An Edgy Garden Wedding in Los Angeles
Jamie Stovall and Michael Ohanessian's marriage might have been fated from the start. "Our first date was at Café O and now my last name begins with O," says the bride. The couple, who first connected on a dating app ("He was my first and only date, so it was a short-lived experience," Jamie notes), went on to enjoy a six-year-long relationship before Michael proposed. Destiny might have had something to do with their relationship's origins, but Michael really just appealed to Jamie's so-called "dorky" side, she says: "He wrote something dorky and sweet proclaiming we'd get along really well." He was right.
One year later, on October 13, 2018, the duo invited 116 of their closest family and friends to Los Angeles' Paramour Estate, "an edgy, dark mansion," for a fashion-forward, black-tie garden party, complete with butterfly motifs and epic florals. The event's true theme, however, was much more complex. "I would say it's complicated," laughs Jamie, the event designer and wedding planner behind Violet and Bone. Her specific vision—eclectic, designer-focused, moody, classic, and edgy, all rolled into one—was born out of a unique fantasy. "I decided on the theme by making up a story that would best fit with the house," she explains. "In my mind, it was me, my husband, and the butterflies in this sort of menacing world surrounded by all these other things you would find in a garden, like snakes, birds, insects, and such. Basically, we were the light in the darkness."
A reversal of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, the event's juxtaposition of light versus dark was achieved through the couple's two distinct color palettes: The ceremony's feminine red, pink, orange, and yellow flowers were enhanced by guests' bright-white, Parisian-inspired chairs. "Act II of my theater play" began during the reception, says Jamie, which featured a mauve and charcoal palette (the same chairs used during the ceremony appeared during dinner, this time in an inky jet colorway). Critter accents like snakes and bugs adorned the head table, while French-style chandeliers cast a moody glow overhead.
Jamie's advice for bride's dreaming up their own big-day concepts plays into her approach to design: "A tip would be to create a concept based on a world you want to live in. Don't drop all of your eggs into copying someone else's day."
"The concept was black and white with mauve. I wanted it girlish yet edgy and romantic yet modern with classical touches," says Jamie, who personally designed the stationery. The reverse side of the eight-play invitation card was an inky black—another nod to her dark-meets-light theme—and was accented with gold detailing and mauve foiled flowers. The stamps were all garden-inspired and matched the wedding cake, napkin rings, and bar elements seen at the reception. Aardvark Letterpress brought her creation to life.
The couple chose The Paramour Estate for its "unique, magical, and fashionable" vibe; its architecture and bold décor also infused a Gothic element into the fashion-forward garden party's aesthetic. "The moment we saw it, we didn't need to look anywhere else. It was a wrap!" says Jamie.
Jamie visited six bridal boutiques before she walked into Galia Lahav's Los Angeles atelier, where she first laid eyes on her dramatic silk wedding dress with a boned bodice and floral appliquéd straps. "I had seen it before I tried it on," says Jamie. "When I put it on, it was perfect—the beading, especially, felt substantial." She also loved that the gown was "lightweight and airy," so she could move around with ease.
A Couture Detail
Thanks to the addition of custom sleeves, the bride's final ensemble was entirely her own. In retrospect, Jamie says couture was the only way to go—the gown was made to her measurements, a must for her 4'9" frame.
The bride picked out her own ethically-sourced engagement ring, a minimalist hexagonal-shaped stone set on a rose gold band with prongs. "I like that it's dainty and lays flat—I don't really like rings on my fingers," she says.
Over 20 varieties of flowers were used in Jamie's wedding bouquet ("It was a free for all—my intention was for the flowers to be different throughout different scenes of the day," she says), which was created by The Bloemist. Roses, delphiniums, and dahlias were some of the highlights.
A Velvet-Clad Groom
The Wedding Party
The couple's wedding party was a family affair—a mix of siblings and close relatives. The bride's best friend, who she's known since early childhood, was the lone exception ("She's like family!" says Jamie).
A First Look
Jamie and Michael actually woke up together on the morning of the wedding, but that didn't detract from their emotional first look. "I wasn't nervous at all, just happy that the day was finally here and it was real," says the bride. Michael describes this moment as one of the most poignant of the day.
Harp by Karina treated guests to soft melodies as they arrived at the estate.
The couple's service, which took place in the venue's lower-level garden, was almost moved inside due to an unprecedented weather pattern. "I picked our wedding date after checking historical weather records, which indicated that it hadn't rained on October 13th in over 100 years," says the bride. Against all odds, storm clouds rolled in the day prior. Overnight rain drenched the venue's pergolas; a light drizzle continued throughout the morning. Jamie, however, held fast, refusing to move her celebration indoors. "I won!" she says. The only sign of rain during the celebration's events was a loud boom of thunder which sounded during the recessional.
