A Wedding Planner's Ojai, California, Nuptials
That old yarn about the cobbler's children going barefoot rang true for event coordinator Cassandra Herschenfeld. She'd spent about six years planning weddings (including working with industry legend Mindy Weiss), but hadn't been married herself. "I was recently out of another relationship, and in a place where I was asking everyone to set me up," she says. Enter Ben Katz, the colleague of one of Cassandra's grooms. When they met on a blind date at a bar in Manhattan's West Village, "we talked and laughed for four hours!" she recalls. Ben, who works in finance, says, "she has this laugh that takes over a room."
A year and a half later, the couple were on vacation with his parents in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, when he surprised her with a proposal. "I didn't have time to get a manicure, so that's how you know I didn't know this was happening!" she says. Her parents, it turns out, were waiting in the next room. "My dad had been battling cancer for 15 years and just had a treatment, so I was shocked," she says (adding that he's since recovered). "It was the best trip ever."
After a year of planning, the couple wed under a century-old oak tree in front of 187 guests at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa on August 19, 2017. The weekend celebration felt like exactly what Ben had asked for: "an adult summer camp with a fantastic party in the middle." They incorporated many Jewish traditions and updated others—including circling each other, instead of the bride circling the groom.
Post-ceremony, guests assembled in a tiered herb garden for cocktails before heading to the reception area for dinner. A live band played, but Cassandra's father stole the show with a song he wrote for her, called "She Touches Rainbows." As guests headed to the after-party, individual slices of cheese pizza waited in boxes that read "I love you to pizzas"—a toast to their New York life and Ben's sustenance of choice. And no, Cassandra didn't hire a planner—she organized it all herself—but she did hand over the binder to former colleagues on Friday night. "I was having a panic attack! But I wanted to enjoy the weekend and be a bride."
The Stationery Suite
Welcome to Ojai!
The bridal party wore Paper Crown dresses by Cassandra's good friend and bridesmaid Lauren Conrad (here, fourth from left). "Lauren offered to do the dresses as a gift," the bride said. Cassandra wore a semicustom French-lace dress by Monique Lhuillier. Her bouquet by Gilly Flowers & Events, included ranunculus, lisianthus, garden roses, and olive and eucalyptus leaves.
Cassandra's three-inch Chanel heels featured leather flowers with pearls.
Like Father, Like Son
Ben wore an Armani midnight blue tuxedo with a black peak lapel. When looking for his big day attire, he called his father and future father-in-law and had them meet him at Saks to look for their outfits together. That's where he found his winning ensemble.
Ben secretly wanted to change into a dinner jacket for his grand entrance at the reception with his new bride. It was his future brother-in-law who took him to the Ralph Lauren flagship to shop to find it. "I surprised Cassandra by walking into our living room in it a week before the wedding without saying a word… and she loved it," he says.
All in the Family
A sun-dappled pre-ceremony photograph with the bride's parents, her brother and sister-in-law, and niece/flower girl.
The couple incorporated many Jewish traditions into their ceremony, including glass breaking, seven blessings, and kiddush cups—one of which was from Ben's paternal grandparent's wedding.
For Happy Tears
Vintage hankies Cassandra's mother had been collecting for her wedding since she was a little girl sat behind the last row of chairs, along with heel protectors, fans, a water station, and parasols.
The Littlest Attendants
The flower girls' baskets and ring bearer's pillow were covered in eucalyptus leaves.
With These Rings
The bride and groom's custom Cathy Waterman wedding rings set on a pillow their florist created with eucalyptus leaves and amaranthus.
The duo departed the ceremony in a "Just Married" golf cart decorated with slim Perrier cans covered in nude paper on natural ribbons. Ben adores golf and hosted a tournament with 15 friends the day before.
Find Your Seat
An Outdoor Dinner
Pergolas draped in muslin, pepper berry, feather eucalyptus, and white bougainvillea defined the reception space, which was lit by geometric pendants.
A Sweet Ending
The couple chose a seminaked dulce de leche and caramel chocolate-mousse cake, decked in blueberry foliage and garden roses.
A Sunday Sendoff
Brunch favors included "Oh bye" custom leather luggage tags (a riff on their "Oh hi," Ojai-inspired welcome versions), and newspapers in burlap bags for the plane ride home. The accompanying note read: "Safe Travels. Love, Mr. and Mrs. Katz."
Location, catering, and cake, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Event planning and design, Cassandra Bette Events
Flowers, Gilly Flowers & Events
Photography, Amy & Stuart Photography
Videography, Vidicam Productions
Officiant, Rabbi Billy Dreskin of Woodlands Community Temple
Calligraphy, Dori Jones Calligraphy
Rentals, Casa de Perrin; Edge Design and Decor (lace runners); La Tavola Fine Linen; Revelry Event Designers (pendant lighting); Town & Country Event Rentals (furniture); Found Vintage Rentals (gates)
Bride's gown, Monique Lhuillier
Hair and makeup, Mar R. of Team Hair & Makeup
Bridesmaids' dresses, Paper Crown
Groom's tuxedo and shoes, Armani Collezioni
Groom's dinner jacket, Ralph Lauren Purple Label
Lighting, Images by Lighting
Transportation, Executive Limousine & Coach
Photo booth, Genuine Photobooths
Kippot, Kippot World
Parasols, Luna Bazaar
Bridesmaids' robes, Plum Pretty Sugar
Welcome totes, ConventionTotes.com
Wedding fitness, House Call Trainers
Honeymoon, Barbara Lieberman of Altour