For "Upload" actress Allegra Edwards and former "Lizzie McGuire" star Clayton Snyder (yes, that's the Ethan Craft), tying the knot in 2020 was a must—even if it meant reimagining their wedding plans!
Their love story began in 2006 as freshmen at Pepperdine University when they were introduced by a mutual friend just before the start of the school year and dated for the following three years before breaking up (when she went off to earn her master's degree in acting and he headed to Europe to play water polo). "We were no more than Facebook friends, for eight years," admits Allegra. But, as she shares, all it took was a "brave text" from Clayton (beginning with “I don’t know if this is still your number, but...”) to rekindle their romance. And after two years of long-distance dating, Clayton proposed on Thanksgiving Day.
The scene of their proposal—Swan Lake Farm in Granite Bay, California—would eventually serve as the backdrop for their vows. "It represents a sanctuary of love and beauty," says Allegra of her aunt and uncle's private home. "It's where I told Clayton I loved him for the first time in 2006, and where he proposed in 2019."
Swan Lake Farm boasts the landscape of a fairytale—imagine rolling pastures, a glassy lake, cascading waterfalls, and exotic birds, says Allegra— so it's no surprise that the property was the inspiration for the entire celebration. "When you combine that with the years of memories I have attached to the home and the people that live there, there seemed to me to be no other venue that could compare," explains the bride.
On October 3, 2020, Allegra, Clayton, and 89 of their nearest and dearest (half of their original list!) gathered outdoors for a dreamy fall wedding that followed the state's COVID-19 guidelines and included elements such as a falcon ring bearer and a swan boat exit. Ahead, all the exclusive details from the romantic nuptials planned by Mae Mallon of Beyond Smitten Events and photographed by Anée Atelier.
When it came down to details, Swan Lake Farm's "enchanted" nature guided the couple. "Aesthetically, we leaned into what the venue already offered naturally: a romantic, storybook wedding by the light of a harvest moon," Allegra says.
Inspired by the venue, they incorporated elements from the farm—pomegranates, swans, red brick, olive branches, feathers, and birch trees—into the wedding design and leaned on a quintessential warm autumn palette of olive green, gold, mauve, dusty rose, and merlot, all of which were evident in their custom watercolor invitations. "We especially love the color and detail of the bright blue Victoria Crown Pigeon on the third panel, one of the many birds that live in the menagerie," adds the bride.
"I’m one of those weird actors that really look forward to their wardrobe fittings, and has no problem spending hours trying on options," admits the bride. (In fact, Allegra visited a bridal salon just a week after getting engaged!) After countless gowns and various shopping trips with family and friends, it was an Elizabeth Fillmore gown—with poet sleeves, lace detailing, and subtle vintage silhouette—that won her over.
"It was everything I was looking for," she says. "When I looked in the mirror, I noticed my face more than my body, and I felt like the best version of myself: comfortable, confident, effortless, beautiful."
To not overshadow the intricacy of her gown, Allegra accessorized with drop pearl earrings and a romantic braided updo. And she chose her shoes (shimmering Loeffler Randall block heels) with the wedding venue's terrain in mind. "A stiletto would have only irrigated the yard," she says with a laugh.
Her bridesmaids wore long-sleeve silk wrap dresses in shades of pewter olive and champagne gold. "I truly felt like the ladies looked angelic and poised without being too matchy-matchy," she says, adding, "I also knew these colors would work with any number of floral hues, and they did!"
Clayton sported a blue Italian silk and wool blend suit with navy pinstripes from Bonobos. He also chose an olive tie, which Allegra says made his green eyes "pop!"
Clayton's groomsmen wore navy suits to match the stripes on his own attire. He also gifted them each a pair of custom socks featuring different animals.
Above all, we wanted our wedding to be intentional. To trade the arbitrary for the meaningful, the general for the specific.
"The pictures say it all," Allegra says of their first look. The bride and groom met below a willow tree for the emotional exchange that has since become one of the most memorable for the couple.
