A Whimsical Wedding at Maravilla Gardens in Southern California

Real Weddings

When Dipak, 27, a director of sales at a software company, first laid eyes on Alisha, also 27, a marketing assistant, he knew he'd marry her. It's an ultra-romantic way for anyone to meet, but for these two it's positively adorable—Alisha and Dipak were just junior-high tweens at the time. They started dating in high school (their first date was a three hour walk—aw!), and the rest is history.

To celebrate their love and history together, the couple threw a sunny, whimsical garden bash with a palette of yellow and green. After a personalized ceremony, guests moved to outdoor tables at California's lush Maravilla Gardens for dinner, mohitos, and lots and lots of dancing. The reception was filled with sunflowers to give the party an extra-playful, vibe. Add DIY details like homemade escort cards, a wooden bench made by a friend to replace a guestbook (guests wrote well-wishes right on the wood!) and a bouquet made of jeweled brooches, and you've got a completely unique—and beautiful—affair.

Dipak proposed at the Santa Barbara Zoo, one of Alisha's favorite places to visit during their college years at UCSB. He set up a "fishing" game, a nod to Go Fish, which Alisha loved as a child. Each box Alicia "fished" contained a love note from Dipak, and when she read the last one, she turned around and found him on one knee.

Alisha wore a strapless Chantilly lace dress by Augusta Jones with lace accents peeking out at the top and on the train. Her sleeves were added on from leftover lace cut during alterations! Antique earrings borrowed from her mother, and a silver Tiffany & Co. necklace gifted from Dipak moments before the ceremony, completed the look.

Alisha's flower girl was just two years old. "Her mom was so worried she wouldn't make it down the aisle," she says. "But as soon as she saw dad at the front of the aisle, she ran to him. Guests loved it!"

Each bridesmaid wore a sunny, knee-length yellow dress by Ralph Lauren. The 'maids picked their own shoes in shades of gray.

The groom wore a boutonniere made of a white dahlia in fitting with the couple's sunny yellow and green palette.

The couple chose Maravilla Gardens in Camarillo CA, because it offered a secluded spot for the ceremony. "It felt like Tuscany with its rolling hills, but still a quaint and hidden gem to both of us!" Alisha says.

Alisha and Dipak decorated their ceremony and reception primarily with sunflowers, to set a sunny mood and signify the cheerfulness of the day. Ceremony aisles were decorated with mini-bouquets in glass vases.

Alisha and Dipak chose to go non-traditional for their interfaith ceremony. Their officiant told the story of how they met, their first date, and their courtship. "Guests raved about the ceremony," Alisha says. "It was all about celebrating our love and giving everyone a piece into our history, so they'd want to celebrate it with us even more."

The couple also observed a unique unity ceremony—each wrote their vows and the values they hoped to uphold during marriage on a wooden plank meant to hold wine glasses. "We didn't want to put our vows in a box and to bring out during hard times," Alisha says. "We wanted our vows to sit on our kitchen countertop every day as a reminder of the commitment we made."

Alisha carried a bouquet of jeweled brooches, assembled by her mother. "When people heard we were collecting brooches, everyone started giving whatever they had," Alisha says. The bouquet included lace from Alisha's dress, and was strung with her grandmothers' lace locket. Talk about a family heirloom!

As they entered the reception, guests signed a wooden bench instead of a book, for a keepsake Alisha and Dipak can look at every day. The bench was hand-made by a friend of the family, and Alisha's mom decorated it with painted flowers.

The sunflower centerpieces were grouped with mason jars collected from friends and family and wrapped in lace. Each bridesmaid was responsible for wrapping over 50 jars!

The centerpieces themselves were held in giant cracker jars, the perfect complement to the variety of jars surrounding them.

During cocktail hour, guests munched on Thai chicken skewers, meatballs, sweet potato fries, and Alisha and Dipak's signature mojitos. Dinner was herb-roasted chicken breast in a tomato and fig sauce, served with green beans and potatoes.

"The dance floor was always full!" Alisha says. After the couple's first dance to Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up", the Best Man twirled the pregnant MOH to Justin Bieber's "Baby."

In the center of Alisha and Dipak's three-tier buttercream cake, a mini chalkboard spelled out their initials. "It was a creative (and less expensive) alternative to a cake topper," Alicia explains.

The two hardly got a chance to sit down all night. "Everyone was either at the bar, on the dance floor, or mugging for the photo booth," Alisha says.

After a fun-packed night, female guests took home Pashmina scarves, and the under-12 set walked away with bags of candy.

A week after their American wedding, Alisha and Dipak threw a traditional Indian wedding with both their families. Next, it was off to Hawaii for the honeymoon! Alisha's most important advice? "Make your wedding your own."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Maravilla Gardens || Planner: None || Bride's Wedding Dress: Augusta Jones || Hair: Katie Lee || Makeup: Cynthia Lauran || Veil: None || Shoes: Nine West || Jewelry: Vintage; Tiffany and Co. || Wedding Band: Tungsten || Groom's Suit: Black by Vera Wang || Invitations: Paper Source || Florist: The English Garden || Catering: Command Performance Catering || Cake: Jana's Creative Cakes || Officiant: Dean Merrill || Music: DJ Michael McNeil of Ovation Entertainment || Photographer: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

—Amanda First


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