Steph and Erik, married:: Anna Ranch, Waimea, HI June 30th, 2011

Stephanie and Erik met many, many years ago at Chico State, which is where Steph and I met. I actually tell people how we became friends as if it was a love story; we had every single class together that first year (way back in ’99), and lived across the hall from each other in the dorms. I didn’t have a car so even if we hadn’t hit it off, we were kind of forced to be around each other constantly because of my dependence on her for a ride to school. It was the weekend trip we took with our liberal studies class to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival the first week of school that we discovered we were going to be close- we had signed up for an honors program that required us to take cultural trips, and we were among the few who were bummed out that on our first weekend at a party college was spent on a bus up to rural Oregon to watch hippies prance around at a Shakespeare Renaissance festival. Oh wait, this was a post about Steph and Erik’s love story? Well, Erik’s from Ashland Oregon… is that enough of a connection?

Steph and Erik are perfect together, and I should know. I was there for the three years of college that she was single and dated and frustrated with the fact that she hadn’t found someone she truly clicked with. Not surprisingly, she met Erik in a computer science class, and soon after realized that they could be computer nerds and have cats and a blissfully happy life together. The fact that the two of them were able to get jobs in Sacramento and live nearby me has helped us remain close all these years later. I was so happy to have been able to help with the design and planning of their wedding last month, because it really turned out to be different and fun and reflective of them- all the things I think a wedding should be. It was held at Anna Ranch, a place we toured last Summer while in Hawaii scouting for locations, and the reception was at the Mauna Kea near Kona. 30-something of their nearest and dearest made the trek across the ocean to join a week-long extravaganza of celebration, Hawaiian-style.

Steph got to the island a day early to be able to put together welcome bags to be waiting in the guests rooms. They had sunscreen, Kona beer, Maui chips, Macadamia nuts, and a schedule and map of the week’s events. A running theme for the wedding was bunting and stripes, which we included on the design of the schedule.

There was a hired photographer team for the wedding day, a great couple named James and Bev Rubio. I had my camera with me as well and I took photos before they arrived during Steph’s hair and makeup.

There was a lot of anticipation for us to see the bouquet. We carefully picked out each flower, the exact shade, what it would be wrapped with, etc. There’s a lot you learn when planning a destination wedding, and the biggest lesson is that you are very limited with the flowers based on season and location. The types of flowers we were dead-set on were the most delicate and didn’t grow in Hawaii, so they would have to be imported. One of the biggest scores of the wedding was finding the florist/coordinator, Annie Sundseth of Bliss in Bloom. Steph tracked her down (we’d briefly met her in Hawaii last Summer when she was delivering florals for a wedding at a resort we were checking out as a venue). Up until that point, we’d been shut down with our request for many of these types of flowers because of the fact that they might not hold up. Annie never said no to one request.

I tried to leave my camera alone so I could enjoy the day as much as I could once James and Bev met up with us, but it was all the more difficult when I got to see all the things we’d picked out all come together.

The shoes we picked out were navy and white striped, which matched the awnings on the ranch house. Happy accident!

This part of the island has very temperamental weather, so we had no idea if there would be rain, bright sun, or clouds. We had umbrellas just in case.

DIY elements at the ceremony: the hanging fabric blossoms for the backdrop made by Steph, pinwheels made by Annie, fabric braid aisle runners made by me.

I didn’t get photos of the hanging balls with blossoms and succulents inside because I was a bit too early- very upset about that!

Steph was concerned the most about the ceremony being too serious or impersonal, as ceremonies often are. So we came up with an idea to have some groups of people close to them write “what they think Steph and Erik’s vows would be to each other” to be read by Steph’s brother Jeff (the officiant) as a surprise to them, and it turned out to be one of the best parts of the whole wedding. It’s a sign of a good wedding when there are lots of photos of the bride and groom cracking up, in my opinion.

