Jaime Zehner, an interior designer, admits that she didn't want to get married locally, so, with guests traveling from Los Angeles and Orange County, she and her partner Nathan Hurst decided to create a "destination wedding" close to their California home.
The venue? The Farmhouse at Ojai Valley Inn, a location that consisted of raw dirt when the couple first visited. "The Farmhouse hadn’t even broken ground yet, but I knew by the concepts that it would be the perfect place for us!" Jaime admits. "We called and immediately made a day trip up to check out the dirt it would be built on and said yes. People thought we were crazy, but as soon as it started making progress, we could tell it was going to be magical."
With the help of Smith + James, the couple hit the ground running (quite literally!), planning a wedding designed to be impactful and intentional rather than over-the-top. "Being an interior designer, I am used to handling all the tiniest details, so the hardest part was having a lot of ideas—thanks, Pinterest and Instagram!—and narrowing them down and letting Tory and her team take over," she adds.
In the end, Jaime and Nathan invited 180 guests for a destination weekend in Ojai that began with a pool party and ended late-night on the dance floor. Keep reading to see more of the interior designer's creative celebration and stunning photos captured by Joel Serrato.
Though they had a 180-person guest list, Jaime and Nathan made sure to welcome every guest—who had traveled from Atlanta, London, and Australia—for a weekend of events in Ojai. "We love Ojai, the whole town is magic," Jaime says. "We loved that everyone could be relatively close and that it was a destination enough for people to spend a few days in town."
As mentioned, the festivities began with a pool party and a welcome party, followed by a rehearsal dinner on Thursday night. "By the time the wedding started on Saturday, strangers had become friends and it was so much fun watching that happen," says the bride.
Ahead of planning the wedding, Jaime admits that she was most nervous about finding her dress. However, after meeting with the team at Oscar de la Renta, she knew she was in good hands. "I tried on one dress and it was the dress I got married in," she says. "I saw it and I was sold before I even tried it on. It was whimsical and comfortable and light so I could stay in it all night. And it had all of the dreamy details I loved."
In addition to finding a dress she loved, Jaime made friends in the process. "The team was so fun—I think that made it all the more fun," she says. "We looked forward to my fittings and by the last one, John from Oscar de la Renta was invited to the wedding. He is amazing!"
Jaime had two pairs of bridal shoes: a pair of blue pumps by Christian Louboutin—a gift from her fiancé that served as her "something blue"—and a pair of vintage Chanel sandals that her MOH found on The Real Real. "The prettiest floral detail and looked so great with the dress!" she says. "The floral detail on them was perfect."
Ojai in April is known for being Pixie Month, a fact that I’ve always loved, so I wanted to incorporate that into my colors and florals.
Moon Canyon Design created Jaime's bridal bouquet and wedding flowers, which were done in neutrals with pops of orange to celebrate the season. "Ojai in April is known for being Pixie Month, a fact that I’ve always loved, so I wanted to incorporate that into my colors and florals," she says. Her bouquet was wrapped with a vintage locket that both of her grandparents had carried on their wedding days.
The bride's mother carried a small posy of Lily of the valley, which coordinated with the embroidery on her Marchesa Notte gown.
"As soon as I started getting ready, it felt like the day flew by and I wanted it to slow down a bit," Jaime admits. "Once I saw Nathan at our first look, it made me more relaxed and we were just able to be excited and laugh together for the rest of the night."
For his attire, Nathan turned to his friend Ryan Hammonds at R. Douglas for a custom tux that he had embroidered with his and Jaime's initials and wedding date.
The couple's flower girls wore lace dresses from BHLDN. "I liked how the lace was similar to my dress and how fun and playful they were," Jaime says. "They had the cutest backs with the sweetest train. The girls all said they were princesses, so walking onto the lawn before the ceremony and watching them twirling in their dresses and pearl headbands was darling."
Cones of dried flower petals were placed at the ceremony entrance so guests could shower the newlyweds during their recessional.
The ceremony took place on an open lawn, where a natural-looking flower arch by Moon Canyon Design was set to frame the couple.
"We chose benches for guest seating," explains the bride. "We liked the casual, friendly atmosphere bench seating provided. We had floral arrangements down the aisle and opted for an extra-wide aisle to walk down."
Jaime walked down the aisle with her father Mitch Zehner to Frank Sinatra's "Moon River" as Nathan looked on—with teary eyes! The ceremony music was all hand-selected by the couple with the bride's family walking in to “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong, the groom's family entering to“ Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Eva Cassidy, and the wedding party processing to “Shallow” Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga.
We went with traditional vows but wrote our own to read to only each other on the honeymoon. It felt more personal since sometimes those have a lot of inside jokes.
"We went with traditional vows but wrote our own to read to only each other on the honeymoon," Jaime says. "It felt more personal since sometimes those have a lot of inside jokes."
While Jaime describes the planning process as "relaxed" and "fun," she acknowledges that they couldn't plan for some of her favorite moments. "I ran into my parents at 6 a.m. in the coffee shop, and we walked down to the Farmhouse to check on things," she recalls of the morning of the wedding. "It was such a quiet and exciting moment. It was more fun than it was hectic—we were just excited!—and just having that quiet, small unplanned moment before the day meant so much."
To conclude the ceremony, the newlyweds exited to "Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones, which was followed by “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton for the reception entrance. "We didn’t use traditional music," Jaime says. "We used our favorite playful songs to make it sweet and almost every guest said something about the fun songs."
Cocktails were served outside the farmhouse, where lanterns and a modern fireplace transformed the space from day to night. "Nathan is from Texas so we always knew we wanted a farmhouse theme without being too over the top," explains the bride. "The orange in the pixies was also a nod to his beloved UT Longhorns."
To coordinate with the ceremony's natural floral theme, seating assignments were printed on cards accented with delicate, dried blooms.
Inside, the couple incorporated more of Ojai's infamous pixies into the reception décor. The bride also highlights the beaded dinner plates (from The Ark) and canopy of lights as two additional design favorites.
Gary Ames of the Flashdance DJs handled the reception music, requesting 10 to 15 songs from the couple to get an idea of the vibe they wanted. "I had my best friends and my brother basically create a playlist that we sent him and it was a BLAST," Jaime e
Looking back on their wedding and planning journey, Jaime had this advice for those planning: "Have fun with it! When things don’t go exactly how you want, it’s OK, and back-up plans are great too. Hire a great team to deal with all of that so you can have fun. It really is such a special day and it goes so fast so remember to breathe and take in all of the details."
Venue Ojai Valley Inn
Planning Smith + James Events
Officiant Pete Anzaldo
Bridal Gown Oscar de la Renta
Jewelry Sophie Buhai
Fashion Stylist John Dolio
Hair & Makeup Janet Villa
Bridesmaid Dresses Joanna August
Mother of the Bride Dress Marchesa Notte
Groom's Attire R. Douglas
Flower Girl Attire BHLDN
Wedding Bands Rock Martin
Floral Design Moon Canyon Design
Invitations August and White
Music Gary Ames
Cake Susie Cakes
Rentals Bright Rentals
Videography Jake Pollgreen
Photography Joel Serrato