Ethereal plumes of cloud and moody Californian skies were the perfect backdrop for Gemma & Chris’s wedding set in the Malibu mountains. Dreamy installations of white blooms adorned the outside ceremony space, woven by bride (and florist luminary!) Gemma Hayden Blest.
Blending delicate embellishment and seductive reveal Gemma brought daring opulence to life in a breathtaking Inbal Dror gown. (Which had us dreaming back to this Inbal collection we reported on during NYC Bridal week!)
Surrounded by spectacular panoramic views the reception space was kept beautifully understated. Raw timber tables were draped in cascading wild blooms and ambient pillar candles offset with chic vintage glassware – a perfectly executed contrast of relaxed bohemia and refined elegance. Photography by Nancy Neil
Names / Gemma & Chris
Wedding Date / April 8, 2016
Guest Numbers / 132
How we met…
We met over cocktails in a little bar in East London called Lounge Lover and two days later Chris asked me to dinner in Hampstead.
Our Engagement Story…
We met in London at the age of 20 and 25 and moved to Hong Kong together within 6 months. After 10 years of dating we broke up but after a year realised it was a terrible mistake. We met back up on the Amalfi Coast and Chris proposed on the first evening back together.
Marriage to us means…
Aligning our future.
We got married in Los Angeles at a beautiful venue with panoramic views of the Malibu mountains. I grew up in Los Angeles and we hope to live there one day so wanted our friends and family from Hong Kong and England to experience it with us.
The venue was breathtaking enough that we didn’t need lots of unnecessary décor. We wanted romantic with a modern edge and the mountains to be our backdrop. On the day rain hit but being Brits we handed out umbrellas and carried on! We ended up getting married in the clouds with dreamy white mist and roses.
Nancy Neil photographed the wedding. I love film photography and knew she mixed the two documenting the day. I love her natural, non intrusive photos that captures the wedding itself rather than set up scenes.
I wanted something dramatic but elegant and easy to wear. I also knew I wanted a dress that would take me through the entire day without feeling uncomfortable or needing to change. I saw a dress from a previous season in an editorial on The LANE by Inbal Dror and fell in love with it.
Being 5’11 I rarely wear heals so I chose a pair of dusty pink ballet slippers that let me enjoy the entire day from scrambling through the vineyard for photographs to dancing the night away.
I had a tailor make floor length silk shift dresses that we covered with draped jackets. We matched the bouquet’s long ribbons with the silk of the dresses.
The bridesmaids wore striking red Gianvito Rossi heels.
Chris proposed with a diamond eternity ring in Italy then together we chose a cushion cut fleur-de-lis set diamond ring from 1905 in London. For the ceremony we used the diamond eternity band and Chris had a platinum band with the date engraved on the inside – 4.8.16
I customised the top of the veil with a row of flowers in my hair.
Benjamin Mohapi from Salon BENJAMIN sculpted a fringe to shape my face. It was up in a loose bun while I wore the veil for the ceremony then down and natural for the dinner and dancing.
I don’t wear much make-up so my make-up artist was very sensitive in adding more than I’d usually wear (for photos) without making me feel uncomfortable.
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We had a running theme of ribbon and black-wax rose seals. The invitation was simple but elegant with a map of the area and description of events then all the accommodation/ recommendation information was sent by email.
We handed out the wild rose and poppy table flower arrangements as leaving gifts.
Flowers & Bouquet
We found a local rose farm a few miles outside Los Angeles called Rose Lane Farms and hand cut an entire van full of wild roses the day before the wedding mixed with poppies, geraniums and heleborus. My four absolute favourites. Climbing roses were scattered around the venue with an arch over the walkway to get to the ceremony pad. The bridal bouquets were a mix of wild roses and sweet peas.
We used a great wedding planning company called Bash Please that were incredible with providing suppliers for everything we dreamed of for the day. Aaron Hartselle, who looked after us, was so organised. I don’t know what we would have done without them.
The morning of the wedding I went with my 6 bridesmaids, my mum, and our celebrant (a close friend) to the venue to get ready with champagne and snacks. We had a hair team to do everyone’s hair while we got ready.
We decided not to have a videographer. We thought photography was enough.
Ceremony & Reception Décor
The ceremony took place on a circular helipad off the side of the mountain. With 360 degree panoramic views, we kept the decor simple with scattered climbing roses, a vintage rug and wooden chairs for the guests.
Our cake was lemon and poppyseed with thick creamy icing and cascading garden roses. It was made by our catering team Whoa Nelly and we ate it for days…. It was the most delicious cake ever.
I walked down the aisle to Sea of Love by Cat Power as the mist rolled in. It was incredibly magical. The rain made the bottom of my dress too heavy to dance so at the last moment we jumped around to Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk as our first song.
Food & Beverage
Being in California we wanted farm-fresh food. We started with a selection of delicious canapes followed by a sit-down dinner serving cherry tomato salad with burratta then rigatoni with pulled short rib or garden pea risotto. For drinks we served a full bar with signature cocktails – Spicy mezcal margaritas and vodka caipiroskas. We served Aperol spritz for guests on arrival, a rosé from a vineyard near our family house in the South of France and Malibu Rocky Oaks’ (the estate we got married on) own red and white wine.
We had an amazing band that added so much energy to the event. They performed an eclectic mix of music from the last thirty years.
Source of Inspiration
A Pinterest board set to private was a great way to save images I liked during planning.
A memorable moment…
Holding hands, with my dress slung over my arm after taking photos in the vineyard – laughing and drinking cocktails with the wedding party as we were about to walk into the dinner surrounded by everyone we loved in the world.
One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…
How fast time flies. Get as much as you can organised as quickly as you can so you can focus on family and friends the week of the wedding.
If I could give Brides-To-Be one piece of advice…
Let go – some things can’t be controlled… like the weather!
Photography / Nancy Neil
Bride’s Dress / Inbal Dror
Bride’s Shoes / Topshop
Bridesmaids’ Dresses / Local tailor and Zara
Bridesmaids’ Shoes / Gianvito Rossi
Flowergirls & Pageboys / Janie and Jack
Groom’s Formal Wear / Tom Ford
Wedding Rings / Vintage engagement ring: Berganza
Makeup / Yasuko Shapiro
Cake / Whoa Nelly Catering
Catering / Whoa Nelly Catering
Bar / Pharmacie
Wedding Stylist / Aaron Hartselle at Bash Please
Wedding Planner / Aaron Hartselle at Bash Please
Celebrant / Catherine Quin
Wedding Venue / Malibu Rocky Oaks
Honeymoon Destination / Amangiri
Entertainment / Jump Start
Transport / American Limo
Gift Registry / Crate&Barrel
Welcome Party / Malibu Farms
Recovery BBQ / Herringbone