It has been eight months since I married my best friend, and yet I'm finally now finding time to BLOG IT! My procrastination never ceases to amaze me. Nonetheless, it has been nice not planning a wedding, you know?! I've been enjoying life with my new hubby, catching up on friendships, and getting back into the groove of things. It felt like just yesterday I was praying for the chaos to be over. Since we had a long distance engagement, Brad and I so badly just wanted to start our lives together. And now, here we are. Happily married with one fur baby and a lifetime of adventures ahead of us. There is so much to say, but I'll let our pictures (and video by Emma Lynn Cinema, see above!) do most of the talking.
Brad and I became Mr. & Mrs. Reynolds on a hot, breezy summer day at Highland Springs Ranch & Inn (Cherry Valley, CA) on July 15th, 2017. I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to get married at a venue that could provide lodging for our guests. I essentially wanted a huge sleepover with our family and friends after the wedding! And boy, was it a party...
Let's just say that whatever happens at the after-party, stays at the after-party! 😂
It was also crucial that the ceremony and reception be outdoors. Given both of us were from California, this was a no-brainer. As soon as I found Highland Springs Ranch & Inn on The Venue Report, I immediately fell in love. This site had it all; lush lavender fields, timeworn oak trees, and rustic charm. Since we were still long distance at this point in the planning process, reaching an agreement on a wedding venue would be expectedly difficult. However, when Brad finally made the trek out from Tulsa, he took almost no convincing. This would be the place where we would convey our vows and seal our love.
Venue: check! Next up was what made it our wedding: the decor. I've always been a boho girl at heart, so I couldn't wait to make our wedding a bohemian lover's dream. To be quite honest, planning the wedding was one of the most stressful tasks I've ever taken on. Yet, it was also gratifying and worth the sweat and tears (lots of tears, both good and bad!) put into every decision.
I am a perfectionist at heart. My friends and family will tell you the same. I didn't hire a wedding coordinator to design the framework for our special day. From the broad themes to the small little details, the responsibility fell on me. That's not to say of course that I didn't have some very important teammates throughout this exhausting process! One of them being Jessie and her team at Zilla Free Zone. We hired them for month-of-coordination, which included managing the rehearsal ceremony, decor placement, and making sure all last-second requests were fulfilled. Jessie and her team were simply amazing; I recommend all Southern California brides refer to her if you need a helping hand!
I can't move on without recognizing the efforts of Chris Ahn, our venue coordinator at Highland Springs. Chris was the covert conductor helping to set the stage for our wedding. She truly cared for our big day, and I now consider her a dear friend of ours. She was also constantly on hand to fulfill my needs and address our concerns. The wedding wouldn't have gone so smoothly without her. Chris, thank you. We were beyond lucky to share this moment with you!
I’m going to touch on the planning process itself because “the perfect day” is actually a lot of hard work that no one really talks about.
Remember when I said that I'm a perfectionist? I have trouble letting people help me with things because if it’s not exactly how I like it, I can’t deal. This is a flaw of mine that I am completely aware of. Admittedly, the DIY projects weren’t my favorite. But they sure turned out cute!
What I did love about wedding planning was choosing the DECOR! Since I was going for a bohemian aesthetic, I figured I would buy all my props and later use them in our home. If you were to walk into our apartment right now, it’s would be like strolling through our reception all over again. And honestly, I really love that. I bought rugs, gold terrariums, countless frames, lace runners, a gigantic canvas banner...I could go on. Did I go crazy with my credit card? Duh, it’s a wedding! On a positive note, they were investment pieces that we will forever get to enjoy. Luckily, our venue provided the catering, dinnerware, tables, signage, and everything else that you would need for a standard wedding.
So if your wedding just so happens to match your personal style, purchase decor pieces that you would also love to have in your home! It’s a win-win. Plus, most couples are starting fresh anyway and need to build a space of their own. Might as well let it remind you of the best day of your life.
Anyways, enough text. Take a peek at our gorgeous wedding decor.
A lot of hard work for one day, eh? SO WORTH IT!
