric July night,” the bride reveals. Since faith is central to their relationship, Donovan took his sweetheart to church on Christmas Eve the following year with a ring in his pocket. As the couple knelt before a shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Donovan whispered his proposal and Natasha happily accepted.

Accordingly, the pair exchanged vows at their church in Pasadena, California. “We attend mass there weekly and we wanted to be wed where we feel at home. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s gorgeous,” explains Natasha. Following the traditional Catholic ceremony, everyone gathered at a historic racetrack for a spirited reception. “Guests were placing bets on [horses] in the same room where Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, and Audrey Hepburn had done decades prior,” she confides. Not only did the couple elect the venue for its antique aesthetic, but they were also intrigued by the sport. “There’s an undeniable sense of fun and excitement of [Old Hollywood] that blends perfectly with the thrill of betting on and rooting for your favorite horse,” the bride tells.

Mesmerized by the vintage glamour of the ballroom, the pair chose minimal candlesticks and floral arrangements for their reception décor. They even showcased a simple three-tier confection to avoid outdoing the gorgeous ambience. “We wanted our wedding cake to reflect the environment in which it was being enjoyed [so] we picked a simple design for the cake and flavors that we both enjoy, namely chocolate and coffee,” the bride tells. Before removing his beloved's garter, Donovan surprised her with a sacred foot-washing ritual. “[It is] an ancient Christian symbol of respect and sacrificial love,” Natasha says. As the night ended, guests took home lovely wine glasses customized with the couple’s initials.

When asked for their wedding advice, Natasha encourages newlyweds to focus their energy more on their loved ones and less on the little things. “Take care of the non-negotiable aspects that you want and stress less about the smaller details, which you may not remember a year later. Remind yourself that the most important part of the whole process is the person by your side and the people with whom you celebrate.”