Lauren and Patrick’s Chic Culver Hotel Wedding

As today’s couple, Lauren and Patrick, know all too well, sometimes you don’t choose to have an intimate wedding; sometimes it chooses you.

The couple were planning a wedding extravaganza before a job related move forced them to downsize their plans and opt for a 10 guest “staged elopement” instead. While they may have slashed the guest list, they certainly didn’t skimp on the details, making for one of the chicest elopements we’ve ever seen!

A huge thank you to Tommy and Connie of The Great Romance for photographing and sharing their big day with us.

California elopement

Lauren, 30 & Patrick, 35

Culver City, CA

Wedding Date: August 23, 2014

Number of Guests: 10

Wedding Cost: $3,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: The Culver Hotel

Wedding Reception Location: The Culver Hotel

wooden book and wedding bouquet bridal bouquet on bride's lap groom sitting in chair bride with wedding bouquet bride and groom walking down street bride and groom climbing fire escape bride and groom kissing

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We moved to the East Coast for jobs rather suddenly last year so we had to put off having the extravaganza we were planning back east, but then we decided we didn’t want to wait so we planned a “staged elopement” with just our immediate families and a few close friends.

Culver city hotel groom tying tie bride's purse bride's dress bride sitting on hotel bed groom's boutonniere bride holding bouquet

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

Telling family members was a challenge.

hotel ballroom hotel chandelier groom waiting to see his bride bride going to meet her groom bride and groom first look bride and groom first look

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

No, the parameters didn’t leave much wiggle room, which was good.

hotel wedding portrait hotel wedding portrait Culver Hotel wedding portrait bride and groom kissing in chair bride and groom in front of Culver Hotel bride and groom climbing fire escape bride and groom on fire escape bride and groom portrait bride and groom walking down the street bride and groom kissing on the street

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

Communicating A LOT, and sending lots of pictures through the entire process so that we still felt connected.

Culver Hotel ceremony venue bride at the altar

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

The Irish music played by a violinist and cellist, our officiant’s extremely eloquent and beautiful wedding speech, and my parents sitting in the front row holding hands.

Culver Hotel wedding ceremony best man reading Culver Hotel wedding ceremony bride and groom first kiss

What were the highlights of the reception?

Getting to have LA friends come to the hotel bar for an after party.

culver hotel sign wedding canapes wedding guests at reception wedding canapes

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

It was so special and we got to spend quality time and have conversations with everyone.

table setting glitter bottle centerpieces wedding toast

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Do what’s in your heart. If you’re going to regret not having a big she-bang, be honest with yourself; and if you prefer to keep it small, people are most likely going to understand and be incredibly supportive of your decision!

guests raising glasses


Venue: The Culver Hotel

Photography: The Great Romance

Florals: Fleur De Rye

Desserts: Susie Cakes

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10 Ideas for Charger Plates

Charger plates are a simple way to add interest to your wedding tables, especially if you’re using white china. This is a great opportunity to introduce other colors or metallics from your palette into your table settings. We’ve picked out 10 charger plates to inspire you!

1. Ornate and Opulent

For a truly opulent affair, match gold cutlery with these stunning charger plates.


2. In Nature

Tree stumps are a popular way to include the outdoors in your wedding. We’ve seen them used as centerpieces and cake stands – but what about chargers? These moderately sized tree slices will add some height to your table.

3. All the Glitter

Bring on the sparkle! These plates will add an injection of glamor into your decor.

4. Handwritten with Love

DIY aficionados will fall in love with these plates. All you need is a Sharpie and some romantic musings to pen. You can write love quotes, vows, lyrics to a meaningful song… the options are endless.

5. Pretty Metallic 

We love the subtlety of the gold balls on the edge of these charger plates. Not only do they add some dimension, but you can play around with other dots and spherical shapes in your decor to go with it.

6. Vintage Tin Plates

These tin plates have a gothic look that will work well with darker color palettes.

