Magical DIY California Bohemian Wedding at Saddlerock Ranch
Now…at Dreamers & Lovers, we see a lot of love, as you can imagine. Our bride stories are one of the treats that make us feel so blessed! The very-much-unfinished tale of Jen’ and James Caratola, though, is one of the tales that made me think: that’s what I want! The couple share such a deep and powerful love that pours like poetry from every word of her interview, from every line of their self-written ceremony and from the breathtaking photos of Jen’ in her Valentina gown from D&L and James, her VIKING man: I just can’t wait to share it all with you!
The couple created a wedding website, which shared the story of their meeting and touched upon the very powerful mechanism of destiny and God.
The couple met just 5 years ago, despite the fact that they had grown up together on a one-bridge island, just half a mile away from one another…With more than a hundred mutual friends, the couple had been in the same room countless times over the course of their lives until 5 years ago, in a miracle of love at first sight, Jen’ asked her friend…”Who is that?” Obviously, to destiny…and God, it was time for them.
The pair soon discovered that, in addition to their ‘almost-shared’ youth, they’d lived only a breath of 5 blocks from each other when both had stayed worlds away, in Philadelphia, where one had lived, a vagabond graduate student, the other, a blossoming corporate professional.
There first year together was a whirlwind, as James was constantly moving on clinical rotations…Jen’ visited him in South Carolina and on the dock at Charleston Harbour, James discovered their shared curiosity and explorer spirit. When Jen’ departed on the northbound for Philly, he felt taken with longing and almost wanted to chase her down. It was the start of many travels. It was the start of the kind of the love that could make anyone BELIEVE!
Big Sur, in CA, has always been a special place for the adventurers but on September 24th, 2016, it became even more special….While on a camping trip with a handful of their dearest friends, James asked the question that had been on the tip of his tongue for a year, when he asked Jen’ to marry him. With Jen’s beloved ocean below and James’ beloved mountains above, the mountains finally met the sea.
Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress for her Boho Wedding
First up…to find the dress! Jen’s parents had flown in from NJ for the long-weekend, to help with wedding planning and to help their daughter find the ONE (the ‘other’ ONE, haha). With Mom and Dad in-tow, Jen’ booked and attended 4 appointments at different bridal spots. While she tried on so many beautiful wedding dresses at the first two shops, she just wasn’t sold on one yet. That’s when they visited Dreamers and Lovers, where Jen’ tried on more than a handful of favorites!
Browsing one of the racks, Jen’s Mom handed the assistant a laid back wedding dress, asking her to have Jen’ try it on for size. Turns out, Mom knows best, as always…because Valentina was perfect! It was love at first sight for the second time. Jen’ purchased the dress shortly after that and even though she still went to the last appointment, nothing could compared to the Valentina boho wedding dress.
When Jen’ did her first fitting with her two besties, her viking Fiancé sent a gift of flowers to her during the dress appointment, out of the blue. “That is just the kind of man he is and how special he makes me feel”, says Jen’ and we have to admit…she sure is one lucky, lucky Bridechilla.
The lovers invited 125 guests to the event, which was booked at Saddlerock Ranch and Hilltop Estate, a beautiful log cabin on top of the mountains, with views of the vineyard, rolling hills and the ocean (the mountains and the sea, remember…) and while the venue couldn’t have been better chosen, planning was intense, since they had to bring everything themselves…down to the kitchen utensils. The ceremony and reception were held outside the cabin, perfect.
Dreamy DIY Details from the Wedding
Jennifer composed a song herself, on the piano, recorded it and walked down the aisle with her Dad to it but most special was how many guests flew all the way from New Jersey to attend, even their grandparents, a real treat! It would be a night to remember, dancing together with their loved ones under the stars…
The couple wrote their entire ceremony themselves and it only makes sense that we share a few snippets, straight from the day:
The Ring Ceremony (Jen’s ring was custom-made and James’ ring was a unique mix of wood and metal)
You’ve brought rings with you today that shall represent these promises. People say that a ring symbolizes no beginning and no end. But these rings did have a beginning. The stones began as a simple structure that only time and pressure could form. The wood was taken from a tree whose roots grew deep and strong. The metal was forged under immense heat and took effort to shape.
Something miraculous was made from raw elements.
