Hi friends, Amanda here. I’m 24 years old, born and raised in Fullerton, CA. Currently enrolled in grad school to get my credential to teach elementary school. I have about a zillion different interests and hobbies depending on my mood. These hobbies include (but are not limited to) soccer, yoga, beach bumming (aka watching the husband surf because I can’t), binge watching Netflix (The Office, Parks and Rec, Stranger Things, any good anime) or a good movie series (Harry Potter, LOTR, Bourne Identity, etc), photography, a bit of rock climbing, and hanging out with family and friends. I love me a good jumpsuit, I rarely leave the house without a hat on, and the way to my heart is ICE CREAM.
Our Love Story
Let’s Talk Wedding Planning
Wedding Date, Geographical Location, Venue
Asher and I were married on June 16, 2018 in San Juan Capistrano, CA. The venue we held both our ceremony and reception (aka DANCE PARTY) was El Adobe de Capistrano. The venue is a Mexican Restaurant located in downtown San Juan Capistrano that has been operating since 1948. It is just down the street from the historical Mission San Juan Capistrano. There is so much charm in this downtown area because most of it has been preserved since the early 1900s, which is part of what drew us toward it as our wedding location.
We had been searching for a venue for a few months. I feel like I had found every single venue in all of south Orange County, and none of them felt quite right. Asher and I love going to San Clemente on the weekend (he surfs, I attempt to surf… or just watch him usually) and San Juan Capistrano is just inland from there. My mom had mentioned the venue in passing, but when I wasn’t all that impressed with the idea of getting married at a “Mexican Restaurant”. Upon further research, I finally found some more recent photos through Pinterest and I saw the potential in the place. My mom and I decided to make the trip down to El Adobe to have dinner and just check it out. First of all, the food just about won me over by itself! The vibe of the place felt laid back, but nice. Not too fancy, not too casual. Perfect for the beach bum couple that we are. We had visited a handful of places, researched about infinity venues, but this felt like “the one”. There was so much charm and history behind the place, it felt like more than just a country club or banquet hall. Not to mention the fact that the restaurant was apparently Richard Nixon’s favorite place to eat. They even named one of their catering options after him!
We invited just under 200 people, but about 160 attended. We are lucky enough to have very large families and almost all of our relatives live in Southern California. Unfortunately, this made our invite list go up exponentially more than we originally thought it would. So, we were a bit worried that everyone we invited would RSVP yes! But, fortunately for our wallets/ unfortunately for our desire to party with all of our friends, a good amount of people were unable to attend.
What was your wedding budget?
Our budget was to keep the cost of the wedding as low as possible within reason. It ended up costing around 19,000 dollars altogether after everything was said and done. The venue that we chose was the most affordable of all of the venues I had found. Since the restaurant does its own catering, we didn’t have to pay a huge extra fee for an outside vendor. The biggest reason that we couldn’t afford certain venues was because there was either only one option for caterers that ended up being extremely expensive, or there was a list of a few different, also very expensive, caterers. The venue was the largest percentage of the budget, and we just looked for the best possible prices for everything else. People think it’s not possible to keep it under 20,000 (in southern CA, at least), but we had a DJ, florist, photographer, videographer, and day of wedding coordinator and did it!
How did you prioritize your budget, what factors were most important to you?
First thing I knew was that I wanted to have my great friend since jr. high, Maddy Hardisty , be our photographer. No question about it. Next, I knew I wanted to feel beautiful in my wedding dress. We knew we wanted our ceremony to be an intimate celebration of Asher and I coming together with The Lord. We definitely knew we wanted to have a dance party with all of our family and best friends. I was so excited to execute a beautifully decorated wedding, but at the end of the day all that really mattered was that we were able to be there and celebrate the first day of the rest of our lives together. I tried to remind myself of the things that really mattered whenever I would get addicted to Pinterest, or when I started seeing amazing weddings on Instagram and wished I could afford to do some amazing greenery installation hanging over the tables (hah!). So, when prioritizing the budget, we made sure to get an experienced DJ to help the night flow smoothly along with a day of coordinator (who also happened to be a good friend of mine, Jen Pill), and the rest of the stuff was just the cherry on top. (Also, we knew all the guests would be happy about the food. Good food and good music equals GOOD PARTY).