7. Matte Metallic

Metallics are big business in the wedding world, and for good reason. Gold details elevate any theme or tablescape that you go for. These matte charger plates add something special without being too over the top.

8. Decorated China

For a hint of decadence, look no further than these exquisite plates. They will fit in well with a regal or vintage theme.

9. Gold Rim 

Glass charger plates will add a contemporary touch to your table and the gold rim gives a festive feel. As you can see through the plate, this is a great way to emphasize your tablecloth if it is textured or patterned.

10. Clay Plate 

For a wedding with a Mediterranean flair, these clay plates will fit the bill. It gives a rustic and homely edge to an otherwise classic table setting. If you can find matching pitchers it will complete the look.

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22 Amazing $5,000 (and Under!) Elopements

elopements under 5000

An increasing number of couples are scrapping their big wedding plans and running away to get married. Why? Planning an elopement is much easier than orchestrating a wedding – and it will save you a bundle.

 If you are thinking of having a wedding away with just a few guests (or no guests at all!), these 22 amazing budget elopements might just convince you and your sweetie to start packing your bags!

Jimmy and Kimberly’s $2,500 romantic Charleston elopement.

south carolina wedding

 Román and Rossilyn’s $3,500 non-traditional elopement ceremony at the Boojum Tree Hidden Garden in Phoenix Arizona.

boojum tree

Destiny and Jess’s $2,500 elopement at Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast in Michigan.

intimate michigan bed and breakfast wedding

Thea and Jesse’s $1,900 oceanside wedding in Oregon.

oregon coast elopement

Katie and Rodney’s $1,500  Georgia courthouse elopement.

georgia elopement

Kelly and Mark’s NYC elopement for $1,100.

nyc elopement

Megan and Andrew’s $3,500 Nevada elopement.

desert elopepment in las vegas

Natalie and Justin’s San Diego $5,000 elopement.

sand diego elopement

Courtney and Mait’s $1,400  military wedding in Texas.

texas elopement

Falisha and Daron’s $2,000 B’hai elopement.

illinois bhai elopement

Liz and Jack’s $5,000 Colorado elopement.

denver elopement

Jillian and Andrew’s $4,000 Las Vegas elopement.

las vegas elopement

Sarah and Garrett’s $4,000 San Francisco City Hall elopement.

san francisco city hall

Meaghan and Eric’s low key $1,800 NYC elopement.

nyc elopement

Nicole and Matthew’s $500 California orange grove elopement.

san juan elopement

Rachel and Wayne’s $5,000 Texas elopement.

intimate texas wedding

Charity and Brian’s $760 seaside Massachusetts wedding.

emerson inn wedding

Andrea and Jeff’s $2,000 Arizona elopement.

scottsdale intimate wedding

Michelle and Ben’s $2,200 Portland elopement.

portland oregon elopement

Lisa and Jared’s $5,000 Ozark Missouri elopement.

ozark elopement

Kelly and Anthony’s $1,000 San Diego elopement.

san diego city hall elopement

Laura and Greg’s $5,000 national park wedding.

wyoming lodge wedding

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Delicious No-Bake Cookies Recipe

no bake cookies

Milk and cookies  are a favorite late night indulgence at wedding receptions. Whether you love the idea of  feeding late night revelers with some sugary goodness, or  you’re looking for a fantastic and easy favor idea, these No-Bake Cookies are sure to be a huge hit with your guests. (They also make a wonderful addition to a cookie table!)

These cookies don’t contain flour – and as the name implies, you don’t need to put them in the oven!

Delicious No-Bake Cookees (adapted from

Makes approx. two dozen.

