We know that many of our readers are craving a return to simplicity, but when it comes to wedding planning or anniversary photo sessions, simplicity can be hard to achieve for reasons that are so plain: it’s so simple! Allowing designs, clients and authentic moments to thrive in a simplistic environment was at heart for this lifestyle portrait session. Natural every day wear and hair was styled to keep the natural element and the Brooklyn brownstone home was the perfect backdrop for this clean and effortless lifestyle session.
You may have seen this wedding featured on Once Wed before. If you joined us for our free wedding planning + design webinar last night, you would have heard the bride, Rylee Hitchner, describe how much she loved the experience of creating her wedding.
In case you missed it we’re sharing her words with you again today in the hope they inspire you in your wedding planning journey.
Andrew and I met when we were 14 and 17 and five years later we got engaged on the hammock in my parents backyard. 8 months after, we married in that same spot.
The fall before the wedding, my mom & I found a delicate silky soft piece of lace we knew would be a great inspiration for my wedding dress.
Joy Thigpen then sat me down for a creative session & blew my mind as she gracefully & magically pulled my desires for the dress & the wedding out of my heart and put them onto paper. During the session, I remember saying to Joy, “I think I want the wedding to feel like this scene in my head: A group of family & friends attending a baptism at a fountain in an Italian city & then together celebrating the baptism over dinner at a family’s small garden in the village.”
It sounded weird saying it out loud, but that vision embodied the refreshing, life-filled, warm, intimate celebration I imagined our wedding to be.
I always dreamed of getting married in my parents backyard & I feel so blessed that everyone gave so much to make that happen.
My Italian grandmother and aunt made the delicious feast, while Caitlin made the perfect little panna cottas for dessert. My sister and I made the hypertufa pots for each table and Katie potted beautiful, unruly arrangements in them- which I proudly still nurture & keep today!
The candles were a therapeutic project my sister and I took on; making them tall, thin, and perfectly imperfect. And my dad, who gave the most of all, built our long wooden dinner tables and hand laid century-old bricks for a patio for us to eat on – both of these tasks being completely new to him.
The week before the wedding, by dad also surprised me with something so special to me. The ceremony structure that surrounded us as we said our vows was made by my him with branches from a tree which used to hold our childhood tire swing before it fell the month before our wedding. Fittingly, we call this tree ‘the giving tree’ now.
I’m so thankful for this celebration we have of beauty, love, and family. I’m grateful for the beautiful process of planning for a wedding & every conversation leading up to it. Our hearts are so full.
Styling and Design: Joy Thigpen | Photography: Tec Petaja | Planning: Ginny Au | Flowers: Joy Thigpen with assistance by Cloth of Gold | Paper & Calligraphy: Meagan Tidwell | Pana Cotta: Caitlin Van Horn | Hair: Joanna Ballentine | Makeup: Brittany Massey | Chairs & Flatware: Market 46 | Tables & Lines: Special Events | Brides accessories: Hair Piece & Veil: Vintage | Earrings: Wildlife Wonders | Gown: Cheryl Taylor | Shoes: Cheryl Taylor | Assistants: Nina Mullins and Mandy Busby | Napkins: At Home Furnishings | Grooms Suite and Tie: J Crew | Glassware: Zara Home | Venue: Bride’s Home | Wholesale Flowers: Fifty Flowers
You too can create a wedding that looks and feels this beautiful, meaningful, and personal. Click here to learn more.
If you haven’t already noticed, we certainly fall under the category of flowers lovers here at Once Wed, so when we saw the photos from Taylor and Leeor’s wedding ceremony from Meghan K Sadler, our jaws dropped (literally). Flowers have the ability to create an incredible atmosphere like nothing else, so when this couple decided that they wanted to create a garden-like atmosphere inside the Beverly Hills Hotel, it was obvious what they needed: fresh flowers, and lots of them. The bride tells us, “We love being outdoors and surrounded by nature. We tried to bring the outside in and transport our guests to a garden.” From the incredible installation on the interior staircase, to the lavish chuppah and aisle, thousands of perfect stems were chosen to bring the couple’s vision to life.
Photography: Meghan Kay Sadler | Bride’s Dress: Oscar de La Renta | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Groom’s Formal Wear: Tom Ford, Prada | Hair: Jessica Metivier | Florals: Mark’s Garden | Catering: Beverly Hills Hotel | Wedding Venue: The Beverly Hills Hotel | Entertainment: Elan Artists | Videographer: Fourth Films
You may have seen this wedding before on Once Wed, but we thought you might want to learn a little more about the back story.
