At-home California wedding



Katie, 29 & Justin, 32

La Jolla, CA

Wedding Date: Sept 17, 2011

Number of Guests: 40

Wedding Ceremony Location: Our family home

Wedding Reception Location: Another family home down the street from the ceremony location


parasols for wedding guests

white lily wedding flower arrangement

all-white wedding cake


outdoor at-home wedding reception

outdoor dining tables covered with draped fabric

oceanfront outdoor wedding ceremony

cake table with couple photos and candles

wedding guests releasing wish lanterns

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

There were several reasons. First off, our style is pretty understated. We didn’t want to make this a massive and showy affair! Second, Justin is from Australia and because that’s a big distance to travel for his guests, probably not as many would be able to make it as we would’ve liked. I didn’t want to have 100 people attending from my side and only a handful from his; it needed to be a bit more balanced.

bride with lace trimmed wedding veil

lace wedding dress hanging up

white feather wedding shoes

bride getting dressed

flower girl wearing rose crown

bride wearing lace trimmed cathedral veil

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

Keeping it “to scale” was a bit challenging. Sometimes vendors try to push you into making it big and bigger. We were lucky that our wedding coordinator shared our eye for quality while maintaining our desire to keep it understated. I would’ve felt ridiculous having a 10-person band in a reception tent with 40 guests. Talk about overkill.

bride with bridesmaids in blue dresses

groomsmen portrait on the rocks

groomsmen by the ocean

groom sitting by the ocean

bride in lace wedding dress and lace trimmed cathedral veil

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

My family is giant and quite close so it was definitely hard not inviting everyone in my extended family. Also it was hard not to invite some of my mom’s friends who have been a part of my life since I was a baby (practically family!), but everyone understood our plan to keep the wedding really small.

flower girl wearing white rose crown

flower girl putting on flower crown

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

We definitely had some people that were disappointed not be there, but again, everyone was very accepting and respectful of our decision to keep it really small.

bride leaving for ceremony

bride walking down the stairs with her father

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

Justin’s face when I came down the aisle. He couldn’t stop smiling! My brother gave a reading and Justin’s sister read a poem she’d written for the ceremony. Our officiant did an amazing job of incorporating our story and the uniqueness of our relationship. We both had tears.

groom waiting at the altar for his bride

bride walking down the aisle

groom waiting at the altar

bride approaching the altar with her father

flower girls wearing white rose crowns

view of outdoor La Jolla wedding ceremony from above

bride standing at the altar

oceanfront La Jolla wedding ceremony

emotional groom

view of wedding reception through balcony

bride and groom first kiss

emotional bride and groom

bride and groom walking down the aisle

What were the highlights of the reception?

The toasts! All were fantastic and from the heart!! Seeing both of our families rocking out on the dance floor (my five year old nephew has mad skills). I particularly loved seeing my mother-in-law, who has significant knee problems, on the dance floor. The food was amazing. Our cake was delicious. And the photo booth was SO much fun. We didn’t want to spend the money on a photo booth company since our party was so small, so we asked the photographer to set up a little area at the reception and his assistant did the shooting there. We had the traditional props: mustaches and hats, but also some amazing ones that were inside jokes (grills and pictures of Gary Busey …  yes, you read that right) and it was a total crack up seeing our guests utilize them!

outdoor wedding reception tented with draped fabric

first dance

bride and groom with Mr. and Mrs. props

bride and groom cutting wedding cake

bride and groom kissing with cake

bride lighting sky lantern

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

Because our guest list was so small, everyone really got to know each other. It was amazing to see two different cultures and families hit it off so well. And it felt so personal. Everyone who attended knew Justin and I really well and have always been supportive of our journey together. It felt appropriate that they were celebrating our marriage with us.

bride with her mother

bride with all white rose bouquet

bride with her bridesmaids

portrait of bride with her bridesmaids

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

I would say (and this probably applies to any wedding) don’t let all the planning get to you. It’s not worth getting into arguments with your partner over how many courses to serve at dinner, nor is it worth shedding tears over what kind of napkins you should choose. Focus on the fact that you are marrying the most amazing person in the world and the party that you get to throw for all your family and loved ones is just icing on the (already) amazing cake.

excited bridal party portrait

bride and groom by the ocean


Flowers: Botanica

Wedding Coordination: Mary Noble Classic Weddings

Photography: Ventana

Catering: Waters Fine Catering

Rentals: Classic Party Rentals

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15 Comments  |  Filed Under: At-Home Weddings, Beach Weddings, Modern Weddings, Real Weddings

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  1. Posted by Rogina on January 2nd, 2012 at 8:45pm

    Very beautiful and thank you for your advice
  2. Posted by Rogina on January 2nd, 2012 at 8:45pm

    You r wedding gown is beautifullllll and it's very similar to what I want
  3. Posted by Ryan Sands on January 14th, 2012 at 1:59pm

    Stunning images! I could only dream of photographing a wedding as beautiful as this one!
  4. Posted by Abby on January 20th, 2012 at 6:18pm

    Such a beautiful intimate wedding! And I love your bridesmaids' dresses. Where can I find them?
  5. Posted by davyl on March 14th, 2012 at 9:19am

    lovely wedding...and the place doesn't seem like home, it looks like a getaway place, a rest relaxing!!
  6. Posted by Lisa Mark on March 21st, 2012 at 7:53pm

    Your Wedding is stunning! I know this is a crazy question but we live in Arizona and want a beach wedding really bad!!! Do you by chance have any ideas or know of any house's that people would be willing to rent us there house for the ceremony and reception?
    I have checked with here comes the guide and can not find anything over in the SD area?
    Thank you so much!
  7. Posted by Charlie on April 17th, 2012 at 3:31pm

    I love your pictures--you looked stunning!
    Your veil is beautiful. Would you be able to tell me where you found it? I have been looking all over and have had no luck.

    Thanks so much!
  8. Posted by Natalia on April 22nd, 2012 at 1:45pm

    I love the pics! Your dress is so prettty,would you please tell me where to find it?


  9. Posted by Katie on April 23rd, 2012 at 6:21pm

    Thank you for your kind comments! My dress was by Monique Lhuillier, I purchased it at a boutique bridal shop in Salt Lake City (my husband and I live in Park City, UT) called Alta Moda. The veil is also from Alta Moda, but I'm not sure who the designer was for that! The bridesmaid dresses were by Amsale, which were from another boutique shop in Salt Lake City called Lily and Iris. Hope that helps!
  10. Posted by Julie Herrera on May 17th, 2012 at 4:15pm

    Where did you get that gorgeous dress??? I want something just like that and live in La Jolla too, but haven't found IT yet.
  11. Posted by Julie Herrera on May 17th, 2012 at 4:16pm

    Oh I see now...Moniquer Lhuillier :)
  12. Posted by Brandy L on June 16th, 2012 at 10:38pm

    What was the name of the dress by ML?
  13. Posted by Kim on February 27th, 2013 at 2:14pm

    Hi! I am looking at how you did the reception tables.. How did you rent the posts? Did a tent company do that without the typical canopy? I am trying to do something like that for my wedding! Thanks!
  14. Posted by Roxanna on August 30th, 2014 at 9:56pm

    Where is your venue I would love to go there for my venue?
  15. Posted by sarah beth on December 5th, 2014 at 8:16pm

    Hello! Can you give any information about your veil? I love it!
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