"Smilf" Star Frankie Shaw and Zach Strauss's Rustic-Chic California Wedding

wedding couple portrait
Hannah Arista Photography

Frankie Shaw saw Zach Strauss at a coffee shop in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. She was with her best friend Brie and Zach was sitting at a table alone. When Frankie spotted Zach she told Brie she loved him. Brie looked at someone else and said, "What about him?" to which Frankie responded, "No, I like that sweet-faced boy over there." And as she was leaving, he waved to her. A week later, they ran into each other at an event and exchanged information. And a week after that, they went on a date. The rest is history.

Three years later, Frankie (the creator and star of the Showtime comedy Smilf) and Zach (a writer on NCIS: New Orleans and Smilf) went on a seven-mile run in Griffith Park. As they were heading down the mountain, they got towards the bottom and Frankie saw a table with a white cloth on it under a tree, with rose petals scattered. Jokingly, she said, "Aw, you shouldn't have." But then one of her favorite songs started playing and Zach stopped. Then Frankie's seven-year-old son Isaac came out from the tree where he was with the couple's friend who also helped plan the setup. Isaac gave Zach the ring, Zach popped the question, and just under a year later, on August 27, 2016, they were saying "I do" at Dawn Ranch in Guerneville, California. Isaac once again had a pivotal part in the action—serving as Frankie's best man and escorting her down the aisle to the chuppah in the woods. There were 17 other kids (and 202 adults) in attendance for the rustic-chic festivities, which Frankie sums up as a wedding that was "deeply felt and soulful."

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The Location

wedding redwoods
Hannah Arista Photography

The couple chose Dawn Ranch in Guerneville, California, as they love vacationing in the redwood-filled region and the location was a perfect spot for their weekend celebration. Everyone stayed in cabins on the property.

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Welcome Bags

wedding totes
Hannah Arista Photography

Zach's mom brought items from New Orleans to include in the welcome totes, which were printed with the same illustration of the couple that graced the wedding invites, created by their friend Claire Beitcher. Guests were also given custom t-shirts with their favorite quote (by Michelle Obama) of "When they go low, we go high" and the bride and groom's initials and wedding date.

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The First Look

wedding couple portrait
Hannah Arista Photography

Once Frankie and Zach were dressed and ready, they were driven separately to a secret spot they love in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. There, after a bit of hiking, Frankie walked up to Zach from behind, when he turned to see her for the first time in her dress. Photographer Hannah Arista documented the moment before taking portraits of the couple in the scenic backdrop.

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Big-Day Attire

wedding couple portrait
Hannah Arista Photography

Frankie wore a lace Carolina Herrera wedding dress with cap sleeves, which she accessorized with with her friend's earrings and a pair of flats fitting of the outdoor setting. Zach sported a navy-blue suit.

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The Bridal Bouquet

wedding bouquet
Hannah Arista Photography

Melody Raye Flowers crafted the bride's bouquet of dahlias, blushing bride protea, veronica, supernova thistle, and hypericum berries.

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The Bridesmaids

bridesmaids and bride
Hannah Arista Photography

There were nine bridesmaids, who wore Jenny Yoo dresses. Frankie and Zach really wanted a wedding that felt natural and tied into the existing beauty of the venue. The bridesmaids' dresses were chosen early on and also helped incorporate the locally-grown lavender used throughout the celebration.

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The Guys

groom groomsmen
Hannah Arista Photography

The nine groomsmen (including Zach's best man) wore navy suits and matching ties. Frankie's son Isaac (who served as her best man) wore a light blue Ralph Lauren blazer and orange pants. In a modern twist, Frankie's ex-partner (and father of Isaac) was a groomsman and his wife served as a bridesmaid.

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The Ceremony Setting

outdoor wedding ceremony
Hannah Arista Photography

The ceremony took place in a meadow at Dawn Ranch with navy and cream ribbons hanging and dancing in the trees.

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The Kiddos

wedding kids
Hannah Arista Photography

In addition to Isaac (second from left) who served as best man, four other little ones served as flower kids.