This couple had its own humble beginning. Your love is the process of shaping something beautiful where there was once nothing at all. As you wear these rings over the years, may you carry this love to the end of your days.
And the Vows (With Jen’s favorites in bold)
Jennifer, you’ve made me a better person in countless ways. You’ve taught me strength, patience, attention and humility. You’ve given me perspective into the meaning and purpose of this life. My highest highs and lowest lows need only your presence for enrichment. I want to share every thought, every sight and every feeling with you, my love. I vow to carry when you need, to hold you when you want, and to follow you when you lead. I vow to never lose sight of the amazing person that you are and the great fortune I have, to be your choice.
James, life is grander with you in it and our adventures are unforgettable. You melt my worries and ease my stress. You’ve shown me, and those whom I hold most dear, a love that I never dreamed possible.
To always return that same love, now and to the Man you’ll grow to be,
To be the greatest supporter in your life and aspirations,
To care for you when hurt or sick,
To be your partner through thick and thin,
To be your teammate when raising a family
I vow to love you till my dying day and embrace every step of our journey. Never skipping a day to remember these promises, and to always take every chance to see this world that our eyes were meant to see together.
Wedding flowers, by the way, were succulents, greens, white flowers and…purple cabbage!!! It was a standing joke on the day that if the bridesmaids got hungry during the event, at least they could eat their bouquets. Hmmm, good idea, though I worry I’d munch my whole bouquet and stand empty handed, I kinda dig purple cabbage.
Jen’ says that weddings have become so cookie cutter and expensive, it’s important that boho wedding planners think outside the box. The pair did a lot of things on their own, instead of enlisting vendors for EVERYTHING. James made custom leather bowties and suspenders, with handmade leather luggage tags, with names, for the guests as gifts (what a brilliant idea #gottarememberthatone).
Jen’ designed the invites and skipped out on save the dates by sending the invites out early; she also bought terrariums and filled them with succulents grown by her now-mother-in-law, which were used as centerpieces. She also had a good friend work on photos and paid for raw footage of the day but put the video together herself!
Last but not least, as a dessert, the couple had towers of doughnuts from their favorite, DK’s doughnuts in Santa Monica and coupled that with fresh fruit for everyone to enjoy! When ‘cake-cutting’ time came, the couple shared great big, simultaneous bites of the favorite kind of doughnut!!
So you see ladies, real love is REAL THING…DIY weddings can be OFF THE HOOK…and if you plan ahead like James and Jennifer did…and get married over Labor Day weekend, you can plan anniversary getaways for the rest of your (love) lives.
Thanks so much to J & J, who’ve freshly moved house to Santa Barbara, for the blessing of their story…the future awaits!!
Photographer: Kristen Victoria Photography
The Mind of the Boho Bride on her Wedding Day
You saw him from afar, the guy of your wildest dreams, you made a friend, you got a little closer than friends, you started to realize you couldn’t do without him, then he proposed. So you conquered the uncharted coasts of (insert name here), pretty much! Engagement ring on finger, preparation for the bohemian wedding of those same wildest dreams under way, it strikes you hard …there’s the wedding night to come, the moving in, the MARRIAGE, the walk into the sunset, it’s deep, it’s vast, it’s real life and it’s yours. You’re stoked.
Clearly, you’ve zoned in on the ‘ONE’ or maybe even the ‘TWO’ (bridal separates), as far as your gown is concerned, you’ve opted for a few customizations to make it just right and can’t wait to try on the final product. There’s no time to play the waiting game though, since a sweet ton of things need doing, including all your cray-cray DIY projects…and you’re more than a little worried about enlisting enough help from your busy collective F&F for that.
The fact is, you chose a laid back wedding, a boho wedding and a beautiful, simple wedding dress because you’re chill as a freakin’ ice cube…well, usually. At the mo, a strange panic is setting in, especially since you’ve given yourself exactly 3 months to plan absolutely everything, plus your boss decided to hit you with an extra couple of tasks, with a smile: say whaaaat?!
The fact is, you’re usually so chill that you half expect it’ll ice your windshield over, but now, your system is awash with a totally odd compilation of hormones, neurotransmitters and a trance party of conflicting emotions, What The Actual F? You feel like a walking sweating teepee. Um…are you seriously getting married?
