Serenaded by the sounds of acoustic guitar and waves rolling against Malibu’s iconic pier, Emily & Alexander’s understated elopement was the epitome of coastal cool.
Layers of dried white and green florals decorated the minimalist space that boasted stylish decor with luxe and littoral touches. The ceremony unfolded on a rooftop at sunset where vows were exchanged before a sculptural backdrop overlooking the ocean.
For dinner, a luscious three-course curation of natural and organic epicurean delights was served, highlighting ingredients native to the area.
Despite COVID affecting their original plans and guests’ attendance, Emily & Alexander’s micro-wedding was nothing short of effortlessly chic. A beachside celebration imbued with laid-back allure, and that indefinable charm only found in California.
Captured by Lane favorite, Katherine Ann Rose.
Names / Emily & Alexander
Wedding Date / 19th September, 2020
Guest Numbers / 15
Budget / $30,000 USD
How We Met
The first time we met was during our public health graduate program’s orientation. We were each other’s last match at the end of a massive speed dating style networking event. When our two minutes were up, Alex asked me to continue talking over a coffee which turned into lunch which turned into three years of shared adventures. I felt as though I’d known him my whole life. We shared the same values, the same sense of humor, and the same love of speaking French and eating Mediterranean food. He says he knew then what I know now – we’re a perfect final match.
Our Engagement Story
Together, Alex and I researched how we could approach our engagement as we would our marriage, as equal partners. Instead of asking only for my father’s permission, we asked all of our parents and siblings. Alex designed my ring with an heirloom stone and on the day the ring was ready, he proposed on the rooftop of our first home. Exactly one week later, I surprised Alex with another proposal. Overlooking Johns Hopkins, our soon-to-be alma mater, I asked Alex to marry me with a watch and thankfully, he said yes too.
Marriage To Us Means…
To us, marriage is more than a commitment, it’s a forever practice of loving each other, and letting our love guide the way we live. It’s a choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other. And it’s an understanding that together, we will create lives and affect change far greater than either of us could imagine alone.
Although The Surfrider was one of the first venues we considered for our wedding for its laid-back and quintessential Californian feel, it was too small for our original 100-person celebration. When COVID-19 shut down just about everything, we had to quickly reevaluate our plans. We canceled our big wedding and decided to elope on our original date with our closest family. With less than a month to spare, we called the Surfrider who had just received a full buyout cancellation on our date. Quelle chance! With their exceptionally private and picturesque Malibu Beach House suddenly available, our micro wedding was on. Some things come full circle.
We still wanted our day to feel special, even with such a small group. So, we invited our nearest and dearest to join us for an intimate beach yoga class on the world-famous Surfrider Beach. That morning was one of our favorite moments of the weekend. Then, Alex and his groomsmen caught a few waves while my sister and I got ready and enjoyed the beautiful views from our balcony.
Overall Aesthetic / Style
We love anything classic with a twist and we wanted the day to feel like us— a little retro, a little non-traditional, and very relaxed. Plus, a dose of coastal cool.
The ceremony took place on the rooftop of the Surfrider during sunset. A sculptural, one-of-a-kind backdrop covered in fresh and dried florals by Rogue and Fox Floral was the feature. Everything else was understated and minimal to let our venue’s coastal setting shine. Guests relaxed in lounge vignettes overlooking the ocean and Malibu’s iconic pier.
Drew from Rogue and Fox Floral was amazing. We gave her full decor control and she surprised us. From the backdrop to the candles, she nailed it. After everything else we had to plan and replan, it was the greatest blessing to work with her.
We didn’t have a wedding planner and we only had a couple of hours with our photographer, so we enlisted a lot of help from our siblings. They took turns taking photos and helping with the logistics of the day. Of course, there were some little things and a few big things that went off-script. We were rocked (literally) by a big earthquake the night before, and our car broke down the morning after. Thankfully, after all the planning and replanning, we were ready to roll with anything.
Katherine is just the most incredible photographer. We love the candid nature of her work. We were so excited to work with her and even still, she surpassed our expectations. If we had to do it all over again, we would just hang out with Katherine all day. Kidding, sort of!
We love documentary-style video, and we didn’t want to feel like we were posing all day. When we found The Hubs Films we knew they were a great fit. Their videography felt fresh and authentic, and they did such an amazing job capturing the mood of the day. We loved how they combined Super 8 footage with drone shots. We’ve been watching our video non-stop.
Last fall, my mom, sister, and future mother in law visited me in Los Angeles for one weekend of wedding outfit shopping. I was dead set on wearing pants to our ceremony, but I couldn’t find a suit that felt quite right. During our appointment with Loho Bride, I tried on a Lola Varma gown and I was hooked. The heavyweight silk felt effortless and relaxed but still elegant— very Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. I called an audible and went for it.
I wore a sharp, pointed toe pump with a sleek silhouette by Nicholas Kirkwood. They were comfortable and I loved the unexpected peek-a-boo pearl.
My sister chose a contemporary slip dress by Australian designer, Dion Lee. It fit her like a glove.
We both ended up with vintage rings. I was gifted my Mom’s original sapphire and diamond wrapped wedding band, and Alex picked a killer vintage ring from Kinn Studio.
Jewelry / Accessories
There’s something about putting on a veil that makes you feel like a bride. When I stumbled across this french-inspired veil from Jennifer Behr, I went for it. It was so fun to wear with my skinny sunglasses from Velvet Canyon. Alex scored a pair of second hand Prada shoes from The Real Real and invested in a new pair of prescription sunglasses from Warby Parker. He wanted to see me clearly on our wedding day— romantic!
