The path to Melisa and Joshua's vibrant fall wedding all began on an October evening in Tahoe in 2007. "I was out with friends, and a handsome southern gentleman came up and asked me to dance," says Melisa. "We were both there on a whim, and we exchanged numbers when the song ended." Not too long after, they had their first date near the Air Force base where Joshua works. "He was so sweet and polite, I couldn't resist..." she says.
In 2011, the couple and their families came together for Easter dinner. "My mom loves to put questions under everyone's plate to get the conversation started," says Melisa. "Josh read his last, and his question was 'What is your favorite thing about your significant other?'." He went on to list what he loved about Melisa, emphasizing how, even after four years together, they were still in the "good part" of their relationship. Then, he reached under the table, pulled out a box, and got down on one knee. "He said, 'Melisa, I'd like for us to continue the good part. Will you marry me?'" Melisa remembers. "It seemed like everything around me had stopped. It was perfect."
The couple wed at Nestldown in Los Gatos, California, on October 5th, 2012. "We gave our guests an experience, hosting different parts of the wedding all around the property," says Melisa. Towering redwoods and lush gardens provided an enchanted backdrop for the next chapter of Joshua and Melisa's love story.
Melisa chose a vintage-inspired French lace wedding gown by Amy Kuschel. "I loved that it tied in to the romantic feel of our wedding day," she says. She paired her gown with bejeweled pumps, and her mother-in-law loaned her a sixpence to slip into her shoe.
The bride's wedding bouquet featured garden roses, ranunculus, and cosmos in cream, pink, peach, and chocolate brown. Stems of natural cotton added a soft, organic element. The stems were wrapped in lace from Melisa's godmother's wedding dress. A family heirloom cameo served as her something old and something blue. Joshua wore a white ranunculus boutonniere accented with a leaf of dusty miller.
For their trip down the aisle, Melisa knew she wanted her bridesmaids outfitted in long, flowing dresses. "They looked amazing as they floated down the stairs," she says. Her 'maids carried bouquets of orange and yellow roses tied with bright blue ribbons.
Melisa loved the silk satin skirt of her wedding gown. "I wanted the fabric to feel soft when Joshua grabbed my waist to pull me in for a kiss," she explains.
The couple gave their guests a taste of the South as they arrived, with jars full of sweet tea and Arnold Palmers.
The ceremony took place in front of a gazebo draped with vines. Hanging bottles filled with dahlias and roses in shades of orange, yellow, and burgundy added a pop of color. Three large bells hung in the middle of the gazebo. Melisa and Joshua rang them at the beginning of the ceremony to signify the past, present, and future. Vibrant leaves and pinecones were scattered along the aisle.
"There's a long, elegant earth and wood staircase that leads down to the amphitheater," says Melisa. "I loved being able to savor that moment with my dad. It was like walking out of a dream!"
Instead of readings, the bride and groom invited Melisa's older brother and Joshua's cousin to speak during the ceremony. "My brother spoke about holding my hand and looking after me when I was little, and asked Joshua to do the same for me in the future. It was so touching and sweet," she says.
The couple's officiant interviewed them separately before the ceremony. "It was a fun surprise to hear what we'd said about each other," the bride says.
Melisa's family is Irish, and when she was younger she'd requested that her father wear a kilt at her wedding. "He opted out," she says, "but he surprised us with a bagpiper after the ceremony!"
The couple took advantage of Nestldown's gorgeous forest for photos.
The reception took place outdoors on the lawn. A combination of square and round tables showed off lush floral centerpieces.
Tall arrangements of curly willow, moss, leaves, overblown garden roses and dahlias, chocolate cosmos, and green hanging amaranthus towered over the tables. Succulents and seasonal fruits were clustered around the base.
"The inspiration for our wedding was the idea of a love story," says Melisa. "Leading up to the wedding, I gathered love stories from our families, then printed them as the table cards." The location on each card corresponded to where the love stories had taken place.
The head table featured a moss runner topped with arrangements of ranunculus, dahlias, branches of cotton, and objects like gourds, seasonal fruits, and pinecones.
Joshua and Melisa treated their guests to a Southern-style dessert table with pralines, red velvet cake, cookies, and decadent chocolates.
The couple, who honeymooned in Kauai, are expecting their first child this month! "We also adopted a dog," Melisa say, "and couldn't be happier to see our little family grow."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Nestldown || Wedding Planner: Janece Shellooe of Every Elegant Detail || Bride's Wedding Dress: Amy Kuschel || Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Hair: Jamie Zimmerman Event Hair || Makeup: Makeup by Sarah Dean || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Wtoo || Groom & Groomsmen's Attire: Selix || Wedding Bands: Fred Meyer Jewelers || Florist: Amy Burke Designs || Invitations & Paper Goods: Rachel Hanson Designs || Music: Feet First Entertainment || Catering: Bella Terra Catering || Cake & Desserts: Briana Moore || Videography: Grover Films || Photography: Janae Shields Photography