When the bride is a wedding planner, you know you’re in for something good. And Courtney and Saul’s gorgeous California Jewish wedding does not disappoint – seriously, don’t miss the gorgeous shots by Michelle Scolman of Vivienne Tyler Photography!
This wedding is chock full of fun creative ideas, from a build-your-own ice cream sandwich bar (1) to a sweet photo guestbook, where guests added notes to polaroids they took themselves before sticking them in the book for safekeeping.
But our very favorite thing about it is the very special chuppah Courtney, who runs her own event planning business in addition to working in marketing at a university, and Saul, in IT consulting, were married beneath.
When the couple couldn’t find the kind of chuppah they envisioned to rent, the bride’s grandfather offered to build a custom version just for them. Sadly, he passed away during their engagement, but Courtney’s father stepped in to finish the job – in her grandfather’s workshop. What a beautiful way to honor a special loved one, right?! Even better is that after the wedding, the pair donated the chuppah to their synagogue to share the love with future couples – awwww!
Now over to the bride, who looked so beautiful in her gown from David’s Bridal…
How we met
An Unexpected Venue
We were married at Twin Oaks Golf Course in San Marcos, California (a suburb of San Diego). We had a series of venue tours scheduled one weekend – this particular venue was not on our list, but we happened to stop by and they were setting up for a wedding.
We took one look around, confirmed our date was available and booked it on the spot! We canceled all of our other scheduled tours because we knew this place was the one. We loved the ceremony lawn with breathtaking views, the cocktail space fitted with a beautiful outdoor fireplace, and the reception hall that was the perfect size for us.
When the bride is a wedding planner
We didn’t really have a “theme” for our wedding, but we knew we wanted it to be fun, elegant and not too over-the-top. We used a lot of neutral tones with steel blue and accents of peach and light pink in the flowers.
My husband is from South Africa, and most of his family were able to make the journey to the U.S. for our wedding, which was incredible! We wanted to spend as much time with everyone as we could, so we planned a whole weekend of events, including a big Shabbat dinner on the Friday night (where we cooked dinner for 50+ people), a beach-side hike and pool party on the Saturday, and had the wedding on the Sunday. We scheduled it for a holiday weekend so everyone in the U.S. had the Monday off work to travel home.
I’m a wedding planner, so was able to hire myself to do all of the planning! ☺ Our venue included day-of coordination, otherwise we would have hired a day-of coordinator.
What ‘Smashing The Glass’ Did For Us
I found Smashing The Glass to be so helpful during my planning process! The advice section on the different traditions was incredibly helpful, and I found a ton of inspiration from the real weddings section.
Invitations by the bride
I have a background in graphic design, so I was able to create our invitations. It was a simple front and back square card with two smaller inserts. We included a link to our wedding website, which had the weekend itinerary, an RSVP form, hotel information, a link to our honeymoon registry and more.
Hair + Makeup
I decided to keep it simple with the hair and makeup. I kept my hair down and had it curled to stay out of my face, and had a natural, classic look for my makeup. I wanted to look like an elevated or refined version of my everyday self!
A David’s Bridal Dress
My dress was from David’s Bridal. It was overall pretty simple, with spaghetti straps, a ruched bodice and a small train. I wanted something that was flattering and comfortable as I knew I would be wearing it for 8+ hours. As soon as I put it on, I knew it was the one! I felt great and it photographed well!
I chose not to wear a veil or any hair accessories. In my everyday life I don’t wear a lot of jewelry or many accessories, so I wanted to stay true to that and really be myself! So, I wore small diamond stud earrings that my parents bought me when I was a teenager, and a simple studded bracelet that was a gift from my husbands’ family, and that was it!
I wore nude flats that I’m still obsessed with and wear all the time! I splurged and bought feather gray Tieks, which in my opinion are the most comfortable cute flats on the market. They were perfect! My feet didn’t hurt at all that day and they looked great!
The handsome groom
My husband wore a suit from Polo Ralph Lauren. A few months before the wedding, we took a trip to Thailand and bought his tie and all the groomsmen’s ties for the wedding day.
Bridesmaids in blue
I had four bridesmaids, and they all wore long, steel blue dresses from David’s Bridal that had a similar ruched bodice to my dress.
A Meaningful Chuppah
We searched for a long time for a chuppah we could rent that had the look we envisioned. We wanted one with solid dark wood posts that could stand on its own. We weren’t able to find exactly what we were looking for, so my grandfather offered to build us one in his workshop. He unfortunately passed away during our engagement, so my dad built it for us. He built it in my grandfathers workshop so it really was like my grandfather was there in that process.
Our florist did the beautiful draping and added flowers to the top (which we used at the reception for our sweetheart table). After the wedding, we donated the chuppah to our synagogue so that future couples could use it as well!
One of my favorite elements of our ceremony was right at the beginning. We chose to create a modified hakafot, where we each circled the other three times, and completed one circle together. We did this right after I walked down the aisle, so it really helped us both focus in on the moment and on each other.