Tiffany planned her own wedding (with Joy Thigpen’s guidance). Tiffany and Matt did their whole wedding, including their two-week honeymoon in Bali, for under $10,000.
I wanted my wedding to feel special—to carry meaning, but beyond the traditions I’d witnessed in other people’s weddings, I had no idea how to go about making that happen. I also wanted it to be beautiful, but after days of zombie-scrolling my way through thousands of wedding images on Pinterest, I was left red-eyed and disillusioned. My Pinterest board was a hurricane of burlap, sunflowers, and galvanized buckets (none of which I loved—all of which I thought were “wedding musts” at the time).
Before I began my Creative Session with Joy, I remember feeling totally disconnected from the idea of a wedding. It simply felt like an event I was supposed to put on. It seemed meaningful, sure, but in a very distant way. Like maybe at some point, way back at the beginning of the wedding tradition, there existed a concentrate of meaning. But by now, after being over-processed and produced for so long, it was just a watery version of what it once was (or could be).
I was so excited for marriage. I was so excited to be engaged. But I wasn’t sure how to feel excited about a wedding when I couldn’t envision myself (or my fiancé) really being ourselves in it.
One of the first questions Joy asked me during our Session was, “how do you want to feel at your wedding?” This floored me. Now, it seems so obvious, but at the time—it was the most ridiculous question I’d ever heard! What do you mean how do I want to feel—I have tables to rent! But I sat with that question, and then her next, and her next…and I curled up on a couch beside her, scrolling through thousands of Pinterest images that had nothing to do with weddings and everything to do with the “oh my god I love this” feeling.
My Pinterest board evolved from burlap and sunflowers to this moody, peaceful, intimate collection of oceans, jungles, and microorganisms. I remember exclaiming, “THIS BOARD IS WHAT MY SOUL LOOKS LIKE!” and then we worked on my Words, which felt like putting language to the unspeakable things within me. (To this day, these Words and Images drive so many of my creative and spiritual ventures.)
Then Joy suggested that we take the Words and Images we gathered and turn them into a wedding. My wedding.
The following six months of wedding planning/design was a slow, unfolding enlightenment for me. With every decision, I came to understand that I can truly reimagine everything. I can do away with anything that doesn’t feel like “me” and I can add whatever unexpected ideas I want!
One of my top “feeling” priorities was: “I don’t want to spend my entire reception shaking the hands of people I hardly know. I want to sit around one table and look at every single person’s face and be able to say about each of them, ‘that person truly knows me, and I know that person deeply.’” Before my Creative Session with Joy, I don’t think I realized that I was allowed to have a wedding like that. My understanding of weddings was so cluttered with should’s that, until I ventured through my values, priorities, Words, and Images, I couldn’t see that there was another way. A better way.
My husband and I decided on a laid-back, simple wedding. No frills (and no burlap)—just the people we loved in a beautiful place.
Another one of my top values was to have time to connect with my friends and family during the entire wedding weekend. I didn’t want to miss out on all of my favorite people being in one place! We had a very small guest list (less than 30) and we were all flying out to California for the event, so my husband and I decided to invite everyone out on Thursday (for a Sunday wedding) so that we could really soak in our time together and celebrate our love and friendships for more than just a few blurry hours. In the days leading up to the wedding, we went on hikes, swam in the ocean, and had long, slow breakfasts together. I remember one of my friends saying, “only you would be jumping off of a waterfall the day before you get married!” and I thought she’s right! This is so me.
Compared to many weddings, we did very little. We skipped save-the-dates. We even skipped invitations! We chose a free venue and set our own table. We gathered together on one long table overlooking the sea—the cliffs to our left, freckled with eucalyptus and towering redwoods—and the endless expanse of sky to our right, the horizon blurred by a thick blanket of fog. We had the entire shore to ourselves—it felt like we were the only people on earth. It was everything I never knew was possible—intimate and full of meaning, personal and unlike anything I had ever seen.
It was, and still is to this day, the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to—because it was mine.
Do you want Joy to walk you through the same design process she led Tiffany through? Click here.
Creative Direction & Styling: Joy Thigpen | Photography: Erich McVey | Ceremony location: The overlook at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park | Reception location: Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur | Dress: Cheryl Taylor | Catering: Yam & Bean | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Officiant: Tyler Thigpen