In August 2016, actor Jay Hector knew exactly what his girlfriend of two years, Olivia Jordan, would want for a proposal. "He knew my heart was set on getting married in Palm Springs as we had our first romantic getaway there, so he planned a trip for us complete with a surprise proposal," recalls Olivia, a model, actress, and Miss USA 2015. While there, the couple visited the Avalon Hotel & Bungalows, where Jay admits that the setting was so perfect he almost popped the question on the spot—though, he had an elaborate proposal, with a photographer and rose petals, planned for the next day.
Naturally, the couple decided to marry at the same venue on November 8, 2019. "It was an easy decision to get married in that exact spot where he had felt that magical feeling," Olivia says. However, the couple's relationship wasn't always as predictable—they met by a chance encounter in September 2016 while hiking the popular Runyon Canyon trail in Los Angeles. "We exchanged names, and Jay told me I had beautiful eyes—he always says that the white sunscreen smeared all over my face that day made my eyes look especially blue," she recalls with a laugh. "As soon as he complimented me, I ran away." Afterward, Jay realized they had one mutual friend and asked for Olivia's number. "I obliged to give my number to the cute hiker with the British accent," she says. "We met for afternoon tea on our first date at Cafe Gratitude and have been together ever since."
See more of the couple's easy-going yet picture-perfect wedding in Palm Springs, California, as planned by Artisan Events and captured by Stephanie Williams of This Modern Romance, below.
Olivia envisioned a wedding that would be "classic, timeless, intimate, and easy," while Jay just imagined them getting married beneath a beautiful floral arch. "Together, we worked with Joey Lizotte Artisan Events to create the wedding of both of our dreams," Olivia says.
Classic invitations from the bride's family gift shop, Margo’s Gift Shop, set the tone for the weekend celebration.
Instead of saying "yes" to one dress, Olivia chose two: a strapless Lazaro dress for the ceremony, and a sparkly Galia Lahav gown for the reception. On the wedding day, she posed for portraits in both gowns.
First up: She wore her Galia Lahav reception dress—a fitting choice since she actually found it first. "I wasn't positive I should have two dresses but, after struggling to land on just one style that fit every hope and desire, I expanded my search to two," she says. "I felt fabulous in the Galia Lahav dress. It fit me like a glove and I knew I would be comfortable dancing all night long in it without having to worry about a train."
While Olivia selected her Galia Lahav dress with dreams of wearing it at the reception, it also looked beautiful in pre-ceremony portraits. "I felt like the floral detailing was so perfect for the whimsy I was hoping to bring to the garden area of the reception space and the twinkle lights bright out the subtle sparkle embedded in the detailing," she says of choosing the dress.
"The venue had lots of beautiful greenery with all of the grass, trees, and vines and the architecture and tent were white, so we just built off of that beautiful garden feel and added touches of blush," explains the bride. "Everything had a 'fresh-picked' feel—not too structural with the bouquet and arrangements but more soft and delicate."
Olivia's bridesmaids wore blush gowns from BHLDN. "I always knew that I would want my bridesmaid to pick their own dresses to highlight their own personalities and flatter their figures," she says. "I was truly in love with what each of them chose and how beautifully all the looks came together."
Olivia surprised Jay by doing their first look in her reception dress. "Jay didn't see me in my ceremony dress until the gate opened and I began walking down the aisle. He burst into tears," Olivia recalls. "It was the first time he was seeing me with a veil on and in that dress. I was so happy I got to surprise him and so happy I got such incredible pictures of my reception dress. The surprise switch-a-roo worked perfectly!"
Jay wore a custom suit by Carroll Custom Design. "He has worked with Jay for years, and Jay knew exactly who to call," Olivia says. "In fact, his suit and the floral arch were the two adamant decisions he made." A day-of gift from Olivia completed his look. "I gifted Jay sixpence cufflinks on the morning of the wedding," she adds. "Traditionally, it is lucky to have sixpence with you on your wedding day, and I felt like it was a fun way to bring in Jay’s British background."
His groomsmen rented their attire from The Black Tux. "Most of the groomsmen traveled in from England and it was perfect that we could have their suits waiting for them," Olivia says. "They ended up fitting perfectly!"
I tried the Lazaro dress and burst into tears. I felt like I was floating in the dress and I truly felt like a bride!
Olivia admits that finding "the one" was a bit of a challenge, given the number of ballgowns she has worn throughout her career. "The ceremony dress was more challenging! After competing at Miss USA, Miss Universe, and Miss World, I had seen myself in all different styles of stunning dresses," she explains. "I wanted a simple, timeless wedding but the temptation to 'top' my previous dresses made me feel like the simple styles I was drawn to weren’t 'enough.'"
