Home » A Bohemian-Chic Garden Wedding in California With Nods to Fall

A Bohemian-Chic Garden Wedding in California With Nods to Fall

by Staff

Megan Simpson and James Teeter’s love story began the way many modern relationships do: on a dating app. After matching on Hinge in July of 2018, the two had great banter right off the bat. (In fact, they would later incorporate those messages into their wedding signage.) So, Megan and James decided to take their online connection offline, and it was just as magnetic.

James had plans to pop the question on a Mediterranean cruise in the summer of 2020, but a global pandemic canceled their trip. Instead of arranging another elaborate proposal, he decided to keep things simple. “One evening in April 2020, while we were eating a wonderful meal that we had just cooked together with nice music playing and a couple of glasses of wine between the two of us, I decided that now just felt like the right moment,” he reflects. “I ran upstairs to get the ring and asked Megan to marry me in the middle of the living room.”

Since the duo got engaged during the pandemic, their wedding planning experience was full of uncertainty. They selected October 9, 2021 as their wedding date, which gave them 18 months to plan. But, once the day got closer, the couple was worried the conditions would worsen and delay their nuptials. Luckily, they were able to follow through with the celebration, especially since they held an outdoor wedding with vaccinated guests.

Despite the unpredictability in the world, Megan and James had no issues finalizing the details together. “James and I have very similar tastes, and we didn’t disagree on anything,” the bride shares. Even though Megan has experience writing about weddings for various publications, she let their wedding planner, Jaime Kostechko of Wild Heart Events, take most of the control. “Jaime also made things incredibly easy,” she says. “We could not have pulled off a quarter of the wedding we did without her.”

After a year and a half of orchestrating their special day, the pair finally traded vows in front of 122 friends and family at Hartley Botanica in Somis, California. “We chose this venue because it did a great job of representing our love for nature and outdoor beauty,” the couple notes. “The tropical garden feel of the venue felt like the perfect backdrop for our wedding.” Read on to see how their vision came to life, with planning by Wild Heart Events and photography by Anna Delores Photography.

Megan and James gave their guests a glimpse into their bohemian nuptials by mailing floral invitations painted in their color palette: shades of deep burgundy, cream, gold, copper, and soft pink.

After toasting to the festivities with his groomsmen, James put on his black three-piece suit with a black button-down shirt, which was actually a last-minute purchase. The night before the wedding, James realized he had forgotten the shirt he intended to wear, so the next morning, he and his brother went on a desperate hunt to find a replacement. Luckily, they found one at the first store they visited. 

For the finishing touches, the groom wore a brass antique tie clip featuring an image of battleships, black collar pins, a gold tie chain, and a gold lapel pin with a chain. “Ostensibly, the accessories had no special significance, but the groom really liked the look and wanted to do something beyond the normal suit or tuxedo that people usually wear,” Megan notes.

For her outfit of the day, Megan donned a strapless figure-hugging lace dress by Grace Loves Lace. Due to the pandemic, Megan wasn’t able to bring a large entourage with her to the bridal salon, so she decided to FaceTime her bridal party while shopping for the one. After taking a vote, the Grace Loves Lace getup won. The bride accessorized with pearl-studded heels, a bridal cape stitched with a piece of her mother’s wedding dress, and floral earrings—all sourced from Etsy.

After changing into her wedding dress, Megan debuted the final product to her squad, and everyone was even more excited about the gown in person. For her group’s attire, each member selected their preferred style in a shade of burgundy, with the bridesmaids in long dresses and the bridesman in a velvet suit. “They all have such amazingly different  personalities, and we wanted them to wear what they felt most comfortable in,” Megan explains.

Although the couple wanted to do a first look to set aside time for photos, it ended up being a sentimental moment that they’ll cherish forever. Plus, it was an effective way to ease their pre-wedding jitters. “It was perfectly ‘us’ because as I approached him, he said, ‘You’re so beautiful!’” Megan recalls. “And I—at the same time—said, ‘You look like an Irish mob boss!’ which is patently the same thing.”

For her makeup look, Megan channeled the colors of autumn with a dark red lip and bold eyes. To balance out her glam, she chose a simple half-up style for her hairdo. Her bouquet of palm fronds, pampas grass, bougainvillea, dahlias, baby’s breath, and roses also complemented the season and her dramatic lipstick.

