An Old Hollywood-Inspired Wedding in California
Amanda and Matt
Although Amanda Lund and Matt Gourley both worked at Disneyland for years (Amanda played a princess and Matt held several acting jobs), two didn't cross paths until they began training to perform improv comedy at Universal Studios Hollywood. They were hired to play characters in the theme park, and even though the jobs didn't last past the summer, but they were happy to have found one another.
More than four years later, Amanda and Matt—who now work as actors, writers, and podcasters—were living in Pasadena, California. They had just finished decorating the Christmas tree, which Amanda says is one of their favorite wintertime activities, when Matt popped the question. "It was very simple," Amanda says of the proposal. "We wanted it that way."
And so, on May 6, 2017, six years after they started dating, Amanda and Matt tied the knot at Royal Oaks Ranch, a private estate in Santa Ynez, California, with 129 guests. The celebration was filled with Old Hollywood glamour and symbols of California, like vibrant wildflowers and citrus accents. "We're both second generation Californians. We love our state—its topography, its progressiveness, and its openness, both in land expanse and culture. It's our home and we wanted to get married right in the middle of it," says the groom.
With help from Cards of Wood, Matt printed the 1960s-style postcard invitations he designed on wood veneer, thus introducing the wedding's old-school California theme.
Amanda and Matt got married at Royal Oaks Ranch, a private estate nestled against picturesque hills, vineyards, and oak trees. "It was the first time it was available to rent as an event space, so we liked that it had a secluded feeling and we could do our own thing with it," says Matt. "Nothing about it said 'Hello, I'm an overused wedding venue, have a seat in one of my scuffed chairs.'"
The couple rented the estate for the long weekend so their wedding party could stay together in the large house, since it was located about two hours from their hometown of Pasadena. "Our wedding was the mildest form of a destination wedding possible," says Amanda. "Which is kind of what we wanted—far enough that people could get away for the weekend, but close enough to be grandparent-friendly."
Matt wore a white dinner jacket from J.Crew accessorized with a Hugo Boss shirt, red carnation boutonniere (which is his grandparents' favorite flower), a black bowtie, and a black-and-white houndstooth handkerchief. The ensemble channeled James Bond, which wasn't a mistake, since the groom hosts a podcast called "James Bonding." One more vintage detail rounded out his ensemble. Matt's wedding band belonged to his late grandfather, who celebrated 75 years of marriage with his late grandmother. "My grandpa never had a wedding ring, so my grandma bought him one for their 75th anniversary," he explains, adding that he wore the ring on his middle finger before the wedding before breaking his finger. "It ballooned up so badly that the surgeon had to cut off the ring. Amanda had it fixed, sized, and engraved, and I'm happy to say it's back on my hand—this time on the right finger."
Designer Tak Hau from Aria Bridal made Amanda's custom dress with a peek-a-boo top and sleeves, which she tucked in for the reception. "I knew I wanted something with a vintage edge that was flattering on my figure!" she says. The bride paired the gown with a customized elbow-length Aria Bridal veil, Anthropologie earrings, and a bracelet from Etsy.
The Bride's Shoes
"It took me a long time to finally decide on a simple bun for my hair," says Amanda. "I went back and forth on wanting something more intricate, but at the end of the day, I knew I would look best in something simple." The hairstyle managed to survive the day's windy weather.
The Cuff Links
Amanda bought Matt his moose cuff links on a business trip to Sweden.
The Bridesmaids and Bridesman
Amanda had six bridesmaids: three friends that she's known since pre-school, her sister, Matt's sister, and her writing partner and best friend from college. Her lifelong friend, Jonny, also served as a bridesman—"It wouldn't have felt right to not have him stand by my side," she says. Regarding the outfits, Amanda told the ladies to buy their dress of choice in a poppy color, which contrasted against the natural greenery of the venue. Cheery cherry lipstick tied it all together. "They ended up looking perfect and I loved the variation in color!" she says. Jonny wore a gray suit with touches of red in the bow tie, boutonnière, and handkerchief.
Matt's dad, five brothers, and six friends served as groomsmen. "I knew going in this was going to be an actual party of a wedding party!" he says. The men wore their choice of navy or gray suits, coordinating skinny ties, and red and white carnation boutonnieres.
Matt created mahogany signage to resemble the Mid-century modern-style signs found around Californian highways, national reserves, and parks. "I would come home and Matt would have one laying down on the coffee table so he could paint it. For a while, they were all assembled in our living room, and it looked like some kind of surreal roadside graveyard!" says Amanda.
The Ceremony Site
The 4:30 p.m. ceremony took place on the grassy lawn of Royal Oaks Ranch overlooking the hills of Santa Ynez. Large trees framed the altar, adding natural charm to the site. One of Matt's signs, which read "A Golden State Wedding" and was adorned with a flower garland by Renae's Bouquet, also set the scene. The garland included a single pink carnation as a nod to Matt's grandparents.
Amanda's dad walked her down the aisle to a medley that started with an instrumental arrangement of "Lost In Love" by Air Supply and transitioned into music by rock band My Morning Jacket.
