Go Inside "The Bachelor" Alum Tenley Molzahn's Backyard Wedding in California
When Tenley Molzahn woke up on a late January day in 2016 she had no idea her life would change that afternoon. A friend of hers had met a guy in his Bible study and wanted to set them up. The guy? Taylor Leopold. Taylor wanted to take her to dinner, but Tenley, a former contestant on The Bachelor, wanted to meet for coffee at her favorite local spot in Encinitas, California. The coffee date ended up lasting five hours, and if she hadn't had a prior commitment that night it would have continued. Taylor made it a point to set plans for the next time they would see each other (and between the two dates called his mom to tell her he'd met the woman he'd marry).
Tenley (a holistic nutritionist and health coach through Sweet and Free Life and is the co-founder of The DIY Cleanse) had been dating Taylor (a category manager for a sandal company) for just over two years when he popped the question. She had no idea what was coming and almost messed Taylor's plan up when she was running late. "I thought it was just a normal Friday night where we ride our bikes down to the beach and watch the sunset, but because it was cloudy I didn't have the same urgency and went to get a blow out," she explains. "We thankfully made it to the beach and even though there wasn't a sunset to watch, it was super romantic. Taylor said some sweet words and then all of a sudden he was down on one knee!" After she said "yes" he pulled out a bottle of Champagne and they soaked it all in. Tenley didn't know that there was another surprise still to come, but Taylor had arranged for an engagement party at his parents' house and her parents had flown in from Oregon for the occasion.
Just four months later, the couple was joined by their loved ones once more—this time in San Marcos, California, at Chez Balliet, for their wedding. With just 77 guests in attendance, the April 27, 2018, nuptials were intimate. Inspired by the engagement party environment, the couple wanted a romantic, relaxed backyard feel for their big day that would let them connect with each and every person there. Heather Balliet of Amorology Weddings helped them bring their dream to life in a color palette of terra cotta, citron, grays, and blush pink. A loose theme of "live it well" that influenced the many personal touches throughout—like a juice bar in honor of the bride's career, a dessert spread inspired by the groom's love of surfing, and a handful of unique cocktails including one that nodded to Tenley's time on The Bachelor.
The bride and groom had been dreaming of a romantic backyard feel, and when Tenley went to meet with her wedding planner, Heather Balliet of Amorology Weddings, she instantly fell in love with her house. "I had to ask if they would ever have a wedding at their home, and thankfully they said yes," Tenley says of securing her wedding venue of Chez Balliet in San Marcos, California.
Taylor's mother, Danielle Leopold, designed the invitations. Danielle created an interlocking T monogram for the top of the invite, which was accompanied by two triangle-shaped cards. One final card, which included poet Hafiz's line, "I will always lean my heart as close to your soul as I can," introduced the citron and angular accents that would later appear at the wedding.
Dressed to Impress
Since Tenley's mom was already in town the day after she got engaged, they decided to pop in to a local bridal salon to do some wedding dress shopping together. Tenley go a sense of the style, shape, and feel she was looking for but didn't buy anything. Two weeks later, Tenley's mom was back home and visited another shop, where she found what she thought was "the one" and sent her daughter a link before encouraging her to find it locally.
So, Tenley and a friend went to Something Bleu. Expectations were low, but when the bride-to-be slipped it on and walked out of the dressing room, her girlfriend cried. "I looked in the mirror and had tears and immediately FaceTimed my mom so she could be a part of the moment," Tenley says. "And then I FaceTimed Taylor's mom. I knew it was 'the one.'" The lace Lillian West wedding dress had a sweetheart neckline, mermaid silhouette, and chapel-length train. She invited her other bridesmaids and mother-in-law to the boutique to be there on the day she ordered the dress and the ladies popped some bubbly to celebrate.
On the wedding day, Tenley's bridal party chose different dresses from Lulus in a handful of colors, and accessorized with earrings by the same brand, bracelets from Juneau Luxe, and necklaces from Nashelle.
The Flower Girl
Taylor's three-year-old niece, Henley, served as flower girl and wore a dress from Bhldn. "When we asked her to be our flower girl, she negotiated as long as the dress was poufy," Tenley says. Thanks to a tulle skirt she got her wish and topped off her ensemble with a fresh flower crown by Oak and the Owl.
There were also two baby flower girls—as both Tenley and Taylor's sisters had daughters the year before. The sisters walked with their babies down the aisle during the processional.
The First Look
"The first look was calming," Taylor says. "I'm glad we did it because it allowed us to have more time together." And even though they saw each other before the ceremony, Taylor notes that his reaction as she walked down the aisle was even more emotional. Tenley felt the same peace, describing the moment like feeling at home.
A Sweet Welcome
To contend with Friday traffic and encourage everyone to be prompt, there was a pre-ceremony cocktail hour with a refreshing treat added in. Taylor and his groomsmen greeted guests as they arrived and then started off the celebration with scoops of ice cream from JoJo's Creamery bike cart. They could choose from coconut mounds, nibby chocolate, mint cookies and cream, and vegan peanut butter. Also on offer? Signature cocktails and gluten free beer.
The Ceremony Setup
A mix of wood and velvet-upholstered chairs were set facing an arbor painted asymmetrically and decorated with fresh flowers. The blooms were angled where the different paint colors met as a way of further defining them while softening the edges, too.
Baskets from Connected Goods and terra cotta vessels were filled with flowers, vines, and fruit on the branch to dot the aisle.
Here Comes the Bride
"I asked both of my parents to walk with me because their 36 years of marriage and their daily choices have been a great example to me," Tenley explains of her entrance to the ceremony. "They have walked through some really hard times with me and have been major pillars in my life and in my journey to getting to marry Taylor. It felt appropriate to have them both by my side."
