Mara and Doug met while training for a triathlon and after months of flirting in spandex and wetsuits, something clicked. This adventurous couple loves early wakeup calls, 80 mile bike rides, dogs, good food, and to have a good time. Malibu and Vine provided a rustic, yet modern setting for their outdoor wedding celebration. They made sure that having fun was a priority with a relaxed backyard vibe, lawn games, sliders, and craft beer included! The location is also one that Mara and Doug biked by many times while training in the Santa Monica Mountains for the Malibu Triathlon – how perfect! From the bright yellow shoes, to the bright rustic bouquet and the beautiful love story (read below) there is so much to enjoy in this wedding. Thanks Bright Bird Photography for sharing with us!
From the Bride…
Before the Ring:
Doug and I met training for the 2009 Nautica Malibu Triathlon. I had just joined the Warner Bros. Triathlon Team, and Doug was the President of the team and our fearless leader. We seemed like opposites: I was very social, outgoing and loud; Doug was a little more on the quiet side, laid- back and reserved. But after a few months of flirting in spandex and wetsuits, something clicked. It turned out that we both loved adventure and the outdoors, 80’s rock music, dogs, and good food. And it helped that if I wanted to get up at 5:30 am to bike 80 miles in the mountains, he would join me. After I completed my first triathlon that September, we decided to go out and celebrate over burgers and craft beer. Within no time, we were dating (though it was really Doug’s German Shepard rescue named Kaiser who sealed the deal). Three years later, he proposed! (And I said YES…)
Doug and I had talked about our future together and there was no doubt we would get married. In the Spring of 2012, Doug decided to book us for an overnight trip at one of our favorite places to visit – Idyllwild – a small town in the San Jacinto Mountains (near Palm Springs). We had just recently gotten a second puppy (another German Shepard rescue, whom we named Zilla) and so we could bring the dogs with us, and relax. Around the same time, my friend who works in the engagement ring business had suggested that Doug and I come in for a tour of their offices, see how the rings are made, and try on a few different designs. Doug was into all of it…and so we scheduled an appointment for the end of May, a few weeks after our scheduled trip to Idyllwild. That was it – I was now totally 100% convinced Doug didn’t have the ring yet; and I was certain that there wouldn’t be a proposal in Idyllwild.
On May 12th 2012, we arrived in Idyllwild and dropped our luggage off at the cabin we had rented. We immediately set off for a mid-afternoon hike with the dogs, up the Devil’s Slide trail. It was hot. And although the dogs were pulling us up the mountain, this wasn’t the “relaxing” vacation that Doug had promised. We had decided to hike to “Saddle Junction” in hopes of finding a nice resting spot where we could snack and let the dogs rest, however, when we arrived at the junction, it was nothing other than a wooden sign in the forest. I was ready to turn around – it was getting later in the afternoon and we still had to hike back down the mountain, shower and get to our 8 pm dinner reservations in town. But Doug determined to find a picturesque spot where we could just sit for a few minutes – afterall, we had already hiked so far! And so we continued on and eventually (ok, we veered off-path just a little!) we found an area with these big rocks and a great view of the valley below us. We snacked on some chips and then Doug suggested we move to a spot off the rocks so that we could let the dogs off their leashes for a bit. I was annoyed and really wanted to head back down the mountain, but agreed. It WAS beautiful: the sun was just starting to set and it was so peaceful and secluded!
That’s when it all began… (Side note: We are those people who talk to our dogs to talk to each other; I guess you could say we talk THROUGH our dogs to talk to each other!) So Doug says (directed at the dogs, who were probably trying to dig out the chip crumbs from the amongst the rocks): “Ok dogs, I need to ask your mom a difficult question.” My ears perked up and all of the sudden, I realized what was about to happen. And all I could think about was how I probably had chips in my teeth, how I had a bungee cord around my waist and how I was covered in dirt! Doug continued: “I don’t think I can call her my girlfriend anymore…I think it’s about time I call her my fiancé!” And that is when Doug pulled out a small blue Tacori box and got down on one knee…and asked me to marry him! Of course I said yes and immediately kissed him. I was SO excited! To be honest, I always thought I would be a hysterical crying mess at this point. I mean, I cry at commercials on TV for goodness sake. But I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and I was just simply ecstatic! And the ring was GORGEOUS! To top it all off, Doug pulled out a chilled bottle of champagne which he had kept hidden in his backpack (throughout the entire hike) so that we could celebrate! (And yes, my friend back home in Los Angeles was in on the whole scam. They got me GOOD!)
