Kate and Tom’s elegant Descanso Gardens wedding day festivities included pictures in a redwood forest, a wedding ceremony under oak trees and cocktails in a Japanese garden. Planner Demaray Events focused on celebrating the beautiful botanical garden settings with a stunning, rustic and minimal ceremony arbor by Holly Flora, an industrial romantic reception design and personal touches like the NYT crossword puzzle program by Sloan Harmony Design and custom cocktail napkins highlighting the couple’s favorite things. You can see all the lovely details in the stunning images from Steve Cowell Photo.
What made the wedding special and unique?
We decided to get married in beautiful Pasadena, California, where I grew up and my parents still live. With over 90% of our guests flying in from (much) colder places, we wanted to spend as much time as possible taking advantage of the spectacular 70-degree April weather. We spent the weekend celebrating outside, starting on Friday with an afternoon at Santa Anita Racetrack, a rehearsal on the front lawn of my childhood home, and dinner and welcome cocktails at our favorite open-air restaurant. Saturday’s festivities were held at a beautiful botanical garden and included pictures in a redwood forest, a wedding ceremony under oak trees and cocktails in a Japanese garden.
Before the official wedding ceremony, we exchanged personal vows in front of Tom’s brothers, my maid of honor, and one of my closest friends. The ceremony was officiated by a dear friend who had gone to high school with Tom. He did an incredible job, writing a very personalized sermon that made everyone laugh and cry at the same time. The ceremony featured readings from Winnie the Pooh and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and the entire wedding was watched live on FaceTime by my maternal grandparents, who weren’t able to make the trip from New York.
Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!
When I was dress shopping, I was looking for something pretty specific – I wanted a dress that was simple and chic, but also not boring. My mom flew up to San Francisco for the weekend to help me shop and I set up 6 different appointments at various bridal salons in and around the city. We went to appointment after appointment and found nothing that I liked. It’s amazing the looks you get when you tell people that you don’t want anything with lace, tulle, or pouf! Our last appointment of the weekend had taken us all the way out to Walnut Creek, and after six appointments and about 50 dresses, I was feeling pretty defeated. On our way to dinner, we walked past Kinsley James’ Walnut Creek store. I didn’t have an appointment, but they managed to fit me in and understood exactly the look I was going for. They pulled out the dress I ended up picking – a simple Rivini silk crepe dress with two panel cut outs.
What were some touches added to make the wedding personal?
We wanted the wedding to feel lighthearted and had a lot of fun adding in personal details that reflected who we are as individuals and as a couple. One of our favorite things to do is to sit on the couch on Sunday mornings and do the New York Times crossword puzzle, so we added the NYT crossword puzzle from the day we started dating on the back of our programs and gave our guests little golf pencils to fill it out. I handmade our table numbers, which were little riddles that guests had to solve to get to their seats. Our specialty cocktails gave a nod to Harry Potter —we served Polyjuice Potion (a Manhattan) and Felix Felicis (a French 75). To accompany the cocktails, we made custom napkins that said “Go Cubs Go” (Tom is from Chicago) and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” (Casablanca is one of our favorite movies).
What was the most memorable part of the day?
We had an amazing DJ who had all of our guests rocking out on the dance floor the entire night. To cap it off, he played our favorite power ballad, Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing. As Tom and I slow-danced, all of our guests formed an impromptu circle around us and swayed as we all belted out the lyrics at the top of our lungs. It was the perfect way to end an amazing day.
Tell us how you met and became engaged.
In 2013, I moved to Chicago to attend business school at Northwestern. I signed up to attend a trip for incoming students to Turkey, and Tom, a second year student at the time, was leading the trip. We bonded on the trip over our shared love of Harry Potter, crossword puzzles, and travel. When we got back home, Tom asked me out and we spent the next two years exploring Chicago and falling in love.
After graduation, I moved to San Francisco while Tom stayed in Chicago. We spent the next 6 months traveling back and forth across the country earning lots of airline miles. Tom spent Thanksgiving in Pasadena with my family, and I flew to Chicago to spend Christmas with Tom’s. Christmas is one of my very favorite times of the year, and two days before Christmas, Tom planned a day filled with a whole list of Chicago Christmas activities – a visit to the Christkindlemart to buy Christmas ornaments, an Italian dinner in Andersonville, and cocktails at our favorite Evanston speakeasy. Tom proposed at the end of the night and, after enjoying Christmas with Tom’s family, we flew to Spain and spent a whole week celebrating over tapas and wine.
Photography: Steve Cowell Photo // Event Design & Planning: Demaray Events // Florals: Holly Flora // Paper Goods: Sloan Harmony Design // Venue: Descanso Gardens // Wedding Dress: Selma By Rivina // Wedding Dress Boutique: Kinsley James // Bride’s Shoes: M. Gemi (Fortuna) // Hair + Makeup: Bethany Colson // Groom Attire: Indochino // Videography: BGS Productions // Catering: Patina // Cake: Fantasy Frostings // Furniture & Linen Rentals: Classic Party Rentals // Specialty Rentals: 204 Events (Reception Lighting) // Music: Red Shoe L.A. (Ian)