For this SoCal-raised couple living in New York City, Malibu was the ideal spot to tie the knot. With close family and great friends gathered, the couple said their “I dos” atop the scenic Rancho del Cielo vantage point that sheds light on the venue’s name. Bright blooms and wooden accents completed this wedding’s laid-back backyard feel, and can we just say, we have never seen guests look happier to be at a wedding? With smiles all around and a flash mob to boot, this wedding is one for the books.
How did you choose your wedding venue & location?
Although we met after each having spent almost a decade in New York City, Mark and I were both born and raised in Southern California and are Californians at heart. We wanted to reflect that sentiment with a laid back, outdoor celebration by the ocean. We looked into a few beautiful venues in Malibu and Santa Barbara which fit the bill. However, the moment we saw the panoramic views and lush gardens at Rancho del Cielo, we knew it was the place. The space was incredible: the Pacific Ocean is the backdrop for the ceremony space and the outdoor reception area, there is a beautiful white-washed ranch house for day-of primping, and comfortable fireplace lounges perfectly placed throughout the property. Also, being a family-owned venue on a working olive ranch gave it a warmth we didn’t experience at other venues. The owners, Jill, Sparky, and their event planner, Cathy, made us feel right at home and put just as much heart into planning as we did. The end result was magic.
How did he propose?
After dating for three years, I (naturally) expected a proposal any day and casually started scouting wedding venues online one day. Mark found out I was doing this and, although he already had the proposal secretly planned for my birthday three weeks later, decided to throw me a real curve ball. He feigned several reasons as excuses for not being able to get engaged in the near future in order to ensure that I was truly surprised when the day came. His plan was successful - I shed some tears and spent a few days in angst - but by the time my birthday rolled around, I decided Mark was the one and I would be patient and wait for him to come around. For my birthday, under the pretense of a surprise dinner, he had a car service bring me to The Boat Basin Café overlooking the Hudson River. The manager was kind enough to give him the entire outdoor space for the proposal but it was only when I saw him get on one knee in the exact spot where we met three years earlier that it hit me that he was actually proposing. I was so genuinely surprised and overwhelmed that I couldn’t even cry, let alone process his beautiful proposal speech. I was speechless. I got myself together just enough to say yes. His plan to trick me worked, and turned out to be the best surprise of my life.
How did you choose your color scheme?
The color scheme was an after-thought and I was not militant about sticking to it. Once we settled on the venue, it just seemed fitting to have our main colors be a range of greens, from sage to the darker succulents, to complement the lush gardens at Rancho del Cielo. I chose the blush pink of the bridesmaids dresses to be a light, airy contrast to the greens. The blue pop of Mark’s suit was not planned, but turned out to be the happy result of a suit fabric mishap. Somehow, though, it all managed to come together!
What was your favorite moment of your wedding day?
That is such a hard question! The entire day was a blur of complete and utter joy, better than we could have ever imagined. One of the best moments had to be when I surprised Mark with a flash mob right after the mother-son dance. All of our friends and family generously learned a dance my sister choreographed to Calvin Harris’ song "Thinking About You." Seeing Mark’s expression of complete surprise along with all of the people we love coming to together to dance in unison was truly priceless.
What advice do you have for other brides?
The best weddings we had ever been to were the ones that focused not only on the couple, but also made it a priority to celebrate their friends and family, as well. We used that as a marker for everything we did and ended up with a day that had a feeling of warmth all around, where everyone felt included as an integral part of the celebration. Also, be ready for a blur on the day of. Mark was thoughtful enough to pull me aside during our reception so that we could take two minutes by ourselves to stop, breathe and look around at all of the people who had come to be there with us that day. I still remember how happy and grateful I felt in that moment. I recommend that every couple try to do this together at least once during the day.
Where was your honeymoon?
We mini-mooned in Mendocino, north of San Francisco, for a week, which was the perfect place to just relax after the wedding craziness. I highly recommend it - great food, wine and an incredible part of the California coastline! We will soon be taking off on our extended honeymoon to Cape Town and the Okavango Delta for a safari adventure.