All the Feels
Taylor got emotional at the sight of his bride-to-be. "It's an unexplainable feeling that I've never had before," he says. "That moment pivots and changes your life and history of life after. And you feel the power of that moment and it just takes over."
"Our faith is super important to us, so the message and words spoken between us were very Christ-centered," Tenley explains of the base of the ceremony, which was led by a good friend.
The flower girl (who forgot to scatter the petals as she walked down the aisle and then tossed them all in the air when she got to the end) and the ring bearer (who carried the ring box that Taylor proposed with) sat up front for its entirety.
The couple exchanged traditional vows and their wedding bands—hers a simple gold one with pavé diamonds from Zhedora and his, the one that had belonged to his late Grandpa Jack.
The Cocktail Hour
The second cocktail hour of the day took place after Tenley and Taylor were married. Barçon Cocktail Co. prepared four signature drinks: The Final Rose (as Tenley was on The Bachelor), The Bonfire (Taylor's choice), Barefoot in the Garden (Tenley's pick), and Live It Well (their joint selection). Each cocktail was served in a different glass or cup and offered something for everyone in attendance.
Miho catered the mostly gluten-free meal. During cocktail hour, trays of these garbanzo bean and squash fritters with whipped feta, heirloom tomato sauce vierge, and micro basil were passed, as were devils on horseback and carne asada fries with cheese sauce, pico de gallo, and avocado crema.
Ottopilot provided the soundtrack to cocktail hour by playing covers of some of the couple's favorite songs.
All Juiced Up
Amorology Weddings and Back Up Backdrops were influenced by Tenley's healthy lifestyle when it came time for the seating display. A yellow-and-white backdrop with "The Juicy Details" anchored white shelves that were filled with floral-and-citrus arrangements and an innovative take on escort cards.
Good Enough to Drink
Instead of cards, Dear Darling calligraphed guests' names on to bottles filled with juice from Suja in flavors like lemon-ginger and carrot-orange-apple. The table numbers were penned on the bottoms so the bottles could double as favors.
"Being a true SoCal wedding, I brought in as much fruit as I could, all from my backyard and the farm," says floral designer Nancy Teasley of Oak & the Owl. "That included baby apples, Valencia oranges, mandarins, kumquats, all on the branch."
So Happy Together
The newlyweds spent part of their cocktail hour taking portraits and enjoying their first minutes as husband and wife. "It was the best night of our lives, beyond anything we could have ever dreamed of," Tenley says.
Swing on Down
"You can't have a backyard wedding without a swing!" Tenley says of one more fun piece that was built for the big day. Now a permanent fixture at Chez Balliet, the swing was dressed up with flowers, greenery, and citrus by Oak and the Owl and many of the guests used it as a photo op.
A yellow couch, comfy pink and white chairs, and coffee tables made for a cozy lounge area by the dance floor.
"When we found out that Tenley was known among her friends for having a love of arugula we couldn't resist bringing in a fun seed station with different varieties of lettuce," says Heather Balliet of Amorology Weddings. The display gave guests the opportunity to spoon whichever seeds they wanted into small envelopes to bring home and plant and watch grow.
The Outdoor Reception
Amorology Weddings and Oak and the Owl designed the tables using brown taper candles in midcentury candlesticks and pillar candles to add ambiance and play off the vibrant juicy tones used in the centerpieces—and the juice-filled bottles that doubled as table numbers. Folklore's velvet chairs surrounded the head table.
White bentwood chairs were used for the other tables, in keeping with the aesthetic of the modern farmhouse.
The family-style menu by Miho included an escarole and quinoa salad, slow-roasted brisket with a coffee stout BBQ sauce, chicken with za'atar crust and house-made bacon lardons, potatoes and wild mushrooms topped with garlic confit and truffle oil, and charred baby carrots with a carrot top chimichurri and spiced pistachios.
The Reception Details
Flowers like fritillaria, garden roses, anemones, and parrot tulips in tones of terra cotta, citron, soft pink, and white were mixed with maiden hair ferns and geranium leaves in the terra cotta pots that dotted the tables. Terra cotta pot saucers held kumquats (which also appeared in the centerpieces) atop each place setting. Stacks of modern white dinnerware rested atop wood chargers flanked by gunmetal flatware and a mix of drinkware—gold-rimmed coupes, milk-glass wine glasses, and gray marble tumblers—made for a remarkable tablescape.
Dancing the Night Away
Tenley and Taylor chose Sturgill Simpson's "The Promise" for their first dance song because they love the meaning of the lyrics and because he played it for her on their second date.
Taylor and his mom shared a dance to "Tupelo Honey" by Van Morrison and Tenley and her dad swayed to a tune he found called "Daddy" by Abby Anderson.
But when the DJ
put on "Dancing in the Moonlight" by King Harvest, everyone was on the dancefloor. "The moon was full, all of our favorite people were there, and everyone was dancing," Taylor says of what became his favorite moment of it all.
As a nod to the groom's love of surfing, one more custom backdrop from Back Up Backdrops was created. This one read "lean in" and was built with a subtle curve allowing the variety of desserts to climb up the wall a bit.
The Wedding Cake
Hey there, Cupcake! created a gluten free chocolate cake with salted-caramel frosting for the couple to cut into. Playing up the angular elements in the décor and stationery, the cake was designed with an abstract modern design that incorporated the colors of the day in an impasto texture.
Loads of Sweets
Other gluten-free treats included shortbread cookies and mini donuts. And since the couple's favorite candy is gummy bears, those were scattered around the table.