Natalie and Chris first met in December 2007 when fate brought the two undergrads to Tahoe, California on a ski trip. "I was living in San Diego and Chris was in Hoboken, NJ," Natalie says. "We hit if off immediately, but being that we were both in school on opposite sides of the country, we took things slow for the first few months." Frequent cross-country trips and plenty of phone calls later, their relationship took off and, after several years of long-distance dating, Natalie ultimately moved east in 2011.
On a freezing cold evening in January 2013, Chris and Natalie enjoyed dinner out before walking along the river in Hoboken. "It was one of the coldest, windiest nights that winter, but Chris kept saying the city looked so pretty and suggested walking out on the pier," Natalie remembers. "I was completely clueless until he grabbed a bouquet of flowers and got down on one knee." Since Natalie works at BRIDES, she knew a thing or two about throwing a stylish wedding. The couple spent just under two years planning their outdoor wedding at Ranchos Los Lagos in Sedona, Arizona. Keep reading to see all of Andrew & Jade Photography's photos from their September 20, 2014 nuptials!
The couple worked on planning their wedding for 20 months, and used half of that time just on securing the venue! "We didn't book our venue until 10 months out, so it was a pretty typical planning timeline," Natalie says. "We hunted for the perfect place for quite a while. As son as we saw Ranchos Los Lagos, we knew it was right! The venue is this beautiful oasis in the middle of the red rocks of Sedona." They designed their invitations on Minted in a simple and elegant palette of white and gold.
Natalie stunned in an ombré tulle wedding dress with gold and silver sequins from BHLDN. "I saw this dress right after we got engaged and fell in love with it," the bride remembers. "I was open to unique, non-traditional, non-white dresses and once I put it on I knew it was perfect. It moved beautifully and was so easy and comfortable to wear. I was the perfect pop of sparkle for our outdoorsy, gold wedding!" As a bonus, the bride plans to shorten it and wear it again as a cocktail dress!
She finished her look with a soft updo and vintage gold earrings borrowed from her grandmother.
Natalie carried an all-white bouquet that stood out against her metallic gown. Her six bridesmaids wore light ivory gowns of their own choosing. "My bridesmaids are each in very different stages of life — two just had babies and two were pregnant — so I had the girls choose their own dress so they would be comfortable," Natalie says. To tie their looks together, each 'maid carried a mint clutch in place of a bouquet and added turquoise earrings for another dash of color.
Chris wore a classic navy suit, custom made by Mr. Ned. As a wedding gift, Natalie gave her groom the Gucci loafers he walked down the aisle in. Chris finished his wedding day look with a floral tie and pocket square, as well as wolf cufflinks.
His groomsmen all wore navy suits, matching floral ties and pocket squares, and colorful socks.
Before the ceremony, Natalie and Chris enjoyed a private first look with striking views of Sedona's red rocks behind them.
"One of the things that surprised me the most about our wedding was how much I loved our ceremony," Natalie says. "We didn't have an overly religious or serious ceremony, but it was so special. I feel like every moment of it was so meaningful to me." The pair chose to hold that special event in the grass beneath a mature tree. Instead of a traditional altar, the couple chose to exchange vows in front of two clear vases filled with fresh flowers. Before guests took their seats, they were treated to cucumber and raspberry water and grabbed custom-made programs and gold noise blowers that would be used after Natalie and Chris were pronounced husband and wife.
The couple's flower girl, clad in a blue-and-white ombré dress, and their two ring bearers kicked off the celebration. Since the couple knew it would be unlikely their young attendants would sit still throughout their vows, Natalie and Chris had small chairs waiting for them at the end of the aisle. "They were all very good during the ceremony, but at one point I heard some commotion and turned to see them all dog-piled on top of each other on the grass," the bride laughs. "It was perfect!"
Then, Natalie and her father arrived at the ceremony in her family's vintage 1980s Scout. The bride's brother-in-law, Colin, officiated the ceremony. "We customized our vows but didn't write them from scratch," Natalie says. "Although Colin didn't have any prior experience, he's someone that we respect, has a great outlook on marriage, and we knew he would take the job seriously. We were blown away with how wonderfully he did."
Following the ceremony, guests moved to another grassy area for the reception. The stunning white and gold décor was almost entirely DIYed by the bride and her family. Long wooden tables were covered with white linens and gold runners, handmade by the groom's mother. Natalie's mother spent a year collecting the gold and white patterned plates, gold flatware, and crystal stemware that made up the couple's 180 elegant place settings and her sister's handmade napkin rings from gold brooches.
Chris joined in on the DIY fun by crafting the couple's signature cocktail, a Manhattan. He mixed up his favorite drink and let the cocktail age for two years in a mini oak barrel.
After a locally-sourced dinner, guests were treated to one of Natalie's favorite desserts: Donuts! "Neither of us was set on a wedding cake," the bride says. "My dad bought donuts for every birthday breakfast and they quickly became my favorite, so we served them rather than cake." Glazed, cake, chocolate, maple, and mini donut hole varieties were set out for guests to enjoy, along with a little wisdom from the bride's grandfather. "My grandfather owned a bakery growing up so we put out a sign on the dessert table featuring his favorite quote: 'As you travel through life, whatever be your goal, keep you eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.'"
For guests that needed a break from dancing, Natalie and Chris offered alternatives to hitting the dance floor. Along with a cozy lounge area, the pair set up a fire pit with s'mores, game area with kites and corn hole, and a photo booth. And for those that wanted to take in the sites of Sedona, a tram shuttled guests to the top of the mountain for sightseeing throughout the night.
To celebrate their marriage, Natalie and Chris enjoyed a relaxing honeymoon in Fiji. "Enjoy the engagement time," the bride advises. "It is such a fun, special time of your life and so many people end up rushing through it and just focus on the planning. Work on your relationship during this time and have fun doing it!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Rancho Los Lagos || Coordinator, Flowers, & Rentals: One Hundred Chairs || Bride's Wedding Dress: BHLDN || Shoes: J.Crew || Hair & Makeup: Jenne Anne || Groom's Attire: Mr. Ned || Groomsmen's Attire: Macy's || Invitations: Minted || Music: Downtown Browne Productions || Catering: Heartline Cafe || Donuts: Bashas Bakery || Rentals: Verve Events & Tents || Accommodations: Sedona Summit || Photo Booth: Paws & Poses Photo Booth || Photography: Andrew & Jade Photography
Did you love the color palette at this gorgeous bash? Then check out another elegant, gold-hued ceremony and reception in the video below!