A Whimsical Malibu Wedding Inspired by the Greatest Love Stories
Shannon and Jon
In January 2015, Shannon was introduced to Jon, supposedly to have a phone call that would double as a job interview of sorts. Shannon, who works on Facebook's Media Partnerships team, just saw it as another networking opportunity but instead, the conversation took a flirtatious turn. "Jon was funny, charming, and perfectly at ease. He seemed less like a job applicant and more like a really fun guy to grab a beer with," Shannon says of her first impression of her future husband. Recognizing that there might be something brewing, the two decided to meet for coffee on a Saturday morning. What could've easily been an awkward situation turned out to be the start of their own romantic tale. "We'd gone from all business to funny business in no time at all," she says.
After just seven months of dating, Jon, who now also works at Facebook, decided to culminate their love story with a proposal. "We both believe we know a good thing when we see it and we act on it!" he says. During Fourth of July weekend, the couple, along with their families, was at Jon's beach house in Malibu. When his mother announced that it was time to take the annual family photo on the beach, Jon asked Shannon to get dressed up for the picture. Since everyone else was in casual, beach attire, she was confused but changed anyway. Once she was dressed in an aptly patriotic red-white-and-blue ensemble, Jon led Shannon out onto some nearby dunes, down a rocky slope, and over the edge of the water. As he called the rest of the family to join them, an annoyed Shannon still didn't understand what this picture was about when suddenly she spotted it—on the wet sand were the words "Marry Me?" spelled out in seashells. Jon got down on one knee and of course, she said yes.
As the San Francisco-based pair began planning the next chapter of their tale, they worked with the team at Wish Wonder Dream to bring their vision to life. They integrated their affinity for love stories into their wedding with a "classic literary love stories" theme that highlighted the classics. A black-and-gold color palette elevated the occasion.
On June 11, 2016, the couple exchanged their own vows at the Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California, sharing their own fairytale with 210 of their closest loved ones. The ranch served as the ideal location for the literary-loving pair to showcase all the different signature love stories that flung across genres, time periods, and tones, from Renaissance-era Romeo and Juliet to The Great Gatsby's opulent 1920s. The property's old oak forest was perfect for their enchanted, ceremony setting but after a short walk, guests found themselves in a sprawling, Gatsby-style lawn, complete with a working Ferris wheel. Shannon and Jon's wedding was one for the books, and kicked off their happily ever after.
The Stationery Suite
"I probably tried on a hundred dresses!" Shannon says of her search for the perfect gown. After several shopping excursions and with some assistance from her best friend, the bride narrowed down her picks to two choices—an ivory gown and a white number. After getting Jon's input, Shannon chose the latter, a custom Vera Wang dress, with a sweetheart top and extra sweeping fabric. The bride, a self-proclaimed "pink person" integrated her favorite color into her big day with rosey Manolo Blahnik heels and topped off her ensemble with a floral, lace-applique Vera Wang veil. For jewelry, she kept it close-to-home with her "something old" Tiffany & Co. heart ring (which she and her sister always wear in honor of their late brother) while earrings borrowed from her bridesmaid served as her "something borrowed."
Shannon chose elegant, black bridesmaids gowns from Weddington Way to contrast with the au natural, woodsy location. Inspired by Blair Waldorf's wedding scene in Gossip Girl, the bride went with fascinators from Be Chic Accessories for her bridesmaids, providing a touch of grandeur and also added black gloves to play off the Shakespearean and Gatsby themes.
Shannon and Jon were married under a hundred-year-old oak tree. With fairy lights trailing down the branches and peeking through the leaves, the ceremony looked like a scene straight out of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.
Prior to the start of the service (and in keeping with their vintage vibe), the couple designated an social media break, instructing guests to turn off their digital devices to truly soak in the moment. Their ceremony also featured passage readings from classics like Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and William Goldman's The Princess Bride.
The Surprise Guest
Taking a cue from some of their favorite Disney love stories, the twosome surprised everyone with Arrow, their sea hawk ring bearer. "At one point during the vows, the officiant asked for the rings. None of the best men had them and as they started to look nervous, the officiant summoned Arrow from behind the trees!" the bride recalls. Not short on the dramatics, the bird flew the rings over to the Game of Thrones theme song.
The Cocktail Hour
Following the ceremony, guests sipped on bubbyl as they walked from under the trees to the lawn where cocktail hour was being held. With the 1920s-era Ferris wheel in the backdrop and a string quartet playing music, everyone was transported from an enchanted forest, right into a roaring '20s lawn party.
The Cocktail Bar
A makeshift cocktail bar featured a vintage dresser and a bookshelf complete with glass bottles, framed pictures and other knick-knacks, doubled as the location's watering hole. The set-up also included a fun, tongue-in-cheek sign that displayed the words, "Prohibition Ends Here."
Little details like this gold-rimmed serving trolley piled with leather-bound novels, dainty cocktail glasses, and contrasting rich bronze goblets helped set the Jazz Age vibe.
The Customized Details
The literary theme was repeated throughout the day with customized cocktail napkins that bore different love story quotes. Framed quotes also dotted the location.
The "Getaway Car"
"We wanted our getaway vehicle to be super unique and a working Ferris wheel accomplished that," Shannon says of the whimsical addition. One of the pods was aptly decorated with a "just married" sign, making the colorful ride the perfect "escape" for this fun-loving pair. Guests could also hop on for a ride during the summer soiree.
The Seating Chart
Inspired by Snow White, guests' names were written on various gold-rimmed mirrors that were displayed on a wall of greenery and adorned with flowers.
After mingling at a cool, Gatsby-esque cocktail setting, everyone moved to the understatedly elegant white-and-gold reception. Bathed in soft candlelight and airy drapery, the floorplan was customized with literary-themed tables. "Instead of table numbers, each table was a love story, everything from Romeo and Juliet to Jane Eyre," the bride explains, "So, instead of sitting at Table One, you sat at Pride and Prejudice."
The First Dance
Much like the rest of their romance, Shannon and Jon's first dance song came with its own little tale. "The first time we ever spoke, it was an extremely quick call, but we did talk about the Super Bowl and the puppy commercial that featured Sleeping At Last's cover of '500 Miles' and how much we both loved it," Shannon says of the song that signaled the start of their new chapter together.
Gold-brushed heart-shaped sugar cookies and mini chocolate toffee tarts ended the night on a sweet note. One extra feature: Shannon had a groom's cake made out of different cheeses and topped with a custom cake topper of the newlyweds.
The couple's wedding cake was a three-tiered Sheila Mae confection, brushed with gold and adorned with a few white roses. The "Happily Ever After" cake topper was a gift from Jon and seemed like the perfect ending to this twosome's love story.
The literary theme was prevalent throughout the wedding, right down to the newlyweds' wedding favors: typewriter key magnets that spelled LOVE.
Photography, Sylvie Gil Photography
Location, Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California
Event planning, Wish Wonder Dream
Flowers, Holly Flora
Stationery, Heirloom Paper Co.
Calligraphy, Letters To You
Cake, Sheila Mae
Bride's gown, Vera Wang
Hair and makeup, Makeup by Becca
Bridesmaids' dresses, Weddington Way
Groom's suit, Ralph Lauren Black Label
Lighting, VOX Entertainment