A Stylish Micro Wedding at the Bride's Parents' California Home

bride and groom embracing smiling on sandy beach
Beatrice Howell

After getting engaged a month after meeting in late 2019, Amani and Syed held their religious ceremony in February 2020 at the Islamic Center of Irvine in California. "We had it in a mosque with all our family and friends—fortunately for me, I went all out, not anticipating the situation with COVID would prevent me from having a wedding," says Amani. "So I was able to see so many of my guests back in February and they had a taste of celebrating with Syed and I!" But when a shelter-in-place order put their plans to host a 300-person wedding reception on March 29 in San Francisco on hold, the couple rescheduled for July, and then October, and then to February 2021—until Amani and Syed didn't want to put off their married life any longer. "My plans for the micro-wedding happened very last minute when my now-husband and I realized we did not want to delay being together—COVID kept us apart during the travel ban!" says Amani.

After a little more than two weeks of planning, the couple celebrated their marriage on June 3, 2020, with nine guests at Amani's parents' home in Carlsbad, California. "My vision was to not compromise on any details due to the fact that I wasn't sure if I could ever have my original wedding," says Amani. "I wanted to be sure that everything that I would've done in a larger setting was incorporated into our micro wedding at home. This meant having menu cards, wedding favors, a cake, and a photographer and videographer." She and her family rushed to source everything from a new wedding dress and custom tuxedo to linens and favors. "Despite the planning processes involving a lot of work, I enjoyed every moment of it, since it was not as stressful as a larger scale wedding would've been," says Amani. "In the end I was focused on my marriage and anticipation of being with my husband!"

01 of 18

In Fine Feather

bride wearing original feather and crystal embellished detailed wedding dress
Beatrice Howell

Finding a wedding dress appropriate for the intimate affair proved challenging for Amani. "My original gown could not be worn for a small wedding," she says. "Finding the dress while online shopping was hard! So many overnighted gowns that did not work and had to be sent back. When I found this company, I was in love!" She chose a crystal-embellished caftan with feather fringe at the wrists and hem, worn with slim-fit trousers, from Sahroo. "My only regret is not being able to have a veil made in time," she says.

  • How to Store Your Wedding Dress for a Postponed Celebration
02 of 18

A Perfect Pair

dangling crystal heeled sandals on red box
Beatrice Howell

Amani's Rene Caovilla satin sandals wrapped around her ankles with glittering straps and dozens of dangling crystals. She wore a ring, bracelet, and choker from her favorite brand, Chanel. "All gifted by my parents and husband, since I love Chanel!" she says.

03 of 18

A Sweet Surprise

pastel colored floral wedding bouquet
Beatrice Howell

A lush bouquet of pink, white, and blush flowers was an unexpected present from Syed. "My husband surprised me with a bouquet that he chose from his florist, who he would order from every week when we were engaged," says Amani.

04 of 18

Classic Cool

groom standing next to black vintage car
Beatrice Howell

Syed met Amani in front of her parents' home for their first look, arriving in a vintage car—another surprise for the bride.

05 of 18

Tailor Made

groom wearing custom black tuxedo
Beatrice Howell

Syed further surprised Amani by wearing a custom tuxedo from HKT Clothiers. "We had plans for him to wear a suit, but he wanted me to be surprised and for him to be just as he would on the day of our wedding," says Amani. "That involved him having his tailor make a suit one week before our wedding—he drove three times for the fittings and selections across town. Keeping it a surprise was not easy for him! I know he only went out of his way to make me happy."

06 of 18

Together Again

bride and groom smiling outside during first look
Beatrice Howell

Of their first look, during which Syed presented her with a ring from Tiffany and Co., Amani says she felt "so nervous before, and so in love after." One of the best parts of the day, she says, was "seeing my husband for the first time after being separated for three months during the pandemic. I wanted to cry from happy tears—which I did!"

07 of 18

Beach Bound

bride and groom holding hands walking along roadway
Beatrice Howell

After their first look, Amani and Syed walked to Carlsbad Beach for their portraits. "The area was significant, since we did a photo session there for our marriage ceremony," she says. "So many people were complementing and congratulating my husband and me. It was so much fun having such amazing energy around us during the session."

