The Bride's Splashy Wedding Dress Encapsulated the Joy at This Micro Wedding in California

bride and groom posing by the ocean
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Bridgett and Matt are originally from the Minneapolis area, but they first met when they were simultaneously living in New York City. Matt's friend, Ryan, is Bridgett's brother-in-law, and he suggested the two get together in Manhattan. Bridgett had a surgery that delayed their meeting a few months, but in April of 2015 the two finally met up for drinks that turned into dinner and hours of chatting. In February of 2020, Matt asked Bridgett to get ready for a surprise date night. Before heading out, he popped the question with a yellow diamond engagement ring, and as soon as Bridgett said yes, the couple opened some Champagne to celebrate.

Almost immediately after their engagement, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a series of shutdowns and tons of uncertainty, so Bridgett and Matt decided to hold off on wedding planning. "It suddenly didn't feel appropriate to plan what should be a happy day, nor was it a safe idea at the time," Bridgett says. The couple shifted their mindset about having a big celebration; instead, they decided to have a micro event for a small, vaccinated group of family members and very close friends. They invited 25 guests to Montage Laguna Beach in Laguna Beach, California, on July 4, 2021, for an intimate summer-themed soirée. They embraced the ability to create a warm, personalized guest experience and prioritized what was truly most important to them: "Every guest participated in some capacity," the bride says, "by officiating, being in the wedding party, and delivering special music performances and readings. Every element of the day was personal and special."

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Laguna Beach

beautiful ocean view and beach with beachgoers
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

The couple call New York home and their families are based in Minneapolis, so they knew travel would be necessary for their big day. Both groups had previously enjoyed special trips to the California coast, so Bridgett and Matt thought that Laguna would be a special meeting point. Bridgett's sister suggested they tour Montage Laguna Beach, and they knew it was the right venue from the start. "It featured views of gorgeous lawns, wildflowers, ocean-side cliffs, rolling waves, and a lovely beach—all facing the sunset," Bridgett says, "Yes, please!" The bride created a digital save-the-date and invitation to text to wedding guests, using images of the venue and surrounding property. The message directed everyone to the couple's wedding website, hosted by Minted.

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Splash of Raspberry

unique wedding dress with floral print
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Bridgett's off-white silk-satin Pronovias wedding dress featured a floral print in a raspberry shade for a pop of color. With a tight timeframe, Bridgett decided to skip bridal collections and shop evening wear, which afforded her more options. "I knew I wanted to wear something different," Bridgett says. "When we selected a California venue, I knew it had to be floral!" Her dad's favorite dress ended up being the one she selected; she customized the gown, adding a back piece and extended train. And when the designer ran out of material to make the customizations? The bride purchased two additional dresses for the material!

Bridgett paired the final look with gold floral earrings by Jennifer Behr. "I'm head-over-heels for the earrings," Bridgett shares. She also donned her mom's heirloom emerald ring, and, for the ceremony, wore a thin narrow cathedral-length veil.

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Garden Bouquet

floral bouquet with red hues
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

The bride held a garden-style bouquet of seasonal blooms in white, blush, and mustard with a pop of raspberry that nodded to her gown's hue.

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Their First Look

bride and groom first look
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Bridgett and Matt's first look took place in one of the gardens at the Montage. "We couldn't wait to get married!" Bridgett remembers. Her groom "looked incredibly handsome" in a tailored navy suit, paired with a white Eton French dress shirt and black satin tie.

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Flowers with a View

outdoor wedding ceremony with white chairs
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

The ceremony took place on the Studio Lawn, where a grounded half-circle floral installation was set up to surround the couple at the altar, enhancing the garden feel. White flower petals lined the aisle.

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Aisle Starters

wedding ceremony flowers in the aisle
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Two larger flower arrangements in hues of ivory, pink, and deep raspberry flanked the aisle.

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Welcome Sips

specialty wedding cocktails
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

The couple welcomed guests to the ceremony by offering Aperol spritz cocktails.

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A Musical Event

bride walking down the aisle with father
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Bridgett and Matt are big music fans, so they prioritized hiring a band to play during the ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner reception. Ben Mallare Events + Entertainment played Chris Cornell's arrangement of Led Zeppelin's "Thank You" as Bridgett's dad walked her down the aisle. The song is particularly special to Matt—it's one of the first songs he learned to play on the guitar.