How did you ask your besties to be your bridesmaids?
I asked them by writing them a little handwritten letter and gifting them a bag full of little goodies. I had ten, yes TEN, bridesmaids. I was marrying a man with three sisters, I have one BFF since I was 3 years old (aka basically my sister), and two girl cousins that I grew up extremely close with. I had six family member maids to begin with, so cut me some slack here.
How was your dress shopping experience?
Searching for my wedding dress was long and somewhat painful! Okay, I’m being dramatic. I was really trying to find something under 1000 dollars, but that proved to be rather difficult. I decided to begin by going to my local wedding dress shop, The Dresser in downtown Fullerton, just to try dresses on and see what I liked on my body. I had been there before and seen some of the styles they had when my cousin was getting married, and I didn’t think I would find anything I really liked based on that experience. When I started trying on the dresses the salesgirl brought out, I actually really liked all of them. None of them shouted “the one” to me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that they were all very much my style. I had one in mind that I really liked a lot, but the price wasn’t winning me over. I kept thinking, is it really worth spending that much?
So, I continued my search. I thought for sure I would find the one at BHLDN, the wedding shop at Anthropologie. When I tried on the dresses I was so expectant, but only one was a contender and it still didn’t feel like “the one”. The price was great, but I didn’t feel like me in it. It was a bit too sparkly and I felt pretty, but not like “me”. And I still had the dress in the back of my mind from The Dresser, which probably meant I didn’t really like this one more.
Then, I learned something about myself at the next dress fitting: I don’t really enjoy having lost of attention all on me while trying on wedding dresses. I invited a few too many people to this outing, and felt very vulnerable and uncomfortable trying on dresses. I didn’t find any that were real contenders. I kept comparing the dresses to the one dress that I liked from The Dresser, so I decided I should just make an appointment and go back to try it on again.
Just before the appointment I made, my brother’s fiance (now wife) was trying on dresses at The Dresser. While we were there, I snooped around a bit and found a really pretty form-fitting, stretchy lace dress that was under 1000 dollars! It looked pretty on the hanger, so I wrote down the designer and number on the tag of the dress so I could ask to try it on when I came in.
For this outing, I decided to only bring my mom and grandma. First I tried on the stretchy lace dress I had newly discovered, but I found it was a little too thin, a little too tight, and a little too low of a scoop in back. I asked if there were any other dresses similar to it with a stretchy lace material. Amanda, the salesgirl, brought a dress out that wasn’t all that impressive to me on the hanger. However, she had found so many dresses that I liked before, that I decided to try it on anyway. Might as well, right? YES. I put it on and finally had my “It’s the one” moment everyone had been telling me about. I was starting to feel like I was going crazy after trying so many on and feeling mostly lukewarm about them. The dress was so comfortable, so flattering, and even had a Spanish style vibe with its long train and lace pattern. We all quickly agreed that this was the one, and it was only a bit over the very LOW budget that I was aiming for.
What was your overall vision or theme?
My overall vision was a Spanish style- bohemian/eclectic vibe. Ultimately, I got inspiration from many different things, but I really wanted to work with the style of the restaurant instead of against it. My vision transformed as the year went on and we found things at thrift stores or yard sales or the sale rack somewhere. I knew it would be eclectic, but the most surprising part to me was how colorful it ended up becoming! I had always wanted to bring in bougainvillea, but florists usually have it on hand. It also doesn’t have a long lifespan- once you cut it, it only lasts for so long. So I cut some from our backyard and watched how long it would survive. It started to wilt after about a day. So, on the week of the wedding, I asked if I could just cut some and bring it to the venue for them to add to the arrangements and they said yes! I literally woke up early in the morning to stealthily cut from someone’s overgrown bougainvillea bush that was hanging over the sidewalk (because the bush at our house wasn’t growing well at the time). When they added the bougainvillea to the wedding, it brightened everything up way more than I had envisioned, but I loved it! All in all, I wanted lots of greenery and sprinkled flowers. My uncle is an amazing florist and generously provided the flowers for the wedding, so the flowers ended up being much more beautiful (and in much more abundance) than I had ever imagined!
