All photos by Sarah Rico Photography
It’s safe to say that letting an event planner plan her own wedding is a slow descent into insanity. But you know what? I loved every moment of it. Our wedding was the loveliest and happiest (albeit the coldest...it snowed the day before and on our wedding day!) day of our lives. It was filled with so much joy, so much fun and so many treasured friends and family who came from near and far to celebrate us. I’ve been itching to share our wedding day with all of you and what better time to do that than right as I launch this brand new site?
When it comes to talking about our wedding, I tend to overshare a bit, but if for some reason I don’t cover something you’re dying to hear about, send me an email or ask in the comments and I would be happy to answer!
We had a large wedding by most standards: 140 people attended. Despite our best efforts, there was no way we were going to have a wedding under 140. But, Kyle and I both have such a great community of friends and family that having a big wedding was totally alright with us!
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Before Kyle and I got engaged we talked about where we wanted to get married and it was a no brainer: LAKE TAHOE. It’s where Kyle was born & raised, where we’ve spent many Christmases together and probably one of our favorite places in the world. We decided to get married on the California side of the lake to also pay a little homage to where I was born and raised, and chose a late September wedding because fall is a gorgeous time in Lake Tahoe.
We had one huge “non-negotiable” for our wedding venue: it had to be turnkey....aka it had to be completely ready without me having to bring any essentials in, like tables and chairs. If given the option to load-in vendors at 7 AM on my wedding day in my robe, I would’ve done it and I wanted to be fully present on our wedding day.
So, venue was also a no-brainer (for me at least): West Shore Cafe and Inn. Hands down the most beautiful, lakeside venue I’ve ever seen and even better? It was totally turnkey! Kyle was skeptical at first, but after we met with them and did our food tasting he was just as enamored as I was. The staff was amazing and our onsite event liaison, Lisa, dealt with my Type-A, overly organized and too detailed bride self beautifully. West Shore Cafe and Inn had EVERYTHING from silverware to catering staff and even heat lamps, which we ended up needing at the last minute! I only brought in my photographer, videographer, florist, pastor and day of coordinator, which didn’t require me loading anyone in or out. It was glorious!
AND THE VIEWS. MY GOD THE VIEWS.
I have to be honest: on my list of wedding priorities, invitations and save the dates fell really low. I had a graphic designer friend do our save the dates and ordered our invites off Vistaprint during one of their many sales. I did send out our save the dates and invites much earlier than any wedding book told me to: since our wedding was considered a destination and kid-free wedding for many we wanted to give everyone time to plan ahead and book their accommodations.
One thing I really did enjoy was setting up our wedding website (which you can see by clicking here). I used Squarespace and definitely recommend it. I wanted a site that was easy to navigate and didn’t have a super long URL. Since we had a destination wedding we needed a wedding website that was easy for guests to use and could host a lot of information in one place.
I wanted a dress that was both classic and romantic. I didn’t want to look back and wish I had chosen something different so I went with something I knew would stand the test of time, and more importantly, my own criticism. I was also ballin’ on a pretty tight budget which limited the options of where I could shop. I found my dress on BHLDN’s website on sale for $1,000 off. They had 1 left in my bridal size and I bought it then and there, without trying it on. Just to be 100% sure I loved my dress, I did take a Saturday to go to BHLDN in Beverly Hills with some of my bridesmaids to try on dresses. We drank champagne, tried on dresses and I knew I had made the right choice and stayed with the dress I ordered online. There’s a bit of a saga with the fit of the dress, but it has a happy ending. Basically, the dress didn’t fit because the designer’s dresses run 2 sizes smaller than the 2 sizes smaller that bridal dresses already run. I did lose weight leading up to my wedding thanks to my friend Helya at The Studio but the only way the dress was going to fit was if I shaved off part of my pelvis. I was a bit distraught, and a little too hard on myself for not being thin enough…..but, thanks to my amazing friend Sara’s mom, who altered my dress in about 2 weeks, (and by altered I mean she basically had to remake my dress) I had a dress that fit and didn’t even look altered! She was an absolute angel who I credit with saving my wedding.
