A Texture-Driven Micro Wedding in California with a Bordeaux, Mustard, and Dusty Rose Color Palette
Ryan Smith was looking forward to taking his then-girlfriend, Amanda Pennington, out to their local restaurant haunt; she'd been holed up in their home for several weeks, recovering from a surgery. And while she was excited to (finally!) get out of the house, he was anticipating the moment he'd propose—which he did, after they ran through one of their rituals. "One of our favorite things is to ask each other why we love one another, requiring very specific, 'new' reasons each time," explains Amanda. "That night, over dinner, Ryan asked me why I love him, and after I answered (I mean, he's the most generous, funniest, most committed, compassionate man I've ever known), he responded—but only after dropping to one knee."
The duo began preparing for a downtown Sacramento affair, which was scheduled for April 18, 2020. "The original plan was for an outdoor terrace ceremony overlooking a promenade where Ryan and I first connected, followed by an indoor reception. We wanted the vibe to feel like us: relaxed and fun with a downtown chic aesthetic and plans for live music, a late night taco bar, and photo booth—the works." Instead, the day before Amanda's bridal shower—after which she and Ryan were slated to depart for their respective bachelorette and bachelor parties—they decided to cancel their wedding. "That was a rough time, especially because it was the start of a pandemic, but we held each other up and through it. We knew we didn't want to wait until 2021, so we collected a refund from our original venue and started to look into a smaller, private venue instead."
In August, their wedding planner Erica Estrada approached them with a new idea: A micro wedding with a focus on modern romance for 30 guests at a scenic private estate in Woodside, California. It did more than fill the void of their larger affair—it filled their hearts, as did their guests, who "gave them the grace we needed to feel complete about our day, whether they were able to attend in person or not."
Their intimate celebration, which was ultimately held on October 24, 2020, was "full of meaningful love notes to who we are as a couple, and the legacies that brought us to each other," says the bride. This was by design. They scheduled a bouquet and broom pass (in lieu of the traditional toss), during which the duo presented the bride's arrangement and the broom they jumped over during the ceremony to the next couple set to wed; took a photograph that captured three generations of Mrs. Smiths in one frame; and set up a table filled with generations of vintage family wedding photos, showcasing the bonds of the lovers who came before them. "Amid 2020's long overdue focus on racial injustice, it was critically important for us to remember those images of Black love, and that even in eras of strife, our ancestors laid the groundwork for us to find each other, and to choose to love above all else," they reflect.
"We took one look at photographs of the estate and we were in," says Amanda of this private estate in Woodside, California, noting that it checked every box: "It was a venue with outdoor elements and a striking view and a modern, romantic, and intimate feel. It was also important that this was a private estate; if another shutdown were to be enacted, we'd have the option to pivot, versus cancelling again."
Epoch Design created a suite—composed of bright white card stock and black-and-gray envelopes—for the couple's intimate affair.
Ryan donned a midnight blue tuxedo jacket and pants from The Black Tux for the occasion.
Backed with bunches of transitional foliage, the men's rosebud boutonnières spoke to the season.
The groomsmen's ensembles complemented Ryan's both in hue (they wore navy) and texture (their velvet maroon neck ties referenced the fabric of the groom's suit).
"This was my original wedding dress, and I wouldn't have had it any other way," says Amanda of her Hayley Paige gown. The ivory Marrakesh-beaded fit-and-flare number featured a sweetheart neckline, spaghetti straps, and a low scoop back—and was pinned to the bride's wedding inspiration board well before she and Ryan were engaged. When the time came, however, she couldn't find it anywhere, and ultimately purchased another number instead. She just couldn't get her dream dress out of her mind. "So, I searched high and low, found it in another city, drove there, tried it on, and bought it that day," she says. "It fit like a glove and made me feel like a movie star—that's how I knew.
Her attendants' bouquets, created by Shannon Morrow of ARVO Floral Studio, incorporated chocolate cosmos, creamy ranunculus, and mauve-and-blush roses. Planner Erica Estrada worked with Shannon to surprise Amanda with a few hidden calla lily stems in her own bouquet—a larger version of the ones her 'maids held—to commemorate her late mother.
The First Look
"I was nervous and excited," says Ryan of how he felt just before the duo's first look, which took place on the lawn near the estate's entryway. "I knew that her dress was a big deal for her, so I was really anticipating how she would look as a bride—especially after our journey to finally get to our wedding day." As for how he felt during? "She was the most beautiful thing that I'd ever seen. I felt so lucky that the moment was now real."