If you had to describe your wedding style in one word what would it be?
How did you find your vendors?
I knew almost every vendor personally. I was lucky enough to be friends with the most amazing photographer. My talented videographers were a friend from a past job and his adorable girlfriend. My awesome day of coordinator was a friend of my cousins- now great friend of mine. The girl who baked the most delicious wedding cake, cupcakes, and DONUTS, was a friend of mine. The flowers were provided by my uncle at Mellano & Co, but they were designed on the day of by Jenny B Florals, a florist in Fullerton. The DJ was recommended by my brother, who was also getting married around the same time and had interviewed with him and really liked him. And the venue provided the catering for the night, so I didn’t have to search for that. We were so lucky to have so many people who really knew us and cared for us as friends involved in making our wedding day come together. It made the whole thing feel so special and we felt so much love that day.
How did you design your table layout & decor?
I knew I wanted to keep the linens and napkins plain. I wanted a blank canvas to work with, so they were both off-white. I definitely utilized Pinterest and Instagram to look at the way different colors looked. I also knew I really wanted long rectangular tables instead of round if at all possible. I just loved the way greenery looked down the middle of a table instead of having an obvious center piece smack dab in the middle of a table.
How involved was your fiancé in the planning process?
Asher was mostly uninvolved in the planning process. He runs his own business and he was never super interested in spending the little free time he had thinking about what colors the linens were going to be or what color shoes the groomsmen should wear. I know this about him and pretty much took the reigns on the planning. I needed his help with the guest list, but most other things I would just get little random insights into what he preferred. His mantra was that he “didn’t care,” but there were a handful of times that he would be really opinionated about something out of the blue. Mostly I would ask for his “ok” on the big things before making a decision, but let’s just say he wasn’t really working alongside me in the researching process and such. I didn’t mind this, because I would have been more stifled by him constantly having a differing opinion about things. Ultimately, he was most interested in the overall cost of the thing. “Why do we need to spend so much money on just one day?” was what most of it came down to. Once I explained to him the importance behind the things, he was almost always on board quickly.
Did you have a Day-of Coordinator present on the day of your wedding?
I had a day of coordinator with benefits. She counseled me along the way even though she was technically just a day of coordinator.
Did you guys do a “First Look”, or did your fiancé see you for the first time walking down to aisle?
We did a first look. At first, Asher was vehemently against a first look for whatever reason. After I witnessed my brother’s wedding as a bridesmaid, I realized it is extremely helpful to have a first look. This way you can get more bang for your buck. More photos before the ceremony means less time away from the wedding later. When you have to go off and do all the photos during cocktail hour, the party and everyone else gets less time to enjoy themselves. Also, you’re less likely to eat away into the overall reception time if you get most photos done before the wedding. I’m not sure how it would have been possible to do without a first look, especially with such a large wedding party.
I think part of the reason Asher originally didn’t want to do the first look was because he wanted to share the moment with everyone: that moment when he first sees me as his BRIDE. However, when I explained the logistics of it, he came around and we decided on doing a first look. We were even excited for it by the time the wedding came around because of all the excitement our photographer had for first looks.