My bridesmaids wore dresses in Show Me the Ring Crisp from Show Me Your Mumu. All my girls have very different styles and body types so I let them pick a dress style that worked best for them and made them feel comfortable. When I asked them to be my bridesmaids I gave them each a swatch of the dress color along with a little gift. I had 2 adult flower girls because 1. We had a kid-free wedding and 2. Because it was awesome. They also wore dresses from Show Me Your Mumu, but in a floral pattern.
I called in trusted reinforcements on this one. My friend Kari Herriford did my hair. Kari works at Beyond the Fringe Salon in Santa Clarita, California and she is basically the only person I trust with my mane. Kari advised me to purchase Bellami clip-in extensions and it was the BEST FRIGGIN DECISION EVER. We ordered extensions, then Kari colored my hair to match. I miss many things about our wedding day but mostly I miss that hair. It was DREAMY.
My make-up was done by my dear friend Sara (the same one whose mom altered my dress), who did the most incredible job. I gave her an idea of what I wanted and she made it come to life! I wish I could look like that everyday: my face was flawless (and also waterproof, just to be safe!) I felt absolutely beautiful on my wedding day, thanks to these ladies!
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY
I would shout from the rooftops about my photographer and videographer if it was socially acceptable. I FREAKING LOVE THEM, YOU GUYS.
Our photographer was Sarah Rico Photography. She’s known Kyle since he was in preschool and we were so honored to have her shoot our wedding. Sarah is funny, sarcastic and super creative. She was the best groomsmen wrangler I’ve ever met and since she knew Kyle and I so well, she was able to really capture us and our relationship in the best, most personal way. She understood the sensitivities around Jake’s passing and helped maneuver our large wedding party with ease. We were thrilled with how our photos turned out. BOOK HER NOW.
Our videographer was my dear friend Adam from Siegel Films. Adam and I were tour guides at CNN together back in 2010 when he started his wedding videography business. I jokingly told him that when I got married he would film my wedding. 7 years later, he flew in from Charleston and made the most amazing wedding video for us. He captured us perfectly and captured our wedding day perfectly. Adam is a very popular wedding videographer and so to have him at our wedding was a pretty big deal for us. I was incredibly honored and emotional when he showed up in the suite where I was getting ready. Adam is the best. If you’re in the South book him NOW. LIKE NOW.
We were married by Kyle’s childhood pastor, which was important to both of us. We wrote our own vows, which was also really important to both of us. I wrote mine a week before, Kyle wrote his the morning of our wedding. And that’s about everything you need to know about our relationship. Our vows had a good mix of funny and heartfelt, and were a perfect testament to our relationship.
Gatsby was in attendance and his escorts were our dear friends Rachel and Andrew Walker, who flew all the way from Mississippi to be at our wedding.
Kyle's cousin Kelsey read "i carry your heart" by ee cummings to start off our ceremony.
Kyle and his parents walked down the aisle to “Your Hand in Mine” by Explosions in the Sky (covered by Vitamin String Quartet).
Our bridal party walked down to “Beautiful Day” by U2 (covered by the Vitamin String Quartet).
I walked down the aisle to “At Last” by Etta James. It was my grandparents wedding song and has a very special meaning to me.
We did not do a first look. We wanted the first time we saw each other to be as I walked down the aisle.
I would also like to state, for the record, that neither of us cried as I walked down the aisle. I was too nervous to cry and Kyle was just taking it all in. It was a big, emotional moment but I think we were both just so swept up in it to cry for some reason.
Our guests and bridal party? A complete mess. Almost everyone was crying.
For our recessional we played “Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay.
FLOWERS AND DECOR
I had a VERY specific vision for this part of our wedding. I want classic and romantic with a little bit of sass.
Our flowers were done by Rose Petals, a local Tahoe florist. My experience with them was not great (they messed up my order 3 times), but our flowers turned out fine. We had them do our bridal party flowers and our centerpieces (which were long greenery garlands with fairy lights woven in). I was happy in the end, but would not recommend them to anyone.