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Tying the Knot

outdoor wedding ceremony
Hannah Arista Photography

A friend officiated the Jewish ceremony. The couple stood under a chuppah decorated with moss and flowers and exchanged vows they wrote themselves (on Final Draft—the software you write scripts on) that had guests in tears with laughter. Three readings were incorporated into the service: "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver, "East Coker" by T.S. Eliot, and "Le Petit Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

As the bride and groom are both writers, their vows were about twenty minutes each, but they were Frankie's favorite part. "Just hearing the way Zach thought about our relationship and what he was promising to me, that was very moving," she says. Adds Zach, "The vows were my favorite part of the wedding because it was this heartfelt narrative of our relationship read before those we love most. We hadn't shared them with each other before hand, but they perfectly fit together, illuminating all the things that make our bond so meaningful and transformative. As we read them aloud, it was like this beautiful tunnel vision set it in, my wife and I deeply connecting and completely vulnerable in front of a support network of our closest friends and family."

Once married, they recessed up the aisle to "These Arms of Mine" by Otis Redding.

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Let's Celebrate

wedding guests
Hannah Arista Photography

Cocktail hour took place in a field, where guests enjoyed wine, beer, and large cheese platters. The string quartet that performed for the ceremony continued to play.

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The Reception

wedding tables
Hannah Arista Photography

Dinner took place in an apple orchard on the ranch, where long and round tables were covered in pale linens and plates were topped with navy-blue napkins with sprigs of lavender tucked inside.

The vegetarian couple went with a pescatarian menu for the evening, including an eggplant roulade, pan-seared California sea bass, and a salad of arugula, frisée, grilled corn, heirloom tomatoes, smoked bacon, and basil vinaigrette.

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The Table Names

table name
Hannah Arista Photography

A friend of Frankie's drew the signs to identify each table, which were named after places the bride and groom went on dates.

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Centerpieces and Cameras

wedding centerpiece
Hannah Arista Photography

Flowers weren't the only centerpieces on the tables—disposable cameras were set out for guests to use, too. The happy couple put the printed photos in an album after the big day.

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So Happy Together

wedding couple loveseat
Hannah Arista Photography

The newlyweds cozied up in a loveseat at the head table where they enjoyed toasts by the groom's parents and sister, Frankie's cousin and brother, the maid of honor, and Zach's best man.

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Sign the Sign

guests guestbook
Hannah Arista Photography

Artist Aubrie Costello created a custom silk graffiti banner that read "That's How It Starts" for guests to sign in lieu of a traditional guest book—later put on display in the couple's home. A similar one that read "… in the family of things" (from the poem "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver) that hung behind the head table during dinner.

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Time for the Second Line

wedding hankies
Hannah Arista Photography

To honor the groom's native New Orleans, a second line was incorporated into the reception to guide guests from dinner to dancing. Guests grabbed custom hankies before the jazz band lead everyone in a parade to the next location.

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Let's Go Dance

wedding couple umbrellas
Hannah Arista Photography

MJ's Brass Boppers Band guided everyone to the pool, where DJ Amy Harrington later took over and kept everyone dancing.

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The Cake

Hannah Arista Photography

Fleur de Lisa made a simple, raspberry-and-cream-filled naked cake with a gluten-free top tier for the couple to cut.

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Donuts for Days

wedding donut fryer
Hannah Arista Photography

Everyone was treated to hot, beignet-style mini donuts from Harvey's Gourmet Mini Donuts. Flavors included cinnamon and sugar, powdered sugar, sugar glaze, chocolate glaze, and maple glaze, with the option to add rainbow or chocolate sprinkles.

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The First Dance

wedding couple first dance
Hannah Arista Photography

K-Ci and JoJo's "All My Life" was performed by Rogelio Douglas Jr. for the couple's first dance.

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wedding couple dancing woods
Hannah Arista Photography

Photography, Hannah Arista Photography

Location and Catering, Dawn Ranch

Event planning, Fearon May Events

Flowers and Chuppah, Melody Raye Flowers


Claire Beitcher

Cake, Fleur de Lisa

Donuts, Harvey's Gourmet Mini Donuts

Music, Rogelio Douglas Jr.; MJ's Brass Boppers Brass Band

Rentals, Encore Event Rentals

Bride's gown, Carolina Herrera

Hair and Makeup, Carrie Aldous

Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo

Transportation, Event Services Plus

Power and generator, Cal West Rentals, Inc.

Signs, SILK Graffitti by Aubrie Costello

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