"Eloping Was Never Part of Our Plan," This Couple Explains, but They Are So Glad They Did
When Jessica Tali relocated from California to Chicago for work in 2017, Beau Hoodger, assigned to onboard her, took her orientation ver seriously. "Beau would get into the office early every day with me at 6:30 a.m. and then wait to walk me home every day," she says. "Our running joke was that I was a California girl planted in the middle of Chicago with no proper 'winter coat,' so Beau always made sure I got home safe and sound." A little over two years after they met, Beau shocked Jessica with a proposal at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California. "It was sunset and we were walking along the golf course path, Fire Engine cocktails in hand, and we got to the top ramp overlooking the ocean. When I turned around he was on one knee," she says. "I promptly dropped my cocktail, spilling everywhere, and was in disbelief, but overjoyed—and said yes!"
The couple began working with Kaella Lynn Events to plan a 150-person wedding at Beaulieu Garden in Napa Valley, California, for August 2020—until COVID-19 forced them to reschedule. "I was a bride in denial for a good length of time," says Jessica. "It makes me emotional even now, thinking back to how we felt at the time when we first realized that postponing our wedding was most likely our reality." They did their best to stay the course until June 2020, when they officially decided to reschedule their larger ceremony for July 10, 2021, and elope on August 8, 2020, at their original venue. "I was devastated and didn't want to accept it, but in hindsight, it was of course the right thing to do for the safety of ourselves, our loved ones, and all those putting on our fabulous event," says Jessica.
"Eloping was never part of our plan—and in fact I didn't want to—but I'm so happy we did," she continues. "The experience made Beau and I focus on what was really important, which was sanctifying our love with those we held closest to our hearts as witnesses."
Simple and Chic
Though Jessica had already purchased a wedding dress at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City, travel restrictions prevented her from returning to get it fitted before the smaller ceremony. Instead, she chose a new gown, donning a silk cotton Rita Vinieris wedding dress with a low back, spaghetti straps, and a sweeping train. "I knew for the elopement I wanted something simple yet elegant, as the dress I initially picked was much more extravagant," she says. "It was the first dress I tried on and I knew it was the one by the confidence I felt when wearing it. I could picture myself walking down the aisle and potentially wearing it again as my reception dress for the big wedding next year."
Girl's Best Friend
Jessica wore a pear-shaped diamond necklace and diamond tennis bracelet that once belonged to her late grandmother. "My grandmother was really like a mother to me, so being able to wear her jewelry was so special and made it feel like she was with me on our wedding day," she says.
The bride chose her sparkling Jeffrey Campbell heels not only for comfort—she wanted some height, too (Beau is over one foot taller than her!).
Before the ceremony, she added a 14-foot-long veil from Kinsley James Couture that "upped the drama level of the dress," she explains. Her bouquet from Amanda Vidmar Design included roses, dahlias, bleached bougainvillea, peacock feather, and dried grasses. "It was more than I could have dreamed of," Jessica says.
In the Garden
Jessica and Beau chose to elope at their original venue, Beaulieu Garden, and exchanged their vows in the sunken garden where a reflecting pool, stone steps, and lush landscaping created an outdoor oasis. "We spent hours touring venues, and Beaulieu Garden was a magical place where it just felt right," she says.
Arm in Arm
The bride's mother escorted her down the aisle in a sapphire-blue gown. "That was the plan from the start," says Jessica, adding that they are particularly close. "It was only fair that she be the one to give me away!"
Jessica remembers the time she spent with her mother in the bridal suite that morning as "intimate and stress-free"—and as one of her favorite parts of the day. "We just got to be together and have quality time that was calm and peaceful before she walked me down the aisle to see and marry Beau," she adds.
Black and Blue
Beau chose a dark blue tuxedo jacket with a satin shawl collar from The Black Tux, adding black pants and a velvet bow tie. His boutonnière—a single rose—also included dried bougainvillea to coordinate with Jessica's bouquet.
Despite the emotional impact of rescheduling the wedding, Jessica had a very short list of must-haves for the smaller ceremony: "As long as it was at Beaulieu Gardens and my mom and grandfather were there, I was going to be thrilled," she says. By keeping the ceremony small, the couple created a safe event that her grandpa could attend. She was "elated he got to be there," she says.
Sealed with a Kiss
"Our ceremony had religious hints but was very unique to our love," says the bride. "My cousin, who is like a brother to me, wrote our ceremony and knows Beau and I extremely well, so we trusted him to make it unique, special, and specific to us."
The bride and groom further personalized their service by writing their own vows. "They included memories, commitments to each other, and some funny references, as well," says Jessica. They even included condiments: "I love ranch and it was a staple in our relationship for all food, and, funny enough, Beau brought that as a prop for his vows."
The newlyweds strolled around the garden together after their ceremony, sharing a private moment they still treasure. "The weather was perfect and we really enjoyed quality time with each other post-ceremony," she notes.
Artisanal cheeses, fruits, nuts, and more were arranged on a circular charcuterie board.
Pop the Bubbly
Mint iced tea and Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Champagne were also served.
A petite carrot cake covered in vanilla buttercream and topped with fresh figs took center stage on the food station; it was placed on a shimmering gold board atop a wooden cake stand.
Jessica and Beau took a moment to check in with a few loved ones on Zoom before mingling with their in-person loved ones.
Friends and Family
While rescheduling was a difficult decision, both Jessica and Beau agree it was the right one. "The easiest [part] of all was the elopement weekend—it was stress free, a breeze, and just magical," says the bride, who had two friends in attendance. "I was able to enjoy my time with Beau, my mom, Beau's parents, and my two closest friends, and focus on what was really important."
Small boxes tied with raffia bows held heart-shaped shortbread cookies and salted golden caramels guests took home as favors.
All About Trust
"Trust the process," says Jessica to other couples currently replanning their nuptials. "At the end of the day, what is meant to be will be. Trust your wedding planner. Everything will work out."
Photography, Janine Licare Photography
Venue, Beaulieu Garden
Wedding Planning, Kaella Lynn Events
Catering and Cake, Paula LeDuc
Flowers, Amanda Vidmar Design
Stationery, Bright Line Studio
Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen Rental
Bride's Gown, Rita Vinieris
Bride's Accessories, Kinsley James Couture veil; Jeffrey Campbell shoes
Hair, Katie Taylor
Makeup, Janesa Simmons Beauty
Groom's suit, The Black Tux
Rings, Kerns Fine Jewelry
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