My favorite memory from the ceremony was a very simple one. We were standing under the chuppah, holding hands and hearing the rabbi speak about the importance of finding love and the significance of this day. I remember looking into my husband’s eyes and thinking how incredibly lucky we are to have found each other and to have so many incredible family members and friends around who took time out of their busy lives to travel to California just to be here for this moment.
A Papercut Ketubah
I am obsessed with our ketubah. I found an incredible Ketubah artist on Etsy (Woodland Papercuts) who makes the most beautiful handmade pieces. We worked with our rabbi to create a meaningful text that we were able to read aloud during our ketubah signing ceremony before the wedding.
Our music choice
Grandparent processional: ‘Begin Again’ by The Piano Guys
Wedding party processional: ‘A Thousand Years’ by The Piano Guys
Recessional (started when we smashed the glass): ‘Shut Up and Dance’ by Simply Three
First dance: ‘Walk the World’ by Jessica Martindale
In addition to the typical dance songs for the reception, we played songs for the hora dances and a few South African songs were played on request, which was so much fun!
Coral and Peach Flowers
Our florist was Emily from Urban Garden Floral and Event Design. She was incredible! We had a large arrangement on the top of the chuppah, which transitioned to our sweetheart table décor. My bouquet was a natural style and had trailing coral, peach and steel blue ribbon. Each bridesmaid had a small bouquet and the flower girl had a flower crown and a basket of petals.
Our flowers included coral-peach roses, peachy-pink roses, bright pink spray roses, yellow solidago, peach hypericum berries, blue eryngium, white lisianthus, Italian ruscus and silver dollar eucalyptus.
Michelle Scolman of Vivienne Tyler Photography was seriously incredible. We found her on Instagram and fell in love with her style. My husband and I aren’t the most comfortable being photographed, so during the engagement shoot she really made us feel at ease and got some incredible shots. During the wedding she captured everything so beautifully and in such a cool way. I really cannot say enough great things about her!
During our cocktail hour, we went out with the photographers for some nice sunset photos. During that time, we actually ended up climbing a wood fence, which was an experience as we were fully dressed in our suit and wedding dress!
Also, we were taking photos in the middle of the golf course and asked our photographer to play our first dance song so we could practice one more time! It actually made for some great photos!
Ice Cream Sandwich Bar
We chose not to do a traditional wedding cake. Instead, we brought in a local favorite, Baked Bear, a shop that is known for their custom ice cream sandwiches. They brought in cookies and ice cream and created custom ice cream sandwiches for our guests. Everyone loved it and people still mention it to me months later!
Our overall catering was done by the venue, and it was incredible! The food was excellent!
A hora to remember
During dinner, my sister, the maid of honor, gave a speech, as did my father-in-law. My husband also gave a groom’s speech that led perfectly into our first dance.
We hired a DJ for the entire evening, and he was excellent! We used Mitch from Dancing DJ Productions. He did a great job of emceeing the evening and playing the right songs at the right time. He kept everyone on the dance floor after the hora dances and made sure everyone had a great time.
My favorite part of the reception was the hora dancing! To see all of our families out on the dance floor, from all over the world, together dancing to those classic Jewish songs was really amazing.
We had a photo guestbook where our guests took polaroid photos and added them to a notebook and signed a little note for us. It is such a great keepsake for us!
We also had a photobooth during the reception that created a fun activity for people who aren’t much for dancing.
Getaway Golf Cart
Right after the ceremony, we had a getaway golf cart ready for us. We walked up the aisle, hopped in the cart, my new husband hit the gas and I suddenly felt a huge tug on my dress! I hadn’t pulled my train all the way up and the cart ran over it, leaving tire marks on the train! Thankfully it wasn’t noticeable in any of the photos and made for a really funny story.
Honeymoon in Mexico
We decided to take a cruise to Mexico for our honeymoon. A few months before the wedding, we went on a three-week trip to Thailand, so for our actual honeymoon we wanted something simple that didn’t require too much planning. We wanted to just show up and have a good time, which we did!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
It’s OK to not include every tradition! Incorporate the ones that are meaningful to and/or your family and forget the rest. It’s your day!
Hire a planner! Even if it’s just for day-of coordination. They can really take the stress off and allow you to truly enjoy your big day.
Also, remember that you can negotiate throughout the process. It doesn’t hurt to ask for discounts!
Courtney & Saul’s little white book
Photography – Vivienne Tyler Photography
Wedding planner – Tenzer Event Co.
Venue – Twin Oaks Golf Course
Bride’s and bridesmaid’s dresses – David’s Bridal
Bride’s shoes – Tieks
Groom’s attire – Polo Ralph Lauren
Hair + Makeup – Salt and Light Salon and Chelsea English Makeup Artist
Flowers – Urban Garden Floral
DJ and photo booth – Dancing DJ Productions
Dessert – Baked Bear
Ketubah – Woodland Papercuts