When Hana Mayeda, a model, headed to a yoga retreat in Ojai, California, in 2017, she never expected she’d meet her future husband, James Gerard Murray IV, an author, and interventionist. “I went to the retreat for clarity and to reconnect with myself,” Hana says. “When I walked in the front door I immediately caught eyes with James.”
In less than one year, James popped the question while the couple attended the Sundance Film Festival, but they didn’t rush to the altar. Instead, they enjoyed a lengthy 16-month engagement before throwing a floral-filled celebration at Cielo Farms in Malibu, California, not far from their home in Los Angeles.
“We wanted the people we so deeply love and admire to leave feeling uplifted and inspired,” Hana says of the wedding, which included plenty of personalized details: a matcha and latte bar, gluten-free desserts, a surprise first dance with a nod to Bollywood music, and a serenade by the groomsmen which included LED wings. It wasn’t the easiest road for the couple to get there, though, and Hana says it was important to honor their hardships too. “If you honor yourselves and can find joy even when it gets sticky, a wedding—and what it represents—is a reminder that love is so much bigger than everything else,” she says. “Our motto for the wedding, per our neon sign, was that Love Wins. It’s true. Love always wins.”
Read on for all the details of the couple's Malibu wedding, as planned by Bright Blue Events and photographed by Mel Barlow.
“After beginning to plan a wedding in Tulum, we ultimately decided to get married closer to home so that my older relatives could join,” Hana says of discovering their venue in the Malibu mountains. “We wanted the feel of a private home or villa. We saw the sign for Cielo Farms—Cielo means sky—that sign alone was auspicious for us.”
“The vision for the wedding was for it to feel like both of us," Hana says. “With all the chaos and stress that feels present these days, we wanted to create a celebration of love.” She got ready with her bridesmaids.
“I actually loved shopping for my dress alone,” Hana says of finding her handmade lace Liz Martinez gown at Los Angeles bridal salon Kinsley James. “When I was solo I got to feel what I liked and was able to hear in my body when I found the right dress.”
Hana did, though, go shopping for a veil with her mother, who treated her to the Toni Federici cathedral length veil she wore for the ceremony.
Hana also added a pale pink velvet belt to accent her waistline and donned jewels from Sofia Kaman, the jeweler who also designed her engagement ring and wedding band.
Like many a classic bride, Hana carried a voluminous bouquet of pink peonies.
“I think it’s important to choose something you really love, regardless of the venue, or what other people like,” she says of her wedding day look.
Hana’s five bridesmaids wore dresses in various shades of dusty pink and nude. Her niece, Greta, served as a flower girl in an ivory dress and flower crown.
“Greta danced all night long and totally rocked the floss dance move,” Hana says of her niece.
The bride participated in a "saging" ritual—to symbolize a cleansing—before walking down the aisle
The couple offered favors of rose petals wrapped in sage to guests as well as welcome refreshments.
The ceremony location overlooked the Malibu mountains, some still charred from the recent wildfires. “Because of the fires, there was something beautifully resilient—cycles of loss and renewal—that were present that day,” Hana says.
The Flower Lab surrounded the ceremony space with a variety of blooms including wildflowers, roses, peonies, delphiniums, astilbe, and dahlias. Many of the arrangements were later repurposed as décor for the stage at the reception.
Hana’s mother escorted her down the aisle to the classic wedding song, “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel. The bride was extra thankful to even be at the wedding. Unexpected health issues took center stage in the months leading up to the nuptials. “I was ready for the challenge of choosing napkins and name tags, but the scariest part was not knowing if I’d be healthy enough to get through the weekend,” Hana admits. “It certainly put things in perspective.”
There is something incredibly special about making that commitment and having it witnessed by your family and friends.
“It created this incredible foundation between the two of us, and ultimately made the celebration so much richer,” Hana says of leaning on James. The pair exchanged personalized vows that included both serious promises and humorous moments.
“James kept reminding me to take a deep breath and take it all in,” Hana says. “He kept saying, ‘this is our wedding day.’”
“There is something incredibly special about making that commitment and having it witnessed by your family and friends,” Hana says of sharing their ceremony with 175 guests.
