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A Stress-Free Intimate Backyard Wedding in California

A Stress-Free Intimate Backyard Wedding in California

Our featured bride is Emily, in his vows, her husband described the reason for knowing she was the one “because of her general dissatisfaction to accept the status quo”. What a compliment! They married in a laid-back ceremony at her parent’s house with 85 guests and had the most stress-free day. We loved that everyone walked down the aisle while being barefoot. Yayyyyy, for backyard weddings! We are big fans. Emily’s advice to brides-to-be is to hire a day-of coordinator. We’ve heard that from other brides, and here at Dreamers & Lovers, we are fully behind the idea. If there is someone or something that will make your life easier and will make you be fully present on your big day, just do it. As for the dress, she chose the Nellia because she wanted comfort, and loved that she felt like a woman wearing it. Yessssssssss.

From Emily:

I felt so happy and beautiful in my dress! Not to mention comfortable! Thank you to everyone who made my dress possible with such care!

Bride Emily in California in Backyard Wedding Ideas

Read on for more of Emily’s love story and bridal wisdom:

 How they met:

We met online!

Was there a time in your relationship where your love faced adversity, and you thought it wouldn’t work out? How did you repair this?

I don’t know if there was ever a time we thought it wasn’t going to work out, but there have definitely been times we feel/felt tested. In these times we have each had to grow and learn how to be better partners for each other.  We also recently found out I can’t have children and while it has been trying, it has also been very uniting and a testament to our strength together as a couple. We feel we can tackle almost anything together now!

How she found her wedding dress:

I actually worked very close to your first shop in Torrance and would drive by it on my way to work. Sometimes the door would be open and I could see the dresses and thought they were so beautiful. Then a co-worker told me she got her dress there and I knew I had to go. It was the first shop I went to. I tried on maybe 4-5 dresses. I fell in love with the Nellia immediately. I went to a few more shops, but could not stop thinking about it. I remember telling my mom I felt like a woman when I wore it. So we went back and that was that!


What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony?

My cousin read the poem “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver. It is one of our favorite poems and something we return to often in times of stress or struggle.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line?

We did write our own vows. I loved my husband’s vows. There are two lines I always think about. One he said he fell in love with me because of my general dissatisfaction to accept the status quo and that relationships are process and progress and that I will always have someone to process and progress with.

He says his favorite part from me was that the two of us make a family and we will always be a family no matter how our family looks or is made.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding?

I loved so much about our wedding day! We honestly had the best team of vendors I could have asked for. It was such a stress-free day because we had such an amazing team!

What advice do you have for other future-brides currently planning a wedding?

Hire a day-of coordinator! You won’t regret it.

Tell us all about the proposal:

We were on a road trip from Redondo Beach to Washington. Our second stop was the Redwoods. We were on a hike in the Redwoods and he told me to look up at the trees and then to look down and when I looked down he had out an engagement ring. It was amazing. We were all by ourselves surrounded by the Redwoods.

How many guests did you have:

We had a family ceremony at my parent’s house with 85 people and then a larger reception with 175.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert:

We had custom made cookies and Pan Dulce.

Her favorite detail of the wedding:

I loved that we had the ceremony in my parent’s house in the backyard I grew up playing in. I also loved the flowers, my dress, and that everyone walked barefoot down the aisle.

Their next chapter as husband and wife:

Just continuing to enjoy life together. We plan on taking more bike rides on the strand, traveling, camping, climbing, exploring, and eventually figuring out how to start a family someday.

The couple in California after their backyard wedding

The wedding flowers:

My flowers were designed by Gingersnap Florals. They were succulent, earth tone, with soft pops of color, inspired!


Small Intimate Wedding in South Africa

Small Intimate Wedding in South Africa

Their mutual love for rhinos and wildlife brought them together. When they met, Noa was living in California, while Matt was visiting from his native South Africa. It was love at first sight! Noa would later move to South Africa to begin their lifelong adventure. What a beautiful couple, and we love all the gorgeous inspiration from this small intimate wedding in South Africa.