What made our wedding the dreamiest boho day of our lives was actually all thanks to our florist, Collected With Love. She deserves her own category because our florals were absolutely insane (in the best way). I told her I wanted to primarily use protea, succulents, blue thistle, and roses to make a dreamy sunset color combination. When she brought our arrangements into the bridal suite the morning of our wedding, I immediately started to tear up because she truly captured my vision and then some. Malorie is the best of the best, and I really mean that. Take a look at how talented she is!!
Forever my favorite flower arrangements. If you're having a summer wedding and you also happen to love succulents, use them in your wedding so that you can save them, plant them in your garden, and forever have them as a sentimental reminder. Best investment ever!
I'm gonna dive right into our bridal party now because our most beloved pals are what made our wedding FUN. Thank you for being such a hilarious, helpful crew. FRIENDS FOREVS. We love you so much!! Special shoutout to my girls for keeping me sane throughout the day. Mimosas helped, but you surprisingly kept this anxious bride calm and collected.
I used Vow To Be Chic for bridesmaid dresses, a company that allows you to rent designer gowns. They paid $100 for a gorgeous dress by Monique Lhuillier. Click the link and it will take you straight to the selection of gowns they offer. They ship you two sizes, and you send them both back in a prepaid envelope after the event! Simple as that. All I gotta say is, look how gorgeous my girls look!! 10/10 would recommend this service.
And if you're wondering, my wedding dress is by Essence of Australia, Style #D2143 😊
Yes, you did see one of my bridesmaid's grabbing my toosh. What are best friends for, amiright? For the boys (or shall I say, dapper men), we also used rentals from Friar Tux Shop that cost around the same price as the bridesmaid dresses. Scroll down for some handsome fellas. Ahem, eyes off the groom
DAYUM! Looking good, guys! Ladies, most of these men are single. Let me know if you'd like me to put in a good word...I gotchu. And here we are as a collective group! I'd say we did pretty well considering how hot it was that day. Y'all are champs!
Are you still with me? Now that we've gotten through introductions, let's get to the ooey gooey stuff. The little moments you'll remember for eternity. Starting with something that I always knew I wanted to do: FIRST LOOK! It was the most exhilarating and nerve-racking experience, yet everything around us was so still and quiet. Looking back, I'm so happy we had this moment together before the craziness of the wedding. It was the only part of our day that I felt moved in slow-motion, and I love that it was all captured on camera. Traditions are great, but "First Look" is equally special. Definitely something to consider for your big day!
I could look at these "First Look" photos a thousand times and still get emotional. It all REALLY hits you once you see each other all dolled up. Holy sh*t, we're actually getting married right now!!
Which brings me to our ceremony. We knew we wanted it to be short and sweet, and filled with heartfelt words. That being said, we made the decision to write our own vows. It wasn't until everyone applauded us for doing handwritten vows that I realized how rare it was to do that these days. I'm one of those people who fears public speaking and would purposely never raise my hand in class due to shyness, but this was different. I knew I owed it to our love, to let it roar in front of our most cherished friends and family. Brad also happens to be a fantastic writer, and it didn't hurt knowing he'd make some killer vows. Which he did, he always beats me in the writing department. Take a peek at our wedding video to hear how it all went down.
Those candid photos at the end are so special to us. The overwhelming feeling of love and accomplishment, knowing that our long distance was over and we were finally going to start our happily ever after. There's no way to describe it! And then we were put into a love moshpit by our best friends. It was the most gorgeous day of our lives. I'm having trouble find words to describe these photos, but I think they say a lot in themselves.
Then it was time to par-tay!!
I wanted our reception to feel like we were out in the middle of nowhere, somewhere beautiful and outdoors. We both desired an intimate setting with beautiful details, and that's exactly what it was. I remember at one point during our reception I consciously told my brain to take in everything that what was happening. I was sitting at our sweetheart table, Brad was dancing with his mom, and I slowly scanned the perfect scene that was before me. It was magic hour and everything was glowing, the bistro lights were sparkling amongst tall trees that towered over us, glasses were clinking, and everyone was either smiling or laughing. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life because I was fully present.
Try as hard as you can to be present. Take snapshots in your mind because it is far too easy to get caught up in the day. I have a few more of those moments, but I’ll get to those in a bit…
The next few photos are of our first dance. We decided on "Fire & The Flood" by Vance Joy because it fits our relationship to a tee. We had previously taken one dance class to try and get some choreography down, but we didn't keep up with it and decided just to "wing it", LOL. We are so awkward!! But that's how we've always been, and I wouldn't want our dance to portray some fake skills we don't actually have. So in reality, it was perfect. Friends and family were laughing along with us throughout the whole song. Again, a memory I'll always cherish.