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Friends and Family

wedding guests reading to bride and groom
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Every guest took part in the couple's ceremony, beginning with Bridgett's sister, Kim, who got ordained to officiate the proceedings. Their nieces and nephews fulfilled the junior bridesmaid and groomsmen and flower girl roles. Fourteen of their loved ones split the task of reading seven blessings, which were written by the bride's close friend. The duo also included a variation of a sand ceremony using sand from Lake Minnetonka, the Hamptons, and Laguna Beach, to represent the couple's past, present, and future. Last but certainly not least? Bridgett's brother-in-law, Andy, sang with the band during a special ceremony performance.

  • 19 Ways to Personalize Your Wedding Ceremony
10 of 21

Personal Vows

bride and groom exchanging vows overlooking the ocean
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Bridgett and Matt exchanged personal vows with words of gratitude for each other and promises for their marriage. Matt, a music lover, made sure to include a few John Lennon quotes in his vows.

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The Cocktail Hour

outdoor cocktail reception
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

During cocktail hour, guests enjoyed passed hors d'oeuvres like breaded mushroom caps, spicy tuna tartare tacos, parma-ham wrapped dates, and crab cake bites with Old Bay aioli. The couple's band played up-tempo music to get the energy going.

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The Signature Cocktail

guests toasting at reception
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

They offered two signature cocktails, both with tequila, which both the bride and groom say is their favorite. The "Beach Please" was a Paloma-inspired sip, while the "Yes Please" was a blackberry margarita. They also offered an open bar and featured Schramsberg Champagne, a favorite of both families.

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Gilded Menus

wedding menu with gold foil on grey paper
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

The couple printed paper products on heavy cardstock by Minted, including the place cards, menus, wine lists, welcome signs, thank-you notes, and signage. The design featured a metallic gold palm print to incorporate the coastal theme of the day.

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Portraits on the Beach

bride and groom walking on the beach
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Bridgett and Matt took portraits right after the ceremony, and enjoyed the moments they had to themselves. "The Montage staff was so sweet to arrange assortments of our appetizers and signature cocktails for a private bite after we exited the ceremony," Bridgett says. "It gave us a moment to be on our own, and to actually try the wonderful food, before starting to mingle."

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What a View

long banquet table for reception dinner
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Their reception took place on the patio, at a long, family-style table. Rows of fairy lights were strung overhead, illuminating the ocean view.

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Major Flowers

floral table runner
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

The table was adorned with a cascading floral runner, which draped down the sides.

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Pop of Mustard

reception table with dusty rose florals and candles with gold utensils
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Place settings featured gold flatware and vintage glassware; the plates were kept neutral, aside from a toffee-colored bread dish that played off the mustard tones in the centerpiece florals. Tall blush taper candles and tea lights were the finishing touches.

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S'mores Display

wedding lounge area with fire pit
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

The couple's dessert included wedding cake, and, later, s'mores by the fire pit. Rattan loveseats and chairs were placed around the flame; all-white flower arrangements were set up next to the side tables.

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'80s Rock

bride and groom first dance on patio
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Their band focused on '80s rock throughout the evening, keeping guests on the dance floor. Bridgett and Matt selected Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" for their first dance. "It's a beautiful message and we love that Bob Dylan is from Minnesota," the bride says. Matt shared a spin with his mom to James Taylor's "How Sweet It Is," which was the first record his mom ever owned.

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Sweet Ending

simple two-tiered wedding cake
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Bridgett and Matt wanted a clean, classic look for their wedding cake, so they went with a three-tiered confection with white berries and cream coated in white fondant.

The couple plans to honeymoon when there are less travel restrictions in place. For now, they're grateful for their special celebration on the California coast. "Everyone played a role in our ceremony and we were able to truly enjoy every person's part in our big day," Bridgett says. "It was an unbeatable feeling of love and support."

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close up of bride's dress with floral accents
Ashley Ludaescher Photo

Photography, Ashley Ludaescher Photo
Venue, Catering, and Cake, Montage Laguna Beach
Event Planning and Design, De La Planning
Flowers, Third and Park
Paper Products, Minted; Bryant Graphics
Bride's Gown and Veil, Pronovias
Bride's Jewelry, Jennifer Behr
Bride's Shoes, Loeffler Randal
Bride's Hair and Makeup, Vanity Belle
Bridesmaids' Dresses, JJ's House
Groom's Attire, Saks Fifth Avenue; Eton
Groomsmen's Attire, J. Crew
Music, Ben Mallare Events + Entertainment
Rentals, Folklore; Catalog Atelier
Lighting, TMMPRO

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