Lauren Kita and John Tallman first connected in a “typical college meet-cute,” Lauren says. “We were both in the Greek system at UC San Diego, so we had a lot of mutual friends. We met at a popular bar in San Diego. After a few hangouts, we officially started dating four months later in February 2010.”
Your math is correct, Lauren confirms. “That’s right, we dated 10 years before we got engaged!” she says. “We’re not ones to rush into things, and during the past decade-plus, we’ve been through just about everything together and are true partners and best friends. I joke that John knows me better than I even know myself.”
John eventually did propose—on his own birthday, of all days. “He said it was the only day he could get me to do whatever he wanted without asking any questions or trying to change the plans,” Lauren says. “He proposed on the beach in Coronado, which was the location of one of our very first dates.” They celebrated with family and friends at brunch after Lauren said “yes!”
They didn’t have to search long for their wedding venue. “My parents, who have been married 42 years, got married at the Hotel Bel-Air, so it has always been a special place,” Lauren says. “That was one of the main reasons we chose it, but apart from that, it’s just a gorgeous property and transports you out of L.A. into this hidden, lush garden oasis.”
They booked the venue and hired planner Alicia Townsend of Details Details Weddings & Events—and then the world shut down. Lauren and John decided to postpone their wedding a year, but found a silver lining. “Unlike most couples, I got to work with Alicia for two years, during which we got to know each other fairly well,” Lauren says. “She really got to know my specific tastes, likes, and dislikes. Through many Zoom calls, texts, calls, and more, we were ultimately able to create an environment that reflected the both of us.”
So finally, nearly a dozen years after their college meet-cute, Lauren and John said “I do” on November 6, 2021, in front of 160 friends and family. Read on to see all the beautiful details of their big day, planned by Details Details Weddings & Events and photographed by Birds of a Feather.
“The Hotel Bel-Air is such a timeless venue that we wanted something equally classic, but with an edge,” Lauren says of the vibe. “I wanted to make sure every decision was purposeful and added to the overall ambiance, not take away or distract. Some words I jotted down during the planning process were elegant, chic, neutral, romantic, minimal, and warm.”
Lauren had an eventful morning. “I met Justin Bieber and Hailey Bieber the morning of our wedding—and was caught on TMZ to prove it!” she remembers. “After meeting them, we blasted Bieber while getting ready.”
She prepped her skin with a hydrating face mask the night before. When it came to day-of makeup, “ I wanted to look like myself, but better,” she says. Her hair and makeup artist gave her a shimmery complexion with lots of highlighter, then styled “loose, beachy, romantic curls.”
Lauren wore a sleeveless silk Mikado A-line gown by Monique Lhuillier and made it her own with unique customizations. “I added some small details, including two cutouts on the side and five buttons in the back,” she says. “I liked a lot of different dresses, but this one kept coming back to me. It was simple and chic, but had enough details to give it a bit of an edge with its deep V and low back. It was also one of the most comfortable and I knew I could eat whatever I wanted and dance the whole night in it too without feeling uncomfortable. And, it had pockets!”
She paired the timeless gown with a chapel-length silk tulle veil with floral embroidery, Gorjana rings, and a pair of drop earrings from Anthropologie.
“We loved the simplicity of white, cream, and ivory with hints of natural green foliage,” Lauren says of the florals. “While we selected white tones, we wanted to make sure the flowers had texture so we used mini calla lilies, ranunculus, hyacinth, gardenias, nerine lilies, roses, and eucalyptus.”
For the first look, my photographers had a brilliant idea of surprising John so it wouldn’t be super staged.
For the first look, “my photographers, Birds of a Feather, had a brilliant idea of surprising John so it wouldn’t be super staged,” Lauren shares. “They told him they needed him for a couple of photos by the Swan Lake, but he turned the corner and there I was! I loved that it was a genuine reaction and I couldn’t stop laughing. My mom, bridesmaids, and his twin sister were to the side and I don’t think there was a dry eye there! It was a really special moment.”
