A Homemade, Rustic Wedding in California

...Did I mention I was six months pregnant?!

Bristol, Middle School Drama Teacher & John, High School Director of Marketing and Admissions

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: A homemade, local, rustic, spiritual, relaxed celebration that honored our families, our love, and the new life we are creating together.

Soundtrack for reading: “Solace” by Scott Joplin—We used it for the processional, with Bristol walking in time to the beautiful final movement.

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Other Cool Stuff We Should Know About

I didn’t fully realize how much of a DIY wedding this was! I love doing arts and crafts, but rarely make time for personal projects as a middle school drama teacher, so the wedding was an excellent excuse to do things I love—rummaging through antique stores and getting creative. John and I were so happy that it was all done in less than two months without stress. I did the wedding design on my own (invitation, ring jars, curated china from the thrift shop, antique decor, etc.), but there were a ton of little details that I had dreamed up that we were only able to see come to life through the help of friends and family. Some of the coolest things were my mom’s homemade cherry pie sitting next to the wedding cake, my brother’s painted washboard signs, John’s mom’s fans, my dad’s sloppy handwriting on the thank you succulent jars, my Maid of Honor Nena’s handwriting on my vows and on the instructions for our Family Devotional (instead of a guestbook). I could really go on and on listing everyone, but this isn’t my Oscar acceptance speech. Suffice it to say, the vendors kept telling me how relaxed and happy everyone was during the wedding. I think it’s because everyone enjoyed getting together and helping out, and that allowed John and me to stay positive. And as a bride, my advice is to keep the mindset that, at this point, it’s all in motion, and there’s nothing you can do now, so just go with it and trust the people around you to solve any problems that come up!

Favorite Thing About the wedding

In John’s words, “It was all good.” The day was a beautiful representation of our families coming together, of the special spirituality and energy we felt, of the, umm… did I mention I was six months pregnant?! The pregnancy is an important part of the wedding because not only did it speed up the time frame, but also it helped us to understand the significance of the commitment of marriage. We decided to have the wedding during my summer vacation so we could focus on each other and enjoy a honeymoon (the perks of teaching); but now when I look back at our wedding, it has taken on this spiritual representation of life. Like a tree or circle of life, all of the choices we made were informed by our families, reflected our past, and now illuminate our future. Everything was truly perfect because we focused on what mattered—our family and the close friends who will now be supporting us in our next step. With TBD being a part of it, our wedding truly marks the beginning of our family—one that is built on the wisdom and love from those who have nurtured us into two adults prepared to continue the circle of love. (But after all that mushy stuff, our photos come in at an AWESOME second! Thank you Rad + In Love.)


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  • cschell

    So beautiful! the black and white portrait is especially gorgeous.

    • Bristol P

      Thank you <3

  • KateS

    wowza! what a good looking couple! and THAT DRESS. i die. all these photos just ooze joy and that relaxation you mentioned, it’s really lovely. congrats!

    • Bristol P

      Thank you!!

  • Not My Real Name

    I got distracted yesterday while writing a note to the APW team to ask for more from/about pregnant brides, as I will be about 20 weeks along at my upcoming wedding…..and then I logged into Facebook just now and saw this gorgeous wedding in my newsfeed! Are y’all mind-readers or what?! ;-D

    This post made me a little teary, and not just from the hormones. What a beautiful, joyful, love-filled event.

    • Bristol P

      I felt the same!! I’m so glad to be able to share for you! I ended up ordering a large dress, even though I fit the medium pretty well only a month before… but Maria altered it to fit perfectly, with darts in the back, about 1.5 weeks before. Good luck!!

  • Sara

    I love your whole bridal look. Just gorgeous. Everything about your wedding is gorgeous.

    • Bristol P

      Thank you so much Sara

  • Elizabeth


    • Elizabeth

      Shucks. The gif doesn’t work. Rest assured, it was appropriately excited.

    • Bristol P

      ahhhh! love Liam Neesons

  • HannahESmith

    Beautiful. That dress is incredible! I love the note at the end about the representation of life.

    • Bristol P

      Thanks Hannah!

  • Pingback: BRISTOL + JOHN: THE 1909 TOPANGA CANYON LOS ANGELES | Rad + In Love Photography()

  • H

    There is just something so gorgeous to me about a pregnant bride. Just so much happiness and excitement and anticipation tied up in one beautiful package – congratulations! The day looks absolutely perfect!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      You’re so right.

    • Bristol P

      Thank you! It was so much more perfect than I could have imagined!

  • Cleo

    Ketubah info please? it’s gorgeous! (as is the rest of the wedding; it was already going in my bookmarks, but now it gets a special star next to it because it happens to be near L.A.!!)

    • Bristol P

      Yessss Cleo!! We got it on Ketubahstudio.com. They were really responsive and helpful – Pam was awesome; she would have even mailed me a frame two days before, but it would have been really expensive coming from Texas. They work with the rabbi also to send a proof for free…and I got a mini version to gift to my parents for their support.

  • Lisa

    I am trying to figure out exactly what you did with your hair because it looks so gorgeous! Is it a wrap-around waterfall braid?

