A Blush-and-Lilac Wedding in Carmel Valley, California
Letitia and Justin first met on a hike with a group of mutual friends on California's Mount Wittenberg in January 2014—but when he returned to Boston shortly after, the two didn't chat again for more than a year. But they didn't forget each other. When Justin, a physical therapist, relocated for a graduate school rotation at Stanford, he invited Letitia out for a drink at a speakeasy (a date that later inspired their wedding reception's signature cocktails). In July 2018, Justin planned a day of hiking and wine tasting in Carmel. When he led Letitia off the dirt trail and onto a sandstone path, they ended up overlooking the ocean. "He started to say a lot of sentimental things, including God's faithfulness in our relationship, how my grandmother emigrated with her four children, how Carmel was where she chose to start a new life in America, and how he wanted to make this place our new beginning as well," says Letitia. "There is a Chinese saying which literally means 'when the seas run dry and the stones go soft,' but the idiomatic purpose is to convey a love that lasts until the end of time. This made the spot of Justin's proposal so meaningful and sacrosanct for reasons that include how my grandmother began her new life, too."
As Letitia and Justin began planning their wedding for 190 guests on August 10, 2019, they envisioned an event with "elegant, yet rustic charm married to modern elements." Says Letitia, "I wanted the wedding to embody who we are, including our faith, a love of the outdoors, as well as Old-World splendor." The outdoor ceremony area at Holman Ranch made their venue choice an easy one, as Justin immediately envisioned Letitia walking down a curved aisle for their marriage ceremony there. "I always thought I would get married in a conventional setting, but Holman really spoke to Justin's heart, and I could not agree with him more," she says. A color palette of white and ivory with pink, lavender, and gold accents inspired letterpress invitations with gold foil lettering, a selection of blush-and-lilac bridesmaids' gowns, and modern floral hoop bouquets.
As for the bride's best advice to couples currently in the preparation phase? "Enjoy the season of engagement and wedding planning—it's a time that is so unique as you are being celebrated by those around you," reflects Letitia. "Our wedding was everything I dreamed of, but know that it takes a village, so make sure you have the right team of people working with you. Above all, make sure that you are still setting aside time to spend with your fiancé."
Love at First Sight
Although Letitia wore two different wedding dress for the couple's second reception—which honored her Chinese culture—she wore one gown, a sheer A-line Galia Lahav garment, throughout the couple's ceremony and reception at Holman Ranch. The dress charmed her with its low sweetheart neckline and scattered organza flowers. "I felt like a fairy queen the moment I put it on," she says, "and I also knew it was perfect for Holman."
Letitia's grandmother worked closely with designers at San Francisco's Jewelry Art Center to create a diamond bracelet, necklace, and drop earrings as a gift for the bride. "The necklace, composed of over 100 stones, was a modern piece designed to complement the neckline of the dress," says Letitia. "I love my grandmother, and it made these pieces meaningful to me."
Letitia's bridesmaids wore the same Jenny Yoo gown in three different shades—lilac, apricot, and sandstone. "I love how you are able to style every dress a bit differently, given the tulle ribbon that the dresses came with," says Letitia. Instead of bouquets, the bride suggested floral hoops. "I wanted a modern element here," she says. She carried a more traditional arrangement bouquet with white-and-mauve flowers. "It smelled heavenly!" says Letitia.
Got the Blues
Justin and his groomsmen wore dark blue suits from Tommy Hilfiger; the groom added a matching vest and a black bow tie to set him apart from the other men.
Their First Look
While Justin waited on a loveseat on the venue's Rose Patio, Letitia snuck up on him from behind during their first look. "Justin had some nerves, and his reaction was really endearing," she says. "I thought he looked so handsome, and once I saw him, I was ready to be his wife!"
Infused waters, lemonade, and iced tea greeted guests upon their arrival.
A Dream Come True
The terrace at Holman Ranch, where the couple ultimately held their ceremony, is what sold them on the venue in the first place. "It was the only place where we felt the presence of God in such a real way, with the beautiful oak trees and lush mountains being a powerful backdrop to our wedding ceremony," says Letitia. "Justin told me that he could see me walking around a curve to meet him at the pavilion during our ceremony." They made his vision a reality with chairs set up to create a rounded aisle, lined with soaring floral arrangements.