My friend Heather from Brown & Co Designs did all the signage and escort cards for our wedding. WOW is all I can say about Heather. She made my vision come to life, and it was everything I could’ve asked for and more. It was also really fun to have a Ventura vendor as part of our wedding: her signage complimented our venue perfectly and everyone loved it.
Our wedding favors were pizza cutters, paying tribute to our pizza story.
Our guestbook was a custom globe, painted by my dear friend Amber Thomas.
I rented sparkly linens for our cocktail tables from Ventura Rental Party Center: I ordered champagne and navy linens to give our cocktail hour a bit of pizzazz. I worked with Nikki and she was awesome!
BRIDAL PARTY GIFTS
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I was agonizing over these. We wanted gifts that were original but most of all USEFUL for our bridal party. My bridesmaids are all so unique and different that I knew I couldn’t get them all the same piece of jewelry or a robe. I scoured the internet for ideas and found these shirts from Design Punch on ETSY. I got them as a fun little part of the gift, for the girls to wear as we were getting ready.
The main bridesmaids gift? I got each of them massages or facials in the cities they live in. After putting up with my lunacy, they deserved some pampering. I did some research on Yelp and Google to find spas that were well reviewed and close to their homes. It was something they could use to pamper themselves after the wedding.
Kyle got his guys a really nice travel bag. A lot of his groomsmen travel frequently and many had a bag they received as a groomsmen gift 10 years ago. He wanted to give them an upgrade, which they all loved and appreciated. He also gave them the ties and socks they wore on our wedding day.
Obviously we served pizza at our wedding. It’s not on the menu at West Shore Cafe and Inn, but they made it special for us. We served 4 kinds of pizza: BBQ chicken, pepperoni, cheese and veggie with 2 kinds of salad. Our guests loved it!
During cocktail hour we served passed appetizers. We did our appetizers a little on the heavier side, because I was worried they wouldn’t be full on just pizza and salad alone.
Another thing that was really low on my wedding priority list was the cake. We knew we wanted something simple and incorporated the greenery from our centerpieces. We had an O’Malley family friend make our cake, which turned out delicious or so I hear because I didn’t eat any of it other than the bite Kyle and I fed each other. I got our cake topper from Sugar Lab Bake Shop in Ventura, who I would recommend if you’re getting married in Ventura County.
We served beer and wine to our guests. With the altitude in Tahoe, you can get drunk pretty quickly, so we wanted to keep things as tame as we could!
Our reception was a full-fledged DANCE PARTY. We hired one of Kyle’s friends, who is also a professional DJ, to do our wedding and he was awesome! The dance floor was packed the entire time!
Our first dance was to “Someone Like You” by Van Morrison. We actually had a totally different song picked, but when we practiced dancing to it and it didn’t feel right. “Someone Like You” is a song that has always reminded me of Kyle, and when we listened to it again the day before our wedding we agreed it would be our first dance.
Kyle and his mom danced to “Perfect Fan” by the Backstreet Boys (her pick).
My sister and I did a dance together but for the life of me I can’t remember the dang song!
Kyle’s cousin Erik, his best friend Brett and my Matron of Honor Ashley spoke during dinner and their speeches were, in a word, perfect. Erik’s brought us to tears as he talked about Jake, Brett made us laugh as he shared some of Kyle’s college days and Ashley’s speech was so perfect that I just can’t put it into words. I laughed, I cried and I was even more thankful for my waterproofed face because I was a mess by the end.
During the speeches, it started to snow, which is one of the ways we remember Jake, since he was a big skier and lover of winter. We all lost it.
All in all, our day was everything we wanted it to be and much more. Our favorite part? (beside becoming husband and wife) Having everyone we love in a place that we love, celebrating our love. It was so special to see our friends meet, see old friends reunite and new friendships formed. It was so fun getting to celebrate with our closest friends before we walked down the aisle and spend time with friends we don’t see enough after we said our vows.
Honestly, it was probably my favorite day yet. And now, we’re Mr. and Mrs. which is so fun and also so weird! Three months in and I’m still excited to see that ring on Kyle’s finger.