Bride & Groom: Corey & Bradley
Wedding Date: June 4, 2016
Venue: South Coast Botanic Gardens , Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Number of guests: 200-ish
I can't describe this couple's love story any better than the bride herself: "We're a classic example of sometimes love doesn't happen instantly. You need to cross paths a few times to realize that the love of your life is standing right in front of you."
Bradley and Corey first met in high school, but didn't get far past the flirting stage before they each shipped off to separate colleges. They kept in touch, though, and after one year of distance dating, three years reunited back together at Gonzaga University, one year living in San Francisco, and a total of six years together, they were engaged to be married.
Their journey to the altar certainly gave the couple plenty of perspective. For Brad and Corey, the wedding wasn't about shopping for a poofy dress (the bride wore her mother's) or a sky-high tiered cake (Corey's allergic to sugar so they opted for a variety of ice cream sandwiches), it was about being surrounded by the people they love. "Your wedding is the one day you literally have all your favorite people in one room," Corey told us. "That's something worth cherishing!"
"Some couples are grounded by their faith," Corey said. "Brad and I are grounded by our family and friends, and our wedding reflected that."
Looking for a venue that could check off their two biggest boxes—an outdoor ceremony and food trucks—Corey and Brad were married at the South Coast Botanic Gardens in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. And luckily for us, Mirage+Light Photography was there to capture it all.
Check out all the beautiful photos in the gallery, then read below what else the bride, Corey, had to say about their charming garden wedding (and Brad's sweet airport proposal story!).
How did you meet?
We met in high school in the classic way two teenagers meet—you hear about each other through other people and then you end up having a class together and inevitably sitting next to each other. After basically an entire year of high school flirting (I did all the flirting), we graduated as friends.
Fast forward to the summer—It was the end of July and our entire graduating class was at the beach. I was training to walk on to the Gonzaga Women's Soccer team and Brad was getting ready to run Cross Country and Track at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Brad came up to me and we started making small talk and resumed the high school flirting (this time he did most of the flirting).
Once I got up to Spokane, we began communicating through all forms of technology: texting, Facebook, Skype. By November, we were to the "it's complicated" status on Facebook. And when I landed at LAX for Thanksgiving break, Brad was there holding a sign asking me to be his girlfriend.
After that it was one year of distance, three years at Gonzaga, one year living in San Francisco, and a total of six years together.
On Monday April 6, 2015 I was getting off a plane with my mom and Brad was supposed to be picking us up. As we came through security, he was standing there holding an almost identical sign to the one he held six years prior. When he flipped over the sign instead of saying, "Will you be my girlfriend?" it read "Will you marry me?"
How would you describe your wedding style?
Relaxed. Family Style. We never had a color scheme or theme for our wedding. For us, it was really about being surrounded by the people we have loved our entire lives.
Describe the process of deciding where and how to get hitched:
Brad and I definitely wanted outdoors and we definitely wanted food trucks—I am a pescaterian and Brad is a human garbage truck, so we needed options! South Coast Botanic Gardens was the second place we looked at and when they told us we could have food trucks, we said "Sold!"
What was totally "you" about your wedding?
Brad and I have a made it a tradition throughout our 7.5 years together to write love notes. So instead of exchanging traditional vows we decided to write each other notes. Brad read my love note to him and I read his. It was a great way to honor one of our traditions.
I'd say the biggest challenge was that Brad and I wanted nothing traditional. We wanted no cake cutting, no bouquet toss, no garter toss, no money dance, no seating plans. Our vendors struggled with our lack of formality at first, but by the end I think they all really saw our vision. I have to say, Mirage+Light photography was amazing at understanding that we didn't value formal photos as much as we valued photos that expressed all the joy that was in those gardens that day.
My proudest DIY was probably the fleece blankets we gave out as party favors. They were embroidered with a "K" and the date. Everyone loved them and I still get people texting me about how often they use their blanket.
Most worthwhile splurge:
I would say the most worthwhile splurges were the tables, centerpieces and breakfast burritos. I fell in love with these dark wooden tables on our vendor's website, the only problem was they were significantly more expensive than the regular table/tablecloth set up. I decided the expense was worth it and looking back, those tables made a huge impact on the space. The centerpieces were also a bit of a splurge, but they were beautiful—3 feet long and made up of flowers that could be planted in your garden post-wedding. Lastly, I had requested a midnight snack for our guests—anyone who has been to a wedding knows that you crave something greasy after dancing the night away. Our food truck was kind enough to make us amazing breakfast burritos for people to take on their way out.
What we skipped or did without:
We choose to have no seating plan during the ceremony or reception. Anyone who knows us, knows we love to have old friends reconnect and new friends meet! We also didn't have a wedding cake. I am allergic to sugar (tragic, I know), so we opted for an ice cream sandwich food truck that allowed people to choose their own flavors.
I have a few. My favorite detail on myself was the fact that I was able to wear my mom's wedding dress. It felt like the ultimate good luck charm! My favorite detail on my friends and "Sister of Honor" were the necklaces they wore—I had the coordinates of the place I first met each of them engraved on the state where I met them. My last favorite detail isn't really tangible. Our officiant (who is also a close friend of Brad's) started our ceremony by listing every state that our guests came from. It was such a wonderful way to include them in our ceremony and also acknowledge how far they came to celebrate with us!
Favorite memory of the day:
Oh Gosh! That's too hard! I loved our ceremony because we were literally surrounded by all of our favorite people. I loved Brad's sister's (my "Sister of Honor") speech because it made Brad and I cry. I loved Brad and his dad doing a choreographed dance to "Gangnam Style" and I loved watching my dad run and slide across the dance floor. You know when the father of the bride is having fun, that the wedding is another level of a party!
What our guests said:
They said that our wedding felt like one huge family reunion. They said it was the most non-traditional wedding they had ever been to and (most importantly) they said the wedding was 100% Brad and me.
Your best advice for anyone planning a wedding:
Stay authentic to who you are as a couple. Focus less on trends and more on authenticity. Also, don't forget to honor your past, present and future.
Thank you, Corey and Bradley!
- Photographer: Mirage and Light Photography
- Caterer: The Green Truck
- Event Venue: South Coast Botanic Gardens
- Floral Designer: Allen's Flower Market
- Jewelry: Kraus Haus Krafts
- Bridesmaid Dresses: Lulus.com
- Shoes: TOMS
- Tuxedo and Mens Attire: Ralph Lauren
- Other Apparel: Kenneth Cole
Submitted via Two Bright Lights