One Couple Channeled Elegant Style for Their Wedding on the Caltech Campus

Ashleigh and Seth were sold on the breathtaking architecture and impressive history of their California venue

Updated 01/18/17
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Photo by Hazelnut Photography

Ashleigh Sun has celebrated her birthday with a trip to New York City with her parents since she was eight years old. Her 25th birthday celebration was no different, but that year she was in for an extra special birthday gift. Ashleigh spotted a cute guy sitting next to her mom on the plane and, once they landed, she worked up the courage to ask for his full name — Seth Charms — so that she could find him on Facebook. Seth ended up asking for her phone number at baggage claim, and as soon as Ashleigh and her mom left the airport, she received a text from him. “Little did I know this would be the beginning of a beautiful chapter in both of our lives,” she says.

Two years later, in May of 2015, the pair embarked on a trip to New York (on JetBlue, the airline that first brought them together). After their arrival, Seth revealed that he promised his sister, who lives in New York, that they would join her for lunch. The couple hopped in a cab and when they reached their destination, Ashleigh realized that they were at Paley Park, an urban space in the middle of Midtown with a gorgeous waterfall. “During one of our first dates, I told Seth that it was my dream to someday be proposed to at Paley Park. He remembered,” Ashleigh says. She accepted his proposal in front of the waterfall and the ecstatic couple began searching for the perfect venue for their big day. The breathtaking architecture and impressive history of the Athenaeum on the Caltech campus in Pasadena, California, sold them instantly. “As soon as you step foot into the Athenaeum, you feel like you've gone back in time,” the bride says. With 185 guests in tow, the couple exchanged vows in a ceremony on the Athenaeum’s Olive Terrace, followed by the cocktail hour on the East patio, and the reception on the West. You'll feel like you were at this elegant affair when you see the details captured by Hazelnut Photography.

Photo by Hazelnut Photography

The bride admits she had been envisioning her wedding dress for years, and always since she'd wear a Pronovias dress since they are based in Spain where her mother’s family is from. “My 96-year-old grandma’s wish for the past year was to live long enough to see me get married and it was important that I honored her as she emigrated to the USA from Spain,” Ashleigh says. After spending several hours at the Pronovias Flagship store in New York, Ashleigh left undecided, but determined to return the next day. When she came back, she inquired about the Atelier line, and as soon as she tried on this strapless gown with sweetheart neckline, she knew it was the one. The skirt consisted of 15 layers of tulle, flower appliques, and a beaded bodice. “It was the moment you dream of. I got chills imagining walking down the aisle in this breathtaking dress," she says. "I felt all of those emotions.”

Ashleigh completed her bridal look with a Pronovias eight-foot-long veil, pearl earrings borrowed from her mom, and white satin SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker shoes. Her bouquet was an elegant grouping of peonies, Juliet Garden roses, jasmine, and astilbe.

Seth wore a classic Vera Wang black tuxedo with a Tag Heuer watch, a graduation gift from his bride.

Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography

Ashleigh's bridesmaids wore mist gray dress from BHLDN with empire waists and grosgrain sashes. Her two maids of honor replaced the sash with velvet and crystal belts to stand out from the rest of the bridal party. Each woman carried smaller versions of the bride’s bouquet. To keep their bridal party cohesive, groomsmen wore classic black tuxedos from Men’s Wearhouse.

Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography

For their ceremony, Ashleigh and Seth kept the décor true to their cool gray, blush, and white color palette. Garlands of greenery were placed on each side of the aisle and a thick layer of white rose petals filled the center of the aisle as a runner. The stairs leading to the altar were covered in silver lanterns with candles and the columns were draped in white chiffon, swept to the side with more greenery and trailing white and blush roses.

Photo by Hazelnut Photography

A quartet set the tone for the ceremony and performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as Ashleigh walked down the aisle with her father. Since the bride was raised Christian and the groom was raised Jewish, both a pastor and rabbi presided over their wedding. “It was beautiful to have both of our religions come together as one,” Ashleigh says.

Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography

During the cocktail hour, the couple served a signature drink called the “Row Seven,” named in honor of the JetBlue flight that first brought them together. Ashleigh and Seth served a range of passed appetizers along with an antipasto bar. These foodies also offered a three-course dinner, which included an heirloom tomato and burrata salad, grilled filet mignon, gremolata crusted sea bass, and grilled summer vegetable cannelloni. They also served a four-tiered buttercream Cuban cake with grey chandelier accents to mimic the chandelier hanging at the center of the reception space.

Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography

The reception décor was all about setting the mood. Ashleigh and Seth worked with Elite A/V on the lighting of the reception space and opted for a cool amber lighting to lend a warm glow to the ornate room. Round tables were topped with floor-length ivory linens with a subtle damask design.

Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography

The sweetheart and cake tables were on opposite sides of the space, each adorned with ivory sequined linens. Some tables were topped with tall crystal candelabras with flickering pillar candles, while others held groupings of Juliet garden roses, peonies, and jasmine flowers in tall glass vases.

Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography

Before the wedding, the pair met with the owner of West Coast Music, Jim Eppolito, and their wedding planner, Steph Graham, to plan the song selection and timeline of the evening. One of the most important aspects of that meeting was preparing an arrangement for Ashleigh’s father-daughter dance, where the Commodore’s “Brick House” would morph into “Through the Years” by Kenny Rogers. “The 'Brick House' choreography made everyone laugh and as soon as 'Through the Years' played, everyone became very choked up,” the bride says.

If the father-daughter dance routine didn’t get guests on their feet, a surprise performance from the University of Southern California’s Trojan marching band sure did. The bride was a cheerleader at USC and wanted to surprise her guests with something fun and light hearted.

Photo by Hazelnut Photography
Photo by Hazelnut Photography

During the reception, Ashleigh traded in her wedding dress for a party-ready jumpsuit from Jill Stuart. “It was nice to change into a completely different look," she says. "I'm glad that I made the choice not to have a second gown." At the end of the evening, guests sent the newlyweds off with sparklers and well wishes. Ashleigh reminds other brides-to-be to savor every moment of the planning process. “Even the highs, the lows of planning," she says. "Enjoy all of it. This is a once in a lifetime event!”

Venue & Catering: The Athenaeum || Wedding Planner: Visionary Group LA || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Pronovias Atelier || Reception Jumpsuit & Bridesmaids' Dresses: BHLDN || Shoes: SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker || Hair & Makeup: Nicol Artistry || Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse || Engagement Ring: LAJ Inc. || Wedding Bands: Estate Jewelry Collection; Tiffany & Co. || Florist: Flower Allie || Invitations: Bella Figura || Additional Paper Products: Minted || Music: Angelica Strings; Impulse Band of West Coast Music; University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band || Cake: Portos Bakery || Rentals: Del Rey Party Rentals; La Tavola Linens || Videographer: Motus Films || Photographer: Hazelnut Photography

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