The months before the wedding are jam packed, the feelings unusual, sorta like…premenstrual. Still, when the day finally arrives, it can be really intense, your laid back persona might even seem to have gone underground when you wake up from that nervous, probably pretty disrupted sleep. Let’s talk about some of the things that go through a bride’s mind on her wedding day: a day so full of action that it often speeds by far to fast to be fair. Maybe, knowing what to expect will help that special, once in a lifetime day tick by a little slower. Maybe, reading this will help you make the most of it, instead of stressing.
#1: “Okay, checklist item A, OMG, B, Oh no, C, what was it again?” The longest night of your life
Remember those December 24’s as a kid, biting your nails in almost unbearable anticipation…or the same, before your finger-displayable birthdays? There might only be one night, post-childhood, that could compare to that sort of insane sleeplessness. There’s one night that may well make you feel like an 8 year old again, exhausted as you are from a week of work, final, mad preparation dashes and nervous tequilas with the crew…and that’s the night before your wedding.
That totally necessary, desperately craved beauty slumber will likely be standing somewhere near Jupiter, laughing at you hysterically, no sheep in sight, just a still standing pasture fence and a gate… the gate to the rest of your life.
The night before your wedding, you will be running over every single aspect on your wedding schedule, looking at every corner of your ideal image to try to find something amiss. You’ll be wasting your time, that much goes without saying but the fact is that you won’t be able to help yourself.
Boho diva or no, remember, stress is a leading cause of outbreaks and God forbid you wake up after a 3 hour snooze with a whopper on your chin, your forehead, or even…your NOSE! Meditate, watch a movie that’ll draw your attention, drink some red wine but for goodness sake, get some sleep and eat so you don’t look like the boho chic walking dead.
#2 “No thanks, I’m too excited to eat.” The champagne pain
Girl, don’t be cray. Studies have shown that the brain is responsible for burning 20% of your body’s energy. What happens when you’ve been stressing and worrying obsessively and you wake up with about 82 voices in your head is that that number goes up.
Even if you’re a careful eater and hunger is the very last thing on your mind; even if you’re terrified of bloating your tummy and being gaseous at the altar (just imagine), the fact is, now more than ever, you need a bigger than usual, high energy breakfast, along with about an hour to let it settle before you get too active.
No doubt you’ll be quick to accept that second champers and OJ but on a stomach that’s got no more than a small yogurt in it, all that you’ll get in return is a feeling of being wind-blown, in a place with no wind and legs that feel disinterested in the idea of keeping you moving.
#3 “It’s too much, it’s all too much!” The panic attack
It matters not how much you disapprove of time wasting, fluttering, near terminal glee, hugs and freakin’ expectations…that’s because, this morning, however many people RSVPed, well, that’s how many people will have you at or pretty dang close to their center of attention and there will be no escape.
What I’m saying is, basically, you just gotta chill like you’ve never chilled before and let folk fuss over you, don’t let them make you do anything unthinkable like wear a shade of pink lippy that makes you look 20 shades feminine-er that yourself . Otherwise, what’s gonna be going through this bride’s head is a whole lotta: “It’s too much, it’s too much…OMG, WTF?!!”
And seriously, bridechillas aka (dreamers & lovers brides), ladies of the times, don’t do panic attacks…how you gonna wear a laid back wedding dress, a totally groovy bohemian wedding dress and act like a high strung nut-case? That type of foolishness is for cupcakes, hello!
The Bohemian Wedding Day..and Dress
#4 “I feel ridiculous, walking slowly down this aisle like an airhead.” The princess parade
The aisles walk; okay, think about this one. Try it out with whoever is handing you over, do rehearse. Don’t parade yourself for the guests, walking at the pace of a song which makes you feel constipated, in front of a smiling, awkward audience.
Choose music with a pace that’ll get you there in just enough time to think: “Well he is looking fine, and so am I, and this is really happening in 3, 2, 1.” The aisle walk is a special thing and too much of: “this is taking ages, I feel stupid smiling at everyone, oh shoot he must be wondering why he’s here” is gonna leave you flustered when you arrive at the altar.
You should be looking at your man all the way, making eye contact even, thinking “SCORE, SCORE!”
#5 “Um………………………………………….” Terror in virgin territory
Believe it, there are still a great many boho sistas who, for religious, cultural or moral reasons, will be getting their cherry picked for the first time on their wedding night. For those chaste chillitas, there will likely be one of two tracks of thought traversing their minds pretty incessantly all day (with variations, depending on what kind of intel they have, from whatever sources, about the Birds, Bees and things like Man-bottoms).