The cocktail hour had delicious food and beverages,



and some more photos. I managed to snap a few without getting in the way.

The reception was absolutely fabulous.

We made the menu and name flags, and had them wrapped by the same gray and white striped string that was used throughout the other details. The name flag was placed into a billy ball. Adorbs!

Annie provided a mixture of vintage vases with loose blossoms and succulents that ran along the middle of the long table, lined by a burlap runner. Annie was truly a find. I mean, with all the stuff that we made and shipped over there in addition to the things we picked out and instructed for her to have set up, she was able to execute these things from long distance and even provide more details that fit the theme perfectly.

Annie also provided the dessert table and dessert plates, and we made the title flags and the braided table runner, which was made from the leftovers from Stephanie’s Mom’s wedding dress that was shortened for their engagement photos.

We made the cake bunting and found the cake topper on etsy, which was customized to be wearing Steph and Erik’s outfits, and be joined by a mini Taco and The Dude (their cats). I really appreciated that The Dude is mustard yellow, one of the accent colors in the wedding.

One of important things about the reception was for it to not feel like a series of performances and events, so although DJ’s are great in certain circumstances, it wasn’t the right vibe for this wedding. So Steph and our friend Angela worked on an amazing playlist that transitioned from cocktails to dinner to dancing, and it was perfect. For the full playlist, go here.

We also had a photo booth backdrop which I had planned on using with off-camera lighting, but since I was a guest I had indulged in a little too much champagne and just went ahead and used my on camera flash. It turned out okay because we wanted them to look like old polaroids anyway- to see more booth and reception pics, check it out here.

We haven’t seen the photos from James Rubio yet, but I’m sure they will be absolutely beautiful!

For the full wedding site with photo galleries for the wedding, the details, and the week of events, check out

Forgot to thank Becca for assisting me with the detail photos, and Erik for helping me the whole day during the wedding and even taking some pics while I tried to put the camera down and participate 🙂

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  • Aw, what a great post. You totally outdid yourself and I hope you didn’t feel like you were ‘working’ the wedding. I am so glad I have a friend like you who I got to share a year worth of crazy wedding planning stress and excitement. How much better did you make this with your fabulous taste, opinions, patience and talent? Thank you for everything.ReplyCancel

    • You’re welcome, I’m glad I was able to help! You know how much I love spending other people’s money 🙂ReplyCancel

  • This made me jealous all over again—also, a few tears. WHAT? So beautiful. You guys did an amazing job!ReplyCancel

  • Wow wOw WoW, Leslie! What a beautiful montage of visuals! It was so neat to see each detail highlighted here by your perfect eye. Isn’t it amazing how all those things came together? Thank you for sharing with us… Blessed be.ReplyCancel

    • Thanks Kimberly! I’m very happy about how things came together, so many details, and not too matchy-matchy. So happy to share it with everyone!ReplyCancel

  • I don’t know how you do it, but you did it again, Leslie! You outdid yourself. The whole collection is just so creatively and lovingly put together. I know you spent some time on this, but also throughout the year, you added your touch and helped make the whole week fun, memorable, and just perfect. Jim and I both thank you for all your labor and care. Love the sign over Steph’s gown in Anna’s barn; loved your noticing the shoes and the striped awning of the ranch house being both blue and white; the photos of Steph and Erik under the umbrellas on the hill behind the ranch, the photo booth shots, I could just go on and on. Love that you include some of everyone’s photos in the miscellaneous section. We aren’t nearly as good as you, for sure, but it adds dimensions of the week that round it out. Kudoes to you! You’ve got a place at our table anytime any day.ReplyCancel

    • Thanks so much Barb! I’m so glad that the wedding turned out so well and the bride and groom seemed happy with it 🙂 Such a fun week!ReplyCancel

  • That’s just PERFECT! I don’t know what else to say – I am SO impressed, Leslie 🙂 (and Stephanie’s hair..!! gorgeous..)ReplyCancel