So yeah, that was fun! After that it was parent dances and being the only child that I am, I wanted to dance with both of mine. They both walked me down the aisle, so I figured I may as well boogie down with the two of them as well. When else will I have the dancefloor alone with my parents? Best decision EVER. And of course, everyone melted over Brad's dance with his mama. Just look at them!
Another reason we did "First Look" was so that we could get some photos out of the way, and make room for more time during the reception. While this did save us some time, we were also whisked away to take magic hour photos at sunset. I will say that it kinda sucked having to leave everyone as they were sitting down to eat, but I wouldn't change this decision because the photos turned out absolutely stunning. Mandilynn Photography is the best in the biz, and Mandi is even cooler as a person. Slightly obsessed with that girl! I know she'll be taking our family photos for years to come. She's already commanded me to get knocked up, so I don't know how soon these photos will be 😜 She also kept referring to Brad as Chandler Bing from Friends, and I freakin love that.
Below are photos of us after our "First Look" and during sunset hour. The crème de la crème.
I will spare you the silly reception photos because I'd like to keep this blog classy 😜but you can find those on my Facebook!
This is horrible, but I feel like Brad and I didn’t see each other very often at our own wedding. Thank god for the ceremony, first look. first dance and magic hour photos! Other than that, we were both too busy talking to loved ones to be together. I know we escaped for a long time during sunset to take our couple photos, but it was so worth it! First of all, the pictures turned out gorgeous. Secondly, we got to have some intimate time together racing around in the golf cart with our photographer and videographer (love you guys!), and he carried me through the lavender fields since I was in heels. I mean, c'mon.
The entire day went on without a hitch, and I’m so lucky to be able to say that. To be honest, it was all a beautiful blur. Think about it, it’s all of your people in ONE PLACE. And they’re in that one place FOR YOU. It’s incredibly overwhelming. I don’t actually remember any of the conversations I had because they each lasted around what felt like 30 seconds. I always said while planning the wedding that I couldn’t “wait to get back to normal life and focus on relationships again”. So if you talked to me that day, I love you so much for being there! Let’s grab a coffee and actually chat sometime, seriously.
I do remember one conversation quite vividly, and it was between my grandma Margaret and I. Guests were leaving to go to the after-party after the last song had played, and my grandma walked up to me. Backstory: my “something borrowed” was her golden heart-shaped locket that I had always played with as a child. I’d sit on her lap and open it to find my chubby baby face inside. I always got a kick out of it and it made me feel special. Anyway, it made perfect sense to borrow it from her and wear it on my wedding day. When she came up to me, I immediately remembered that I had to give it back to her and said “Grandma! I’ll have to give this back to you in the morning, I can’t forget”. She placed her hand on mine and replied, “No no, that’s yours now. I want you to have it”. My eyes filled with tears and my Aunt Nell said, “She has it in her WILL to give it to you!” It was the perfect ending to the perfect day. And then I found a bottle of champagne….
Cheers to the most beautiful day of our lives.
Thank you Mandilynn Photography for capturing moments that we'll forever hold close to our hearts.
Thank you to our families for giving us the wedding of our dreams, and expecting nothing in return. We love you so much.
Thank you to my mom for being so patient with me, for being so selfless throughout this whole process just to see me happy.
Thank you to our friends for making it a party we'll NEVER forget. We're so lucky to have you in our life.
Thank you to our vendors for capturing my vision and surpassing expectations. You are all so talented!
Thank you to Highland Springs Ranch & Inn for being so gorgeous, hospitable, and welcoming. Those lavender fields will always be a part of our beginning.
Thank you to my husband for loving me, regardless of how crazy life gets. I got you babe.
xo, Lauren Reynolds
PS - I tried to cover as much as I could within this blog post, but there is still so much more that hasn't been said! Is there anything else you'd like to know? I'd be happy to share every little detail, just ask me in the comment section! Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, I hope you enjoyed it and feel inspired for your own wedding in the future. Happy Planning!