Track 1: I hope he still likes me once he’s seen my nipples, my lady bits and my extensive (and possibly not as bad as you think) cellulite…and I hope he doesn’t expect me to act like a porn star…oh, oh and …I hope I still love him once I’ve met Walter (ahem).
Track 2: Oh My Word, Can We Hurry This Reception Up Or What? As in, look how fine he is all clad in his blue suit, I cannot cope any longer?!
Not every girl grows up imagining every detail of her ideal wedding celebration, day in and day out. In fact, a good many sistas, especially those of the free-spirited, hair in the wind, soulful, boho persuasion…they get caught with a serious case of romance, unexpectedly and from the stars enough to have the whole idea of floral crown, crying moms and all the wedding proverbials be really, truly, fully, awkward…and every little traditional fluff can end up feeling a task for, depending on just how much of a hippie spirit you are: unless of course, you learn from our D&L brides, run over your bridechilla mantra at least every hour or so…
“Let me just, make the guy proud, instead of making him wonder”
“an easy wedding portends an easy marriage”……. or something to that effect, just relax, put your hands in your boho wedding gown with pockets, thank goodness this is 2018 and such things are possible….breathe, and savor the miracle of it all.
Wishing you love and freedom. xx
All photos of Bride Carolina + Groom Nate’s wedding was taken by the freakin talented Katie Edwards Photo
Interested in reading the details of Nate’s & Carolina’s laid-back Tulum boho wedding see it here
The Boho Bride & Her Flowy Wedding Dress
Paige and Tyler’s story is one of patience, friendship and two people who took the time to get to know one another before deciding to spend their lives together. It was Paige’s freshman year when a friend told her about a great looking guy who shared her love for God and before she knew it; he was knocking on her door, inviting her for a game of sand volleyball, one of his favorite pastimes. Flops, socks and a cheetah print bikini and Tyler was obviously hooked…the road to a romantic relationship, however, was going to be a long one, in spite of the fact that they both had strong feelings for one another from the get go.
They became close friends, even journeying to Spain together to study during their junior year. Some people have a lot of patience…I certainly don’t know if I would make it as far as they did before calling it like it is. The plus side is that, by the time they got together, they would know for sure whether or not it was meant to be. Six months after their stay abroad, they began spending more one on one time together and soon, that one on one time turned into dates.
After spending their last school year, at Cal Poly, as a couple, college loomed and a forced separation was imminent. Paige got a job in Southern California, while Tyler stayed on an extra year to finish his degree. They got together during holidays and some weekends, counting down the days to when they’d be living in the same city again. That day would be a long time coming, as Paige moved to Texas for graduate school and Tyler remained in California, working and applying for medical school.
Three years of long distance later, their paths finally took them to the same city again. Tyler began medical school in California and Paige landed a job close by. It was only a month later that Tyler asked her to be his wife…he’d had plenty time to think things through. Paige was, of course, well and truly surprised. Paige’s mom had been in town visiting and for some reason she’d thought he’d definitely not pop any big question while her mom was so close at hand.
One morning, Tyler nonchalantly invited Paige to join him on a hiking trail he’d heard about from a classmate. Since she loves exploring new places, she was keen as can be but she certainly wasn’t prepared for what Tyler had planned. Arriving at the hiking spot, there was a choice of two paths to take, one of which was paved and full of people, the other a little more rugged and definitely more intriguing to Paige. Tyler had thought she’d need convincing to take that particular path with him but, that day, he was in luck as she lunged, determine to take THAT path and no other.
On reaching the top of the hill trail, he wrapped his arm around her and a few moments later Paige was greeted by a sight she’ll never forget. There before them was a table set up with flowers and a card, overlooking a breathtaking lakeside vision. Paige had waited years for that day and couldn’t hold back the tears as he ushered her to a spot between two trees and got down on one knee. She later learned that there had been GoPros positioned in the trees and that a stealthy friend had flown in to take sneaky photos of them from a distant hiding spot. It was more romantic than she ever could have dreamed.