You will need:
    2 cups white sugar (if you prefer them less sweet, you can use 1.5 cups of sugar)
    3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 cup butter
    1/2 cup milk
    1 pinch salt
    3 cups quick cooking oats
    1/2 cup peanut butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add sugar, cocoa, butter, milk, and salt to saucepan. Stir ingredients.

no bake cookies

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Jenna and Todd’s Tuscan Villa Destination Wedding

No doubt, planning a destination wedding can be tough, but Jenna and Todd didn’t let a few challenges – including a language barrier – deter them from choosing to elope in Italy. Throwing caution to the wind and taking a gamble on a venue they had never seen, the couple ran off to the Tuscan countryside to exchange their vows beneath a stand of old olive trees and celebrate their beautiful union – in true Italian fashion – with lots of good food, great wine, and family by their side.

Special thanks to their Tuscan wedding photographer Lelia Scarfotti for sharing the photos with us!

Italy destination wedding

Jenna, 29 & Todd, 27

Montepulciano, Italy

Wedding Date: September 3, 2014

Number of Guests: 9

Wedding Cost: $9,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: Villa Cicolina

Wedding Reception Location: Villa Cicolina

Italian villa property handwritten wedding vows waiter setting wedding table groom adjusting tie bride under veil bride and groom at restaurant reception bride and groom in Italy

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We wanted to focus on creating a special and memorable moment to pledge our lives to each other. We wanted to savor every minute of the day with our closest family and friends, and we knew a very small, intimate group would help us stop and appreciate the moment at hand in the best ways.

wedding dress hanging on bed
bride getting her make-up done
bride kissing her bridesmaid
bride's refelction in mirror
bride putting on her veil
groom getting ready
groom tying his bow tie
groom getting ready

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

We booked Villa Cicolina without ever visiting and only communicating via email. There was also a slight language barrier to conquer! We felt very lucky when we arrived and they were incredibly accommodating and helpful. Also, many friends and family wanted to be a part of the day, and I think they were a little sad at first that we were doing a wedding outside the country.

bride and groom first look
bride and groom first look
bride and groom first look session

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

We knew we couldn’t expect many people to fly all the way to Italy, so we kept the guest list to just our parents and siblings. Todd and I also asked our best friends (maid of honor and best man) to come with their significant others who are also close friends.  It was a wonderful group to spend time with, but there were also some close family members we wanted to include but couldn’t.

bride and groom in field
wedding portrait in Italy
bride and groom kissing
Did you have any ‘issues’with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?
At first there were definitely some family members who were disappointed they could not make it, and it was hard to keep the guest list super small. We had to explain this to loved ones. However, in the end we kept it small so we could stay true to our vision of the day. We had a bigger party and local reception in Baltimore, MD that was much closer for our family members to attend! It was a chance to spend time with all the people that we would have wanted to invite. With food and dancing to boot!
groom waiting at the altar
groom waiting at the altar
bride walking down the aisle
back of the bride walking down the aisle

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

Writing our own vows and looking at each other standing together under old olive trees with a vintage chandelier hanging above us. It couldn’t have been more spectacular!

bride and groom at the altar
groom reading his vows
bride reading her vows
groom putting ring on bride's finger
groom touching bride's face
bride and groom first kiss
bride and groom walking down the aisle

What were the highlights of the reception?

We had a long homemade Italian dinner and lots of great wine. Our nine guests each made a lovely toast to us. We will never forget that night as long as we live.

wedding reception table
bride with guest

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

How close it allowed us to be to each other and our guests. Every moment was meaningful and deliberate. Bigger weddings are more of a blur and a whirlwind of activity, and having an intimate wedding slowed down the pace and took the stress out of the day. We were fully in the moment and every hour was filled with love, family, food, and joy.

bride groom kissing at reception
bride and groom at dinner
italian wedding cake
womanperforming at wedding reception
bride and groom dancing

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Think clearly about what’s truly important to you on that special day. If an intimate wedding sounds appealing to you, don’t let people’s expectations of what a traditional wedding should be get in the way of planning something unique and small.  This was one of the best decisions we made in an otherwise very hectic year and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

bride and groom kissing


Venue: Villa Cicolina

Photographer: Lelia Scarfotti

Flowers:Local Montepulciano florist

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