However, after visiting five bridal salons with her family and friends, a stylist at Lovella Bridal led Olivia to her dress. "I luckily had an incredible consultant who helped me remember to shake off anyone else’s expectations of what it 'should' be and just listen to my inner voice on what felt good," she recalls. "I tried the Lazaro dress and burst into tears. I felt like I was floating in the dress and I truly felt like a bride!" To save money, she ended up buying the sample at a discounted price.
Olivia accessorized with a veil from Lovella Bridal and a sparkly headpiece that was her "something borrowed." Naturally, she also had two pairs of bridal shoes. "I wore flats from BHLDN for the ceremony, and I was obsessed," Olivia says. "I didn't want to have to fumble on the grass with my train and any kind of heel and it worked beautifully as no one could see my feet and I could look up at my 6-foot-2-inch prince charming—tall girl problems!"
"We leaned into the budget-friendly option of the white chairs and white cushions that the hotel provided and spent our splurge money on having a floral archway created over where our ceremony would take place," explains the bride. "There were loosely thrown white petals down the aisle and paper cones on the aisle seats for the guests to throw petals as we recessed."
The bride walked down the petal-covered aisle with her father.
We broke any rules we wanted to make sure it felt so authentically us and not rushed.
"We wrote our ceremony with our dear friend that officiated, Jim Fielding," Olivia says. "It was sweet and simple, and we broke any rules we wanted to make sure it felt so authentically us and not rushed."
During the ceremony, the couple exchanged semi-traditional vows in addition to reading promises. "We both wrote our own vows and they were very special and intimate," Olivia says. "Many of the words we exchanged were to do with the beautiful moments and the challenges that had led us to one another. We had them recorded to be able to listen back on the promises made—it was simply beautiful."
"Our musician, Kevin Paris, was incredible at setting the mood. His original songs 'Say Love and Hold Space' as we walked down the aisle, and a Hawaiin-inspired rendition of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' felt so authentic to us," Olivia says. In addition to playing the ceremony music, Olivia says Kevin Paris led a yoga class for her bridesmaids and some guests on the morning of the wedding. "It was such a beautiful, relaxed way to start our day," she says.
While the couple opted to use the venue's white tables and chairs, they enhanced the clean look with gold-rimmed glasses and chargers, gold silverware, and blush linen runners. "We also added fairy lights above the dinner seating and dance floor to add a whimsical touch to the garden feel," adds the bride.
Kevin Paris opened the reception by playing for the first dance and father-daughter dance before a DJ took over. The newlyweds chose Ed Sheeran's “Tenerife Sea” for their first dance, while Olivia and her father opted for "Magic" by Kevin Paris.
"Deciding the cake was the easiest and most fun part of the process!" Olivia says. "Jay and I love cake so having a cake that tasted amazing was a high priority." In the end, their cake featured three tiers: one chocolate layer for Jay, and one vanilla and one gluten-free for Olivia.
Olivia also surprised Jay with a groom's cake. "Growing up in London, he had a tradition of having a Mark and Spencer’s caterpillar cake for every birthday," she explains. "I have tried to keep the tradition alive for his birthdays in the U.S., and he was totally surprised to see a perfect Mark and Spencer’s replica of a groom’s cake come out right after we cut the cake. He took the cake around to show all of his friends and family from London—it was such a fun moment and surprise."
When asked what advice she has for couples planning, Olivia had two tips to share. The first? "Be easy on yourself! Remember, the planning is for your day, and, ultimately, you don’t want to pack in so much that you forget to soak in every moment," she says. And, also: Soak in every moment. "Honestly, take time to yourselves as a couple to reflect on the people and the love that’s in the venue, for you both…do this multiple times, be meaningful with this time," she adds. "You’ll never forget coming together and embracing those loving memories."
Venue & Accommodations Avalon Hotel & Bungalows
Planner Joey Lizotte of Artisan Events
Officiant Jim Fielding
Veil Lovella Bridal
Bride's Jewelry & Shoes BHLDN
Hair Rooted Hair Studio
Makeup Victoria McGrath
Bridesmaid Dresses BHLDN
Mother of the Bride Dress Andrea's Fashions
Groom's Attire Carrol Custom
Groomsmen's Attire The Black Tux
Entertainment Kevin Paris
Invitations Margo's Gift Shop
Cake Exquisite Deserts
Videography Theater 10 Films
Photography Stephanie Williams of This Modern Romance