All about her Laid-back Flowy Wedding Dress
When it came to finding her perfect, laid back boho wedding dress, Paige knew what she wanted. She was very particular, she loved lace but was very picky about what kind of lace she wanted; she also planned to steer clear of bedazzlement, tulle, poof and the dreaded outcome of walking down the aisle like a heavily decorated cupcake. More than anything, Paige wanted to feel comfortable on her wedding day.
After many a long afternoon and night, scouring Instagram and Pinterest, she became aware of the fact that she had saved multiple pictures of different brides, all wearing the same boho flowy wedding dress, the Lisa. Not only was Lisa the epitome of her wedding dress dreams, the About Us page on the D&L website made her fall even more in love, Dreamers & Lovers and the laid back Lisa dress spoke to her, they WERE her!
Despite the fact that she’d already found ‘the one,’ Paige booked appointments at local boutiques so that her and her mom could do the ‘girl thing’ when her mom came to visit. She’d tell the assistants that she wanted long sleeves, comfortable, no glitter and preferably soft lace. The thing is, she couldn’t get the Lisa out of her mind. A short while later she ordered Lisa and Aurora to try on from Dreamers & Lovers but dreading the idea of not having her bridesmaids close at hand for the big try-on, she decided to fly up to Northern California and convince the gals to skip work and join her for an impromptu appointment. The choice was clear, Aurora, which was brand new at the time, was to be the one. Paige couldn’t have been happier in a million years.
Details of her Chic Bohemian Wedding
Location was of the utmost importance to the couple, who ended up getting married on the lawn at Paige’s aunt and uncle’s house in Northern Michigan, overlooking the most magnificent lake. When Paige was in high school she’d spend a few weeks there each summer and she’d always envisioned a wedding there. When her family offered, she jumped at the chance and looked forward to spending the day with 95 nearest and dearest, many of who had to catch a plane flight to get to the enchanting Michigan venue.
Jamie, at Pontius Flowers, helped Paige bring her imagination to life with organic, boho blooms and tons of fresh greenery. Because the planning was long distance, the couple enlisted the help of friends and family who lived closer to the destination during planning. Her cousin built a beautiful bar by hand, along with corn hole boards made out of pallet wood; her uncle made a birch wood arch and easel and Paige and her bestie worked together with watercolors and love to make original wedding stationary. Before the couple’s send off, another one of Paige’s beloved cousins treated the couple and guests to the ultimate firework show. It’s those details, which required the help of loved ones that the couple will remember the most.
Tyler and Paige are big on pie, so they visited a local bakery and ordered an assortment for the reception, while a friendly neighbor on the lake contributed some of her famous raspberry pies. On top of that, since Paige’s gran is somewhat traditional, a small, semi-naked, white wedding cake with raspberry filling was ordered for the two lovebirds to cut together.
Vows were self written, with Paige’s favorite from Tyler being: ‘You are my priority on this earth and I vow to rely on the strength of our Heavenly Father to shoulder the challenges we will face and always protect you and our marriage.’ Tyler’s favorite line from Paige’s was: ‘You bring laughter and joy into our loves and you always know how to make me smile. I feel so proud I get to call you my husband and so honored that you would call me your wife.’ Readings were Genesis 2:18-24, Matthew 19:4-5 and Romans 11:36.
“if you can’t afford a wedding planner, find a way to afford one! Even if you’re a control freak, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by letting someone smooth out details in the last week and especially on the day”
Paige’s advice for boho brides to be is that, “if you can’t afford a wedding planner, find a way to afford one! Even if you’re a control freak, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by letting someone smooth out details in the last week and especially on the day”. 2500 Miles away from the wedding venue, with a 3 hour time difference, Paige found herself having to wake up extra early to call vendors before work. Another challenge was choosing vendors based purely on internet searches, especially with Northern Michigan being a little behind California in terms of wedding resources…actually, with some vendors, there was only one choice available!
At the end of the day, the pair loved everything about how the wedding turned out. It was an unforgettable celebration, especially for all the loved ones who flew in for the event. They were blessed with perfect weather all weekend and spent the days boating and swimming in the lake. It wasn’t a stretch for friends and family to understand exactly why the couple had chosen that particular, far away venue.
Now, with Tyler half way through medical school and Paige working in public health as a registered dietician, the couple is looking forward to their long future together. They live in Northern California now but are both ecstatic about their planned move for Tyler’s medical residency. Little ones are surely on the cards but no time soon, for now it’s all about enjoying their time together and appreciated uninterrupted sleep for a few years, if they can help it. We wish them years of adventure, romance, friends and family!