When it actually happened, I wanted to have him see me walking toward him. I wanted it to be somewhat like if he were to be watching me walk down the aisle, only just us. I always felt like tapping him on the shoulder for him to turn around and see me didn’t give either of us enough build up or time to soak it in. So, we did the first look in this really intimate area behind the back house, surrounded by tall bamboo and foliage, completely hidden away from the world around us. Much to my surprise, the second I turned the corner I saw Asher- completely bawling his eyes out before he even saw me! This was pretty much the first time I had ever seen him cry! I mean, other than just welling up during a movie, I hadn’t ever witnessed anything like it. I thought I would be the one crying, but somehow seeing the genuine emotions of Asher I just felt giddy and happy! You’d think he would have gotten it together for the ceremony since we took pictures together for about a half hour before I walked down the aisle. Nope. The second I looked up while I walked down the aisle, I saw the waterworks again. It was so cute and innocent and genuine and perfect. And now I have photographic evidence that my husband is not a robot and did, in fact, sob like a baby throughout our whole wedding (lol, just kidding! But really, lots of photo evidence).
What would you recommend as “must have pictures” for future brides?
As far as types of photos, choose a photographer that you trust and really like the style of. I didn’t ask for anything specific because I knew I wanted my photographer to have artistic range. She always advises people not to go to their photographers with a long list of specific poses to try to emulate photos of other people on Pinterest or Instagram. Each couple is unique and she likes to capture the personality of the couple in the most authentic way possible. So, I am relaying this advice to you because it gave me the most beautiful and perfect wedding photos, ever! However, I will say that we forgot to make sure to get some of the family photos we wanted. I look back and wish we had gotten a few other photos with family. However, at the end of the day, I am so thankful for the photos we do have.
Did you have a videographer?
We did have a videographer, and we are so happy we did! We have yet to receive it, but they posted this amazing slow-mo video of the sparkler send-off and it was GORGEOUS. The main reason we ended up getting a videographer was because my aunt from Idaho was unable to attend our wedding. When we visited her before the wedding, Asher really took a liking to her and wished she could have been a part of the big day. He promised her that he would send her the wedding video so she could enjoy the day, too. I’m very glad we decided to get a videographer so that we can share the day with her and relive it over and over again!
Escort Cards or Seating chart?
What song did you choose for your first dance?
Bloom by The Paper Kites
We had a hard time choosing the song. We wanted something different than what most people chose, but special to us, and also a good tempo, and also not too long, etc. etc. When I stumbled upon this song, I knew it was perfect. Asher hadn’t heard it, so I played it in our car rides a few times before saying anything about it. I didn’t want to put so much pressure on the first time he listened. Eventually, I proposed that it be the song for our first dance. He hadn’t really listened to it before I asked him, I think it was just background sound to him the other times I had played it. At first he was just “maybe” about it. Then I brought it up again and he said he liked it. When the day came, and it played while we danced, it felt perfect. I knew it was the best choice for us. A couple days after the wedding, the song came on and Asher lit up. “This is our wedding song!” with a smile on his face. I agreed and smiled back. I look over a moment later and see he’s tearing up a bit. He agrees now that it was a perfect song for us.
Live music or DJ?
DJ! He ran the night!! He was awesome and helped the night run seamlessly.
Cake or Desserts?
We had red velvet cupcakes, donuts, and a delicious chocolate cake just for Asher and I. It was all so amazingly delicious. Also, we had a donut wall that had different shades of blue donuts on it. It was awesome.
Top 3 most memorable moments of your wedding day?
1. Asher crying his eyes out.
2. You may now kiss the bride. (AKA WHEN WE GOT MARRIED AF)
3. It’s the middle of the dance party, Pony by Ginuwine starts to play, a friend of mine pulls a chair onto the dance floor and sits me in it. She yells, “ASHER GIVE HER A LAP DANCE.” Asher gives me a lap dance in front of our friends, our family, my GRANDPARENTS- without even a moment of hesitation, I might add. Yeah, it was meant to be.
One thing that made your wedding unique or something special and personal you added to your day that stands out from other weddings.
We had a literal margarita fountain during cocktail hour. On top of a table was a fountain, cherub baby and all, with margarita pouring down for people to put their margarita glasses underneath to fill. This part of the wedding was definitely a fan favorite.
Total months planning?