"Above all, we wanted our wedding to be intentional," the bride says. "To trade the arbitrary for the meaningful, the general for the specific. We found it enormously helpful to begin with our highest values as a couple, and then to make choices that reflected those values. These included fostering community, encouraging curiosity, sharing our faith, and doing it all in good humor. And finally, we wanted a wedding filled with surprise and delight."
As was the case for many engaged couples in 2020, wedding planning for the pair came to a halt in March when coronavirus struck. "The planning process was a series of peaks and valleys, but I think, all things considered, went quite well," reflects Allegra.
For us, postponement meant placing a higher value on the party than the marriage. This realization made the pathway clear: We’d move forward.
But for Allegra and Clayton, not getting married in 2020 was simply not an option. She shares, "No matter what, no matter how small, because of our age and stage in life, we would get married in 2020. Every couple is different and their own reasoning is completely valid. For us, postponement meant placing a higher value on the party than the marriage. This realization made the pathway clear: We’d move forward."
Yet, the day was not without precautions. From cutting their guest list in half to gifting everyone custom face masks to encouraging social distancing throughout the entirely outdoor event, the couple adhered to California's coronavirus guidelines and more.
The ceremony took place alongside the property's lake, where wooden chairs were scattered in small clusters on either side of the aisle to keep guests as safe as possible. Décor was kept minimal but two gold columns decorated in flowers framed the idyllic fall scene at the altar. "The fall landscape was the reason I chose to suggest the two gold columns for the ceremony," adds their florist.
The bride was escorted down the aisle by her father as a guitarist performed Seal's "Kiss From a Rose." The reasoning behind the processional song was two-fold: Rose is Allegra's middle name and the romantic flower is significant to the family—hence why they were so prominent in the day-of florals!
"For us, the ceremony is the whole point, and the rest is just icing on the cake," Allegra reveals. The couple asked her father to share a brief homily that ultimately "took [their] breath away." She recalls, "He recited a gorgeous, epic story of the history of Swan Lake Farm, and how each part of its evolution served as a metaphor for a marriage built on a foundation of faith. And he did it in verse!"
We hadn’t shared our vows with each other beforehand, and I was overjoyed to learn that they mirrored each other thematically.
To further personalize the ceremony (which was officiated by the same friend who introduced them in 2006!), Allegra and Clayton coupled handwritten vows with traditional ones later on. "We hadn’t shared our vows with each other beforehand, and I was overjoyed to learn that they mirrored each other thematically. We both said that while we have no desire to change our partner, we still cannot wait to meet the future version of one another," she remembers.
Not-your-average ring bearer, the couple's wedding bands were delivered to Clayton by "Webster the Falcon." The groom and Webster practiced the routine a few times before the ceremony and when it came down to it, the moment was executed flawlessly.
Instead of jumping straight to the kiss as most couples do, Allegra and Clayton chose to wash each other's feet as an act of service to one another. "For us, this ritual was the best way to start our marriage on the right foot and in a posture of humility and sacrificial love," she explains.
That said, the newly-proclaimed husband and wife still closed the ceremony with a sweet, celebratory kiss.
For a picture-perfect and environmentally friendly exit, guests tossed heart-shaped leaves as the newlyweds made their way down the aisle hand-in-hand.
"If planning a wedding is a training ground for all future marital decision-making, then I’m both grateful and relieved to have such a bright, creative, and attentive partner in Clayton," Allegra says. Clayton adds, "Think of your wedding as your first great creation together. See it as exciting, rather than burdensome."
During cocktail hour, guests sipped on two cleverly named cocktails. As an ode to Clayton's infamous "Lizzie McGuire" character, Ethan Craft, they labeled their his and her's concoctions "Ethan's Craft Cocktails," which featured a pomegranate gin fizz and spiced cider with bourbon.
The couple also displayed family portraits and love letters from their ancestors to tie in the romantic theme of the day.
A portion of the lawn was transformed into the perfect al fresco reception area, with farm tables (only seating a few guests each!) placed around an oversized dance floor.
