From time to time I fall deeply in love with a wedding, and that’s what happened when I laid my eyes on this one from Cara Robbins Studio and Destinations by Design. Zoe and James’ wedding was thoughtful, deliberate, and fearless in its approach to forgoing traditional expectations in favor of what would make them happiest and most comfortable.
From the bride, Zoe: I knew from very early stages of planning that I wanted our wedding to be a celebration of love that honored the two of us and paid homage to my husband and I as individuals and reflected our sensibilities. We really wanted to lose every extraneous detail and focus on a minimal but extraordinarily beautiful event that would deliver our vision with precision. This meant that from the get-go we knew we wanted to skip some of the more traditional components of the classic wedding format that we felt were either antiquated, or didn’t feel substantive enough to be included in our ceremony.
Flower recipe: I carried an all-white bouquet of white roses, white peonies, white hydrangeas, ranunculus, and baby’s breath. The bridesmaids carried blue hydrangeas, white peonies, blue thistle, baby’s breath, and blue anemones. All the men wore thistle as their boutonnieres including my dog who was the ring bearer, and my nephews who were flower boys.
I wanted to create an environment that was timeless, non-traditional, romantic, beautiful, and earthy, but that didn’t necessarily fit into a specific category, ie. rustic. I wanted a bohemian feel for our ceremony, with touches of whimsy and a feeling of earnest romance in every detail. The whole event took place outdoors so I wanted everything to blend into the desert landscape where the ceremony took place. Our Chupah was draped with heavy blue cloth and then adorned with blue and cream flowers and moss. We had a beautiful Turkish rug on the podium that we borrowed from my husband’s aunt, and I wore a braided halo with wildflowers in the back that attached to a floor-length veil. We had a make-your-own-mac+cheese bar and a taco bar for dinner. We wanted our wedding to be our ultimate party and we said f*** everybody else’s idea of what a wedding should look like! Best move ever on our part.
Our color scheme was dusty blue with accents of muted red. Each name tag and place setting was attached to a little air succulent which paid homage to the desert-ranch we got married at. There were little pieces of lavender tucked into each person’s place setting. Words to describe the look of our wedding would be romantic, bohemian, non-traditional, Jewish, timeless, down-to-earth, and minimalist.
Any advice for couples planning their weddings now? Let go of any allegiance to tradition for the sake of tradition if it doesn’t serve a purpose in the greater scheme of your vision. My husband and I kind of fought to shake some of the traditions that we found antiquated and gendered. We chose not to be announced and not to do the Hora (very controversial!). I didn’t throw a bouquet and both my parents walked me down the aisle. I hated the idea of being “given away” as it seemed so anti-feminist to me. Because we only did things we wanted to do our celebration was amazing! It was all about the ceremony and then amazing food and dancing. We kept the formalities to a minimum and I think it was appreciated all around.
Wedding Party Processional: “In My Life,” The Beatles
Bride’s Processional: “Heartbeats,” José Gonzalez
Recessional: “Sprawl II,” Arcade Fire
First Dance: “Video Games,” Lana Del Rey
Father/Daughter Dance: “Wildflowers,” Tom Petty
Mother/Son Dance: “Sweet Baby James,” James Taylor
From the photographer, Cara Robbins: A little back story on Zoe and James, I actually photographed their siblings’ wedding a couple years back (believe it or not her brother is married to his sister!). Zoe and Moria (James’ sister) met at summer camp years ago and sort of decided that they were going to marry each others brothers, and some how that actually happened!! You’ll have to get the full story from Zoe but can you believe that? Together the boys own Ventura Sprits, a small distillery in Venutra, CA and Zoe is a doula/birthing coach. Together they live in downtown LA in a beautiful loft where we actually did their engagement photos. They got married out at James’ aunt’s ranch just on the outskirts of Las Vegas. When they first approached me about this I wasn’t so sure about a Las Vegas wedding but boy was I wrong! This ranch was absolutely amazing and made for a perfect and very personal backdrop for their wedding (there was even a mini horse!). The property itself has so many great details and they just wanted to bring a really fresh and simple vibe to the decor. One of my favorite parts was that dinner was served on farmhouse tabled that were positioned between a mini orchard of fruit trees (just wait til you see this)! They had beautiful table decor and little gifts for each guest – air plants – as escort cards. Cocktail hour was hosted right next to this amazing oasis pool and guests got to drink cocktails made with the alcohol that James and Henry make! The wedding party was large and mixed, they really didn’t want to make it only brides maids and groomsmen so there were boys and girls on both of their sides and the girls got to wear mixed dresses that were stunning against the desert background. Zoe’s amazing ring was actually James’ mothers and the two of them are all about family (check out the super cute flower boys and their adorable flower crowns). Also at the end of the night James surprised Zoe by covering Can’t Feel My Face by the weekend and serenading her!