Another element to the sounds and scenery of the ceremony was the weather. "The night before our wedding, we had to decide if we were going to move the entire ceremony inside a barn or risk it in the open field. We decided to risk it and the ceremony had every type of weather you could think of. It was overcast one second, sunny the next, raining for just a moment, and then extremely gusty," says the bride, whose veil got caught up in the winds during her entrance. However, Matt mentioned an upside: The sun peeked out the clouds right after the couple recited vows—"and the diffuse lighting really made the pictures look good," he adds.
Shedding a Tear
As he watched his bride walk down the aisle, Matt couldn't help but shed a tear. "I didn't try too hard to fight it and just tried to laugh through the tears. There was no stopping them. Amanda looked beautiful and I was so damned happy!" he says.
During the ceremony, close friends of the couple recited readings by Tom Robbins, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Shakespeare, and Carl Sagan—which were followed by a toast by Tom Mix, an actor in old western movies. Amanda and Matt opted to write their own vows for the ceremony, which Matt dubs his favorite part of the day. Thanks to her hectic planning schedule, Amanda ended up perfecting her vows on the morning of the wedding. "I've never felt so vulnerable delivering my vows in front of all our family and friends! It was a really crazy experience," she says. Matt became so overwhelmed with emotion that he threw his notecards in the air and winged it. "I barely remember what I said, but it had something to do with the first time I saw her and how much I loved her, and how much we are united against the common enemy of our cat," he reminisces.
Amanda and Matt took portraits after the ceremony around the estate's property. At the same time, guests enjoyed drinks inside the house. Jazz music by artists like Charles Mingus, Paul Desmond, and Henry Mancini played in the background. For appetizers, Omni Catering served grilled shrimp on a rosemary skewer, bacon-wrapped dates, and thyme grilled cheese. The signature cocktail included Grand Poppy Liqueur as a nod to the big day's theme
The Beverage Ballot
A beverage ballot, designed by Matt to resemble California voter ballots, displayed the available drink options.
The Seating Chart
Matt created a seating chart on a map of California. "We thought it was a sweet way to keep our theme alive and reuse the great map graphic Matt created for the invitations," says Amanda.
Dinner was served near the estate's swimming pool. The area had nice lighting and a dance floor—but everyone moved inside right after dinner because of the chilly weather. "There was just something about people's hair getting mussed in the wind and having to wear scrounged-up athleisure coats over fine wedding attire that made everyone take it all a little less seriously and just have a good time!" says the groom. For dinner, Omni Catering served pesto salmon, tri-tip, corn soufflé, grilled veggies, and an arugula salad with fresh peaches.
The couple made the centerpieces by filling citrus crates with fresh oranges. "We made eleventh hour calls to our close family and friends to pick up oranges, oranges, and more oranges. You'd be surprised how many oranges it takes to fill fourteen tables' worth of crates! We were set for oranges for the rest of the year," says Matt, who created the accompanying postcard table names based off the invitation design. Sticking with the Golden State theme, the couple named tables after significant locations in California, such as Ojai (where they took their first trip), Lake Arrowhead (a favorite wintertime vacation destination), and Pasadena (their home town).
The Sweetheart Table
Amanda and Matt dined at a sweetheart table, since fitting their close friends at one table would prove difficult. "Also, I really wanted a minute to actually eat dinner because everyone warned me I wouldn't have time to eat!" says the bride.
During the reception, Matt's father (who served as best man) and Amanda's best friend Alyssa gave heartfelt toasts to the couple. "We've known each other since we were little, and I'm the first of my friend group to get married, so it felt very significant," says the bride of Alyssa's speech.
An Alternative Guestbook
As an alternative to a traditional guestbook, Amanda and Matt had guests write words of wisdom on vintage postcards before placing them in a dropbox. "We saved the postcards and recently read them on our first getaway since the wedding!" says Amanda. "Being the bride and groom at the event, you don't exactly get to experience it from a guest's perspective. It was fun to read the cards and have a little sneak peek into our guests mindsets. I was very happy to see that some of the messages were pure poppycock—to me, this was a sign our guests were enjoying the cocktails!"
Your Cake Baker made a handful of smaller cakes for dessert, although the couple had a tiered lemon-flavored confection for cutting. Matt customized a topper he found online by adding paint, a clay figurine of their cat Margaux, and a mini wooden altar sign. "We liked it because if you look closely, the bride is holding a key and the groom has a ball and chain around his ankle," says Amanda.
Amanda and Matt danced to "Golden State" by John Doe and Kathleen Edwards. "It's a really fun and upbeat rock duet about being in love, but also getting at each other because you love them so much," says Amanda. Afterwards, the bride danced with her father to "Mandy" by Barry Manilow, and Matt danced with his mom to "We Have All The Time In The World" by Louis Armstrong. Then the couple spent the night celebrating with loved ones, and some friends crashed in front of a roaring fire at the estate. "The wedding was our love song to California and we know everyone felt that love!" says Amanda.
Photography, Sara Weir
Event planning, Christy Matthews Events
Catering, Omni Catering
Flowers, Renae's Bouquet
Invitations, Cards of Wood
Cake, Your Cake Baker
Rentals, Ventura Rental Party Center
Bride's gown and veil, Aria Brial
Hair, Hair by Mila
Groom's suit, J.Crew
Groom's shirt, Hugo Boss
Lighting, Spark Creative Events
Transportation, Jump on the Schoolbus