Charming Wedding at Franciscan Gardens

"We wanted our wedding to feel like an intimate, candlelit dinner party – classic yet modern, romantic yet relaxed – with live music and lots of dancing (the Ben Rose Band did an incredible job of setting the mood throughout the night!). We both have a minimalist style, so we kept the decor and color scheme simple (mostly black, off-white, and grey, with blush and burgundy accents), and focused on including personal touches, like hand-lettered acrylic signs featuring lyrics from some of our favorite songs, rose gold accents to match our rings, and an old-school VW bus as a photo booth. The wedding party wore black, and Brian wore a white tuxedo jacket, so he and I popped against the neutral backdrop. Ultimately, the day felt like "us", and that allowed us to relax and enjoy!"

How did you choose your wedding venue? We visited venues around Southern California and settled on Franciscan Gardens for a few reasons – first, the character and style of the venue matched our aesthetic perfectly. The garden is romantic and airy, with beautiful greenery, a fountain, and string lights, and the indoor area has a modern industrial vibe juxtaposing exposed brick with chandeliers and gorgeous soft lighting. The moment we saw the venue in person we could envision our entire wedding. In addition to loving the venue itself, we also enjoy spending time in the area. The venue is in the heart of San Juan Capistrano, walking distance from the Mission and nestled among quiet shops and restaurants downtown. We loved the idea of being able to do our first look and portraits at the Mission, and we look forward to being able to return to San Juan Capistrano years from now to reminisce on memories from our wedding day. We also loved having the combination of an indoor/outdoor space. We used the secluded outdoor garden area for our ceremony and reception and the indoor space for our cocktail hour. We appreciated having the ability to use both spaces to transition smoothly throughout the evening, but even more so, we were happy to have the indoor space as a contingency plan for the entire evening in the event of inclement weather. Even though we are lucky to live in Southern California and don't often have to worry about the weather, having an easy (and beautiful!) backup plan alleviated any last-minute worries that might have led up to the big day.

Favorite moments from your wedding day? One of our favorite memories of the day was our first look. Neither of us was nervous about the wedding itself, but that day we were both just anxious to see each other and the moment we were together we were able to really settle in and enjoy the day. Brian's reaction when he saw me for the first time was so sweet and emotional; that moment was everything a bride hopes for on her wedding day. We did our best to be present in the moment throughout the day, and while we loved spending time celebrating with our guests, we made it a priority to take some time away just the two of us. At one point just before joining our guests for the reception, we practiced our first dance in the bridal suite. Neither of us had our phones, as we had passed them off to friends and family to take pictures throughout the evening (a great tip from a friend!), so we didn't have any music. Instead, we quietly sang "Can't Help Falling In Love" to each other as we danced, and that moment was sweeter and more memorable than the first dance itself.

Wedding advice for brides: My only advice to other brides is to do whatever makes you and your fiancĂ© happiest. This can be difficult, as the planning process brings out a lot of opinions and emotions, but ultimately you want to be able to look back on your day and say that you were truly happy. There are plenty of choices that Brian and I made for our wedding that may have seemed either untraditional or difficult for some to understand – a small guest list (plenty of people weren't happy with us for that one), staying the night together before the wedding (we were so much calmer than if we stayed separate!), black bridesmaid dresses (hopefully they can be worn again? though every bride says that...) – but it was the perfect day for us, and we wouldn't change a thing.

Photography: Brett Hickman Photography | Venue: Franciscan Gardens | Wedding Planners: Lucky Day Events Co. | Florist: Mulberry & Moss | Band: Ben Rose | Photo Bus: California Booth Bus | Hair and Makeup: Stacey Alyson Artistry | Catering: 24 Carrots | Videography: Theater 10 Films