Their story as told by bride Noa:

Bride Noa wearing a fringe wedding dress in South Africa

How did you and Matt meet?

Their story began nearly two years ago during the fundraiser “Rhino Ride” when Matt was cycling down the west coast of the USA with a replica life-sized rhinoceros in tow. Matt, a South African citizen, was raising awareness on the declining population of wild rhinos in Africa, and one of his stops along the way was Safari West. Unbeknownst to Matt, Noa was a Zoo Keeper working with rhinos at Safari West. While taking him on a quick tour, she introduced Matt to her favorite rhino, Waldie, and voila! It was love at first sight! Our love and passion for rhinos and wildlife are what brought us together and what propels our continued explorations! Noa has since moved to South Africa, and together, we are adventuring on our forever safari.

Was there any adversity early on in your love story?

There was no adversity, but when I first moved to South Africa, it did put a lot of strain on our relationship trying to adjust to living in a third world country with only knowing Matt.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress

I only went to one bridal shop, which was Dreamers & Lovers, and knew even before my appointment that the Heather fringe Lace dress was the one. I only tried on five dresses that day.

Bohemian Bride in South Africa wearing Heather Fringe Wedding Dress

Noa Wearing Heather Fringe Dress

What was your favorite phrase, verse, or line of your wedding vows?

I ended my vows with a quote from chaos in the stars “I didn’t fall in love with you. I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I do believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do things we’d choose anyway. And I’d choose you, In a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality. I’d find you, and I’d choose you.”

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding?

My wedding photographer was amazing. She captured such natural and candid moments!! Bron from Vanilla Photography.

intimate wedding ideas from South Africa

Vanilla Photography

What advice do you have for other future-brides currently planning a wedding?

I know a lot of people say this, but please try not to stress; the day will turn out perfect, and it goes by so fast, so take everything in and let the day flow naturally.

Tell us all about the proposal

Matt proposed at a remote location off Long Tom Pass in South Africa. It was beautiful overlooking mountains after mountains.

How many guests did you have?

74 guests

Describe your wedding cake or dessert?

My wedding cake was a two-tiered natural-looking carrot cake. With succulents and rose gold flakes with a rose gold wooden cake topper of our Last name.

Tell us about your wedding flowers?

My flowers were succulents, proteas, eucalyptus, natural grasses, and roses.

What was your favorite detail of the wedding?

I had dream catchers and fairy lights everywhere; it made the rustic venue look so magical.

bohemian wedding in South Africa

What’s next for you as a couple?

We are planning to extend our family soon! YESSSSSS to that!!!


This stunning small intimate wedding in South Africa was photographed by Vanilla Photography

Wedding Dress – Heather Bohemian Fringe Gown

Would you love to see another bride wearing the Heather gown, see Jackie’s Fiesta Wedding here.

Vibrant and Fun Mexican Inspired Wedding

Vibrant and Fun Mexican Inspired Wedding

Jackie and Hector’s parents had been friends since middle school, but the couple had no idea they would ever be together and hosting such a gorgeous Fiesta Wedding. Jackie visited us in our California studio, and everything about her was laidback and fresh, so we can attest that the relaxed vibe in her photos is authentic, and not just for the cameras:-) Everything from her wedding, including the vibrant pops of color, the groom’s Charro suit, and her Mexican Inspired Wedding Dress screams creative and unique. Get ready to be inspired, if a Mexican Style Wedding is on your wish list,  by this wedding filled with Cactus and hosted in the California desert. They even had a Mariachi band, and Takis was on their menu…so much fun!!

Tell us, how do did you meet?