While the bridal party was clad in burgundy, the groomsmen sported tan three-piece suits with white shirts, brown leather belts, brown leather shoes, and floral-printed ties. “I wanted a range of suit styles and colors that were similar enough that it was clear they were a cohesive group, but different enough that it would represent their individuality and also add to the background texture of the wedding as a whole,” Megan says. 

The couple infused their personality and sense of humor into their wedding design through their signage, which Megan wrote herself. While the wooden welcome sign greeted guests with “It’s hella good to see you,” another sign debuted their Hinge profiles and the very first messages they exchanged on the app.

Megan and James became husband and wife in an enchanting forest setting. Tall trees decorated with twinkle lights bordered the aisle and created a canopy. Hanging installations of pampas grass, palm fronds, bougainvillea, dahlias, baby’s breath, and roses dangled from the branches and floated above the walkway. Lower arrangements of blooms and dried foliage also peppered the scene. Once the duo arrived at the altar, they stood in front of a backdrop of the same autumnal-inspired florals.

The bride descended the dreamy walkway with her mother and father by her side. She made her entrance while a live string quartet performed an instrumental version of “Live the Magic,” a song played during a 2014 fireworks show in Disneyland. 

He had the most beautiful metaphors and sweet observations. I think he made everyone cry.

During their ceremony, the couple exchanged promises that they wrote from the heart. Megan filled her vows with stories, and she even quoted a meme that captured how she met James: “Dating in your early 20s: Let’s go to the bars and meet everyone! Dating in your late 20s: If it’s meant to be, they will find me in my home.” James was poetic with his words. “He had the most beautiful metaphors and sweet observations,” Megan recalls. “I think he made everyone cry. I could barely look him in the eye without crying.”

After sealing their new marriage with a kiss, the newlyweds walked back up the aisle while sounds from their live string quartet whirled around them. They also captured their first few moments as a married couple on camera.

To celebrate, the bride and groom offered two signature cocktails, both named after their cats. His was called “Autumn Dark & Stormy,” and hers was dubbed “California Mint Julep.” Guests grabbed their drinks from a bar covered in carpeting and stationed with fall florals.

To provide optimal comfort and bring their theme to life, the bride and groom worked with their planner to arrange a lounge area that featured an orange velvet couch, a vibrant printed rug, and a matching ottoman. Hanging rattan lanterns and a floating floral arrangement drifted above the scene.

Instead of the traditional guest book, Megan and James had their guests leave voice messages on a vintage phone and sign a wooden charcuterie board. They also placed out a box for guests to leave cards.

Guests’ names and table numbers were displayed on semicircular pieces of paper, affixed with tassels and tacked onto a wooden board. Pampas grass, red roses, and baby’s breath flanked the sign. 

Wooden tables lined with muted taper candles and rich floral centerpieces were scattered across the lawn. Rattan chargers brought a bohemian edge to the tablescape, while burgundy napkins, black flatware, half-moon place cards, gold goblets, and gold-rimmed lucite glasses rounded off the place settings.

Megan and James sat at an intimate table for two, which was flooded with candlelight and lush buds. A backdrop featuring the same foliage from their ceremony elevated the setup. 

The couple even had a separate station for dessert. A bar embellished with star tiles stood beneath a wooden awning, draped with fringe lanterns.

The couple glided across a black-and-white checkered dance floor while their DJ put on a cover of “Harvest Moon” by The Shaken Brothers. “Another version of this song was a bit of an anthem for us when we first started dating,” Megan explains. “I think I heard it about a week into knowing James and played it for him. We both kind of fell in love with it.”

The newlyweds certainly didn’t skimp on sweets. After drinking glasses of champagne topped with popsicles and noshing on donuts sprinkled with flower petals, Megan and James cut into an ice cream cake. Since the confection was made for the two of them, guests ate ice cream sandwiches in the same chocolate cookie and mint ice cream flavor.

Although Megan and James incorporated personal touches throughout their big day, their wedding was a success largely because they focused on their loved ones. “Put more thought into the guest and people experience than you may believe,” James advises. “Put yourself in their shoes, and think about how they’re going to experience the wedding. Your efforts will pay off for everyone, including (and especially) you.”

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