Real Wedding: Jessica + Tyler’s Intimate Monterey Wedding

I have such a sweet wedding to share with you all today. The talented Max Wanger is the photographer – and the bride is also a wedding photographer! Jessica + Tyler were married in an intimate seaside wedding in Monterey, Ca. I love Jessica’s hairpiece and awesome dress – and just wait until you see Tyler’s first look reaction – love!! Jessica was sweet enough to share some details into their lovely day with us. Thanks Jessica!

Our wedding was pretty small (about 35 people), so we wanted it to feel intimate and really us. I also wanted some elements of our backgrounds to come through. Some Latin American influence and some Coastal Californian influence. The setting provided this alone, but our ring pillow was also made with a handkerchief of a map of California.

band do flower wedding

handkerchief ring pillow

My brother painted our invitation and map for us. My family is Nicaraguan and my brother’s art is inspired by Latin American folkloric art. He (Carlos Quadra) painted us under the crooked tree, and I had the cards printed through Digital Lizard. I used Photoshop to use parts of the painting for our RSVP cards.

hand painted wedding invitation

Most memorable moment of your wedding day? We did a “first look” rather than waiting to see each other until the ceremony. Max said Tyler’s was the best groom reaction he’d ever seen. Seeing his reaction was so sweet and exciting! Our dear friend, Amanda Stuart, officiated the ceremony and did an amazing job. The three of us met in graduate school for English and Creative Writing, so she told the story of our relationship and broke each section up into “chapters.” At one moment, she had us pause and take a look at each person there and it was such an emotional feeling. We realized all the effort we put into planning the wedding and getting everyone together came through. So happy.

carmel wedding max wanger

max wanger wedding photography

cliffside wedding

Tyler proposed under this beautiful crooked cypress in Pacific Grove, CA on the Monterey Peninsula almost exactly one year before our wedding date. We simply call it “The Crooked Tree.” We’re huge John Steinbeck fans so we loved visiting this area where so many of his novels take place.

cliffside wedding carmel

max wanger wedding photography

wedding photography california max wanger

carmel wedding

max wanger photography

I designed our menu cards as well with Mexican papel picado (paper flags) across the top. We gave mixed cds as our favors. Our relationship began by exchanging “mixed tapes,” so we thought this would be appropriate. We had custom cds I designed to look like records printed through Mixonic and I stuffed them in square vellum envelopes tied with baker’s twine.

wedding menu mexican

We had a croquembouche (french “wedding cake” comprised of a tower of cream puffs) made by Pâtisserie Bechler in Pacific Grove. I made our cake topper out of clay I bought at Michael’s. I really wanted a figurine of a bride and groom on a tandem bicycle but couldn’t find anything in our budget. I made it and it turned out better than I expected! (You can see a better pic in the beginning of the post.)

cream puff wedding cake

Our reception was at Esteban’s (a restaurant specializing in Spanish Tapas) at Casa Munras Hotel in Monterey. We had originally booked the reception at a local restaurant only to learn that we had been double-booked and just one month before the wedding! Casa Munras’s event coordinator, Susan, came to the rescue. She was incredibly accommodating and had our spot and menu booked within a week. Phew.

bride with headpiece

mexican paper picados wedding

Any advice for those planning now? If you’re not having a religious ceremony or ceremony in a house of worship, I highly recommend asking a close friend or family member to officiate. It makes things more personal and meaningful. Shooting weddings, I’ve seen a lot of ceremonies, and it’s always those weddings that are most memorable. The ceremony should be the most important part of the day – not your flowers, not your cake. Put time into planning your ceremony and don’t be afraid to tell your officiant exactly what you want it to be. Our friend Amanda collected stories via email from our friends and families about us individually and as a couple and integrated these into our ceremony. I also highly highly recommend doing a “first look.” I felt so anxious up until the moment I saw Tyler. When it came time for the ceremony, I was so present, and walking down the aisle toward him, I was 100% nerves-free.

Also, since I didn’t have bridesmaids, I asked my best friends to wear blue (any shade/print, etc.) and that snowballed into asking our immediate families to do the same and then eventually all our guests. It looked really awesome I think and made for cool photos.