An Over-the-Top Ceremony Structure
The Bloemist added an explosion of blooms to the venue's green metal ceremony structure; potted floral arrangements lined the aisle, which was covered in rose petals.
Jamie's mother and step-father walked her down the aisle to "Meditation from Thais" by Jules Massenet. "Seeing my husband standing there, waiting for me," is one of Jamie's most powerful wedding-day memories.
A Personalized Service
Neither Jamie nor Michael is religious, so the couple crafted the entire ceremony from scratch. "We're actually very happy that it was all about us," reflects the bride. The "short and sweet" service included hand-written vows. "Michael really floored me with his," says Jamie. Her friend, Helena, officiated their nuptials (she now performs weddings for a living!) and "took the job very seriously," says Jamie.
After they were pronounced husband and wife, Jamie and Michael walked back up the aisle to "Tale as Old as Time" from the Beauty & the Beast soundtrack, which was played by a string quartet.
The Cocktail Hour
The couple's guests kicked off the pre-reception interlude besides the venue's pool, while Jamie, Michael, and their families stepped away for portraits.
Snake Oil Cocktail Co. mixed up four cocktails that referenced the couple's garden theme. The "Hummingbird Lovers," a rum and smashed pineapple concoction, was topped with a recreation of the couple's childhood likenesses. The other drinks, including "The Dragonfly" and "Snaky," were also homages to the setting. The "Half Pint," made with bourbon, pressed lemon, citrus peels, chilled mulled wine, and edible flowers, was named after the bride's grandmother.
The couple also served eight different passed appetizers, all of which reflected their roots—Jamie's mother is from New Orleans and Michael's family hails from Armenia—and favorite foods: popcorn fried chicken on buttermilk waffles, crab cakes, ground beef kofta meatballs, chicken tikka flatbread, korean chicken wing lollipops, shrimp and pork dumplings, roasted eggplant, and slender basil tuille cones with basil-goat cheese mousse.
Rectangular Reception Tables
Velvet tablecloths from La Tavola covered the rectangular tables; French-style chandeliers hung overhead, casting a cozy glow over the outdoor dinner space.
Round Reception Tables
Wooden round tables amped up the reception's garden vibes. Ikebana-style floral arrangements defined each tabletop; bowls of fruit, inspired by still life paintings, accompanied the arrangements. "Everything was funky, fresh, and popping," recalls the bride of the ornate dinner space.
Settings were marked by personalized black acrylic stands by Sketch and Etch Creative, which featured each attendee's name and menu choices. "When my husband saw them, he looked shocked to see such a detail," says the bride of the thoughtful touch.
Wolfgang Puck catered the lavish dinner. Party-goers dined on a first course of tomato salad, with feta, cucumbers, red onions, olives, fresh oregano, and red wine vinaigrette. For their meal, guests chose between blackened salmon with saffron rice, roasted asparagus, and chili beurre blanc sause and Moroccan spiced short rib with semolina purée, crispy brussels sprouts, parmesan tuille, and citrus chermoula.
Jamie—who designed the entire event—also drew up her wedding cake's preliminary sketch. "I had an idea for an aged patina cake with bas relief detailing working its way up with birds, flowers, and such," she says. Golden snakes and butterflies adorned the confection, which was also adorned with a modern sugar flower design. Grace and Honey Cakes not only perfectly executed Jamie's "moody and whimsical" vision, but also created a dessert she actually enjoyed eating. "I don't like cake, but this cake was wildly tasty. Both we and our families ate the cake for a week straight after the wedding," says the bride.
The couple was struck by their first dance song, "Stop and Look (You Have Found Love)," for it's "soulful and loving" vibes.
A Dance with Dad
Jamie took a spin with her step-father to "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel. Michael and his mom chose Savage Garden's "I Knew I Loved You" for their mother-son dance.
An Outfit Change
To keep the party going well into the evening, the newlyweds served late-night snacks. Savory options included tacos, burgers, and pizza; sweeter offerings, like beignets, pistachio baklava, s'mores parfait, berry fruit tarts, and blueberry cheesecake bites, were also served. Flower-filled cloches adorned the snack tables.
There were too many favorite wedding-day moments to count, says Jamie, but she cites seeing both of her grandmothers together and her sister's emotional speech as two specific highlights. Another stand-out? Seeing her incredible vision—one she hadn't been sure if she'd be able to execute because of the weather—come to pass.
Her advice to brides currently taking on the bulk of their event's concept and design is to be strategic ("There are a million things that demand your attention," she says), especially when it comes to budget. Ultimately, though, your big-day should feel like you: "Design like you would for a home, not just a wedding," she says.