Inspiration for the Day:
We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding – something rustic, yet modern. We also knew that we didn’t want anything too fancy; if we were asking our guests to travel to California in the summertime and sit in the sun while we said our “I Do’s,” we wanted to make sure that they were comfortable…and that they were going to have LOTS of fun too.
We really wanted the wedding to feel personal so we created hand painted signs and small chalkboard menus for the bar and h’orderves. We personalized cornhole sets and set up ladder ball on the lawn so that our guests could enjoy a few games during the cocktail hour. Leading up to the reception, we even instructed the DJ to play a mixture of blues and funk music. It was all about making our guests feel like they were at a party in our backyard…but in dresses and suits.
One of our favorite date nights is to go out for burgers and beer, and so we decided that we wanted to offer our guests a selection of slider and beer tastings for the cocktail hour! Of course, we had to have a beef slider, but in honor of my Maryland roots, the chef made a crabcake slider, and we had a portobello slider for the vegetarians as well. Doug worked with the chef to hand-pick the craft beer selections, making sure to include his favorite -Stone IPA. We also offered specialty cocktails, including mai tais (in honor of Doug’s parents who live in Hawaii) and the French 75 so we could indulge in our love of the gin and champagne concoction.
Another one of my favorite things we did for the wedding (and this was totally Doug’s idea) was gifting the groomsmen with bright yellow running shoes to wear for the reception. Doug has a closet of sneakers (he’s the Fitness Director at Warner Bros., so they are part of his work attire) and he is well-known for his flashy yellow runners. So when the wedding party made their grand entrance to the reception, all of the guys were sporting these great yellow sneakers! And for that finishing touch, I changed into a cool pair of retro yellow heels for our entrance as well.
In his circle of friends, Doug is known as “The Doug.” So when we first started dating, his friends took to calling us “The Dougs.” Yes, plural. We customized our wedding site to include our little moniker, and even had our beer tasting mugs personalized with “The Dougs” as well. So naturally, we wanted our big music choices to represent “The Dougs” too. When it came time for us to walk down the aisle after “the big kiss,” we didn’t want to follow suit with something traditional or cheesy. What better way to celebrate our newly wedded bliss with none other than Queen’s “Bicycle Race” for our recessional song then! And for our first dance? Again, it had to be “us.” So we thank INXS for allowing us to make their 1987 hit “Never Tear Us Apart” our rockin’ wedding song.
Advice to Future Couples:
Planning your wedding SHOULD be a really fun time for both the bride and the groom. It’s easy to get lost in all the research, preparation details, contracts, and checklists though. My first piece of advice is to get yourself organized – whether it is creating one of those “wedding notebooks” that holds all of your research and vendor contact information, or putting together a checklist with deadlines – DO IT. I found that I didn’t always file the documents in the correct place in my notebook or meet my proposed timelines, but I knew where I could find everything and what I needed to accomplish. My second piece of advice is to not be afraid to ask for help. It’s a big undertaking to plan a wedding, so whether you hire a planner, a week-of coordinator, or just ask your friends and family for help here and there – DO IT. No one is going to reprimand the bride (or groom) for bringing others on board to make this day even more special. And my final piece of advice? HAVE FUN! I always had this in the back of my mind when I was planning my wedding. I knew that the second I started to really get aggravated, frustrated, or upset at something (or someone), I had to take a step back, breathe, and re-assess; and remind myself that I was about to marry the man of my dreams…
Photographer: Bright Bird Photography / Venue: Malibu and Vine / Floral Design: Maggie Jensen Floral Co. / Dress Designer: WTOO (Emerson Gown), from Lovella Bridal / Bridesmaids: BCBG, Max & Cleo etc chosen individually / Bride’s Shoes: Caparros (Baldwin in Champagne) for ceremony and French Connection (Dream in Yellow/Clear ) for reception / Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN (Perito Moreno Earrings) / Hair Stylist: Essly Yeo / Makeup Artist: Davia Matson / Groom’s Suit: Ted Baker “Ceddway Cotton Oxford” waistcoat (vest) and trousers with Express shirt / Groom’s Shoes: John Varvatos (NYC Wingtip Spectator Boot) for ceremony and Saucony for reception / Rings: Tacori / Invitations: The Find Sac / Live Music & DJ: Mike West of My Quest Music Entertainment / Lighting: Malibu and Vine / Rentals: Town & Country / Ketubah: Ruth Mergi / Catering: Malibue and Vine / Officiant: Rabbi Lydia Medwin / Week-of Wedding Coordinator: Meg West of Events by M and M