It was destiny that Hector and I met. My parents were friends with his parents ever since I was in middle school. Hector’s first memory of meeting me was during a camping trip that our families visited. However, my first memory of meeting him was a year later outside of our parish hall. We became close friends fast, and the rest was history.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress

The search for my wedding dress started when I went to a traditional bridal shop with my mom and sister on a day off from work. It was pretty early on in my engagement, and I just wanted to explore different styles. I tried on about six dresses. All of them looking beautiful, and the online pictures made them look perfect. However, not a single one of those dresses felt right on me. I felt discouraged, so when I got home, I googled “laid back wedding dresses,” and I found Dreamers & Lovers. I was SO EXCITED looking though the website. Even though I went to one more wedding dress shop after my first visit to Dreamers & Lovers, there was nothing that compared. I knew my dress was there, and I was so happy!


Did you write your vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse, or line?
We didn’t write our vows, but on the day of the wedding, our priest took us by surprise and said: “they have prepared their vows that they will share now.” The improvisation made for great vows because without having much time to think about what we wanted to say, the words came out naturally. I told him I was so excited for him to be my best friend for the rest of my life.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding?
Honestly, the vendors we had were the best! It was such a blessing finding Dreamers & Lovers and finding a dress that made me feel comfortable and beautiful. We were so lucky to find a great Photographer/Videographer team-Poema Studios. They were the sweetest couple with such great talent. Finally, our florist was the best! She is my mother-in-law, and she put so much love into the arrangements and bouquets.

What advice do you have for other future-brides currently planning a wedding?
My biggest advice is to keep the process stress free. Remember what this day is about: you and your partner. It’s all about you guys and the love that you are celebrating.

Tell us all about the proposal
He planned a weekend full of activities, one of which included a picnic at the park on a Saturday morning. We were sitting on a blanket, eating salads and snacks, and he surprised me with the ring. After I said yes, our family came out to celebrate us from behind some nearby bushes. He planned a family dinner that same night. It was perfect because it felt so natural.

How many guests did you have?
We had about 250 guests.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert?
Real flowers adorned our wedding cake. We couldn’t pick just one flavor, so each layer was a different flavor.

Mexican Inspired Wedding Cake

What was your favorite detail of the wedding?
My favorite part of the wedding was seeing everyone that we love celebrating our love with us. Seeing everyone dancing & laughing the whole time was a testament to what our love represents. We had a blast dancing with our loved ones, and it’s a feeling I will never forget.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding?
The only challenge that we had was that our first venue burned down due to the Malibu Fires in 2018. We had to scramble to find a new venue but ended up finding a great place.

What’s next for you as a couple?
Right now, we are both focused on our careers- Social Work and Marketing. Eventually, we would love to get a puppy! Also, we have a trip to Tokyo planned for our first anniversary. That’s super exciting for us both!

Tell us about your wedding flowers?
Our flower vendor was Rosa’s Flowers in Sylmar, CA- a small business that happens to be owned by my mother-in-law. I always joke that she’s a flower queen, but it’s true. Her talent and ability to put different flowers together is an art, and we were so blessed that she took our vision and created something beautiful.

Photo Credits: Poema Studios

Wedding Dress: Heather Lace Fringe Wedding Dress

Florist: Rosa Flowers in Sylmar, CA

This Bride Met her Husband at 4 Years Old

This Bride Met her Husband at 4 Years Old

Take a second and remember what you were like at 4 and 5 years old. It was a great day if you had playtime, yummy snacks, and finding your sleeping mat. For Amanda and Derek, they were starting their journey of finding their soulmates. These love birds went from playing sports together to then reconnecting after high school. It’s safe to say they had a strong foundation with a lifetime of friendship and memories. Amanda and Derek’s love story is one for the books, as was their recent wedding at the Condor’s Nest in California. Their wedding feature is full of inspiration for the boho bride-to-be. We especially love all the DIY details from the flowers to the cake. Amanda wears her Ophelia two-piece wedding dress. We feel she couldn’t have chosen a more perfect dress to match her personality. She looks incredible.

A-laid-back-yet-elegant-and-intimate-wedding-in-California-at-the-Condor's Nest-Ranch
Photo: Erin Wiese Photography

The Proposal

Amanda loves hot air balloons, and was on a work trip in las vegas, and was surprised with a hot air balloon ride with a few of her co-workers… when she should up to the ride, Derek popped out of the hot air balloon basket to go on the trip with her. He proposed mid-air on the journey.

