Tell us a little about yourselves!
We met about twelve years ago and clicked after our first conversation. We loved the same music and shared the same ideals. We’ve been best friends ever since. We laughed and daydreamt together and along the way, we grew up together. Now we are both political science PhD students. We moved to California five years ago after spending a couple of years working and studying in Turkey, France, and the UK. Outside of work, I (Melisa) assist grassroots environmental movements and Uras makes ambient music. We live with our cat Sufja) and our dog Jónsi.
Why did you decide to get married where you did?
Throughout the pandemic we worked from home. When we decided to elope, we didn’t want to do it sitting in our office chairs where we teach and do our research. The Los Angeles County was still performing virtual ceremonies, so we decided to go to our favorite hotel and get married there. We’ve stayed at multiple ACE locations and always love how chill it is. So getting married at the Ace Hotel in DTLA was perfect!
How many guests did you have?
We had a virtual ceremony with our family joining us from overseas. Our cat Sufjan and our dog Jónsi were also in attendance.
Tell us about your outfits.
Uras and I got engaged in 2018 but being far from family and working on finishing our degrees we didn’t have time to think about organizing a wedding. Funnily enough in 2021 Uras needed to run an errand in LA and since he was going to be there for a couple of hours, he suggested I look at some dresses. We didn’t think much of it but I thought it would be something fun to do.
I went to LOHO bride, one of my favorite bridal stores in LA. I tried on some beautiful dresses and veils. I fell in love with a Maticevski dress but they didn’t have my size. They did have amazing veils by A.B. Ellie and I ended up getting three, one with stars, one that was long and simple, the final one was a classic short veil. Uras and I made our way down to The Dress Theory in San Diego because they told me they had the style I was looking for. I also went to an appointment by myself and tried on a variety of dresses. I knew that this Toni Maticevski dress had to be mine the minute I tried it on and paired the dress with some white Jimmy Choo's. I also wanted to have something simple to just wear around town and hang out so I bought myself a second hand slip dress. Since we had the dresses we decided not to wait and scheduled an appointment with the LA County for our wedding.
Uras also found himself a nice suit from Zara and we were ready to celebrate before we knew it!
What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?
We planned everything ourselves. We wanted our elopement to be about us and a celebration of our 12 year partnership. So we kept everything simple and minimal. We wanted to have our immediate family join us virtually and someone to capture the moments, and have champagne and cake by Erin McKenna’s Bakery to celebrate! Since it was just going to be the two of us it was easy to keep it simple. We just thought about what we wanted to have that day and everything kind of fell into place.
Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?
As graduate students we were fortunate enough to continue our work throughout the pandemic - but that also meant we didn’t get any time off. We quickly had to switch to remote teaching, and research. In all of the uncertainty of what would happen to us, our families and the world, we still continued meeting deadlines. Even though we love our work we were overwhelmed. However, we couldn’t have done it without the support of one another.
So the most important thing for us was to have a chill day, where we lived in the moment, got to be present with each other and celebrate our partnership. We also wanted to have a piece of our family with us so we asked my mom Hilal Secen Designs to design our wedding bands, pearl and crystal earrings, my pearl necklace, and Uras’s gold collar. She spent weeks working on each piece. She made so many pieces!
I spent days looking through photographer websites, we wanted someone to capture the joy, the laughter, the excitement and the love in the most intimate way possible so when I found Molly Peach and saw at the bottom of her website it said “Documenting that in-between magic” I knew she was the one! At the end of the day when Uras and I ordered take out and sat on the couch eating in our wedding attire we both turned to each other and said “This was a great day!”
Any tips for couples getting married, particularly during the pandemic?
Keep it simple! This is a day about the celebration of your love and partnership. If you can find good
people who will help you manifest your vision it will all come together. Make sure to have a piece of your family with you even if they live far away. Also, the day goes by so fast so make sure to soak up every second of it. Having someone capture the in-between magic also helps!
Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?
Both Molly Peach for her photographic genius and my mom Hilal Secen for her beautiful artistry. Molly Peach is an absolute genius. We spoke over the phone multiple times to talk about our photographic vision for the day. I also asked her for advice on what photographs well. She met with us the day before the wedding to meet in person and to get us to feel comfortable around her camera. She is one of the sweetest people I know and will go out of her way to make sure everything comes out perfect!
Hilal Secen Designs is a gem on her own. I asked her to make modern pieces and she delivered! I sent her lots of measurements such as my neck height, width, wrist size etc. Everything she made is one of a kind. She made sure to make all the jewellery from repurposed materials. We wanted unique pieces that were modern but also had a classic twist. It took some time for the jewellery to arrive since they were coming from overseas but when I opened the box I couldn’t believe my eyes. Anyone interested in a custom piece should reach out to her on Instagram and on Etsy! She will not disappoint!
Photographer : Molly Peach @m0llypeach | Ceremony Location : Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles @acedtla | Flora : The Original Los Angeles Flower Market @theoriginallaflowermarket | Cake : Erin McKenna’s Bakery @erinmckennasbakery | Plates + Glasses : CB2 @cb2 | Cutlery : Vintage | Melisa's First Dress : Toni Maticevski @toni_maticevski from The Dress Theory @thedresstheory | Second Dress : Second Hand Slip Dress | Groom's Suit : Zara @zara | Engagement Ring + Wedding Rings : Hilal Secen Designs @hilalsecendesigns | Shoes : Jimmy Choo @jimmychoo | Veils : A.B. Ellie @a.b.ellie | Dress + Veil Alterations : Ludmila Couture @ludmilacouture