Amanda's bridesmaids watched the first look unfold from a nearby pathway—and their facial expressions speak to the sweetness of the moment.
A Quick Slice
As for the bride's take on their first glance? "As soon as I saw him, energy turned into peace, and I felt supremely resolute in the decision we were making," she shares. "Then, one of his groomsmen walked up with a box of pizza and we had a pre-wedding slice together, which made me a very happy bride!"
"Because Erica and I are both very detailed, planning this wedding was a lot like project management, but for one of the most important projects of our lives," explains Amanda. "Planning in a pandemic also meant lots of emails with little in-person contact, as well as considering new details to keep everyone safe—even at a smaller, outdoor affair. For example, alongside custom masks and hand sanitizers, we had a designated 'grandparent' area for our more at-risk guests, allowing them to partake in the ceremony and reception without having to sit closely to the rest of the attendees."
A Warm Welcome
An acrylic sign, suspended from a copper stand and grounded with pillar candles in hurricanes and a romantic floral arrangement, welcomed loved ones to the estate and outlined the bridal party.
"We were married on a Spanish-style terra-cotta staircase that was a piece of art all on its own, so we didn't need to do much to elevate the space," says Amanda. "ARVO lined each railing with florals and lush greenery, using the estate as the backdrop."
Ceremony on the Steps
After Amanda was escorted down the aisle by her father, she and Ryan exchanged vows in a religious ceremony officiated by the bride's aunt. "Her relationship with Christ is something we aspire to as a couple. Including God and prayer in our ceremony was a core component of the day and of our lives," notes Amanda.
"As a young Black couple, it was important for us to participate in the tradition of jumping the broom, an act intended to signify the start of marriage when enslaved people in this country were unable to legally wed," shares the duo. "The broom that we used has been jumped before us by several other couples in our family; as new engagements occur, the most recent bride redecorates the broom in the next couple's wedding colors, so we all start our marriages with the support of our predecessors under our feet."
Exchanging vows in front of their families—"who had all gone through their own unique challenges in 2020 and who all bore a risk in being a part of our special day"—was the highlight of the celebration, the newlyweds say. "The gratitude of crossing that finish line was not lost on us, and we will never forget what it felt like to promise ourselves to each other in front of our tribe," adds Amanda.
Guests were sat strategically in pods during the reception, which was held on the back lawn, in front of the pool. Rectangular tables, topped with creamy linens, lined with black bistro chairs.
All in the Details
Matte black dinner plates, gold flatware, and velvet napkins defined the tabletops. "Atop each napkin was a note from us to our guests, thanking them for being our village, and reminding them that together, we are abundant," says Amanda.
Across the Pool
Furniture from The Copper Rose filled the tiled-roof cabana across the pool, creating an exclusive spot for lounging; a floral arrangement and candles, both on the built-in fireplace's mantel and in its belly, dressed up the space.
For their official first dance, "we chose Miguel's acoustic version of 'Get You,'" says the duo. "From the second we heard it, we knew that's what we would dance to at our wedding. It's a love song, but it's spicy—just like us."
"Give yourself grace," they say to couple's currently planning their own celebrations during the pandemic. "A wedding and a marriage are two different things—and while we all deserve both, don't be so bound to your original vision that you miss the beauty of the unexpected, or that you let the planning process become anything other than a labor of love. Weddings are still happening, and there is still a way to celebrate your love. Get creative and just do it."
Photography, Carlos Hernández Photography
Venue, Private Estate via Kristen Seaholm
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Erica Estrada Design
Videography, Katrina Nicole Photo
Flowers, ARVO Floral Studio
Stationery, Epoch Design
Bride's Gown and Veil, Hayley Paige
Bride's Shoes, Sophia Webster
Hair, Carol Kaledzera
Makeup, Feelin Amazin Hair
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Jenny Yoo; BHLDN
Menswear, The Black Tux
Music, DJ Julian Pierce
Catering, Montperi Catering
Cake, What's More Cake Studio
Tabletop Rentals, Bright Event Rentals
Lounge Furniture, The Copper Rose
China, Celebrations Party Rentals
Candles, The Floral Society
Linens, La Tavola Linen
Transportation, Peninsula Parking
Share the Gallery
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Might Name Their Daughter After Princess Diana
- This Couple's Intimate Hotel Reception in Washington, D.C., Hinted at Their Future Wedding in Cancun
- Six Women Explain How They Decided to (or Not to) Change Their Last Names After Marriage
- "Queer Eye" Star Tan France and His Husband Rob Are Expecting Their First Child!