Real Essense of Australia Bride Emily + Jon

Emily knew she wanted a classic wedding – and a wedding dress that felt timeless and elegant. Saying “I do” to groom Jon felt like a dream but that was exactly what she wanted. Their wedding theme was “rustic elegance” they were married at the beautiful West Shore Café and Inn located in Homewood, California – right on the waters of the west shore in Lake Tahoe. After attending the University of Nevada, Ren, Emily and Jon spent many weekends, summers, and vacations in Lake Tahoe and always knew they wanted to return to the lake to get married.

The Proposal

Jon and I officially started dating shortly before senior prom in high school, so I suppose you can call us “high school sweethearts”! We were planning to celebrate our nine year dating anniversary with a weekend getaway to Sedona, Arizona. I was looking forward to hiking in the beautiful desert landscape and enjoying our anniversary dinner at our favorite restaurant in the area, Eloté Café. We drove from Phoenix to Sedona on the day of our anniversary, April 2, 2016, and stopped at the Bell Rock trail for a hike. We had packed a picnic lunch and stopped for a break after hiking the trail in the morning. The weather was perfect: bright blue, sunny skies above us created a sharp contrast to the vibrant red rocks around us. After enjoying our picnic, we walked the trail to a stunning view overlooking Courthouse Butte. I paused to enjoy the view; I then turned back to Jon and found him on one knee. He simply and sweetly said, “Emily, will you marry me?” To be honest, I was so surprised that the first words out of my mouth were, “Babe, are you kidding?!” Yes, even after dating for nine years, Jon could still completely surprise me!

Finding the wedding dress

I always had in mind a bridal look that would be classic, timeless, and elegant. My favorite bridal styles were Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s minimalistic sheath dress that evoked for me old-world Hollywood glamour. I also loved Kate Middleton’s all-over lace bodice and V-neck gown. I wanted to combine these looks somehow and sought a dress that was in a form-fitting sheath style with lace elements. I tried on many dresses by various designers, but nothing stuck. I loved several Essense of Australia dresses online and finally visited Ivory Row Bridal Salon in Phoenix that offered many of your styles. I tried on the sleeveless version of D2124 and fell in love! It had everything I was looking for: a luxuriously smooth and fitted crepe skirt, gorgeous lace bodice, and buttons from neckline to train. This dress clearly stood out from the rest; I had found “the one”!

The wedding

We said our vows in the grass overlooking the water; had cocktail hour on the deck, and moved inside the restaurant for dinner and dancing. We had originally planned for dinner on the deck or the pier, but the weather dramatically changed overnight; we are so glad we moved the majority of the festivities inside! Our florist decorated the dinner tables with boxes of white flowers and green foliage alongside candles in clear hurricanes and silver votives. We kept the look clean and crisp with white table linens and added natural burlap runners to the tables.

Emily in Essense of Australia D2124

My bridesmaids wore beautiful lavender-gray dresses by Ivy & Aster; the green and white bouquets against their dresses was incredibly soft and romantic. In contrast with the soft, feminine colors, my husband and his groomsmen wore deep navy suits from Suit Supply. Jon and I wanted a simple and timeless overall look – we believe we achieved just that!

To personalize our day and acknowledge our families who have supported us throughout our lives, we wanted to interweave small personal touches to various aspects of the day. First, I surprised my parents by walking down the aisle with my dad to a cover of their wedding song (Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, covered by Kina Grannis). During the ceremony, as an alternative to the “unity candle”, Jon and I decided on including a “wine box ceremony” and wrote love letters to each other, placing them in a box with a good bottle of wine and sealing the box to be opened in the future. We hand-finished and painted the box ourselves with our wedding date and an outline of Lake Tahoe.

During dinner, my parents loaned us the coupe champagne glasses that they used on their wedding day, etched with the words “bride” and “groom”. We also had a table of framed photographs of our parents and grandparents on their respective wedding days, including a photograph of Jon’s parents in Lake Tahoe, coincidentally the destination where they had their first vacation together as a couple. Lastly, for guest favors, we wrapped English toffee made from scratch by Jon’s dad in individual gift bags; the toffee is Jon’s grandmother’s secret recipe and a big family favorite during the holiday season.

As any bride would say of her wedding day, it truly is difficult to choose just one special moment! One of my favorite memories was the Father-Daughter First Look. My now-husband and I wanted the traditional aisle reveal, so instead, I choose to do the first look with my dad. Our videographer captured the moment so perfectly – my dad’s reaction to seeing me in my Essense of Australia wedding dress for the first time is something I will never forget. My dad is the rock of our family; his emotional reaction in the moments before the wedding ceremony did not leave a dry eye in the room.

Photography by Kay Kroshus