Photo: Erin Wiese Photography

The Wedding Dress

Before being engaged, I came across Dreamers & Lovers on instagram and had my wedding dress picked out before marriage was even talked about, haha. I know what I like when I see it 😉

Photo: Erin Wiese Photography
Ophelia 2-Piece Bohemian Wedding Dress

The Vows

Yes, we wrote our vows, I think my favorite line would be me telling Derek, “you are not only the best person in my life, but you are the best person in everyone’s life around you.” HE IS SO LOVED!!!

The Must-Have Detail

I dreamed of having a rug aisle for the ceremony that we were able to rent from witty rentals.

Photo: Erin Wiese Photography
A-Bohemian-Wedding-with-vintage-rug-aisle-at the Condor's Nest Ranch
Photo: Erin Wiese Photography

Advice for Future Brides

Make it as simple as possible for yourself, and take all the help you can get! LOL

The Guests

There were 140 guests!

wedding one-man-band -at-bride-Amanda's-wedding-at-Condors-nest-Ranch
Photo: Erin Wiese Photography

The Wedding Cake

The bride’s mother made both cupcakes and wedding cake. The wedding cake was carrot with cream cheese frosting, all homemade so yummy 🙂

Photo: Erin Wiese Photography

Favorite Details

Everything was perfect! More than we could’ve imagined, it was so awesome to see it all come together, knowing how much love went into every detail. Our thank you gifts were hand-painted rocks that we all helped out with; this took months to get done!

Photo: Erin Wiese Photography

The Next Chapter

We are ready to enjoy life! 2 weeks after the wedding, Amanda and Derek put together a brand new salon for the bride and her three business partners, then traveled to Bali for three weeks!! We are excited to enjoy each other.

The Flowers

All of our flowers and arrangements were artificial and silk! Besides the greenery. The bride’s cousin put them all together!

Photo: Erin Wiese Photography
Photo: Erin Wiese Photography

Final Details

It was the best day of our lives, and we partied all night with our friends and family!!!!We wish we could relive this day over and over again.

Boho-Bride-Amanda-first-dance-at-condor's-nest ranch
Photo: Erin Wiese Photography

To view Amanda’s dress, as well as other two-piece wedding dresses. See here

A Fairytale Romance Blossomed on Skype

A Fairytale Romance Blossomed on Skype

Have you ever dated long distance? What if that distance span continents? This is how Noel and Kyle started their romance. In a year they became fast friends. They spent every day together talking, laughing and getting to know each other. Then that moment came. The moment Noel had to tell Kyle that she would be spending a significant amount of time in Paris. While a dreamy place, the angst and longing must have been real. What would become of their relationship? Could they pick up where they had left off? As fate would have it, Kyle wound up receiving lessons on the magic of Paris through Skype. When Noel returned to America, they both knew something had changed. Their friendship led to love and here is their story to show that we exist for LOVE.
“Kyle heard all about the magic that is chocolat chaud (hot chocolate rich enough to eat with a spoon!)”….yummmmm


How they Met?

Through our undergrad years, Kyle and I would take the train every day to our college. One day, Kyle broke the ice with a friendly hello and a chat about what classes I was taking. We became fast friends and would spend our daily commute often talking and laughing, learning more about one another and building our rapport. After about a year of friendship I went off to Paris for a quarter abroad. During my Paris adventure, we would skype…alllllll the time! Kyle heard all about the magic that is chocolat chaud (hot chocolate rich enough to eat with a spoon!) and I got to hear all about his first internship with a major biotech company.  When I got back, we both knew something had changed and we’ve been together ever since.

