Ashley Smith, an internal communications manager for Concur Technologies, became best friends with Max Hauser’s cousin at the University of San Diego. “We were connected through him,” says Ashley. “We dated long distance for a full year before I moved down to La Jolla. I lived in Seattle, and after a year of flying back and forth, I finally made the decision to move back down to San Diego to be with Max. We lived together in his condo for another year before he proposed.”
The two love visiting tide pools—a.k.a. rocky pools on the seashore filled with sea water—in Bird Rock, the part of La Jolla where Max was born and raised and where his parents still live. “One Saturday, we went to the tide pools, and we were lucky enough to be the only people there. Max took the opportunity to get down on one knee and propose,” says Ashley. “He even hired a photographer who was up in the cliffs taking pictures.”
After the proposal, Ashley and Max drove to his parents’ house to celebrate. “When we walked in the door, my mom popped up from behind the kitchen counter, holding my 12 year old Chihuahua, and completely surprised me,” says Ashley. “We all celebrated at a local steakhouse called Eddie V’s.”
The two were married at Ashley’s mom’s house in Sammamish, Washington—a small suburb outside of Seattle where the bride grew up. The 10-acre estate, complete with childhood treehouses, was the perfect place for the couple’s woodsy, ethereal, relaxed wedding. “Our main goal was to capitalize on our already naturally beautiful surroundings,” says Ashley. The couple enlisted husband and wife team Nick and Aleah Valley of Valley & Company Events to handle everything from the wedding planning to the design and the flowers.
On the day of the wedding, guests were dropped off at the top of a very long driveway. They walked past a pasture filled with goats and mini horses and were greeted on the bridge with a glass of Champagne.
Ashley wore the “Aline” dress by Flora, strappy Pedro Garcia crystal flat sandals, and simple jewelry (“diamond earrings, my engagement ring, a special opal ring from my grandma, and a dainty white gold and diamond bracelet from my mother-in-law”), a long veil, and a beautiful baby’s breath flower crown created by Aleah. “Bottom line: I wanted to be comfortable and feel like ‘me,’” explains Ashley. “I grew up playing here—and it was important I be able to enjoy myself. At one point, we were trekking through the woods in my dress and even climbed up into my childhood tree fort for a few pictures and a slow dance. It was magical.”
The bride’s uncle, godfather, confidant, and close friend Neal Badger officiated the ceremony. “It was funny and genuine,” says Ashley. “We really can’t imagine a better officiant and feel so honored that Uncle Neal took on this responsibility. He poured his heart and soul into the ceremony and captured the exact vibe we were looking for.”
Immediately afterward, guests were welcomed to a happy hour in the backyard with live guitar, cocktails, and appetizers around the pool, which was decorated with floating floral arrangements. The couple had entrusted planning and execution to Aleah and Nick Valley of Valley & Company Events, and they erected a tent in the nearby pasture. There were two food stations, a San Diego station serving street tacos as a tribute to Max’s hometown and a Northwest station offering up grilled salmon for Ashley’s. The newlyweds kicked off the dancing to “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges, and a DJ kept the party going until a little after midnight. “Our friends weren’t ready to go home though,” says Ashley. “So we had an impromptu pool party. It was a late night!”