My friend was giving me that 'my-amazing-new-boyfriend-has-a-friend' thing, and I wasn't buying it.

Jesse and I met when our friends came into town; his best friend and my best friend had just started dating and were visiting her family in Santa Barbara. I had recently returned from living abroad, and my friend was giving me that 'my-amazing-new-boyfriend-has-a-friend' thing, and I wasn't buying it. 

From the first time we spoke he expected something from me I had rarely encountered- honest, thoughtful answers. I was immediately drawn in. Plus, he was wearing these great rugged boots with his suit jacket. I asked him out on our first date- Harry Potter at the drive-in with hard cider and peanut butter cups. On the drive home he played me Ryan Adams for the first time.



Jesse is unlike anyone I've ever known, let alone dated. Our first few dates were an indicator of so many of the things I love most about him- his strong values, his independent mind, and his willingness to disagree with me. 


I knew I loved Jesse months before he told me, and was agonizing over it for months, knowing I needed to wait and let him get there on his own. Then one night it was late, and we were just lying there talking and being quiet together, and he said, quietly and deliberately, "Joya, I love you." It was the best feeling ever, and I'm so glad I waited.


By the time he proposed, we had been together for three years, and talked about marriage in general much more than we talked about our marriage, although we knew that's what we both wanted. He planned an elaborate surprise rooftop proposal, complete with candles, a slideshow of pictures and home movies, and a celebration right afterward with family and friends. He picked out the ring entirely on his own- a 100-year-old rose gold beauty set with a pearl and rose-cut diamonds. It was the best night of my life.



After we got engaged, we toyed with the idea of eloping or having a surprise wedding, but I think we knew the whole time that we wanted a somewhat traditional wedding. We had it at the Ojai Rancho Inn in November, only four months after getting engaged. It was so quick because after blowing off wedding planning and just being crazy happy and in love for a month, we realized that we wanted a fall wedding. But with all of the character of the venue, we barely had to add any decor at all. 


The morning of the wedding I made bouquets by the pool with my bridesmaids. It was divine. I gave my bridesmaids each a pair of flower clippers as a thank-you- a meaningful gift my mom gave to my sister and I some years before. 


My amazing father, married to my mom for thirty years, walked me down the aisle, making one of my favorite moments of the day. Groomsman Gabe Strycharz played and sang a version of "Desire" by Ryan Adams. We each had eight attendants- embarrassingly large wedding party, but so much fun. The exchanging of vows was my favorite part of the wedding — a magical little forcefield surrounded us and we said our most important things to each other in an unexpected, perfect calm. It was very important to Jesse and I to write our own vows, and to create a ceremony that was exactly what we wanted to promise.




After the ceremony, we had cheese and charcuterie during cocktail hour. Then dinner- home-made individual chicken pot pies in mini cast-iron skillets, made by friends and family in the days before the wedding, and baked on-site that afternoon. It was a family recipe, served with Sriracha, and it was the best thing I've ever eaten. The wedding cake was an enormous three-tiered beauty made by my mom and sister: bourbon maple pecan with bourbon butter-cream, and topped with a vintage cake topper from my mom's collection.


Our honeymoon is really a six-month anniversary celebration — we leave in a couple of weeks to bike through Provence and then spend a week in Paris. I loved our wedding, and honestly, we have enough gratitude to thank everyone for the rest of our lives — everyone at the wedding contributed and it wouldn’t have been the same without them.