One afternoon, Nichole Lee, a speech pathologist, and George Balanchi, a toy manufacturer, were sitting in the backyard of their Pasadena home discussing possible wedding venues for their summer 2019 nuptials. That’s when it dawned on them: why not have the wedding right there?
“We spent a couple of years renovating our home, and it is so special to us,” Nichole says. “It was also so special to look out and see all of our closest friends and family together in our home, celebrating with us.”
The couple teamed up with Laura Armendariz of Fawn Events to create a modern, ethereal atmosphere in the backyard of the mid-century modern house, designed by a famed local architectural firm in the 1950s. To do that, Fawn Events used a neutral color palette with a focus on florals, dreamy drapery, and an emphasis on food to help tell the story of the couple—like a raclette station at dinner.
Part of that tale is their whirlwind romance: the pair met at a Skrillex concert in Las Vegas, then dated long distance for just a few months before George insisted Nichole move in with him in Los Angeles and popped the question. “The next morning, we woke up and bought a ring together,” Nichole says. “We’ve been inseparable ever since.”
Read on for all the details of Nichole and George’s backyard wedding on June 15, 2019, as planned by Fawn Events and photographed by Plum & Oak Photography.
Nichole and George’s house was built by prominent Pasadena architects John Nyberg and Harold J. Bissner, Jr. of Nyberg & Bissner in the 1950s. The couple used the home’s modern design to inform their own wedding décor decisions, opting for contemporary materials like acrylic and soft-hued blooms.
Though Nichole’s bridesmaids would all wear their own dresses, they did glam in matching robes with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.
“The first time I went dress shopping I was sure I would walk out with something that day since I had been following designer and loved her dresses in pictures,” Nichole says. “However, I didn’t like a single dress I tried on there.” Nichole continued the search with her mother, who actually found Nichole’s lace Lian Rokman mermaid-style gown.
“When I walked out and saw myself in it, I immediately started tearing up,” the bride added of her dress. She carried an oversized bouquet of orchids, peonies, roses, and anemones.
Nichole’s five bridesmaids all wore metallic-hued gowns that would coordinate with the gray suits of the groomsmen.
George kept his look simple and relaxed in a gray suit by The Kooples, sans necktie.
“Nichole does not feel very comfortable in the spotlight, so taking pictures and doing the video was outside of her comfort zone,” George says. “To help her feel more comfortable, I would whisper semi inappropriate jokes in her ear to make her laugh.”
To echo the architecture of the home, the planning team ran with mid-century design for the ceremony space. Danish modern-style furniture and wishbone chairs provided seating and an impressive round altar backdrop added whimsy. In fact, the entire floor was covered in white petals to feel as though the entire area was floating above the landscape.
Penelope Pots Florals created the circular ceremony backdrop, filled with greenery and white flowers. “During the ceremony, there was a breeze that made the florals look even more beautiful,” the bride says.
Nichole made her grand entrance in classic fashion: Escorted by her father to a Kina Grannis’ cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
“One of the goals of a marriage is to understand and communicate with each other for a lifetime,” Nichole says. “Planning your wedding can be stressful, but the goal in mind is love and happiness with your soul mate. Lean on each other, support each other, and try not to sweat the small stuff.”
Though the décor was largely neutral-toned, Nichole and George didn’t shy away from some moodiness at cocktail hour: Guests found their drinks and table numbers with black and copper goblets.
Food is a big interest to the couple, so cocktail hour kicked off a meal to remember with a gin and St. Germain “her” cocktail and a bourbon-fueled “his” cocktail.
Dinner was served at stations that nodded to the couple’s favorite foods, like raclette served over meats and vegetables, rack of lamb with hummus and falafel, and dumplings in chili oil. “We wanted our menu to be fun and flavorful, and to reflect our favorite foods we’ve experienced together while traveling,” Nichole says. Not surprisingly, after exchanging vows, the couple jetted to Italy for their honeymoon.
The reception was held under a white pergola draped in champagne-colored fabric and garlands of greenery.
The neutral palate extended to the round tables, which were covered in taupe velvet linens, low arrangements of roses and anemones, white candles, and gold-rimmed glassware. Crystal pendants poked out among the hanging florals.
The head table included the pops of black once more, with black-rimmed plates, black wishbone chairs, and smoky gray stemware.
Nichole and George took part in a magic trick during the reception.
For a couple who met on a dance floor, music was of utmost importance. The pair tapped Andy Rossi of Vox DJs to keep their 97 guests grooving—though Nichole admits they had to throw some Skrillex on the must-play list.
Instead of a formal cake, Nichole and George served Carmela ice cream sandwiches on the dance floor along with a late-night snack: chili cheese fries. It was all good fun, they say, especially when their moms “broke loose on the dance floor together.”
“It was so special to look out and see all of our closest friends and family together in our home, celebrating with us,” Nichole says.
Planner Fawn Events
Officiant Paul Gendron
Bridal Gown Lian Rokman
Bridal Salon Panache Pasadena
Shoes Stuart Weitzman
Makeup Cheek to Cheek Artistry
Bridesmaid Dresses Rat & Boa
Mother of the Bride's Dress Nordstrom
Groom’s Attire The Kooples
Engagement Ring & Wedding Band Everett Fine Jewelry
Groom's Wedding Band Lashbrook
Floral Design Penelope Pots Floral Design
Calligraphy Double Dipped Calligraphy
Guest Book Artifact Uprising
Music Vox DJs
Catering Room Forty; Carmela Ice Cream
Rentals Borrowed Blu; Collective Rentals; Hostess Haven; La Tavola Fine Linen; Premiere Party Rents
Transportation Crown Limo LA
Videography Rora Film
Photography Plum & Oak Photography