Katrina Henriette Symonds, photo director at Netflix and co-founder of stationery company Rum Cake Studio, and Zachary Fowler Hellman decided to head to Laguna Beach for Thanksgiving weekend, as his birthday usually falls around then. “He was insistent on having a picnic, and told me he had organized a cheese spread,” Katrina remembers. “It made me laugh because we are both allergic to cheese, so it was kind of the tell tale sign that something was up.”
Shortly after setting up their beach picnic, he got down on one knee. And after she said yes, the two—she from Sydney and he from New York—settled on the Parker Palm Springs to host their September, 2019 wedding. Katrina’s company with Victoria Britz Fogelson debuted with all the bespoke art for the events which set the tone for the weekend. “We both have creative backgrounds—Zack was a DJ for 15 years and I formerly worked as a photo director for Condé Nast, Time Inc., and Hearst,” Katrina explains. “To be able to have our hands in everything from the musical cues throughout dinner to the hand-painted plates and personalized menus was truly the most fun.”
The wedding weekend fell on Katrina’s father’s 74th birthday, so they celebrated him at the rehearsal dinner with their closest family and friends. “We actually made the wedding cake his birthday cake, as we wanted to forgo a traditional wedding cake on the big day, and we knew he loved chocolate cake,” she explains. To help plan all the events, they hired Alexis Eskenazi of AE & Co. “There are lots of planners who will only work with certain vendors, and Alexis was open to our ideas and collaborated with us on them. It was a dream to work with her.”
“My wedding dress was a no-brainer—finding a way to get it was the difficult part,” Katrina says. The Liz Martinez Bridal dress was meant to be available in 2020, but after negotiating for around six months, they sent her a sample early to L.A. to try on. When it arrived, the bride-to-be knew it was the one. She paired the gown with a pair of rose-cut diamond drop earrings from the 1900s that Danielle Krakov of Nadine Krakov Collection lent her—her “something borrowed” and “something old.”
And since the Palm Springs wedding was scheduled for the summer, Katrina knew she wanted something more suited for the desert climate to change into after the ceremony. After seeing an ostrich dress at Michael Lo Sordo’s show at fashion week, she knew it would be perfect to dance in—and after calling the designer, he agreed.
A week before the wedding, the mini-dress was flown to LAX, and she tried on the sample in a black fabric in front of Zack and told him it was for her bachelorette party. On the night-of, she paired the feathered look with rhinestone Gucci sandals. “I knew I’d want to wear them for the rest of my life with jeans and t-shirts,” Katrina remarks.
Before saying, “I do,” the bride got ready with her friend and makeup artist Natasha Severino, who offered her services immediately after Katrina got engaged. “Natasha did convince me to wear powder on my face. I was against it, but I am so glad I listened to her,” Katrina remarks. “I remember I was shvitzing SO much during our ceremony—it was about 40-degrees [Celsius]with a long-sleeve dress on—and I remember seeing her smiling at me with the classic Natasha ‘I told you so’ grin.” Christian Marc was trusted with the bride’s hair, and for the reception, he gave her curls with a handmade, double velvet white bow pinned in.
On September 14th, 2019, the couple signed their Ketubah, and then Katrina walked with her parents into the circular, eternity formation of chairs to the chuppah. Rabbi Sarah Basin of Temple Emanuel Beverly Hills married the two in a beautiful Jewish wedding that felt spiritual and also accessible for all guests to understand. And the bride and groom shared personal vows that they had written based on their shared values, and recited them one line at a time to each other.
Once the marriage was sealed with a kiss, guests found their seats for dinner via hand-painted plates on Heather Taylor Home tablecloths set with die-cut menus and Of The Flowers roses. The delicious meal ended with their wedding cake and a decadent ice cream sundae bar. “Zack jokes that he saw maybe 100 emails about the sundae station, and if he never sees another sundae again, he will be fine,” Katrina shares.
The newlyweds took to the floor and had their first dance to “By Your Side” by Sade. “Hanging out together practicing dancing turned out to be one of our favorite parts of preparing for the big day,” the bride says. “We took classes, and it was a lot more fun that we both had anticipated.”
And as Zack was a DJ for 15 years, his close friend Andrew Brown (DJ Roctakon) stepped in to mix the rest of the soundtrack for the evening. “Andy is a true professional, and he absolutely nailed the music,” Katrina remarks. “The vibe was a mix of classic R&B and my dance music favorites from my teenage years to ’90s hip-hop from Zack’s childhood in New York.” The rest of the night was spent dancing, celebrating, and enjoying one of the bride’s favorite American staple treats—s’mores.