Wedding Photographer: Jenna Borst Photography
To see other boho brides wearing the Aurora and other Flowy wedding dress styles see our Photo Album
For a listing of our complete lineup of bohemian wedding dresses go here
Now, I’ve come across a good many photographers who are light crazy, meaning…there snaps are always clear and crisp and more often than not heavily posed in order to make the most of LIGHT, LIGHT, LIGHT. Haley Nord is not one of those, in fact, her use of shadow and her ability to capture the magic in situations of natural shadow and just about any light is no less than inspiring.
Looking through a portfolio of her shots of happy couples with their friends and family, it’s hard to believe that these are just ordinary people and not seasoned fashion models being paid megabucks to look awesome. This is a wedding photographer that Dreamers and Lovers just couldn’t pass up recommending.
Haley’s had a camera in her hand since she was a teenager but it was on leaving school that she started to realize that this was the path she wanted to follow for the rest of her life. Editorial and fashion photography emblazoned itself upon her heart, she fell in love with her ability to manifest mood and drama with no more than a camera and an understanding of light. I say ‘no more than’ but really, Haley’s understanding of light is clearly a God given talent, her wedding work is quite extraordinary…
Her motto of ‘fear is a liar’ shines through in her work, with images that are real and glorious, she manages to communicate the beauty in angles and scenarios that the ‘traditional wedding photographer’ would, perhaps, walk away from. The result is that raw bohemian enchantment that D&L brides were born for.
The only advice she has for brides when she’s on the job, ‘breath in, sink in, relax!
Haley maintains that it was no specific event, which triggered her to embrace the wedding photography industry. She sincerely finds joy in documenting that which is sacred and dear to the parties involved…she’s touching lives and she loves that. The only advice she has for brides when she’s on the job, ‘breath in, sink in, relax!’
It’s clear that Haley’s no stranger to love and she may even be something of a serious, die-hard romantic. Reading through Haley’s unmistakably boho website, www.haleynordphotography.com, I discovered that her beloved boyfriend is behind her every step of the way and that she credits him with teaching her how to find the beauty in life’s ‘little things.’
One of the other things, which make Haley such a perfect boho wedding photographer, is her preference for story-driven, editorial style work. She’s no fan of posting one photo at a time, for Haley it’s about seed…to a bud…to a rose…to a windstorm of stunning petals and a very, very happy ending! She wants people not just to see but also FEEL the story from start to finish and she gets it right every single time.
Haley’s photographic stories exude the feelings of the people captured in them; she’s not shy about getting close and personal, about getting real. For the couples who’ve left compliments on her website, they can hardly express their joy at being able to truly relive those moments, so much feeling has she captured in her work.
Haley’s style is really a mixture of just letting things unfold, anticipating moments and influencing outcomes
Haley’s style is really a mixture of just letting things unfold, anticipating moments and influencing outcomes. She’s more hands-on during formal shoots but beyond that she manages to create that million dollar editorial quality out of just about anything that happens during the day. There are artists who’ve inspired her during her life but not all of them are photographers…to name a few, Stevie Nicks, Theo Gosselin, Cormac McCarthy and Wong Kar-wai, specifically his film, “In the mood for love.”
Like many ‘meant to be’ photographers, Haley has a soft spot for shooting on film and because she, herself, learned in film, she always encourages others to experiment with it…in order to capture the extraordinary scenes she does at weddings though, she always shoots digital.
…that time a particular mother of the bride approached her to say thank you for showing her daughter how beautiful she is, not in a superficial way but for real
We’ve no doubt Haley receives plenty of heartfelt thank-you’s and compliments on her outstanding and inspired work but one that’s definitely stuck in her mind is the time a particular mother of the bride approached her to say thank you for showing her daughter how beautiful she is, not in a superficial way but for real. Haley says she’s never felt more flattered in her life because she always aims to show people the little beautiful things about themselves.
CREDITS: All photos here are by Haley Nord. The second and third photo, is of real bride Beth wearing the Dreamers & Lovers Azalea dress and Cindy veil.
Julia..her ‘Julia’ Bohemian Wedding Dress and Mark
Every so often, a free-spirited bride-to-be walks into the studio that Yanique feels she just won’t ever be able to forget. Sometimes, like in Julia’s case, the bride envisions and wears the dress sooo ethereally well that the designer feels it’s only right to name it in their honor.