Photography: Max Wanger (all photos above by Max with the exception of the invitation)
Wedding Dress: I fell in love with a Monique Lhuillier gown that cost more than my entire wedding budget, so I had a local designer in Orange County (where we’re from) make my dress and it was inspired by the original…Her name is Dorie Kong of L’Mode Bridal. She did a fantastic job and it cost me less than $1000.
Shoes: Nina Shoes
Hairpieces: I love their hair pieces! I also wore one for my bridal shower.
Groom Suit: J. Crew. His tie is from Zara.
Floral Design: My friend Nick McCoy works for an awesome wholesale flower company based in Carlsbad. He worked with me on choosing my flowers, mostly ranunculus, and had them shipped to Monterey the day before. My mom made all the centerpieces, bouts, corsages and bouquets.
Catering: Esteban’s – Spanish Tapas.

Thanks Jessica + Tyler for sharing your lovely wedding with us and big congrats to you guys! Thanks also to Max for letting me share your amazing photos on Green Wedding Shoes again.

Max Wanger lives in Los Angeles and is available for travel worldwide.

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  1. Stunning, I love ALL the little details!

  2. Everything about this wedding just seems to fall in place. The couple is too adorable together, that dress is out of this world, and that tree is like a divine gift from God. Totally amazing inspiration!

  3. Where did you have the CDs made? We are having mixed CDs for our wedding as well but haven’t found a company to do them yet. Love everything about this wedding!

  4. this is an insanely beautiful wedding! I love her hair!

  5. I just love everything about this wedding!! Max did an amazing job once again!

  6. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING….perfection in everyway!!!

  7. thank you so much, jen, for this incredible post! we are so flattered! and thank you everyone for the sweet comments. moxi04 – i ordered the cds from thanks again everyone! xo

  8. I love these pictures!!!! So romantic!

  9. YAY! I am Jessica & my fiance’s name is Tyler. We are getting married in 5 weeks & also are having 35 people – SO cool to see this post & it makes me even more thrilled to be having an intimate wedding. We too are having a friend to the officiating & can’t imagine it any other way. Congrats to you both & thank you for sharing!

  10. oh, how lovely! and the bride’s dress is fab!

  11. Loved how they worked the California theme into the details of the wedding-especially the ringbearer’s cushion!

  12. This photography is wowing me right now. I love the style and the attention to detail and everything! Their paperie?! WORD! Lots of GREAT details about this wedding!

  13. I adore the stationery. There are so many things I love about it – from the groom’s expressions of delight to the personal nature of the wedding to the blue guests. Such a beautiful wedding.

  14. The bride’s style is to die for! I love every detail – the hair piece, swide swept hair, the pearls. My favorite is her Monique Lhuillier-inspired gown!

  15. I love your photos! It is really a challenge to prepare for your own wedding but hey you’re happy right so no problem! I was just looking around blogs for good card making ideas then I stumble upon this blog and I think I’m getting good insights for my own wedding. Thanks!

  16. It’s very rare that I see a wedding this beautiful and thoughtful…’s refreshing! So many of the photos made me smile and I just loved the tree they had the ceremony under.

  17. So many lovely details!

  18. I love the picture of the bride in that blue robe! Does anyone know where I can find that?

  19. the headpiece is gorgeous!

    im so glad im plan on getting married in the OC maybe i can track down that local designer :)

  20. This was such a cute weding and Max did a great job photographing it. Congrats to the bride and groom!

  21. Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for the compliment! That blue robe is “darling jardin bleu” from plum pretty sugar loungerie. It is one of my favorite pretties to get ready in or for bridesmaids gifts:). XO

  22. Love the old fashioned feel the postcard ring holder and the mariachi band.. Excellenta


  23. Jessica,
    It is so nice to see other Nicaraguan women with gorgeous taste! I’m getting married next year and want our wedding full of vintage, glamour, and lots of love! I think you have accomplished all of that! Thank you for sharing. Congratulations Nica! :)

    from one nica to another :)

  24. Jessica
    Congrats on your wedding. You look beautiful.
    By the way, I heard Jessica is an amazing photograher. Please contact her if you need a one based in Southern California. She is a very accomondating person to work with. She has a great pleasant personality to be around. I personally experienced it for 6-8 times interacting with her.
    I highly recomemd any brides who are looking for a decent professional photogragher.


  25. Jessica Alvarado on:

    Hi Jess! Nice name BTW. Where did you get married at?! I absolutely love the cypress tree and the beautiful colors! That’s exactly what I’m looking for!

  26. This is really beautiful wedding photography. This couple was fortunate to have such a talented photographer. I love Pacific Grove!

  27. Lots of happiness and joyous moments captured here. Very nice wedding!


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