Following a seasonal color palette, tables were dressed in Tuscan-inspired linens and topped with greenery and rose garlands, as well as pomegranates from the property. The wooden head table stood out with a blush velvet runner and floral arrangements of mauve and toffee roses and dried grasses. "Our reception décor was above and beyond my wildest dreams," boasts the bride.
At each place setting, guests found their names written in script and threaded onto a bleached and dyed pheasant or peacock feather.
Perhaps the most unique detail were the table numbers: hand-painted bird portraits by the bride's close friend and watercolor artist Elyse Brandau. "Clayton adores birds and even grew up with several, so these portraits honored both his affinity for them as well as their presence all over the property," she explains.
As the day turned to night, guests enjoyed a menu packed with autumnal flavors such as delicata squash with red Quinoa and roasted vegetables and crispy shallot hash with apple cider vinegar reduction.
Their first dance to Lord Huron's cover of the Neil Diamond hit "Harvest Moon" was choreographed by Allegra's brother, Skye, who taught the couple via FaceTime over four months. "The dance was both playful and tender...and practicing the dance gave us joy and acted as an instant stress relief every single time," says the bride.
Again paying homage to the landscape, the three-tiered cake was decorated to look like a birch tree. Instead of a classic cutting, the couple used a five-foot-long saw to slice the confection in half. The unexpected prop alluded to Clayton's childhood nickname, "Lumberjack," and acknowledged what Allegra describes as a "relationship-defining experience chopping down a 15-foot Christmas tree way back in 2007." By recreating the moment, she says they redeemed their "horrible tree-chopping from years past."
Selecting our music for every aspect of the event was definitely the easiest and most fun part of the process.
"Selecting our music for every aspect of the event was definitely the easiest and most fun part of the process," admits the bride. "It was a stress reliever to devote time and energy to our Spotify playlists over dinner, imagining folks enjoying themselves to the soundtrack of our journey together. That was wonderful."
Unbeknownst to each other, Allegra and Clayton had both planned surprise performances for the reception. Midway through the night, Clayton began to serenade Allegra with "I’ve Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra, complete with theatrics and an impromptu dance break. "Little did he know, I had been working on a surprise song for him," laughs Allegra. "For months, my bridesmaids and I had been learning three-part harmony to an Aubrie Sellers’ cover of Coldplay’s song 'Green Eyes.' His face when he saw us all lining up to sing to him—I will never forget it. He cried and laughed and loved every minute."
At the end of the night, the newlyweds rode off in a one-of-a-kind vessel that was only fitting for the Swan Lake Farm nuptials! "It’s funny to say, but how we left the wedding was one of the most memorable parts of the whole thing," says Allegra.
After enduring the highs and lows of wedding planning, Allegra leaves future couples with this advice: "Purpose over details. Marriage over wedding. Ground yourself in the present. And enjoy the ride!"
Wedding Planner Mae Mallon of Beyond Smitten Events
Officiant Christian Lanier Flowers
Bridal Gown Designer Elizabeth Fillmore
Veil Davie & Chiyo
Bridal Salon Gabriella New York
Jewelry Effy Collection
Shoes Loeffler Randall
Colorist Ali Sherry
Brows Rene de la Garza
Hair Sara Gutierrez
Makeup Miss Mariss Artistry
Bridesmaid Dresses Shona Joy
Mother of the Bride's Dress Lela Rose
Groom’s Attire Bonobos
Custom Groomsmen Socks Etsy
Falcon Ring Bearer West Coast Falconry
Engagement Ring Beach City Jewelers
Wedding Bands Beach City Jewelers
Floral Design Mignon Floral Co.
Invitations Bear and Bluebell
Paper Products Kristin Violet Design
Guest Book King of Sparklers
Ceremony Music Stephan Kane
Reception Music Joe Kalamaras
Catering Bonne Vie Kitchen
Cake Freeport Bakery
Table Portraits Elyse Brandau
Lighting Larcom’s Lighting
Transportation API Global Transportation
Videography Rose-Colored Lenses
Photography Anée Atelier