Bridesmaids wore satin gowns in a range of hues including gold, champagne, and moss green. “I liked having the mixed colors add dimension while still matching the neutral color scheme,” Lauren says.
Groomsmen donned classic tuxedos with boutonnieres of gardenia, Lauren’s favorite scent.
“Nestled amid the lush California landscape at the Hotel Bel-Air, where resident swans were swimming in the aptly named Swan Lake, was the ceremony floral arch where we exchanged our vows,” Lauren describes. “I wanted the arch to feel like an organic part of the garden and not be too overdone. So, we chose a variety of white and cream flowers with added green foliage so it had a lot of texture and romantic accents. It was the perfect backdrop.”
A string quartet performed instrumental versions of popular songs for the ceremony, beginning with Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” for the processional. “John and I went to an Ed Sheeran concert together and he’s one of the few artists we both actually like,” Lauren says of the choice.
Her father accompanied her into the garden ceremony. “Walking down the aisle and seeing how happy all of our friends and family were for us was truly a special moment,” she shares. “We have been together so long, and many of our friends and family who were there have been there from the beginning—11-plus years—so really know both of us. The outpouring of love made us feel so grateful in that moment.”
“John’s older brother, Hunter, officiated the wedding, which was really special and calmed both of our nerves while we were up there,” Lauren remembers. “We wrote our own vows. It was really sweet and ours were similar: We both sort of made fun of how long we’ve been together; we both talked about our fur baby, Capri; and we both even had a mention of Justin Bieber—although different sentiments toward him, ha!”
They recessed back down the aisle to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.”
“Wedding planning can be fun just as much as it can be stressful, especially in these unprecedented times,” Lauren says. “Don’t stress the small things. Enjoy being engaged and planning details that reflect the two of you.”
“We wanted our reception to be inviting and warm, with candlelight and natural amber lighting in the space,” Lauren says. Black Chiavari chairs added an edge to the romantic white florals and classic ballroom space.
The live band performed “Always Remember Us This Way” by Lady Gaga for the newlyweds’ first dance, and then came one of the most special moments. “We both agree that one of the best parts of our wedding was our first dance set before dinner was served,” Lauren remembers. “It was something our planner had to push us to do—I was nervous it might be awkward—and it ended up being one of our favorite parts of the whole day. After our first dance, our band went straight into a big dance set and literally everyone—even both of our dads who do not dance—was on the dance floor in seconds. It really set the tone for the night.”
The venue’s celebrity chef was another selling point for the couple. “John and I both love to eat, so having good food was also one of our top priorities,” Lauren says. “You really can’t go wrong with Wolfgang Puck!” They even got to meet him at one of their tastings. “We served a four-course menu that kicked off with a banger: the most delicious house-made cacio e pepe.”
Hotel Bel-Air’s pastry team made them a three-tier strawberry shortcake with textured buttercream frosting and floral adornments.
After about a minute into the father-daughter song, we invited all the fathers and daughters to the floor to dance.
Lauren and her dad danced to “Have I Told You Lately.” “After about a minute into the father-daughter song, we invited all the fathers and daughters to the floor to dance,” the bride says. “My two best friends and maids of honor both were not able to have their father-daughter dance for various reasons, so I wanted them to have that moment with their dads, too.” John and his mom danced to “Rainbow Connection.”
Guests left with funfetti cookie favors from Jon & Vinny’s, the couple’s favorite L.A. restaurant and location of their rehearsal dinner. “We put a sticker of our dog, Capri, along with our wedding date on the front and I think it made a lot of people smile,” Lauren says.
For the honeymoon, the bride had all the right connections. She’s the vice president at J Public Relations, a communications and PR agency with clients in the luxury hotel and hospitality space. “We went to Dubai and the Maldives,” she says. “We were lucky enough to honeymoon at my clients, JOALI and JOALI BEING. The Maldives is truly unlike any place we’ve ever been. It was magical!”