A Leap Day Wedding with Polished Orange Accents in Los Angeles
"Our love story didn't start right away," says Dian Jackson of her initial encounter with Kenneth Thompson. Though they met at a pre-orientation program at Brown, their relationship didn't turn romantic until the spring semester of their junior year, when Kenny asked Dian to his fraternity formal (they'd gotten to know each other during a mentorship program). "We hit it off on the dance floor and before the end of the school year, Kenny insisted that we stay together through the summer. Eventually, I agreed," says the bride.
After graduation, the couple packed up and moved to New York City—well, Kenny moved back (he's from the Bronx), while Dian, a California native, decided to navigate Manhattan for the first time. "The real world was a rude awakening for both of us," explains Dian. "Luckily, our offices were across the street from one another, so we could grab a quick lunch or coffee. It might have been the only time we saw each other all week." They decided to remedy that by moving in together in 2015; in their DUMBO apartment, they learned so much about each other. "We both love early morning fashion shows (Kenny's favorite!), walks in Brooklyn Bridge Park, cooking together, dining out together, and drinking lots of wine," shares Dian.
And then, on one of the couple's many adventures ("Our adventures have taken us to Italy, Montauk, Mexico, Jamaica, Spain, France, Switzerland, and Miami, and we're looking forward to adding many more to this list," says the bride), Kenny got down on one knee. "Our most memorable trip was to Puerto Rico in October 2018, when Kenny made plans under the guise of a trip for his birthday. On Sunday 21, 2018, he proposed on a catamaran at sunset," reflects Dian.
Shortly after their return, they began planning a timeless California celebration with a modern edge and white, green, and orange color palette on Leap Day, February 29, 2020; the event was attended by 200 of their nearest and dearest. With the assistance of L.A.-based Renee at Moxie Bright Events and the bride's mother, Kenny and Dian tackled the "rollercoaster" process of planning a wedding from afar together as a team. As for their best advice for couples who are currently planning their big days? "Don't be afraid to change your mind," notes Dian. "Remember that it's okay to adjust and do things that are right for you!"
Pop of Orange
Dian and Kenny's invitation suite, created by Bella Figura, featured their names front and center—and previewed their color palette. "Our names were large and a central part of the design, using blind embossing. We tied in the pop of orange with edging and the envelope liner," says Dian. "It was very minimal, but dramatic at the same time." The couple tapped one of their close friends, Liran, to design their custom logo and vintage postcard save-the-dates ("A nice nod to California," says the bride).
Welcome to the Ebell
Though the couple currently lives in New York City, they wanted a Los Angeles wedding to honor where Dian grew up. The Ebell, "a hidden gem on historic Wilshire Boulevard, built in 1894," was recommended to them by Dian's parent's friend—and, turns out, there was a serendipitous twist to their choice. "I didn't know this when Kenny and I picked the venue, but my dad's uncle got married at The Ebell in 1980. My dad brought my mom to that wedding as his date and it was the first time my mom met my dad's family," share the bride. "My dad explained this very eloquently in his toast, but essentially The Ebell was the beginning of three different love stories in my family—my great uncle and aunt, my parents, and me and Kenny."
The Final Look
Dian first saw her A-line Lihi Hod wedding dress on Instagram. "I had started following many different designers and knew I wanted something a little different—not too much of a skirt and no V-neckline," she explains. When she stepped into the dress at a local trunk show, she knew it was special, but decided to continue her search elsewhere. "But my heart kept drifting back to that first dress. I went back with my mom and the rest is history," she says.
The finishing touches? Prada platform sandals ("So comfortable!") and a dramatic veil from Julie Harris—a last-minute addition, considering the bride thought she wanted a straightforward option. "Once I saw her work, I fell in love with a cathedral length veil with exaggerated floral appliqué detail," Dian explains.
Composed of mini calla lilies, ranunculus, lisianthus, peony, vanda, orchids, wax flowers, and white lilacs, Dian's organic, hand-tied bouquet—arranged by Tabitha of Winston & Main—also featured small kumquats, which nodded to the overarching color scheme of the celebration.
A First Look
The duo decided to skip bridesmaids and groomsmen ("We felt strongly that we wanted to stand at the altar by ourselves and also thought bridesmaids and groomsmen just weren't our style," Dian explains) and take the "English" approach. "We had many children as part of our big day," she notes. The bride's father bought their ushers Adidas sneakers—which came in handy on the dance floor—while her mother styled the flower girls in Janie & Jack A-line feathered dresses and the ring bearer in a dark blue velvet suit to match the groom.
