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Surprise downtown LA wedding reception: Jen + Kat

September 24, 2015
Wedding cakes

Jen and Kat. They met at all-girls Catholic school. They ended up at NYU. They started dating after graduation. They took things slow, and so did California law. All in all, it gave them plenty of time to build their love story, be inspired by their friends’ loves, and dream big for their one-day wedding, which ended up being a total surprise for everyone they knew. We’ve got the whole story (keep reading!), which pairs quite nicely with Jenn Emerling’s amaze photos of the day.

Modern wedding portrait Wedding favors

Jen explains, Making everything a surprise removed the weight of expectations and gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted. Being a gay couple, that was especially empowering because already the traditional ceremonial norms didn’t necessarily apply or weren’t available to us (e.g., we were both raised Catholic, but couldn’t get married in the church). So, with the exception of our immediate family, we planned on surprising everyone from our would-be-bridesmaids to the remaining guest list.

Wedding decor Wedding portrait

The plan started with sending out a save the date with a fake date, then an invite for an engagement dinner, that turned out to be the reception. (For a few out of town guests, they sent a follow up that explained it would actually be the wedding.)

Modern wedding reception Floral backdrop

The first part was an intimate ceremony for closest friends and family. Their girlfriends showed up for pre-wedding festivities…

When they arrived for what they thought would be an English Tea brunch at Central Park Playa Vista, they were instead greeted by us in our white dresses for a surprise wedding ceremony in one of our favorite open spaces in Los Angeles. They still got brunch as promised, but they were treated to a surprise ceremony too and after that, a surprise trip to Disneyland because the happiest of events should be celebrated at the happiest place on earth.

Escort card display Wedding favors Wedding tablescape

Did we mention they sent over a heaping Pinterest board full of wedding inspiration?

Fall wedding florals White balloons Jenn Emerling’s availability lined up perfectly with their venue, the rad space at 100 Years, who Jen has worked with. They lucked out since it’s not an *actual* venue!

Whimsical tablescape Whimsical place setting

After all the excitement, they wanted to host an equally special party with the rest of their crew, which is why this surprise wedding reception was in order. Not only did it include all these incredible deets created by the brides themselves, but guests showed up for a rehearsal dinner to be blown away by the big surprise that they had already said I do. (Video below!)

Wedding drinks Whimsical tablescape Photobooth

Everything about the reception was totally DIY to the tune of a pop-up shop meets Grand Central Market. They had different stations, such as Flipbooth LA, a floral stall, and whiskey bar, all brought together via lots of talented friends!

Wedding macarons Wedding cake

Now for the cute video that they announced their marriage with during the reception…

Jennifer and Katherine from We Call This Love on Vimeo.

The enthusiastic response of cheers from our guests after watching the video and registering the surprise was truly heartening and we knew we had made the right decision. After the video finished screening, we emerged from a ready room, thanked our guests for being a part of our Big Day, and had a round of hugs with the whole reception. The rest was a blur of dinner, dancing, dessert, and trips to the Flipbooth and the airstream trailer whiskey bar.

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  • Wedding portrait
  • Escort card display
  • Wedding food
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Beautiful story, fabulous party. Congratulations guys!

Photographer: Jenn Emerling / Ceremony Videographer: We Call This Love / Event Coordination: Ana Villalpando of Bien Fete Events / Event Designers: Jen & Kat / Florist: Of The Flowers / Hair & Makeup: Jen’s sister, Michelle Samson / Digital Graphic & Printed Invitation: Paperless Post / Cakes: Hot Cakes Bakes / Custom Cocktails & Bar: Sip in LA / Catering: Little Nelly / Photo Booth: Flipbooth LA / DJ: Romeo Joson / Jen’s Dress: Stella McCartney / Shoes: Kate Spade / Kat’s Dress: Phillip Lim / Shoes: Kate Spade / Accessories Bottega Veneta & Kate Spade