When Jen Huang, one of our favorite wedding photographers, got engaged to Elihu Bogan, it was a forgone conclusion that their wedding would be beautiful — but we had no idea it would be this stunning! After a quiet proposal in their former New York City apartment, the pair knew they wanted to make their new home state of California an integral part of their day, so Jen and Elihu found a private estate in Monecito that was perfect for their intimate, heirloom-inspired wedding on July 19, 2013.
So how did the busy pair (Jen shoots countless weddings each year while Elihu is a book publisher) find the time to bring their breathtaking day to life? They spent just under a year bringing the details together and worked with some of the bride's favorite industry pals, including florist Poppies & Posies, dress designer Sarah Janks, and photographer Jose Villa. "It was a truly magical time and wouldn't have been possible without the hard work that my family and friends put into it," the bride says of their day. "Being a wedding photographer, some things come easy — like being friends with some of the best artists in the community. I have to say, our day wouldn't have happened without their guidance and intuition." See all of the prettiness unfold below!
"We found a private 1920s estate with gardens, antique details, and a beautiful stone courtyard that we knew would be perfect for our wedding," Jen says. "Although the home isn't a traditional wedding venue, we fell in love with it, and we were able to have our wedding completely outdoors in the beautiful Santa Barbara weather and light." The property was fitting, too, since the bride's engagement ring, a 1920s mine-cut diamond sparkler, influenced many of the couple's style and décor choices. "I have to be honest, the ring started it all!"
Although Jen is known for her gorgeous photography, that's not her only wedding-related talent. She created all of her wedding stationery, and even hand-calligraphed each and every invite. First, Jen turned to the pros at Poloma's Nest to create save-the-dates, which came in the form of a gold-rimmed jewelry dish, inscribed with the couple's wedding date and a dogwood branch. Then the creative bride sent out her own work: The formal invite was printed on cream paper, delivered in a pale blush Spanish envelope, with gold and black calligraphy all written by Jen. "I love hand-written letters and notes coming from the heart," the bride says. "I thought, 'If it's going to be an invitation to my own wedding, why not write it myself?'"
The bride radiated in her tulle Sarah Janks wedding dress that she and the Australian-based designer created together. Despite an ocean and many hours between them, Jen and Sarah worked to create a custom look and the bride saw the finished product for the first time just two weeks before the wedding. "It fit perfectly and looked great," she says. The dusty rose tulle gown boasted delicate embroidered details and a low back.
She paired the custom wedding dress with a silk tulle veil, low up-do, and antique diamond earrings that Elihu had gifted her for their wedding.
Jen left her wedding bouquet up to the gals at Poppies & Posies. "I love everything they dream up, but I told them I wanted a huge, lush bouquet full of my favorite flowers, especially Sally Holmes roses," she says. The final result was a loose arrangement of dahlias, peonies, roses, clematis, and ferns, all tied with torn linen ribbons.
The bride's sister and best friend served as her two bridesmaids, both wearing beaded gowns from Adrianna Papell. They carried bouquets that were similar to Jen's, filled with peonies and dahlias in bright, summery hues.
Elihu wore a classic suit from J.Crew and finished his look with a succulent boutonniere. The bride and groom ultimately kept that succulent and planted it in the front yard of their home, where it still grows today! The couple's two pups, Gatsby and Pepper, served as flower girl and ring bearer, in addition to their nephew, Tucker. "They're not exactly the type of follow rules," Jen says of their canine bridal party. "Pepper ran around like crazy and destroyed her flower crown way before the ceremony and Gatsby's bow tie got covered in mud!"
As guests arrived, they walked beneath a wrought iron door that was trimmed in bright blooms. Female guests were gifted perfumed and carved wooden fans while gentleman all received an herb-and-succulent boutonniere. "We wanted everyone to feel like a special part of the wedding," Jen says. As they waited for the pair to exchange vows, everyone sipped citrus water and mint lemonade.
