As she approached him, Laura Zive sensed that Armand Flores would be an important part of her life – even before seeing his face. They worked together at a law firm in Santa Monica and were soon smitten with one another. “I was struck by her beauty and warmth,” Armand remembers. “She was a breath of fresh air.”

Nine years later, he picked out a stunning eco-friendly lab diamond in accordance to their shared values and made sure to get approval from Laura’s parents. After a date to the zoo, some ice cream cones, and their neighborhood park, Armand told Laura he wanted to share days like this with her for the rest of his life. He got on one knee and asked her to marry him. Naturally, she said yes.

The next day the newly affianced couple went to the bride’s parents’ home under the guise of displaying the sparkler in person. Instead, there was a surprise engagement party. “With the help of my mother who has the gift of party planning, Armand and my parents hosted a lovely brunch for our close family,” reveals Laura. “Thank goodness my nails were done!”

The sweethearts knew they wanted an outdoor wedding that would feel warm and inviting. When Alexandra Rembac of Sterling Engagements sent them information for a local ranch in the Santa Susana Mountains, it was love at first sight. Olive trees, greenery, a ranch house, and a cobblestone courtyard provided the feel of an Italian Villa in Southern California. “Seeing as the venue truly spoke for itself, we chose to decorate with neutral colors including blush, sage, and cream,” the bride illustrates.

“I loved the entire experience. We laughed, we cried, and we danced our hearts out.”

Guests arrived on the warm October afternoon and enjoyed a selection of flavored popcorn before taking their seats beneath the canopy of olive trees. As the wedding was a blending of both family and culture – Laura’s family is Jewish and Armand’s is Filipino – the couple decided to focus the ceremony on their love for each other and their friends and family, rather than filling the service with cultural traditions. There was still a chuppah and the breaking of the glass, but the officiant was a close friend of the bride and a highlight of the vow exchange was that both Armand and Laura referenced When Harry Met Sally – without knowing the other planned to do so.

The soft hues continued into the reception, accented with wooden tables, metallic bud vases, bistro lights, and a chandelier over the bar. “It was warm and inviting, with a touch of whimsy,” describes the bride. Anemones, traditional and garden roses, and eucalyptus formed the romantic centerpieces in order to fit with the feeling of rustic elegance that was demonstrated throughout the event.

As beautiful as the day was, the spirit of the wedding was most evident through the music and food. “The music and entertainment were high energy, which really helped boost the overall atmosphere of the wedding,” Armand confirms. A mix of hits from the 1970s through today kept everyone on the dance floor, but one guest had a special request: the newlyweds’ young nephew and ring bearer wanted to dance to “Step in Time” from Mary Poppins.

“Hayden went on the dance floor by himself, with no prompting, and did his high kicks for everyone,” Laura shares of the adorable moment. When guests weren’t dancing, they were enjoying sweet treats. The three-tier cake had multiple flavors, including ube (also known as purple yam), which is popular in The Philippines. Cookies, donuts, and even Moon Pies were also available on the dessert table. Mandel bread (similar to biscotti) made by the mother of the bride in honor of Laura’s late grandfather served as favors.

“I can honestly say everything was perfect,” the groom affirms of the wedding. His new wife agrees. “I loved the entire experience,” she muses. “We laughed, we cried, and we danced our hearts out.”