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful wedding. :)

    • sara g

      Yes!! I would love a good pic of the hair to show my stylist, because this is pretty much the look I want.

      • Lisa

        Best I can figure out is that it’s a waterfall dutch braid, but I’m basing that guess solely on the direction of the braid and fact that I can’t find any place where the braid joins in the center back; however the flowers could be covering some things up.

        I’ve been looking for someone with dark curly hair with a half-up style for inspiration for months, and this is the first style I’ve absolutely loved!

        • sara g

          Yeah, I had my hair trial already unfortunately (although I did love what the stylist did). She did a kind of similar style, except there were two braids coming from the front and meeting in the back. I want to put flowers in too and they worked fabulously from what I can see of these pictures. I just love this whole wedding <3

          • Bristol P

            Hi Sara and Lisa! I’m sooo happy you like my hair! I too had a hard time finding something I was perfectly in love with, but Tatiana worked with me a lot to get it perfect. It’s a waterfall braid (not dutch), and she started on my left side, leaving some of the front hair out so we could style it still falling around my face. She brought the braid all the way around to the right side, and tied it off with a little bit of the hair by my ear on the right (with enough still left out). For the flowers, the florists put fresh buds on wrapped wire, and Tatiana placed them strategically in my hair, securing them with bobby pins. We made arranged them asymmetrically, so it didn’t look like a crown. Let me know if you have more questions! I think Tatiana posted it on her @thebraidstudio insta also back in June.

          • sara g

            Thank you!! The flower tip is especially useful since regardless of my hairstyle, I did want to put flowers in it, and didn’t want a floral crown. Totally going to show my hairstylists your hair photos, too… :)

          • Bristol P

            I just remembered one other thing – we used EXTENSIONS! (shhhh… don’t tell anyone). Even though I have long hair, my stylist explained it’s never enough to do a full braid and still have lots of hair left for curling down below. I’ve attached a picture of my hair deconstructed after the wedding!!

          • sara g

            Ohhhh so that’s the secret huh? Haha. Seriously though, I never would have known, but that makes SO MUCH sense as to why I can never get a beautiful thick braid as well as lots of curls like they have in pictures!

          • Lisa

            Thank you, Bristol!! Funny enough, I tried the braid myself this morning without having seen your comment and was coming back here to say how I did it. :)

            I ended up doing a Dutch waterfall instead but might try the French next time. It’s on 4 day old hair so my curls at the back don’t look as nice, but I’m hopeful for the next try!!

            Thanks again!

      • Michelle, Rad + In Love

        Hey Sara, Hey Lisa! there are more hair pics here: http://blog.radandinlove.com
        Stylist is in the vendor info above. ;)

  • vegankitchendiaries

    This is just arrestingly beautiful. Your heart swells looking at these pictures. I’m in absolute awe – nothing else to say!

  • Fiona

    There is something SO special about a pregnant bride…

  • Fiona

    Also, WHAT is the deal with that totally private and secluded sweetheart table. I want the info there!

    • Bristol P

      The 1909 had this cute little table off to the side, down a dirt path, so it was perfect for our time alone immediately following the ceremony. It’s Jewish tradition for the bride + groom to have some private time alone, to regroup, focus on the importance of what just happened, but also (most importantly for my belly) to feed each other! It’s called the “yichud” in Jewish tradition, but with John being Catholic, it was a really calm 15mins for us to sit, eat, drink & reconnect before celebrating with our guests.

      • HannahESmith

        We did the same tradition! I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  • sara g

    Ahhhhhhhh this is beautiful.

  • Nicole Cherae

    So beautiful and sweet! I’d love to know more about the Family Devotional Guestbook.

    • Bristol P

      Hi Nicole!! Thank you! We used a pretty 4×6 photo album that came with a few lines next to each picture holder, so that guests could write their names in that space, while writing their entries on some pretty paper I cut into 4×6 rectangles. I made sure to include the devotional instructions in emails and the wedding website. Let me know if you have other questions! xo

  • macrain

    That dress, damn! Not everyone can pull off those long sleeves- the baby bump just makes it even more stunning.
    I also love the mismatched BHLDN bridesmaid’s dresses! So lovely!

  • Sarah

    Everything about this is completely beautiful (the location, dress, flowers, your hair!) and you can feel the low in the pictures. Also, the two young boys are especially adorable! Congratulations and best wishes to your baby family

    • Sarah

      Love, not low* lol

  • Sarah

    Gah! Clearly that should say love, not low!

  • AC

    So fun seeing someone I know on here! High school friend of Abel’s :) Congratulations Bristol, on the marriage and baby!

  • Ally

    The venue is so gorgeous! It’s right near my home town too <3

    Also loving the dress/hair/bouquet!

  • helen

    I am getting married at this venue next month! so excited to see your beautiful photos on apw! congrats!

  • NTB

    OK, so…the photo of the bride in black and white alone and embracing her beautiful belly…yeah, I burst into tears. SO BEAUTIFUL. I love this. <3

  • Something Blue

    Gorgeous dress, couple, venue … loved everything!