After five years of dating, Ryan and Natalie flew to Charleston for her friend’s baby shower. The day before the couple left, the mother-to-be, Julia, asked Natalie to meet her for coffee before the flight back home. Unbeknownst to Natalie, Julia was conspiring with Ryan on a proposal. He needed an excuse for Natalie to be dressed in the early morning. Coffee was a mere ploy to take her to White Point Garden and ask Natalie to marry him.
The couple originally planned the wedding for August 1, 2020, at the Ojai Valley Inn but made the difficult decision to cancel when COVID-19 became a global pandemic. “After going through that arduous cancellation process, I knew I wanted our eventual wedding to be something much smaller at my childhood home in Ojai where we could pick a date in our own time, without the pressure of a timeline or contract,” Natalie shares. Revising their guest list from 200 to fewer than 50 people, they now envisioned an intimate wedding with jazz music, Italian cuisine, and impressive wines. Alexandra Kolendrianos navigated the process for them and planned the wedding in ninety days.
With the help of Mary Wagner at Monique Lhuillier in West Hollywood, Natalie found the dress after only trying on two gowns. She was instantly smitten with the intricate lace, dramatic train, and keyhole back. The lace bolero jacket fit seamlessly with the silhouette and detached easily for dancing. Finally, bridal stylist Chynna Pope tailored the dress to perfection. Nicole Iyer at Samara Beauty kept Natalie’s makeup look natural and glowing. Sheila Stone pulled her hair back into a simple bun. The jeweler Kwiat, who also designed the couple’s rings, lent the bride statement diamond earrings.
At the welcome party the night before the wedding, the couple’s 100-pound Bouvier puppy felt left out of the celebration and chewed through every door in Natalie’s parents’ living room. All six sets of French doors that her father so carefully painted before the wedding were mangled and gnarled; the windowpanes all featured their pup’s nose smudges. At 5:00 a.m. before her own wedding, Natalie was vacuuming the floors and washing the windows. She laughs, noting that the experience was “a humbling reminder that life happens.”
Later in the morning of June 12, 2021, Natalie walked her dog, went on a trail run, and enjoyed her usual breakfast of peanut butter and banana toast before walking down the aisle with her father to Subito Strings playing Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” Doing her ordinary routine helped her feel grounded for the extraordinary day.
Underneath Toast Santa Barbara’s wisteria-covered arbor at Natalie’s childhood home, she and Ryan married. They did not do a first look, so Ryan first laid eyes on her—and her custom dress—as she made her way to the altar. “I have to say, being in a familiar place like my home made me feel at ease,” Natalie says. “I’ve stood in that same spot a thousand times in my thirty-one years, so getting married there felt surreal.”
The reception that followed was the dinner party of Natalie’s dreams. Live jazz music reverberated while everyone dined on Duo Catering’s dishes at a long table with string lights strewn overhead. The father of the bride, normally a man of few words, delivered a heartfelt toast. Dessert was served with lemon gelato and a gluten-free cake by Lilac Patisserie.
The newlyweds shared a first dance to Louis Prima’s “Pennies from Heaven.” The song symbolized joy after such a challenging time like 2020, which involved the couple’s canceled wedding. “Pennies from heaven are a sign of serendipity,” Natalie elaborates. “It reminds us, no matter how much it rains, it will all turn out okay in the end.”
Natalie’s tailor recommended old-school jazz musician Chris Norton and his band to the couple. “He was exactly what we were looking for,” Natalie confides. They played until 10:00 p.m., which is when the reception wrapped up. Family and friends lingered for hours later. There was no need for an after-party—Natalie was just fine going to bed early.