The ceremony, which was officiated by Elihu's father, was held on a slate path beneath old olive trees on the property's lawn. "We wanted it to be intimate so we went without chairs and without microphones and definitely without cellphones," Jen says. "All our guests stood beneath olive trees in a loving group." But the proceedings started on a hectic — albeit, hilarious — note. Gatsy and Pepper were supposed to run down the aisle, which should have cued The Beatles' "Blackbird" to start playing as Jen walked down the aisle with her dad. Instead, the sweet pups snuck out early, causing the music to start too soon, and for guests to hear the song play in a loop while Jen and her dad rushed down the stairs!
"To this day I can remember how it felt," Jen says of entering the ceremony with her father. "Like heaven. Our ceremony was short and sweet and utterly perfect." They exchanged vows they wrote themselves, but kept one vow entirely private: midway through her vows, Jen leaned over and whispered a private vow into her soon-to-be-husband's ear. "That was pretty special for us both and allowed us a private moment while surrounded by friends and family." After the bride and groom were pronounced husband and wife they ran back down the aisle to "Here Comes The Sun" while loved ones showered Jen and Elihu with scented lavender.
Jen surprised Elihu with an amazing wedding gift on the big day: A vintage Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. It was decorated with a carved wooden "Just Married" sign and a garland of blooms arranged by their florists. The pair hopped on for a quick ride and then used it to enter their reception in style. From there, the couple went straight into their first dance to Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up."
Dinner was served at long tables arranged around the courtyard. "It was absolutely magical," Jen says. Antique silver vessels were filled with lush arrangements of flowers, including garden roses, peonies, dahlias, and greenery, and decorated each long table. Small stone fruits were arranged beneath the vases, adding depth to centerpieces.
The couple chose mismatched white plates, all with gold-rimmed details, for place settings, which were paired with glimmering gold cutlery. Jen put her creative skills to the test again, creating hand-painted menus for each guest. The wedding feast, which everyone enjoyed beneath twinkling string lights, included fresh and delicious course of Shishito peppers, pork belly, Santa Barbara carbonara, cod, and steak.
Jen and Elihu also created two interactive stations for their friends and family to enjoy. Their tea and pipe and tobacco bars were both huge hits. "They were completely demolished by the end of the night," the bride remembers.
Another crowd-favorite? Their regular bar, where guests could order their own favorite drink or Jen and Elihu's picks — the Blackberry Bramble and the Moscow Mule.
The couple didn't select just one wedding cake. Instead, they had seven small cakes arranged on stands at tables throughout the reception so when the couple sliced into their two-tier confection, their friends and family could cut into a smaller version, too. Although each had their own unique design, beneath each confection's buttercream frosting were layers of strawberry shortcake.
Jen and Elihu, who honeymooned in Ireland, say that the most important thing to remember is to relax on your wedding day. "Things might go wrong and that's okay!" they say. "Most importantly, love each other on your wedding day and bask in your friends and family. Be gracious and thankful towards everyone on your day, this is how you will be setting the tone for your entire marriage."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Private residence || Bride's Wedding Dress: Sarah Janks || Shoes: Badgley Miscka || Veil: Erica Elizabeth Design || Veil Pins: Hushed Commotion || Hair & Makeup: Mimi & Taylor || Groom's Attire: J.Crew || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Adrianna Papell || Invitations, Paper Goods & Laser Cut Cocktail Menu: Jen Huang || Save-the-Date: Paloma's Nest || Floral Design: Poppies & Posies || Catering: Duo Catering || Wedding Cakes: Enjoy Cupcakes || Tabletop Rentals: Borrowed Blu || Rentals: Tent Merchant || Videographer: Portal Films || Second Shooter: Kurt Boomer || Photographer: Jose Villa
Looking for more antique-inspired weddings? Then check out another couple's beautiful outdoor wedding with a similar aesthetic in the video below!