A Charming Backyard Wedding in California Full of Nods to Paris
Anya and Emmanuel met just once at a party in her hometown of Los Angeles while Emmanuel was visiting from Paris, but they say there was a connection right from the start. When he returned home across the pond, the couple remained in touch through handwritten letters. Soon, words weren't enough, and they began traveling the world together, with romantic stints in Norway, Morocco, Turkey, and Italy. As their relationship grew, "Paris became like a second home to me," Anya says. They did the distance for four years, before eventually deciding to make a home together in Los Angeles, where it all began.
The pair was visiting Lebanon when Emmanuel popped the question. They were exploring the gorgeous countryside, but when it started to rain, they ducked into a quaint restaurant for dinner. That's when Emmanuel took advantage of the moment and got down on one knee.
The duo tied the knot in Tujunga, California, on February 23, 2020, right before the start of the pandemic, with just 12 guests in attendance. The pair originally planned on eloping, but Anya decided against it while having dinner with her friend Susan of Weddings by Susanne Dunne. Just a few short weeks before micro weddings would become the norm, the pair began dreaming up a tiny, intimate event right then and there; Anya and Emmanuel were wed 10 days later. As a photographer and wedding professional, Anya has always favored intimate celebrations, she says, noting that she selected a friend's charming backyard for the private affair. Their casual springtime wedding in California featured a dusty-blue-and-pale-pink color palette, with a focus on food, friends, and family.
The bride wanted their invitation suite to reflect her clean, minimalist aesthetic. She worked with Raymond of Olive Saint Lily to create the perfect set in neutral shades of blush, light gray, and ivory; Raymond also left plenty of negative space and opted for delicate calligraphy to align with the her vision.
Light in Linen
Anya opted for a light linen wedding dress by Reformation for the intimate occasion, noting that she was instantly drawn to its sweetheart neckline and midi length. The fitted bodice featured hook-and-eye closures, while the trumpet skirt and ruffled hem added a whimsical touch. "It felt celebratory, but very down to earth-and that was a perfect fit for our backyard wedding," says Anya.
Her loosely gathered arrangement by Sarah of Mulberry and Moss showcased spring blooms with a touch of greenery. Featuring daffodils, hellebores, and ranunculus, the blush-and-white florals were tied together with a dusty blue silk ribbon.
Groom in Gray
Emmanuel kept it causal and on-theme in a charcoal blazer by Shelby and Sons, which spoke to the cool, neutral palette. Aviators completed the dressed down look.
All About the Basics
A custom welcome sign by Olive Saint Lily greeted the guests upon arrival. Along with the pair's names and wedding date, the translucent signage also featured the phrase "It's Basics," one of Emmanuel's favorite expressions.
The bride and groom's nontraditional celebration began with a Champagne cocktail hour; Anya and Emmanuel were present to greet their loved ones as they filed in. "I didn't mind people seeing me before the ceremony," Anya says. The couple wanted the focus to be on friendship and family, and eschewed traditional big-day rituals, opting instead for a warm, relaxed approach.
During the welcome portion of the celebration, the bride's sister treated guests to an intricately designed charcuterie board. Anya playfully describes her sister as a "cheese board master," and she certainly did not disappoint. The spread featured brie, crabapples, and honeycomb, with a sprig of rosemary artfully arranged along the center.
Flatbreads and Fruit
Guests also grazed on flatbreads and fresh fruit. Olive Saint Lily created a custom acrylic sign for the table which quipped, "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain," a quote from the classic film My Fair Lady. Both Anya and Emmanuel have a special connection to the movie and wanted to work it into their nuptials.
Under the Olive Tree
When it was time for the ceremony, the duo and their 12 guests headed towards the property's olive tree, where the bride and groom exchanged personalized vows; their sweet promises included cooking for each other and being okay with a messy house once in a while. The ceremony was officiated by Susan of Weddings by Susan Dunne, who also doubled as their planner. Anya describes the intimate service as "down to Earth and absolutely lovely." As a special surprise for the couple, the bride's sister performed a Siman Tov u'Mazel Tov song during the post-wedding Champagne pop as an homage to Anya's Jewish heritage.
Dinner Al Fresco
Dinner was also held in the backyard, where guests dined at a king's table under artfully strung globe lights. Wooden chairs lined the long table, which was draped with a pale blue tablecloth from Luxe Linen.
Sarah of Mulberry and Moss crafted three botanically-inspired floral centerpieces. The arrangements showcased Anya's favorite spring flowers, including checkered lily, hellebores, and Icelandic poppies. Each setting featured a personalized place card scroll calligraphed by Olive Saint Lily; these were draped over modern dinner plates by Simple Things Ceramics. Wood grain flatware from Party Pleasers complemented the wooden chairs and completed the minimalist aesthetic.
Dinner selections included two Parisian-inspired entrées: beef bourguignon with rice and salmon lasagna on a bed of baby spinach. Both were prepared by the groom!
After dinner, Anya's sister delighted the couple with a heartwarming toast; it was one of Anya's favorite moments.
During his time living in Paris, Emmanuel founded a specialty coffee shop. Guests were delighted by the post-dinner coffee station featuring gourmet selections hand-picked by the groom himself.
Gateau aux Carottes
Anya says the easiest part of the planning process was the cake selection. Emmanuel's signature dessert at his Paris shop was carrot cake, which he reprised for their big day. Dessert offerings included not one, but two frosted carrot cakes-a single and a double tier, both of which were decorated with florals.
The bride and groom cite enjoying the company of their guests at dinner as one of their favorite memories and recommend taking a relaxed approach to planning. "Let go of things you can't control and remember what's most important to you!" they say.
Photography, Anya Kernes
Associate Photographer, Jenni Gaddis of Anya Kernes
Wedding Planning, Event Design, and Officiant, Weddings by Susan Dunne
Flowers, Mulberry and Moss
Invitations and Paper Products, Olive Saint Lily
Bridal Gown, Reformation
Bride's Shoes, Jeffrey Campbell
Groom's Attire, Shelby & Sons by Twisted Tailor
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands, Melanie Casey
Rentals, Party Pleasers
Linen, Luxe Linen
Styling Ceramic Dishes, Simple Things Ceramics
Styling Surface, Locust Collection
Film Lab, Goodman Film Lab
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