Jocelyn and Steve had a simple wedding at a private rental home in the Malibu Canyons.

“From the get go, neither of us wanted a big wedding. Having been to many of them before, those weddings seem to be more about the spectacle than the actual ceremony. We wanted to do something special for us, and our families,” says Jocelyn.

With their dogs at their feet, the couple exchanged hand-written vows on a rooftop deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Following the ceremony, the couple, along with their 24 guests, enjoyed a gorgeous four-course gourmet meal cooked by a family friend.

The next day the couple held a BBQ for friends and extended family who weren’t at the wedding.

Thanks to Connie Lyu for the exquisite wedding photos!

Malibu rental house wedding

Jocelyn, 33 & Steve, 34

Malibu, CA

Wedding Date: October 8, 2011

Number of Guests: 24

Wedding Cost: $10,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: The rooftop deck of a rental house in the Malibu Canyons overlooking the Pacific Ocean

Wedding Reception Location: The great room of the house

pregnant bride and groom

Malibu rental house wedding reception

white wedding cake with chocolate ribbon and bird cake topper

neon tablecloth place setting

place setting with yellow flowers

malibu rental house wedding venue

malibu rental house wedding

white rose centerpiece

hydrangea flower centerpiece

purple hydrangea wedding centerpiece

mixed flower wedding centerpiece

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

First and foremost, it just seemed to fit our personalities. From the get go, neither of us wanted a big wedding. Having been to many of them before, those weddings seem to be more about the spectacle than the actual ceremony. We wanted to do something special for us, and our families. From there, it was a no brainer. We thought a long weekend with family, and a small ceremony would be perfect for us.

long wedding reception table

Malibu rental house wedding

malibu rental house

Malibu bride and groom kissing

bride in short lace wedding dress

black and white portrait of smiling bride

black and white portrait of groom

groom in blue and red striped tie

groom portrait

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

Having divorced parents and step parents, the fear was, the more intimate, the more potentially awkward. We really had to remind each other that this event was about celebrating us. We realized as scary as it was, a lot was out of our control. We would set the stage and it would all unfold as it may. A big challenge was leaving out the few close friends or extended relatives that we may have wanted, but were faced with “we can’t invite this person and not this person”. This was a recurring problem that could have taken the guest list from 24 to 125 a few times. Since there was no wedding venue and no coordinator, everything was left for us to plan. The venue, rentals, decor, catering, planning the ceremony … it was a lot of work!! Especially at 5 months pregnant – intimate does not equal easy!

groom kissing bride on the head

pregnant bride in short lace wedding dress

pregnant bride and groom

bride and groom kissing in Malibu hills

bride and groom kissing

groom kissing bride on forehead

black and white bride and groom portrait

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Once we decided we were inviting immediate family only – no.

bride hugging wedding guest

french bulldog wedding guest

babies in wedding attire

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

Because what we were doing was so unconventional, we had to remind those with questions that it was what we wanted. We found that a lot of people don’t often think out of the traditional “wedding box”. A small guest list gave us the freedom to have the wedding we wanted to have. I think it was hard for our family to grasp this concept at first, but they are all wonderful and very supportive. They all wanted us to have the wedding we wanted. We had a BBQ the next day where we were able to have those friends and extended family that we didn’t have at the wedding.

groom in green striped socks

bride wearing green chandelier earrings

bride wearing chunky pearl bracelet

short lace wedding dress

bride getting her make-up done

Malibu wedding guests

black and white bridal portrait

baby in wedding attire

groom climbing stairs

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

We had a civil ceremony. The reverend was a long time family friend who actually married Steve’s mother and step father four years ago. It felt small and special. We wrote our own vows and were able to read/cry them to each other. Everyone present had a close and special connection to us. There was not a dry eye in the house. Our dog slept in front of our feet through the ceremony.

dogs in bow ties
bride walking down the aisle

Malibu balcony wedding

wedding ceremony on balcony of Malibu house

crying groom

crying bride

bride laughing during wedding ceremony

outdoor Malibu wedding

wedding guests on balcony wedding ceremony

bride and groom first kiss on balcony

What were the highlights of the reception?

The reception consisted of the four-course-gourmet dinner cooked by Nora, a friend. Everyone sat down and was served in a beautiful candle lit room just after sunset. We had one long table where it felt like everyone was celebrating and sharing in our joy with us.

cocktail hour crostinis

wedding dinner

wedding reception in Malibu rental house

Malibu wedding reception

Malibu rental house wedding reception

wedding speeches

guests at intimate wedding reception

birds and french bulldog cake topper

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

Being able to really enjoy every single person present, their interaction with each other, and knowing that everyone there was celebrating our love. We were blending our families and it truly felt that way. I enjoyed including every one in the planning over the days leading up to the wedding day. The rental house acted as the “home base”. We had some family sleeping in the house and some in local hotels. Together, we spent a lot of time setting up, cooking, planning, and decorating. There was a lot of quality time and bonding.

guests on balcony wedding

wedding guests toasting the bride and groom

champagne toast

Malibu balcony wedding

Malibu wedding guests

dahlia wedding flowers

bread basket on neon tablecloth

Malibu balcony with twinkle lights

wedding reception prep

Malibu house wedding open bar

wedding caterer

wedding catering prep

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

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Your wedding should be what the two of you collectively want. You have to make the decision, go with it and have no regrets about it. The possibilities are endless. Have fun!!

bride and groom holding hands at reception


Cake: Hansen Cakes
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Rental Property:
Flowers: LA flower district
Catering: Nora Grazer Catering
Dress: Bloomingdales
Photographer: Connie Lyu