One of Alex’s good friends is a buyer for a small, fashion boutique in Munich. He recommended a few suit designers, and Alex ultimately picked a blue, slim-fit, three-piece suit with a check pattern from Suit Supply.
I’m most comfortable with my hair pinned back, and I wanted to feel like myself on our wedding day. Julie Hiles elevated my every day look perfectly.
There were a lot of decisions to make before our wedding, but choosing my makeup was easy. I wanted something light and fresh, and I love a Parisian red lip.
Stationery / Invitations
We loved the idea of custom invitations, but we couldn’t swing the price. So, I decided to learn Adobe Illustrator and design a suite of our own. When COVID reduced our invite list significantly, we wanted to do something unique for our closest family. Instead of paper, we had wine boxes engraved with my invitation design and sent one to each of our guests with a great Californian red.
Favors / Bonbonnierre
In our welcome boxes, we included something for each of the senses. We gave our guests Malibu scented candles from Flores Lane, Aesop hand sanitizer, custom matchbooks, a few of our favorite Trader Joe’s snacks, and a bottle of Arak, to celebrate Alex’s Lebanese roots. We also included custom facemasks printed with “protect each other” in English and Arabic.
Flowers & Bouquets
Drew from Rogue and Fox is a jack of all trades. She’s a former nurse, a killer floral designer, and most recently, a home-schooling super mom and we’re pretty sure there’s nothing she can’t do. We gave her full artistic license and we loved everything she created.
We felt lucky to enjoy the most gorgeous cake from one of Los Angeles’s best-loved restaurants, Sqirl. They quite literally built an empire (and our cake) out of a jam. Everything Sqirl does is seasonal, so our exact cake flavor was a surprise until our wedding night. We ended up with incredible citrus yogurt and passion fruit curd cake with a whey caramel buttercream. It was a hit.
Food & Beverages
Guests enjoyed a three-course menu prepared by the Surfrider. Each course was designed to offer a true taste of California with a curated edit of small-scale, natural and organic foods. The slow-baked striped bass with creamed sweet corn and harissa spiced potatoes was the star of the night.
Honeymoon? It’s COVID! We bought a fixer-upper and learned how to safely remove asbestos floor tile instead.
In lieu of a registry, we decided to build a shared bucket list to start our adventure together. Using Zola, we created cash funds for each item on our list. It was so fun to brainstorm all of the things we want to do together, and we got so many compliments on the idea. Because we opted for cash funds, we were also able to donate a portion of our gifts to charities including the Lebanese Red Cross.
My stepdad is the drummer for the Eagles, so I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of “Hotel California“. For our first dance, we chose the Matt Antony remix of Louis Armstrong’s “La Vie en Rose“.
We had an acoustic guitar soloist play during and after the ceremony. With her music in the background, our guests enjoyed coastal cocktails and grazing plates filled with locally sourced produce, cheeses and bread.
My late paternal grandfather was a Presbyterian minister who had marched in Selma and preached about many of the same causes that Alex and I continue to fight for today. We asked his daughter, my Aunt, to officiate our wedding using the same bible that Papa Pete had carried for most of his life— including when he married my parents and baptized me.
We chose to write our own vows and ceremony script. It was important to us that our ceremony reflect our respect for each other, our families, and our community. We asked all of our guests both virtual and in-person to participate by rising and declaring their support for our marriage the new family that we created on that day. We also invited our siblings to perform two readings about marriage that resonated with us.
“Turn the unexpected into opportunity. The best parts of our day wouldn’t have been possible if everything had gone as expected.”
Any Other Special Details
The one major downside to a micro wedding is that there’s no crazy after-party. Without dancing, we still wanted to make our wedding night memorable. Just days before our ceremony, we found a tattoo artist who agreed to make a house call. When the family celebration had ended, Alex and I snuck away to our room for late-night tattoos. He got a cursive ‘e’ inked around his ring finger and I chose a line art design from our invitations.
Sources of Inspiration
A traditional wedding was never something we wanted. We envisioned something much more laid back, that celebrated us. There are so many creative ways to get married and we sourced a lot of inspiration from the incredible couples featured by The Lane and Anti-Bride.
A Memorable Moment…
We were least looking forward to the speeches. We had actually asked guests to refrain, but our family couldn’t help themselves. Everyone was moved to say something. The cool thing about a micro wedding is how intimate and personal it makes things. Instead of feeling boring or forced, their remarks were filled with inside jokes and touching moments. Everyone laughed and cried together. Hearing those speeches was hands down the most memorable moment of our weekend.
If I Could Give Brides to be One Piece of Advice…
Turn the unexpected into opportunity. The best parts of our day wouldn’t have been possible if everything had gone as expected. By pivoting, we got to plan something unique that was even truer to us. Many parts of our day were spontaneous. We decided a month before on our venue, a week before on our wedding night tattoos, and an hour before switching up our vows to reflect the absolute legacy of RBG.
Photographer / Katherine Ann Rose
Bride’s Dress / Ihla from Lola Varma
Bride’s Mask / Kes
Bride’s Shoes / Nicholas Kirkwood
Bridesmaid’s Dresses / Dion Lee
Grooms Formal Wear / Suit Supply
Wedding Rings / Vintage rings from Kinn Studio
Jewelry & Accessories / Veil Jennifer Behr
Hair & Makeup / Julie Hiles
Stationery & Invitations / Engraved wine box invitations from Personal Wine
Florist / Drew Rios from Rogue and Fox
Cake / Sqirl
Catering / The Surfrider
Venue / The Surfrider
Entertainment / Leanne of the Jensen Singers (soloist from Dart Collective)
Videography / The Hubs Films
Gift Reigstry / Zola
Find our handpicked edit of Stationery Design brands and studios around the world on the Directory.