The Wedding Dress

Let me start off by saying how much of an incredibly picky person I am. I wish I wasn’t so particular, but I am! It’s in my DNA lol. My dress needed to be classic but still fun, elegant and timeless, but still whimsical. I wanted to feel absolutely beautiful, comfortable, and most importantly, like ME on my wedding day. I had tried on wedding dresses at many places before finally finding my perfect dress at Dreamers & Lovers. Everyone at D&L was so kind and welcoming and made me feel so at ease throughout the entire process. My dress, the Vivienne, was everything I had ever wanted and more. It was perfect!

witness-the-romantic-Iceland-elopement-amidst-the-dreamiest-waterfall-the -bride-hikedin-a-polka=dotted-wedding-dress

Reading at the Ceremony

We had a very intimate wedding in front of a waterfall in Iceland. Our ceremony was officiated by an Icelandic Humanist wedding officiant who was absolutely amazing! She got to know us through skype conversations for a few months before our wedding and she made our ceremony so personal and true to our relationship. One of my favorite readings she did was of an Icelandic poem that she surprised us with on the day. She recited it in both Icelandic and English and it was so beautiful!

The Vows

We wrote them together a few nights before the ceremony. It was the middle of the night, we were in a very cold car, in the middle of nowhere in Iceland, waiting to see the Northern Lights. Things got deep! But we still kept a note of playfulness–anyone who knows us, knows we love to laugh! Of all of it though, I just love the sincerity of our vows.

Wedding Vendors

We had such a small wedding that we only worked with a few vendors–our hotel, our photographers, and D&Ls! I can’t speak highly enough about how amazing it was to work with these businesses–I wanted a relaxed wedding and they all made that possible. Kyle and I were able to focus on just each other on our wedding day which was such an incredible gift.

 Going Against the Grain and Following your Heart

This one might sound silly, but it was definitely against the grain for our ‘life plans’ and was totally a heart-led decision. About 8 months before our wedding, Kyle and I got a puppy! Yes, a little anticlimactic, but it was a big deal for us! We had always wanted a dog and were looking forward to getting one in the future sometime, but not for a while… and especially not while we were planning our wedding, one that was going to take place thousands of miles away, in the wilderness, in a foreign country! Well, as fate would have it, we were meant to get our little fluff ball much sooner (I mean, once you see the perfect pup, how can you say no to it???). It was a leap, and we have never looked back since welcoming our little Ro pup into our lives.


Advice for Future Brides

Your wedding should be about your relationship, about your love for each other, your commitment. Do what makes you and your husband happy and don’t get bogged down by the things that don’t matter. No one is going to remember the chairs! (Side note–we didn’t even have chairs at our ceremony!). Be present and–my favorite piece of advice given to me by a dear friend–look into each other’s eyes. 🙂

The Proposal

Kyle loves to make me laugh! We knew we were going to get married (we had been talking about it for quite some time) and on Halloween, he proposed wearing a giant, inflatable T-rex costume! It was ridiculous and hilarious and perfect.

The Wedding Guests

We had our parents and our siblings with us for the ceremony and dinner. There were 10 of us total.

The Wedding Cake/Desserts

We had a traditional Icelandic wedding cake called Kransekake. It is a cake made up of rings of marzipan sponge cake and covered in delicate icing. One of the traditions that we were told is that the bride and groom are supposed to break off a ring of cake together and however many rings they break off is how many children they will have. On our first attempt, we broke off seven…oops.

Favorite Details

So hard to choose! My dress (!), my coat/mittens/cashmere stockings (it was cold!), the pearl earrings my mother gave me, my husband zipping me up into my dress (we got ready together), the Takis we shared in the back of the Superjeep we took adventuring after our ceremony…ALL OF IT! 🙂


Biggest Challenges

We thought it was going to be telling our families that we were going to get married in Iceland, but they were all so supportive and on board. It was great! It was probably getting all of our documents ready for our wedding in a foreign country–not for the faint of heart!

The Next Chapter

Savoring life’s special little moments, going on more adventures, playing with our pup…who knows what the future holds!

The Wedding Flowers

They were beautiful and simple. White and ivory roses, lots of greens.

Final Thoughts

It was just the most magical day! An amazing way to begin our next chapter together.

Photographer: Jane Iskra Photography