With Mom and Dad
At the start of the ceremony, Dian, an only child, walked down the aisle with both of her parents, and took in the grand space for the first time that day. "We thought we wanted to have our ceremony outside until we saw the ceilings in the ceremony room and the amazing staircase," she shares.
A Personalized Ceremony
Dian and Kenny customized their service, penning their own vows and the ceremony script; even their choice in officiant was personal. "My childhood friend and spectrum TV morning anchor Melvin Robert III officiated, "says Dian. "It was his first time and he was incredible."
"We also included readings from Khalil Gibran (read by my best friends Rachel and Khalila); Kenny's brother Malcolm read a poem he wrote specifically for the ceremony," Dian continues. Though the proceedings were not religious, they wanted to acknowledge the wishes of both of their grandparents, who are—and loved that the venue's stained-glass windows made the space feel church-like.
On the Terrace
During the cocktail hour on the terrace—filled with tables covered in seafoam linens and strung with overhead bistro lights—a jazz pianist from Dart Collective serenaded guests as they sipped on spicy margaritas with sliced jalapeño and a tajin rim and Aperol spritzes and noshed on tomato bruschetta, Maryland crab cakes, and Kobe sliders.
The duo created personalized match boxes for the big day (Dian collects them!); they placed them on the bar for friends and family to take home "and remember Leap Day 2020," she says.
Rectangles and Rounds
"We wanted to have a mix of round and rectangle tables to mix up the look of the room," explains Dian of the indoor reception. "We worked closely with Tabitha to create different centerpieces—all using the base color palette of white, green, and a pop of orange. Some of the longer rectangles had a mix of bud vases, some round tables had centerpieces with citrus around them, and others had elevated arrangements where Tabitha even made birds of paradise (a sentimental flower with a very California vibe; I grew up with them in my backyard) work."
Single-stem tulips and greens were placed in the more petite vessels that ran the lengths of the longer stations.
Celebrating Black Love
Since they were planning their Los Angeles wedding from New York City, Kenny and Dian decided against tackling too many DIYs—but they did attempt one, since it was too good of an idea to pass up. "Kenny and I were at dinner with my parents and came up with a fun idea for our table cards," explains the bride. "Instead of focusing on things Kenny and I like or places we've traveled to, we wanted to highlight love—specifically Black love—and use the table cards to display our favorite couples. The couples were tailored to the guests at that table. My parents picked Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; we selected Jennifer Lopez and Alexander Rodriguez for Kenny's parents (because he grew up in the Bronx); and Kenny and I were of course at the Obamas' table. Others included Ina and Jeffrey Garten, Beyonce & Jay-Z, and Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian."
Dian and Kenny meticulously culled the entire event's music selections, from the ceremony to the party. "The Half Moons, our band for the reception, was amazing. We partnered with the band and helped curate the music. As icing on the cake, one of my oldest friends, Lauren Desberg, a jazz vocalist, sang our first dance song with the band," says Dian. That song was "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos. "We wanted something classic, not too contemporary," shares Dian. "My dad, who I got my music taste from, actually suggested this and Kenny and I loved it."
Susie Cakes baked the newlyweds' classic three-tier treat; the first two layers were composed of vanilla cake with lemon curd inside and iced with vanilla buttercream. "We saved the top tier for us—it was vanilla cake with coconut filling and vanilla buttercream," says Dian. "We also had churros with chocolate dipping sauce. Kenny and I personally love churros and it was a nice nod to my Mexican heritage, as well."
Party All Night
The festivities lasted well into the evening; guests spilled onto the terrace as the party unfolded indoors. "The dance floor was so much fun all night—we were perfectly sweaty," says the bride. "One of our friends even split his pants open!"
Photography, Miki & Sonja
Venue and Catering, The Ebell of Los Angeles
Wedding Planning, Moxie Bright Events
Flowers, Tabitha of Winston & Main
Invitations, Bella Figura
Other Paper Products, Minted; Etsy
Officiant, Melvin Robert III
Bride's Gown, Lihi Hod
Veil, Julie Harris Designs
Jewelry, Trina Turk (earrings)
Bride's Shoes, Prada
Hair, Carla Sorenson Farmer Jackson
Makeup, Shea Hardy
Groom's Attire, Zegna (suit); J. Hilburn (custom shirts)
Groom's Shoes, Salvatore Ferragamo
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands, ZOLAND Jewelers
Music, The Half Moons of Dart Collective
Cake, Susie Cakes
Rentals, Luxe Linen
Photo Booth, Hashtag Photobooth