To "Paradoxology" by Elevation Worship, Letitia's mother and father escorted her down the aisle together. "My planner actually suggested this, and I liked the idea as it signified the responsibility, energy, and resources expended by both of my parents in raising me," says Letitia. "It was only right that both of them should give me away."
Pastor Eric Chabaneix of Pillar Baptist Church officiated the couple's religious ceremony, which included traditional hymns and personalized vows.
The New Mr. and Mrs.
As the ceremony ended, the newlyweds walked back up the aisle to Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True." "Justin loves all '70s and '80s music, including this song," says Letitia. "Walking down the aisle with that just-married feeling as friends and family cheered us on was just amazing."
Letitia and Justin chose two signature drinks for their reception. "Both are from speakeasies—the first was modeled after Justin's favorite cocktail, The Prosecutor, and was in tribute to our first date at Singlebarrel," says Letitia; the drink included whisky, Yellow Chartreuse, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and lemon. "The second was a tribute to my love for G&Ts, with Junipero gin, vermouth, grapefruit, lemon, coriander, and tonic water."
The duo's seating chart incorporated Justin's love of running—and a few subtle nods to the couple's relationship history. Gold lettering across the top read "You've Won My Heart," while gold medals attached to pink ribbons listed the table numbers. Tables were named after spots meaningful to the newlyweds: "There was Mt. Wittenberg, when we first met; Emerson Street, where we shared a first kiss; Coyote Hills, where we had our first run; and Point Lobos, where we got engaged."
A dose of pre-sunset magic hour lighting created a picturesque backdrop for the couple's portraits.
Letitia and Justin's outdoor dinner reception took place under the stars—except for a central head table shaded by draped fabric. "I came up with a cross design using long tables, dotted with rounds along both sides," says Letitia. "We sat in a rather unconventional spot during the reception—that is, we sat in the middle of all the tables!" says Letitia. "Justin and I felt it was important to dine with all our guests rather than be stuck in a secluded corner. This represents who we are, as we like to host, chat with guests, and make sure everyone is comfortable."
Lush and Lovely
Fionna Floral included the bride's favorite flowers—like roses, hydrangeas, dahlias, and jasmine—in statement centerpieces and runners. "I love lush florals, which resulted in staggered arrangements of different sizes," says Letitia, "culminating in floral runners that dripped off the side of the long tables."
Setting the Tone
Understated place settings included gray-and-white marble chargers, a simple knotted napkin tie, and cut crystal glassware.
The couple chose to display their fig-topped three-layer cake from Freedom Bakery on a hanging acrylic platform. "I wanted everything in the wedding to be dripping with elegance and rustic charm, and this cake was no exception," says Letitia. The couple ordered two flavor combinations—black-and-white cake with raspberry and amaretto and salted caramel.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
The menu from Paradise Catering featured a stone fruit salad with focaccia bread, salmon and tri-tip steak, and butternut squash risotto. Letitia's family joined together to create a display of three Chinese desserts: almond jelly with fruit, grass jelly with sugar water, and aiyu jelly. "It takes a village, really, and my aunts all came through for me with this one!" she says. "Everything was made in bulk in the super small kitchen on-site at Holman."
Coming Up Rosé
The newlyweds kicked off the celebration by pouring out a tower of sparkling wine for their friends and family. "Pouring rosé for our guests via a Champagne tower, while being encased in momentary fog, was so much fun," says Letitia.
Photography, Alicia Mink
Venue, Holman Ranch
Event planning, Coastside Couture
Catering, Paradise Catering
Flowers, Fionna Floral
Videography, Alvis Pham Photography
Officiant, Pastor Eric Chabaneix
Stationery, Minted (invitations); Prim and Pixie (day-of paper goods)
Cake, Freedom Bakery
Music, Belmont Entertainment; The Caraoke Club
Rentals and Lighting, Standard Party Rentals
Bride's Gown, Galia Lahav
Bride's Accessories, Stuart Weitzman shoes; Jewelry Art Center jewelry
Hair and Makeup, I See Wise
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Jenny Yoo
Menswear, Tommy Hilfiger
Groom's Shoes, Mezlan
Rings, Jewelry Art Center
Bar Service, Bar Cart Cocktail Co.