We got engaged almost exactly a year before our wedding. I had started a little bit of planning before we got engaged because I knew it was coming soon (we custom made the ring together before he proposed, so it was only a matter of time!) The most stressful time was two weeks beforehand. Getting all the logistics figured out and trying not to overlook anything made me anxious. For the most part, it wasn’t that difficult all things considered. I planned the wedding while attending grad school. I had about a month where I was out of school before the wedding date, so that helped a lot. Otherwise, the most difficult part was keeping it all together during school. My mom was a HUGE help, though.
One thing you wish you knew when you were planning your wedding?
I wish I knew how difficult the seating chart would be! I had heard people say this, but just didn’t fully believe it. No, read it and weep. It was the worst.
Anything you would have done different?
I had asked my cousin to pray over the bridesmaids and myself before the wedding, but I started to feel really behind on time so we completely forgot to do this in the chaos of it all. I really wish we had taken a moment to all get together, slow down, and pray for just a moment before the night.
One thing that helped you stay stress free throughout your planning and on your wedding day?
During the planning process, I reminded myself over and over the things that really mattered about the wedding: that Asher and I would be coming together to be married. If that happened, then the day would be a success. I was fully aware that certain things wouldn’t go as planned, or I wouldn’t be able to get the particular greenery I had originally wanted; things were guaranteed to get a little messed up in the process. But the things that really mattered would be perfect.
On the day of the wedding, I had the same mindset. The thing that made me the most nervous was standing in front of everyone- all eyes on us. I feel very vulnerable in this type of situation, but I just kept remembering that everyone was there to support us. All the people in the “audience” were rooting us on, loving on us, and smiling with us when we accidentally mixed up our words because we are not perfect. The wedding isn’t about trying to be perfect in front of everyone. The little imperfections are what make it perfect and unique. So embrace the fact that you sobbed the whole day through. Or that you tripped on your way down the aisle. It’s what makes your day, your day.
Did you go on a honeymoon? If so, where to? Did you go right after the wedding or wait?
We will be going to Cancun area in January. We are waiting because I am still in school and Asher’s busiest time for work is summer time. We are total beach people and wanted to do the all inclusive resort life for once because- treat yo’self, honeymoon edition.
Last but not least if you could give ONE piece of advice to a bride-to-be planning her wedding what would it be??
Hold onto the important things. Don’t get too caught up in the “stuff”. By all means, enjoy the inspiration through Pinterest and such, but don’t get lost in it! And, remember to make it unique to you. Don’t just do it because it’s what everyone does. Asher and I always wear hats. We decided we had to wear hats on our wedding day. So we did, despite some people thinking it odd. Afterward, everyone said “that was so YOU”. And that’s the whole point, it’s all about you two.
Amanda & Asher’s Happily Ever After
Asher and I have only been married for about two and a half months, but we have already grown together so much. Married life is so amazing and so freeing, but we have been very intentional in our relationship since the moment we got engaged. Asher and I both want to be the best possible versions of ourselves so that we can have a strong marriage. We’re just so happy that no matter what difficult thing comes our way, we always have the comfort of each other at the end of the day when we go home.
Venue & Catering: El Adobe de Capistrano // Photography: Maddy Hardisty // Videography: Films by Justin and Michelle // Wedding Dress: Essense of Australia @ The Dresser // Bridesmaids Dresses: Etsy shop Renz Rags // Groom & Groomsmen attire: Friar Tux // Hair Stylist: Lauren Mellano // Makeup Artist: Emerald M // DJ: Allen Walker // Florals: Mellano & Co & Jenny B Florals // Cake & Desserts: Kim Moronez // Wedding Coordinator: Jenn Pill // Wedding Ring: Happy Jewelers // Bride’s Hat: Lack of Color //
Keep scrolling for more stunning photos of Amanda & Asher’s wedding, and feel transported to the beautiful scenery, the fun atmosphere and the bumping dance floor!
Wishing you two a happy first year of marriage and many more to come!