Real Weddings

Wonderfully Personalized Santa Monica Mountain Malibu and Vine Wedding Featuring Craft Beer & Tasty Treats

I adore Mara Levin & Doug Maxfield, FACT.  Not just because they had a super amazing wedding {which we’ll get to in a second} but because of the intense zest that they went about putting it all together, the work they did to make sure it was a true representation of the things they loved and well, probably one of the more prolific Novella of the Brides I have gotten in sometime!  What this means to me is that it is so very clear that Mara & Doug genuinely enjoyed the process, found out interesting things about themselves along the way and shared them with the world.  Case in point, they have a deep love for craft beer and sliders, in turn guests were treated to beer tastings & tasty sliders for cocktail hour while playing some super fun lawn games!  Mara & Doug have a major love for the outdoors {they meet training for a triathlon for crying out loud!} so naturally only an outdoor wedding surrounded by nature’s finest would do.  The day was rustic with a modern edge drenched in ivory & soft pale pink while more vocal colors came in the form of vibrant florals in strong deep hues as well as one adorable sprinkle wedding cake!  As the sun went down, the light strands kicked on, Mara & Doug were hoisted up into the air for the hora where Mara clearly had one heck of a good time!  I love how easily this sweet couple seemed to have personalized each detail, how much they enjoyed the experience and of course, how very much they love each other and its all so beautifully captured by Bright Bird Photography!


Novella of the Bride…

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…)

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 have frequented Malibu Family Winery many times throughout the years and it is one of our favorite places to spend a sunny afternoon sipping wine and listening to good music.  A colleague told me about their sister location, Malibu and Vine, and when we went to check it out – it was perfect!  With the wine barrel tables and metal tabletops, market lights, and gorgeous view of the Malibu Golf Course and Santa Monica mountains, it was an easy decision – THAT is where we wanted to get married!  Plus, it was close enough to where we live that we could always return to celebrate again and again.  On a more personal note, since we met training for the Malibu Triathlon, Doug and I have been biking in the Santa Monica mountains and canyons on a regular basis.  We have biked passed Malibu and Vine on a number of occasions…and so it was only fitting that we get married there as well!

When we started planning the details, we definitely had a certain vision. We had been to a TON of our friends’ weddings over the past few years and we had made mental notes of everything we liked (and disliked). I scoured wedding websites and blogs and craved over tiny wedding trinkets on Etsy for inspiration as well. And then it was all about making it come together for the big day!  We really wanted the wedding to feel personal so we created hand painted signs and small chalkboard menus for the bar and hor d’oeuvres. 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 ok, 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 sliders 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. We also helped the chef to put together a dinner menu that consisted of our favorite foods to eat, including mini S’mores tarts for dessert! Graciously, a family friend of ours had offered to bake us our wedding cake. We hadn’t planned on going the traditional route for the cake and honestly, were hoping that the tarts and mini cupcakes would suffice for our guests…and so we asked our friend to bake us a small cake (for us) that we’d “cut” (but not serve to everyone). This is where Etsy was a total inspiration for me. I had seen a picture of a yellow cake with chocolate ganache frosting layered inside, and the icing out the outside of the cake – the ENTIRE cake – was covered in rainbow sprinkles. There is nothing better than rainbow sprinkles in my mind. And so that is what we asked for. And that is what we got. And that is what our guests were devouring by the end of the night! It was so special…so different and fun!

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.

Bride’s Favorite Moment: “Doug and I both agree that the ceremony was our favorite moment of the wedding.  Many friends and family kept reminding us to look around us and take it all in…and there was no better time to do that than during the ceremony.  Up there under the chuppah, we looked out at all the smiling faces and realized how we were surrounded by so much love.  Our rabbi did an incredible job and really crafted the ceremony to us as couple and who we want to be as a family.  Unfortunately, not all of our loved ones could join us for our special day and so we made sure to include them, in same fashion, in the ceremony as well.  For example, not only did Doug wear my late “Poppop”‘s kippah (yarmulke), but we also used his kiddish (wine) cup and his tallit (prayer shawl) for the ceremony rituals as well.”

Advice to future couple’s: “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…”

Vendor Love

VenueMalibu and Vine  | Wedding Dress: WTOO “Emerson” Gown  | Bridal Boutique: Lovella Bridal  | Brides Earrings: BHLDN “Perito Moreno Earrings”  | Shoes: Caparros “Baldwin” & French Connection “”Dream”  | Hair: Essly Yeo  | Makeup: Davia Matson | Bridesmaid Dresses: Chosen individually ~BCBG, Max and Cleo, etc.  | Groom’s Suit: Ted Baker  | Groom’s Shoes: John Varvatos “NYC Wingtip Spectator Boot” & Saucony | Rings: Tacori  | Invitations: The Find Sac | Transportation: Student Transportation, Inc. (Yellow School Bus) | Music: My Quest Music Entertainment | Lighting: Malibu and Vine  | Rentals: Town & Country  | Ketubah: Ruth Mergi | Florist: Maggie Jensen Floral Co.  | CatererMalibu and Vine  | Baker: Deanie Hochman  | Officiant: Rabbi Lydia Medwin  | Week-of Coordinator: Events by M and M | Videographer: Craig Rowitz Photography & Video  | Photographer: Bright Bird Photography