The story about how Mark and Julia met is a new millennium tale and while their first steps may not seem like romance movie material to Julia… the fact is that, in her heart, some serious alignments were taking place which would give birth to her life’s poetry, Love, which just keeps growing. So, yes, Tinder can make dreams come true. Neither of them were serious about the online dating thing, it was a matter of friends coaxing them on from the get-go.
So that fateful Right Swipe happened in August of 2012, after which it took a few good weeks of chatting on the app and getting to know one another before they were ready to exchange phone numbers and organize a real date. The date was set for a Mexican restaurant near where Mark lived, called Habana. Unfamiliar with the spot and its surrounds, Julia rocked up a full hour late for their first date, after not knowing what to wear and getting seriously lost en-route. Flustered to the brink, Julia remembers the way that nervous energy dissipated on joining Mark at the table and how she so quickly needed to accept the reality of his serious handsomeness.
The Blind Date and Kiss of a Lifetime
That blind date stretched on into the hours, with tales told on a whim that both of them had previously felt to keep secret. Julia was swept up in the intrigue of him, his manners and how easily he made her laugh. In her center she felt the poem come to life that night and was grateful when he walked her to her car and said goodbye with a kiss. She could actually kind of hear the fireworks going off in the distance; something was definitely going on here. That event is now safely filed under Julia’s ‘Kiss of a Lifetime’ heading.
Since Julia had been single for such an age before that first date, she liked to joke that if Mark hadn’t popped the question within 3 years, it would be time to break up. It was a joke but Julia did believe that after couple of years, that’s when you’d know whether this was for the long run. While Julia’s pretty sure that she would have been prepared to wait for him forever, she didn’t have to wait that long: only 2 years and 10 months.
The pair was invited on a 2-week trip all through Iceland; a van, friends and the county. They couldn’t contain their excitement; they’d never been to Europe and for them it felt like the opportunity of a lifetime. Julia knows that God serendipitously opened all the doors to make the special trip possible. Of course, Julia was secretly holding thumbs for a proposal but she knew it was wiser to keep her mind off the idea and just enjoy the trip.
“Jules, you are going to get that ice in Iceland!”
The thing is that her friends had caught on and the official group joke was: “Jules, you are going to get that ice in Iceland!” As a result, she simply couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of getting engaged to the man of her wildest dreams, while exploring one of the most beautiful places on earth.
On the 9th day of their epic journey, Mark kept raving about a ‘Black Rock Beach’ that featured very close to the top his ‘Must See’ list. This obviously tugged on Julia’s hopes but alas, after visiting said beach, there’d still been no proposal. That’s when Julia decided that she was 1000% sure that she had the wrong idea.
On the road to their next sightseeing, Mark suggested that she change into something really cute, so that they could do one of their customary photo-shoots at the waterfall where Justin Bieber shot his music video, “I’ll show you.” Julia rather likes JB so she figured that she could probably use a more Instagram-able getup. Taking pictures at their destinations is something of an obsession for them so Julia definitely didn’t think the request at all suspicious.
Once they got to Skogafoss Waterfall, Mark scouted for the ideal spot for their friends to take a few photos…this was nothing unusual for the group. That’s when Julia felt like the whole world went into slow motion. As Mark turned to her, he took her hand and got down to his knee. She sort of blanked out at that point and actually has no idea what words came out of her mouth, nor can she recall Mark’s actual words. Oh well, we’re thinking that the answer must have been something that sounded like 1000% YESSS!!!!
Speaking of epic journeys, Julia’s hunt for her totally unreal, totally exquisite, totally HER boho wedding dress was like running into a brick wall at first. Her and her sister had been on the hunt for a few months already, when her sister discovered Dreamers & Lovers on etsy.com. She instantly saw sparks and just knew that she needed to book an appointment on the double.
Julia’s vision involved a laid back, long sleeve gown with a dramatic plunging neckline and infinitely feminine lace right through. She now sees that trip to visit Yanique at the studio as the second best decision she’s made in her life thus far. In Julia’s words, Yanique is a beauty with a truly incredible talent. After slipping into a few D&L boho wedding dresses, she laid hands on the Lisa, at which point she and her entourage of lady-fam fell in love with the gorgeous lace, the long sleeves, and the plunging V-backline.