James kept reminding me to take a deep breath and take it all in. He kept saying, ‘this is our wedding day.’
James donned a bespoke dark blue tuxedo from Mr. James with a sweet touch: Their wedding date was stitched on the silk lining of the jacket. He also wore a turquoise ring, a symbol of his 20 years of sobriety. “James kept reminding me to take a deep breath and take it all in,” Hana says. “He kept saying, ‘this is our wedding day.’”
“Both the planning and the event itself can be an incredible learning process and strengthen the relationship,” Hana says. “When things get challenging or difficult, find ways to come together, whether that’s in dancing or being playful, or simply stepping away from it and coming back when it’s enjoyable.”
Hana says that their live band, the Lucky Devils, absolutely rocked the crowd, and clearly, she brought some energy too.
One of the reasons the couple opted to skip an international destination wedding was so that their elderly family members could attend. Two of those people included Hana’s 90-year-old grandmother and 96-year-old great aunt.
Flowers filled the interior of acrylic boxes that served as the table assignments.
Our motto for the wedding, per our neon sign, was that Love Wins. It’s true. Love always wins.
The couple kept some traditions, like a card box, but also added modern touches, like a neon sign featuring their motto “Love Wins.”
Hana and James’s first dance was one of their favorite memories of the day. James had the idea to “fool guests” with the performance, which began with a funk song “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone.
That quickly transitioned to an even more upbeat tune, A. R. Rahman’s “Jai Ho” and the couple’s homage to Bollywood dance. “He went full out for the dance, including the most hilarious facial expressions that had the crowd hooting and hollering alongside us,” Hana says.
The reception featured long farm tables covered with 28-foot bouquets of blooms and greenery, which spilled onto the ground at the head of each table. Also mixed in were round tables topped with low arrangements and white pillar candles in glass hurricanes.
Hana says that everyone expected James to make a speech as he’s a great public speaker. Her? Not so much. She headed to Toastmasters and hired a coach to help her get over her fear of public speaking. “It was important to honor and thank James for the ways he showed up and stood by me during an extended illness,” she says. “In the end, I was so glad we both spoke.”
The entire dinner menu was gluten-free, and the couple also featured grain-free and refined sugar-free desserts. Since James is sober and Hana rarely drinks, the couple opted for an elixir bar as a signature drink. Radical Botanicals served energizing drinks made from collections of herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, honey, saffron, cardamom, clove, watermelon, hibiscus, lemongrass and more. “These were a massive hit,” the bride adds. The couple also had a matcha and latte bar as a nod to their favorite morning drinks.
“When I first visited the venue I imagined lanterns hanging from the trees that lined the reception area,” Hana says, noting that the result was one of her favorite touches to the décor.
For the reception, she added a headpiece designed by a good friend, Sasha Samuel. It featured the infinity symbol decked out in crystals.
Hana and James invited their favorite Los Angeles bakery, Sweet Laurel, to design twenty individual cakes in a variety of flavors, including matcha, for the reception. They were all grain-free and refined sugar-free.
“Even though it felt like it ended too quickly, I got to savor every single moment of it,” Hana says. “I was soaring.”
Venue Cielo Farms
Planner Carole Grogan of Bright Blue Events
Officiant Jay Erickson
Bridal Gown Liz Martinez, from Kinsley James
Veil Toni Federici
Jewelry Sofia Kaman
Headpiece Sasha Samuel Jewelry
Shoes Badgley Mischka
Makeup Megan Lombardi; Megan Mortenson
Bridesmaid Dresses Reformation
Mother of the Bride Dress BHLDN
Groom’s Attire Mr. James
Groomsmen Attire The Black Tux
Flower Girl Attire Bergdorf Goodman
Ring Bearer Attire Janie & Jack
Engagement Ring Sofia Kaman
Wedding Bands Maor; Sofia Kaman
Floral Design The Flower Lab
Stationery & Paper Goods Lady Bones Print Co.
Calligraphy The Flower Lab
Ceremony Music The Lucky Devils Band
Catering Tres LA
Mixology Radical Botanicals
Cake Sweet Laurel
Rentals Premiere Party Rents
Accommodations Calamigos Guest Ranch
Videography A Little Long Distance
Photography Mel Barlow