An Old-World Wedding at the Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in California

Coordinated by Novelty Events

bride and groom kissing

Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

"I know it sounds cliché, but our eyes locked the second I walked into the door," says Jenneh Bockari of seeing her now-husband for the first time in 2015. She randomly met Joseph Rishe in a Hollywood bar one night and not before long, their conversation turned into a late-night snack across the street followed by lunch and hiking the next day. "The rest is history," she says.

A few years later, Joseph was ready to propose with a pink diamond ring during a staycation in California. But, when the day arrived, he was sure that Jenneh had already caught on to his plan. "She had painted her nails right before we left the house," he exclaims. Luckily, however, Jenneh didn't suspect a thing and as they entered their suite for the night—which was purposefully filled with lilies, her favorite flower!—Joseph got down on one knee. He says, "She accepted and 'ugly cried'—her words, not mine!"

On February 9, 2019, their wedding brought them back to the site of their engagement: The Mission Inn in Riverside, California, which they call their "little hidden gem." This time, however, they shared their favorite place with a handful of their closest family and friends. A color palette of blues, pastel green, and ivory, along with mixed metals of gold and copper, set the mood for the airy, Old-World affair, while the minimal décor allowed the stunning architecture of the venue shine—quite literally!

To make their vision possible, the couple tapped a group of "amazingly talented" vendors, including coordinator Novelty Events. "Our wedding planner handled most of the time-consuming details that are usually not much fun to do, leaving the fun part of choosing the final option to us!" See how their nuptials turned into a magical European escape in Southern California, as captured by Kaylee Chelsea Photography.

old wedding venue
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

As mentioned, the couple's wedding venue played a leading role throughout their relationship: They plan yearly staycations there, and it's the site where Joseph proposed. "The Mission has become 'our' place," says Jenneh, making committing to the venue a "no brainer."

invitations
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
invitation and rings
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

The venue, a National Historic Landmark, was central to the wedding's design—and the couple's invitation suite by Vintage Inkwell. Each suite included illustrations of the venue, finished off with an elegant wax seal, and a dusty blue ribbon (a tease to the day-of color palette).

bride and bridal party in robes
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
bride and bridal party wearing robes
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
bride with junior bridesmaids
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 

Before getting glammed up, Jenneh gave her bridesmaids and flower girls coordinating pajama sets, rompers, and robes. As the bride, she donned a floral lace robe of her own.

bride wearing flower crown
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
fishtail braid and flower crown
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 

Jenneh knew this dreamy BHLDN number was "the one" before she tried it on. In fact, she'd been eyeing it long before she even went dress shopping. "[I] tried on three dresses," recalls the bride. "This dress was one of the three. I tried it on last, just to give the others a fair shot." Between the plunging neckline and back, floral appliqués, and tulle skirt, Jenneh says it "was just the perfect amount of interesting—and was so comfortable."

mother zipping bride's wedding dress
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
bride and mother
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 

On the big day, her mother was on hand to zip her into her dress—and send her off with a sweet kiss.

bride and bridesmaids
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
bride and bridesmaids first look
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 

Jenneh also turned to BHLDN for her bridesmaids' gowns, creating a mismatched bridal party dressed in shades of fog, blue and pastel green. "They are all so uniquely different, and I wanted them to wear something that they felt comfortable in and that fit their personality/style," explains Jenneh. As shown, her first look with her girls was a big hit.

bride and father
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography  
bride hugging father
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 

Before her first look with Joseph, Jenneh also shared an intimate moment with her father.

first look
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
first look
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
bride and groom at first look
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
bride and groom
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 

"It’s funny because it took me longer to pick out my outfit than it took Jenneh to pick out her dress," admits Joseph about his attire. He found the bright white Prada leather slides first, then built the rest of his look around the sleek shoes, opting for a navy suit jacket and gray dress pants.

bride
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
bride
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
bride holding bouquet
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 

Commissioning small, local businesses to bring their big day to life was a must for the couple. They tapped Irises Designs to style Jenneh's oversized bouquet of greenery, succulents, light pink roses, anemones, and a single king protea.

bride holding bouquet
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography 
bridal party
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

For Jenneh and Joseph, the biggest hurdle was the guest list. "We were adamant about keeping our guest list to those who we knew well and had on-going, intimate relationships with," says Jenneh. But, even between their large extended families and several out of town friends and relatives, they were able to stick to 75 people for the intimate occasion.

bride with flower girls
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
flower girls
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

Jenneh's adorable flower girls wore long white gowns and carried metal hoops of flowers in lieu of a basket or bouquet.

wedding party
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
bride and groom with wedding party
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
bride and groom kissing
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

Joseph gifted his groomsmen two accessories: personalized pocket squares and white shoes to match his own. They all wore fitted gray suits to match the airy colors of the wedding day and cool tones of the bridesmaids' dresses.

wedding welcome sign
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
wedding welcome sign
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

