A Wedding at the Secret Garden A Wedding at the Secret Garden
Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you... A Wedding at the Secret Garden

Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any cultural or religious traditions in any part of your day?

A1: Our inspiration was sophisticated Latin. Our venue included a Spanish styled house and Spanish cuisine. Our guests arrived to music by Ottmar Lieberman, Nuevo flamenco. Our first dance was to the bachata version of “Stand by me.”  We decided on a unity ceremony that was extrapolated from many cultures and can be described as a lasso ceremony. A beautiful beaded piece of jewelry which closely resembles a rosary is placed around the neck of each participant while a blessing is said. this lasso then remains in the home eternally. A chosen individual is selected to be responsible for lasso and then bring it up during the ceremony to help the officiant place it around the couple.  Our biggest goal was to throw one hell of a party.

Q2: Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?

A2: We chose our venue because it stands alone without needing anything to make it more beautiful than it already is. The landscaping for the outdoor ceremony is a testament to the beauty of Phoenix. The mission style reception hall features a beautiful white light backdrop and decorative lit trees. . All we added were additional white lights to the already provided table lanterns.

Q: What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?

A: This was an area we did not focus our budget towards. We designed our bouquets with the help of Pinterest and the floral department of a local Safeway grocery store.  The ladies there did a phenomenal job. We then used the bridesmaids bouquets in addiction to ours to add to the tables.

Q: Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

A: Our DJ was integral in helping us personalize our day. We sat down together and hand picked songs from the guests entry to our departure and everything in between. Similarly, we chose an officiant who would get to know us and our relationship in order to create a meaningful and unique ceremony which truly represented us.There’s no way to narrow down our favorite portions of our night…First look, gift exchange, wedding party toast before the ceremony, our vows, our celebratory recessional, entering the hall as Dr. and Mrs., first dance, speeches from our loving bridesmaids, a non stop dance party and last but not least, our sparkler exit.

Q: Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.

A: Celena – Google searched the features she wanted then visited bridal shops with pictures of inspiration. Lillian Lottie provided the overall best experience, selection and customer service.  She also wanted something comfortable, sexy but classy and fun. The Sofia Tolli collection provided all that and more. Accessories were provided by Swarovski crystals when offer affordable luxury. Celena’s look – Two pieces: a strapless, valentine corset over top a flowing, 5-layered skirt featuring tulle and a long train. The dress was paired with crystal slippers by Steve Madden and a couture, crystal, cathedral veil from Lillian Lottie.  Amber – Duane Althoff is a personal shopper inside Nordstrom’s at Scottsdale fashion square mall. You can meet with him and show him pictures of what you are looking for or come in with a blank canvas. He needs a few weeks to pull samples together and then brings you in to try on different looks. There are no charges associated with this service. He nailed Amber‘s look and provided options we never would have dreamed of ourselves. When all was said and done he made her look and feel like the most beautiful version of herself we could’ve ever dreamed of. Ambers look – a figure flattering, tailored, all black women’s suit. The pants were a high wasted, skinny pant. The feminine jacket was closed with a single button and was accessorized with black zipper pockets. In lieu of a traditional shirt was a black lace, t-back bodysuit. She danced the night away with shiny, patent leather shoes.

Q: How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

A: Both Arizona natives, we met online after Celena graduated from veterinary school and moved back to Arizona. Amber had also left Arizona for the military and returned a few years prior.  The weeks surrounding our meeting, Amber was diagnosed with breast cancer. Going through this very long battle side by side really led us through many of life’s challenges more quickly than your average relationship. Amber: I knew for a while I wanted to propose but I didn’t want her to see it coming. I planned monthly dates for us to throw her off the scent. We went on a boat cruise at the lake with music, horseback riding, special dinners. All so when we planned a trip out of town and didn’t seem suspicious. So I planned a winetasting tour weekend in Cottonwood for us. On our drive up, I told her we would be arriving to early for our dinner reservation. Being the animal lover that she is I suggested we stop at a park where I was told we would see lots of wild life. When we arrived I had hired a photographer to capture the moment incognito. The whole ride up I knew the words I wanted to say. But when it came down to it, she saw it in my eyes and we both started crying so I could only whisper the words. Thankfully, she said yes! We celebrated the whole weekend with a very romantic stay at The Tavern Hotel.

Q: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

A: We both absolutely could not wait for the first look. We were so excited to see the love in each other’s eyes. We looked forward to our vows so much, but more importantly … the opportunity to be able to call each other, “my wife” and celebrate in all that glory with everyone we loved.

Q: Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?

A: 1.  Give yourself a year and a half to plan. Time goes by so fast. It’ll give you a couple months to breathe before the big day. 2.  Bridal shows are your friend. Go early in the planning stages. 3. When you find the venue you want, sign your contract on an open house night. They often have extra perks. 4.  Shop for wedding shoes over the holiday season. Especially January so you can hit the good sales. 5.  If you have a lot of out of town wedding party memebers or guests, plan a little party/get together the day after the wedding to be able to spend time with them. 6. We took a month off from our wedding day to our honeymoon. It was nice to relax and be wives for a bit. It also gave us time to pack and prepare without stress in addition to giving us a little something more to look forward to. 7. Last but not least, take time to just stop and take it all in. It’s your wedding, it’s only going to happen once! Make it an intention to just hold each other and watch the celebration once or twice through to the night. You’ll never forget it!

Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie

Dress Designer: Sofia Tolli
DJ: The Beat Booth
Cake Designer: Inspired Sugar
Caterer: Creative Hands Cuisine
Ceremony Location: The Secret Garden Event Center
Photographer: Laura Segall Photography