08 of 18

In Love

bride and groom holding hands walking on sandy beach
Beatrice Howell

"Remember the most important part: Your relationship and marriage to your significant other!" says Amani. "Five years from now, the details don't matter, but the experience and love throughout are what you reflect on."

09 of 18


red cocktails with lime wedge on glass edge
Beatrice Howell

The couple returned to Amani's parents' home for an intimate dinner with immediate family, where a celebratory toast included the bride's favorite cocktail garnished with lime and mint.

10 of 18

Say Cheese

fruit cheese and cracker wedding snacks
Beatrice Howell

A menu from Zafferano Catering began with a charcuterie board—another one of the bride's favorite things.

11 of 18

All in the Family

bride and groom standing with family smiling
Beatrice Howell

Amani's parents and sisters joined the couple for their reception meal. "[The] easiest part was planning a micro wedding for eight people versus 300!" says Amani. "Also, having all my family involved and helping was a huge blessing!"

12 of 18

Tulle Time

flower girl wearing white tulle dress eating a sandwich
Beatrice Howell

In a tulle and lace dress, a younger guest enjoyed kid-friendly food arranged on silver platters.

13 of 18

Room with a View

white linen curtain draped wedding reception area
Beatrice Howell

A single table under a crystal chandelier faced the home's outdoor space. Amani designed the décor herself, sourcing many of the items from out of town. "I've never had to make so many UPS labels in my life and next-day air so many orders!" she says. "My linens were ordered from a company in Orange County—we even sent them in the mail. Unfortunately, they somehow got lost and two hours before the reception, I had to order new ones and put them through an Uber!"

14 of 18

Neutral Territory

low floral wedding reception table centerpieces with lit tapper candles
Beatrice Howell

Amani had a clear vision for the color palette and centerpieces: "Neutrals, with some beautiful pops of color in the floral!" she says. "I love working with blush colors and neutrals. I worked on the design and knew I wanted low and lush, as well as a runner of florals."

Arranging the flowers was a family affair for Amani, her mother, and her sisters: "We worked on the florals together. My mother and my sisters finished the rest [on the big day] so I could go and get ready!"

15 of 18

Golden Touches

white and gold wedding place settings
Beatrice Howell

Gold-rimmed chargers, gold flatware, colored votive holders, small boxed petit fours from Ladurée, and napkins secured with glittering rings sat in front of each chair. "The décor and settings are different from my original wedding," she says. "I did not borrow from the original design elements, in case we do end up having our larger wedding."

16 of 18

Pretty Papers

white raw edge wedding menus
Beatrice Howell

Though they didn't send invitations for their intimate celebration, Amani and Syed ordered custom menus and other paper goods for the day. "I knew I wanted to keep the design elegant and sophisticated," she says. "So many decisions happened quickly and as I was planning, I would always consult my mood board, inspiration images, and just lay everything together to see the design come to life."

A private chef prepared the four-course meal on site. "We wanted to go all out in terms of having a several-course menu, since we love to host and eat good food," says Amani. "My menu was so hard to trust without having a tasting, but I knew the chef was passionate and would be able to fulfill my vision. I wanted pasta as well as steak—my favorites—and he more than delivered."

17 of 18

Just Desserts

three tiered pink floral design wedding cake
Beatrice Howell

A three-tier pale blue Ladurée cake included a lattice motif on the top two tiers and an array of flowers rising from the base.

18 of 18


bride smiling over grooms shoulder as he carries her on the beach
Beatrice Howell

Photography, Beatrice Howell
Event Planning,
Heather Rice Events
Zafferano Catering
Balerina Films
Four Things Paper
Yellow Rose Calligraphy
Luxe Linen
Bride's Gown,
Bride's Accessories,
Rene Caovilla shoes; Chanel jewelry
Hair and Makeup,
Enchant by Nihala
Groom's Suit,
HKT Clothiers
Amber Event Production
Tiffany & Co.

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