The Birth of the Julia Boho Wedding Dress
The only thing is, Julia had hopes for a plunging neckline and not a plunging back. In a burst of creative spirit, she asked Yanique if she could actually try the Lisa dress on backwards. To everyone’s awe, she came out of that dressing room as though her hopes and dreams had come alive. With the help of Yanique’s skilled and thoughtful seamstresses, D&L took every aspect of her vision on board and a few tweaks later; she had HER bohemian wedding dress, straight from laid-back heaven.
Pop-Up Wedding How-to…Solved!
Plans were set in place for an intimate wedding ceremony with just 23 of their nearest and dearest. Their reception, however, was to be a full on celebration with 150 friends and family partying it up into the night.
Finding a destination for their pop-up, outdoor, desert wedding was to be the greatest challenge; they found it so difficult to decide. They only settled on the perfect location 2 short months before the date; well after their extraordinary photographer, India Earl; their videographer, Max Cutrone, their florist, Leelina Martin and their AirBn’Bs had all been booked.
The mission was to have all 23 guests hop onto a 1 1/2 hour party bus ride to a pop-up ceremony on the Salt Flats in Palm Springs, CA, right in the middle of the desert. The couple will never forget that moment when the bus finally pulled over to the side of the road at Amboy Salt Flats. That’s when the guys sprang into fire-drill-like action, grabbing the macramé-decorated altar, ghost chairs and the rug for the ceremony and building it up from nothing in the space of an hour.
Julia felt like someone might pinch her awake at any moment, when her bridesmaids and mom helped her zip up her ‘Julia’ in the bus as the boys worked miracles outside before their eyes. The feeling of love and support from their dear friends and family, who helped them make their wild pop-up in the middle of sublime nowhere a bright reality. The location picked was at 7840 Amboy Road, Palm Springs, CA.
As for flowers, Julia’s favorite specimen is the King Protea so that’s what she chose for her bouquet, Leelina accented it with dusty swathes of eucalyptus, olive branches, silver tree, silver dollar seeds and the bridesmaids had the same dusty green eucalyptus vibe.
Oh, and since Julia has a weak spot for desert plants like cacti and succulents, she opted for a simplistic naked cake with desert arrangements for accents.
Readings were an integral part of the ceremony so, in Julia’s words, here’s what their beliefs entail and what they chose to have included in the ceremony:
God ordained marriage to be unique and to be the most deeply covenantal relationship possible by incorporating both horizontal and vertical agreements. If we were to see a picture of this, it would resemble a cross. For example, Ephesians 5:3 states that in marriage two individuals cleave together and become one flesh. The word ‘cleave’ emphasizes the Hebrew meaning of a man and a woman literally becoming glued together through a binding oath. This is the horizontal binding. Then, the beautiful nature of God’s perfect love for His people and what He desires for a married couple is expressed in 1 Corinthians 13:
“Love is slow to lose patience. Love is not possessive. It does not pursue selfish advantage. Love never gives up and never loses faith. It is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.”
This is the example of God’s love, which is the binding agent for the married couple. This is the vertical binding. So, pictorially, husband and wife together and then their married partnership in union with God form the full nature of the Cross.
Self written vows were extremely hard for Julia, who says that there just aren’t enough words in the dictionary to truly explain the eternal kind of love she has for Mark. She could only describe her feelings and how Mark changed her life as a lightning bolt. Lightning bolts strike only once, in one spot and at one time. They have a purpose about where they strike and they most certainly leave a lifelong mark. The lightning bolt lights up the sky fast and if you’re not looking or paying attention you may just miss it. When it happens it might make you very nervous for a second but the aftermath is breathtaking.
Here are Julia’s own words:
Mark struck my heart with his love like no one else has done before and will ever do again. He lights up my world with his catching personality, laugh, and affection. I wasn’t looking for love, but it just happened to fall-like a lightning bolt…straight into my life. And I knew in my heart that there was something about this caring, tender man that I wanted more of. His love is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced and it leaves me in awe.
Next on the horizon for this angelic boho couple, who stole the hearts of the whole Dreamers & Lovers team, is thoroughly relishing the married life, seeing where it all takes them with traveling, puppies and even cacti and then, of course, starting their own new family!!
Photographer: India Earl
Florist: Leelina Martin