Dogwood Hill bride Chelsea Blackwell and her fiancé Barrett Meister got engaged on December 9, 2018 on a walk down the beach of the Bel Air Bay Club in Los Angeles. This California couple then spent over a year planning a wedding when the Pandemic hit. Like many other 2020 weddings, Chelsea and Barrett had to pare down their guest list and re-arrange their plans for health safety reasons. Their original wedding date was set for October 10, 2020, picked because the even numbers would be a constant reminder of the equal partnership they would share throughout their life together as husband and wife.

As chance would have it, Chelsea had always wanted to get married in her parents’ backyard in Saratoga, CA. Now was the perfect opportunity to have her childhood dream come true since they were having to drop down her original 275 guest list down to an intimate gathering of 18 family and friends. Chelsea and Barrett were married in the most enchanting and sentimental backyard ceremony with a view overlooking Silicon Valley. Their reverend from their church in Southern California married the couple. Despite being very different than their original wedding plans, the couple was able to truly take in every moment of their wedding with such a small group of guests.

Next year, Barrett and Chelsea plan to have a vow renewal on October 16, 2021 in Pacific Palisades with their original guest list. Chelsea was so kind to share images from her beautiful wedding day with us as well as answer some questions about her planning process. Continue scrolling for the ever-so-romantic ceremony setting as well as the stunning tablescape for their reception’s seated dinner.

Did you and your husband do a “first look” or did you wait for the first look to take place during your ceremony? And what led you to that decision?

We waited! Waiting until the ceremony began made it feel traditional and truly special. The anticipation leading up to the ceremony was a feeling like no other. I was on cloud nine all day… calm and collected yet excited and purely happy! Walking out to see my groom standing there under the flower arch ready to marry me… was the best feeling in the world.

Can you tell us about finding your wedding dress?

I found my first dress at Carolina Herrera… but due to covid they didn’t finish it in time and I knew I wanted to save it for the big wedding next year…

So, 5 weeks before the wedding, my mom and I went to a local boutique in Los Gatos and found the dress! Pronovias was the designer. It fell right into theme… a magical elegant garden party wedding dress! We got it RIGHT off the rack! It was in pretty good shape, but the alterations lady made it look BRAND new. I don’t think the boutique would have ever sold us the dress off the floor if it wasn’t for covid. We got so lucky! 

What made you select your particular ceremony and reception venues?

As a little girl, I always dreamt of getting married in my parents’ backyard. Before the pandemic, we went in a different direction with the location due to the number of guests we were inviting. But with the change of plans, the opportunity to have the backyard wedding dream at my parents’ home could now come true.

What traditions did you incorporate into your wedding?

Something borrowed: my mom’s pearl bracelet that she was given on her wedding day by my grandma

Something new: pearled/diamond Mikimoto earrings from my husband

Something old: a claddagh ring that was my great grandma’s from the early to mid 1800s given to me by my Aunt Pat when I was a little girl.

Sixpence in Your Shoe: “Often forgotten, the sixpence is the final ingredient in the old rhyme. This British coin is meant to represent prosperity for the couple as they start their lives together. Though the sixpence was decommissioned in the U.K. in 1980, brides who are sticklers for detail can still obtain a sixpence and tuck it in their shoe. Traditionally, the father of the bride presents her with the sixpence just before she walks down the aisle as a gift of good luck.” My aunt gave this to my dad to give to me! 

What about your wedding was unique?

With such a small number of guests, we were able to talk with every guest and truly take in each and every moment of the day!

We also got to use personal china and silver since it was a dinner for 18 and not 275 people. It made the table setting feel like we were at a Downton Abbey wedding!

What was the feel that you wanted to accomplish for your wedding and how did your Dogwood Hill paper coordinate with that?

Romantic, elegant, traditional, splash of color, garden party. The invite had all of these incorporated! My mom also got vintage, colorful stamps to put on the front of the envelops making everything tie together perfectly. She also used gold string to tie all the papers together inside the envelope.

What was the best advice you received as a bride? 

As a covid bride, I heard the advice: you can’t cancel love.  That really kept me afloat because everything I had been planning for over a year had been postponed indefinitely…so to be given the reminder that a wedding is JUST about the two of you getting married and not all the other things that make a wedding stressful… it allowed us to focus and remember what is truly important. 


Invitations and Place Cards: Dogwood Hill

Photographer: Josiah Alter

Catering: Saveur Provence

Florals: Apis Floral

Dress: Pronovias

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