Maria Mendoza and Christopher Stasi first met in the way so many couples do: at work. After quickly becoming friends, the two learned they shared many of the same interests and, many cups of coffee later, Maria and Chris officially became a pair. "We shared similar passions for food, travel, and an overall zest for life," Maria says. "We always had good conversations and can talk about almost anything. After we started dating, Chris told me that he always looked forward to our trips to Starbucks because they always felt like a date!" Six years later, Chris pulled out all the stops for an all-day proposal that brought Maria along a timeline of her life, starting with brunch with her aunts and grandmother, shopping with her parents and siblings, and dinner with her best friends. The evening ended with a party at home where everyone she spent the day with, along with Chris, and his family and friends, was there to celebrate. "He proposed by saying that he planned for me to spend the day going through the story of my family and friends, which led me to him," she says. "He said he wanted to be my family and for all of the people present that night to be our family. It was a truly special night that we were both glad to have shared with our family and closest friends."
The two set the date for November 8, 2014 and invited 90 friends to join them for a celebration at the Carondelet House in Los Angeles. With the help of Dorothy Rose Events and La Petite Gardenia, Maria and Chris planned an intimate and romantic gathering, set in a unique space that still had the warmth and comfort of home and asked Laura Kleinhenz of Docuvitae to capture the memories.
The groom's aunt, who is a wedding planner herself, helped the busy couple with DIY projects for their celebration, starting with the invitation. "She created our fantastic invitation suite, which had a Parisian vibe," Maria says. "It was three-dimensional with netting and a wax seal of our classic monogram."
Maria wore a strapless lace mermaid gown from Ines Di Santo, complete with a romantic blush underlay and lace appliques on the bodice and hemline. Although she was certain it was the one on her wedding day, there was a time when Maria was seriously considering saying "I do" in an entirely different gown. "I actually fell in love with two gorgeous dresses but ultimately decided on the option from Ines Di Santo because it was so unique," she says. "I loved how the lace was used sparingly but has so much impact on the design."
She wanted her incredible gown to shine, so Maria kept her accessories simple, adding a few vintage hair combs to her flowing locks just during the reception. She chose to carry an all-white bouquet of peonies and ranunculus.
Maria and Chris shared a first look outside of their hotel, before driving in a vintage car to the ceremony. The groom wanted a classic look on his wedding day, so he chose a custom-made black suit with a black tie. Once the pair arrived at Carondelet House, Maria's bridesmaids, all wearing black dresses of their choosing, watched on from a window above before joining the bride and groom outside.
Flowy white fabric hung from the ceiling of their ceremony space, which the couple felt added softness to the exposed wood beams and brick walls. A floor-to-ceiling mirror was the focal point of the room, so Maria and Chris chose to decorate it with a magnolia leaf garland, floral accents, and vases filled with floating candles.
Maria's niece and nephew served as flower girl and ring bearer, kicking off the festivities. "I didn't get to witness this, but apparently my niece was so adorably precise in the dropping of each flower petal and my nephew has the proudest big boy smile as he walked down holding the ring box," she says.
Not only did the bride and groom write their own vows, but the couple also found an inventive way to deliver them. "We wanted to simulate a conversation so we alternated saying the lines of each of our promises to each other," Maria says. "It was personal and creative."
Another oversized mirror was used as the seating chart. Guests sat at long tables that were decked out with lush clusters of white flowers, driftwood, glass vases with floating candles, and apothecary jars that were transformed into terrariums. Nearby, round tables were dressed with black and white linens and orchid centerpieces. Chris and Maria's chairs were decorated with greenery garlands and trailing white ribbon.
The couple chose elegant white china for their place settings and left a blooming white dahlia at each seat. As favors, each guest found a box of gourmet Godiva chocolates at their table.
Serving delicious food was a priority for Maria and Chris, so they curated a menu of their favorites. Appetizers included mini steak and eggs and maple glazed pork belly. For dinner, guests were treated to beef tenderloin, potato gratin, and fresh vegetables.
Dessert came courtesy of The Butter End Cakery. The couple chose a three-tiered white cake filled with double chocolate chip cake and vanilla bean cake topped with vanilla buttercream.
"It sounds cheesy, but I felt so happy and in love with my husband during our first dance," Maria says of the couple's dance to Adele's "Make You Feel My Love." "I couldn't stop crying!" After the celebrations ended, the couple set off on a honeymoon to Paris.
Venue: Carondelet House || Wedding Coordinator and Planner: Dorothy Rose Events || Officiant: Jim Underdown || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Ines Di Santo, purchased at Lovella Bridal || Jewelry: BHLDN || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair: EJ Alejo || Makeup: Studio MM&B || Groom's Attire: Requisite Clothing || Engagement Ring: Leon Megé || Wedding Bands: Cartier || Flowers: La Petite Gardenia || China Rentals: Archive Vintage Rentals || Menu Foil Print: Presshaus LA || Menu Digital Printing: Copy Cats Digital || Reception Music, Drapery, & Lighting: Audio FX || Catering: Tres LA || Cake: The Butter End Cakery || Mirror Rentals: Etablir Shop || Calligraphy: Letters to You || Favors: Godiva || Transportation: Classy Chassis Rentals || Accommodations: The Ritz Carlton || Videographer: ZoMei Productions || Photographer: Docuvitae
Did you love this California wedding? Then check out another couple's Los Angeles celebration in the video below.