The ceremony was held at The St. Francis Chapel on the hotel's grounds where two wedding signs decorated the grand entrance. (One later doubled as a unique guest book!) The St. Francis Chapel is so beautiful on its own, we didn’t want to take away from that," says Jenneh of the minimal décor.

bride with parents
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
bride and parents entering church
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

They enlisted an acoustic guitarist and singer to perform "Say You Won't Let Go" by James Arthur as the bride's parents escorted her down the aisle.

wedding ceremony
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
wedding ceremony
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
newlyweds kissing
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

Before Jenneh and Joseph exchanged personal vows, which included references to Joseph's favorite football team, the Greenbay Packers, and Jenneh's favorite show, Vanderpump Rules, they held a ring warming ceremony in the chapel. "It was so special to have all our friends and family physically touch the rings and hold them in their hands before we said our vows," recalls Jenneh of the moment.

wedding exit toss
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
newlyweds
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

We had a moment of pause together, where we looked out on the courtyard and said to each other, 'Can you believe all of our favorite people are here in one place? It’s beautiful.'

wedding exit toss
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
newlyweds kissing
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

The newlyweds exited the ornate chapel to a live version of "Refuge" by John Legend as guests tossed flower petals in celebration.

spanish hotel
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

Following the ceremony, Jenneh and Joseph snuck away to share a moment of gratitude. 'We had a moment of pause together, where we looked out on the courtyard and said to each other, 'Can you believe all of our favorite people are here in one place? It’s beautiful,'" recalls Jenneh on one of her most cherished memories from the day.

bride and groom kissing
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
bride and groom hugging
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
bride and groom kissing
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

Although the wedding was in California, the setting could have easily been mistaken for Europe, claims Jenneh—making it one of the reasons why they fell in love with their venue. "Honestly, it’s so breathtaking, that it’s magical. When you’re there, you feel like you’ve been transported to a different country."

wedding guests
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

As an alternative to the traditional guest book, the couple repurposed one of their welcome signs and asked guests to write messages on the board.

wedding favors
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
engraved copper mugs
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
favors
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

Cocktails were served in custom copper mugs (that purposely matched the décor of the hotel), which later turned into practical favors for the guests.

seating chart display
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
seating chart display
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

A gorgeous wooden installation directed guests to their tables, which were named after Jenneh and Joseph's favorite spots in California such as Malibu, Echo Park Lake, and Mohawk Bend. Next to the seating chart display, a copper sign read, “We found each other, now find your seat."

floral centerpiece
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
table setting
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
place card
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

The hotel's Spanish Art Gallery was transformed into the perfect party space with a mixture of long and round tables decorated greenery, votives, floral arrangements, and succulents. Delicate scrolls hanging off champagne glasses served as romantic place cards.

first dance
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
first dance
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

Alicia Keys's "No One" was the soundtrack for their first dance but the couple actually has a different favorite memory from the dancefloor. "As a surprise to us, Jenneh’s mom had her family plan a money dance," shares Joseph. "They came with stacks of $1 bills and we danced to West African music, while all our friends and family threw bills at us. It was so unexpected and so much fun!"

wedding cake
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
couple kissing during cake cutting
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

"We opted for a small simple cutting cake and included a full dessert spread for our guests," says Jenneh, which consisted of mini cupcakes, mini cheesecakes, brownies, macaroons, and mini parfaits. Their petite red velvet wedding cake was decorated with a unique topper showing off their shared initials: "JR."

sparkler exit
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography
newlyweds leaving reception
Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography

A sparkler exit bid the newlyweds adieu as they jetted off to a mini-moon in Mexico. A few months later, they celebrated their marriage with a more formal honeymoon to Europe, galavanting through cities such as Rome, Amalfi, Florence, Tuscany, and Paris.

"We were still on such a high from the wedding," recalls Jenneh during their travels. "We spent the entire time talking about how perfect our wedding went. We made every decision together. Joe had just as much input in the floral arrangements as he did in the music choices. Because of this, it truly was OUR wedding."

Wedding Team

Venue The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

Planner Novelty Events

Officiant Kyle Strong

Bridal Gown BHLDN

Bride's Jewelry GLDN; Wanderlust Jewelry

Bride's Shoes Chloé

Hair Tiara Evans; Janet Miranda

Makeup Peretti Hill

Bridesmaids' Dresses BHLDN

Groom’s Attire John Varvatos; Valentino; Topshop; Prada; Tom Ford

Groomsmen's Attire The Black Tux

Engagement Ring Alexis Russell

Wedding Bands Alexis Russell

Floral Design Irises Designs

Invitations Vintage Inkwell

Paper Products Jasmin Michelle Designs

Guest Book Vintage Inkwell

Ceremony Music Austin Ellis  

Reception Music DJ Da Capo

Catering The Mission Inn 

Cake Cucamonga Cakery

Rentals Jake Duke Studio

Favors Copper Mug Co.

Accommodations The Mission Inn 

Videography DP Weddings 

Photography Kaylee Chelsea Photography

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