Joanna & Nolan’s California Whimsy Wedding

by | Bride, Inspired Weddings, International,


Joanna and Nolan

I’m pretty tunnel visioned when it comes to weddings on Polka Dot Bride – they have to be Australian or have a link to Australia. But then, I know our readers span much wider than just this little (big?) continent we call our own and I know that the USA is a massive proportion of our readership, so every now and then a little USA or international gem pops into my inbox and I have to share it. Like this gorgeous, whimsical celebration from California. It’s all sunshine and happiness (and maybe unicorns) and a delight and that is after all what I love to show off!

Joanna recalls their story. “We met in my hometown of San Luis Obispo. He was a leader at my youth group while I was still in high school! We didn’t really get to know each other until a few years later. We started writing letters while we were both working at summer camps. After that summer, I studied abroad in Italy where we continued to email and send packages. After I moved back to the states, we began officially dating.”

Photos today are by Kayla Adams whose photos are full of sunshine, light and lots and lots of happy.

Joanna wore a gown and shoes from The Dresser, she paired it with a vintage birdcage veil and gold leaf hair piece from Etsy. Lori Boe Floral Design styled the floral arrangements.

Joanna and Nolan met before the ceremony. Of their photographer, Joanna says “She was amazing. Professional, yet totally calm and collected. It felt like they were guests at the wedding- they just happened to have cameras in their hands! Kayla even went above and beyond and took some photos outside of our good friends who were pregnant and wanted some maternity photos. We were thrilled with how everything came out.”

Joanna says “Our wedding had a spirit of joy, a deep eternal joy, and so much amazing dancing- our wedding was a BLAST. So fun!”

Joanna’s family played instruments during the ceremony forming a family band. Joanna says “I walked down the aisle to “Come Thou Fount” by Sufjan Stevens. My brother played the banjo. The song has such amazing lyrics, they penetrate me deeply- so to have my little brother play a song that I loved so much while walking towards my future husband was really moving. ”

Joanna and Nolan held their ceremony and reception at Cambria Pines Lodge . Joanna remembers, “Our venue was gorgeous- the entire place is littered with gorgeous flowers- creating a beautiful backdrop no matter where you were. ”

The ceremony was the most memorable moment for Joanna who recalls, “Being able to marry my husband was amazing. That was the most special part! Having our closest family and friends all in one place at one time celebrating was surreal. That will never happen again- and I feel so blessed to have experienced such a joyful time with the people that mean the most to us. Having one of my good friends and family play the music at our ceremony was amazing. My brother wrote a song specifically for our wedding and sang it as Nolan and I washed each other’s feet at the ceremony. My sister was my maid of honor and she gave a wonderful speech that left the entire venue balling at our reception. The feet washing at our ceremony was really beautiful and one of my favorite moments. It brought us into our marriage serving each other- which is what we intend to do throughout the rest of our marriage. Humble ourselves, put the other first and serve them.”

The cake was “Made by one of my bridesmaids, Kielly Lewis, who is a wonderful baker!”

Being a graphic designer, Joanna made most of the stationery herself. She explains “I’m a graphic designer- so I did the invitations, party favor tags, as well as the programs. I created a cute little logo to go on all of our items, it was two homes overlapping with a heart over it. It represented both of us creating a new home. Home was the theme of the wedding. We both had moved around so much and hadn’t lived in one place for over a year. So as we were getting married, we were finally finding a home within each other.  Our DIY’s really represented this. We had a mailbox holding the programs, books and jars as centerpieces, and homemade chocolate chip cookies as the favor. Alana from Love Me Simple was amazing at taking all of this stuff I had picked up over our engagement at thrift stores and garage sales, and putting them all together to create a homey experience for us and our guests.” Guests received homemade chocolate chip cookies made by Joanna and her bridesmaids.

The first dance was a little different. Says Joanna “Our first dance was to the song “The Call” by Regina Spektor. It was such an unusual song for a first dance. I don’t think it has the word love in it once! This song is more about life. It’s passings and comings, and the friends you keep along the way. It was another song that stirred such deep feelings within my husband and I, that we decided to have it be the first song we danced to as husband and wife. Because that’s exactly what we’re doing- walking through life together!”

The evening of dancing was one of Joanna’s favourite memories. She recalls “The dancing at our wedding was insane. We had talked to our DJ before our wedding about having to warm up the dance floor to get people up… lets just say there was NO need for that. The minute the DJ invited our guests up to dance- people swarmed! We were surrounded by these crazy dancing people everywhere! From that moment on it was non stop for hours. I’ll never forget the one moment I was dancing- stopped and looked around and saw how much fun everyone was having. It was incredible. Laughter and smiles enveloped that place. To think that these were both Nolan and I’s closest friends and family that will never be together like this again was unreal. It was a highlight of our wedding for sure. ”

Congratulations Joanna and Nolan. Thank you  for sharing your wedding day with us. Thank you also to Kayla Adams for sharing today’s happy images.


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  • Bridesmaid Accessories
  • Handmade
  • Invitations & Stationery
  • Designed by bride
  • DJ
  • Robin Cortez
  • Wedding Film | Polka Dot Bride says:
    July 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    […] and Nolan’s California Whimsy Wedding Filmby Polka Dot BrideWhen Joanna told me her story of her wedding day, she made sure to mention the film. Shot by Ryan of McDuff Productions it captures the light […]

  • Serge (DJ:Plus! Entertainment) says:
    July 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Love Love Love this wedding!! Beautiful couple, beautiful story and fabulous photographs….so it is easy to see why you made an exception to the ‘connection with Australia’ rule. So glad you did…thank you!!

  • Annalisa says:
    July 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    looooveee this wedding :X:X:X:X so beautiful :X:XX the bride is so sweet! love her dress…love all about this

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    […] In one of the rare times that we feature a gorgeous wedding from across the seas, Groom Nolan shared these moving memories with us from his California Whimsy Wedding. […]

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