An Intimate Baldwin Hills Wedding

When we started arguing over $3,000 lighting, something had to give

Saul, TV Development Executive & Pauline, Promotional Marketing Executive

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: Intimately awesome.

Soundtrack for reading: “You Fill Up My Senses” by John Denver


We have a dirty little secret. This wasn’t our first planned wedding. Not to say we’d ever been married or engaged before—but we had initially planned a much larger more traditional wedding, picked out a planner, a venue, a caterer, and, of course, paid deposits. I should mention that we aren’t a couple that bickers much. So, somewhere between arguing over $3,000 floor lighting (something we’d only just learned about, but both had opinions as if we’d carried them our whole lives) and two valets or three, we realized something was off.
A couple days later, while at the post office to send save the dates, my fiancé called me to express concerns over how unlike us this wedding was feeling. I came home without sending out the save the dates, and we chatted things over. Despite the venue being beautifully “us” everything else, it seemed, became more cliché and less “us” the further down the road we went. We made the very hard decision to let go of the venue (and deposit) and scale back from a 150 person wedding to something far more intimate.
We chose to invite immediate family, and the only friends we’d have would be our wedding party and their plus ones (with perhaps one or two exceptions). We had to make some painful cuts to our wedding, capping our list at forty people (when children were accounted for we maxed out at fifty). It was hard to have so many close friends and coworkers not join us for what turned out to be one beautiful day, but the truth is the whole event would have been very different if the guest list was tripled.
We didn’t feel rushed to blaze through conversations to make sure we “got to” everyone there. We were able to spend time and enjoy the company we had. A surprising benefit of the limited guest list was by having such a small group, and by blending tables with like-minded personalities of strangers who were about to become family, our wedding wasn’t just a union between us, but a first step in blending our families.
Smaller weddings aren’t for everyone—and perhaps we will do a big more casual blow-out later with those we were unable to invite—but it did make for a lovely, intimate family affair with our closest of friends on a beautiful day… and with the money we saved, we closed on a home three months and two days after walking down the aisle. The downside, our parents know we now have space for kids and have already been less than subtle… but that’s a story, I’m sure.

Favorite Thing About the Wedding:

We wrote our own vows. For both of us, our favorite things was not only being able to share and hear what the other person had to say, but doing so in front of our friends and family. Neither of us tends to pour our heart out in front of our parents or siblings so, while our friends regularly see how much love there is between us, for our family this was a glimpse into the man and woman we have become and how we support, love, and laugh with one another.


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  • vegankitchendiaries

    I want to say a million things about how much I love this and I don’t even know where to start!! All of the photos are so beautiful but the most touching of all is your description of how you came to decide to do something so intimate. So much congratulations to you both!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Okay, here are the shallow comments:
      1) Your “bridal coat” is EVERYTHING. Is it made of polar bear?! Srsly, love it.
      2) Your mom’s outfit aint bad either! She *brought it*!
      3) THOSE MAIDS.
      4) The tiered, yet cozy, seating for the ceremony! Holy heck, that’s COOL.
      5) The picture of the couple surrounded by brush and poppies… just stunning!

      • Alyssa M

        Those maids, man! The dresses are adorable. I’m seriously regretting not thinking of white lace bridesmaids dresses now, even though it would never have worked for my gender rainbow of bridal attendants.

        • scw

          yes, the maids! I’ve been going back and forth on whether I want mine to all wear the same ivory dress (we found one that we all liked) or mismatched ones and I think this post convinced me to have them pick their own.

  • Sarah D

    I love your last paragraph…that’s exactly why I want to write our own vows too.

  • laurasmash

    Baldwin hills overlook!!!!! Love it, it’s gorgeous there! What a great place to get married!

  • EmilyRose

    Ohhh, the dappled sunlight in her veil! The glittering circlet in her hair! What magic is this?!

  • EF

    best bridesmaids dresses ever. seriously. and not telling us where their from!? Please spill!!

    I’d totally wear each and every one of those dresses.

    • saul

      They all got their dresses at beholden by anthropology

  • LisaG

    Oh, that golden sunlight. I want to jump into those pictures and just LIVE inside your wedding.

    Way to follow your instincts and not be afraid to change your plans in order to get the wedding you wanted.

  • stella

    This is soooo beautiful! It looks so peaceful and honest.
    Note, perfect song choice, but that John Denver song is called ‘Annie’s Song’. In case anyone is looking for it!

    • ktin520

      Annie’s Song was actually my parents’ wedding song! I might have skipped right over this wedding if I hadn’t seen it listed at the top of the post. Lovely.

  • nyc_to_ma

    oo the blonde bridesmaid – where is that dress from?!

  • GME

    Absolutely beautiful images. We’re in the early stages of engagement (exciting!!) and I’m determined to do as you have done and celebrate our marriage in a way that is “us.”

    One burning question: where might I find something like this absolutely divine headpiece?! Would we call this a circlet or a halo?

    • saul

      GME – the headpiece was actually the belt of her dress. It was a last minute idea by her or the hair/make up person – and it was perfection.

      • GME

        So then this was a bit of magic, as someone described it in another comment. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Hilly seating at a ceremony!!

    (Also beautiful everything).

  • dearabbyp

    LOVE the Baldwin Hills Overlook. This wedding gives me serious Wish We Were Doing That. In the process of getting ready for our 150-person Paso Robles wedding and trying so hard not to send this to my fiance to say “Whyyyyyyyyy are we doing this to ourselves?!” So, um, hit a chord. Gorgeous wedding, gorgeous location, gorgeous and HAPPY couple! Congrats!

  • Amanda Allison (TBPacheco)

    It’s so nice to hear other people ditched their wedding plans, too! (and, in your case — what a beautiful way to ditch!) My fiance and I recently had a frustrating weekend where I was re-re-re-re-re-working the budget, trying to afford All The Things, and threw my hands up in the air and said “I don’t want to do this anymore!” It kept feeling more and more like we were planning dinner & a show for people instead of inviting them; trying to put our lives on display for their entertainment instead of having people come support us and everything we chose. So we talked and we decided that planning All Of This for 1.5 years in the future, just to afford it, while simultaneously feeling like we were playing dress-up, wasn’t worth it. We’re going to the courthouse at the end of the month — immediate family only — and then going on a (pre-planned, super conveniently timed) vacation. Sigh of relief because I feel genuine again.

    • saul

      Man it really does feel like planning dinner and a show as opposed to inviting them to a personal intimate life event – so well put. Glad we’re not alone in this line of thinking! Im certain you guys are going to be thrilled by your decision.

  • Katrina

    I am recently engaged and wanting to have a stress free intimate wedding. Would you be open to sharing more details of your wedding? What was your budget? Where was your dinner afterwards? How long did you rent out the space? I see that the park rents it by 1hr or 4hrs? Hair/makeup? Your dress? I love everything so much in your pictures! So much inspiration.

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