Denis grew up in Russia and moved to Los Angeles when he was 11, and Rita was born and raised in L.A. "The city is interwoven into so much of our story, and we knew from the start we wanted it to play a part in our wedding." Canadian photographers Joel & Justyna lensed their day.
Rita tried on a lot of dresses - "around 50, I'd say. I knew what I didn't want, but was having a hard time finding something that felt like me." One day, after verbally committing to another gown, Rita was browsing Instagram and came across a dress that seemed to be everything she never knew she needed. "I went to the designer, Alon Livné's website and was shocked to see that the dress was called the Rita - fate! I actually had to have a sample specifically sent to Saks Fifth Avenue to try on, but I'm so glad I did. The second I put it on, I knew it was the one." Rita loved how it was modern without being trendy, and she loved the column skirt and lack of a train. The off-the-shoulder puffy lace sleeves added just the right amount of bridal drama. A simple veil and Jimmy Choo heels completed the look. Rita added a pair of earrings that her grandmother had gifted her mother ans well as her great grandmother's cameo ring that she wears daily. Right before the wedding, her mother-in-law gave her a beautiful ring that she had modeled after one her late husband made for her, which Rita wore on my right hand.
Denis originally rented a white dinner jacket and black tuxedo pants, but when the outfit arrived two weeks before the wedding, it didn't fit quite right. On the recommendation of the couples amazing wedding planners they went to High Society Tailoring in LA, and they whipped him up the most classic, James Bond-esque white dinner jacket. He paired it with black pants, a black bow tie, black shoes, and finished it with a single red carnation boutonniere, which felt very old Hollywood.
Rita and Denis originally envisioned getting married outdoors, but knowing they wanted an autumn wedding they decided this wasn't realistic. "October weather in LA can be all over the place - rainy and gloomy one day, scorching temps and clear skies the next. We didn't want to have to deal with any kind of back up tent situation or overheated relatives , so we moved our vision indoors."
Valentine, luckily, had everything we wanted and more. It's an old warehouse in downtown LA that has lived many lives, and was most recently reincarnated as an events venue. What caught their eye from the start was all the foliage. "It felt very tropical and lent a Frank-Sinatra-in-Palm-Springs type of glamour. That, combined with the greenhouse roof, made it feel like we were outdoors without having to worry about the weather (P.S.: the weather on our wedding day was gorgeous). We loved the built-in bar and murals, which added a vintage, Old Hollywood vibe. Overall, it just felt very unique, very LA, and very us."
The most important part for Rita + Denis was that the wedding felt like them and that their celebration felt like a party. "Coming from Armenian and Russian families, there are a lot of wedding traditions that are expected, but felt dated or stuffy, and in many cases that meant forgoing these aspects. Rather than getting married in church, we opted to have one of our best friends officiate. Rather than a huge wedding party, we had our two closest friends as our maid of honour and best man. The venue was a far cry from the traditional banquet halls our families are used to, and to be honest we were a bit nervous about how our family would react. But in the end it all came together beautifully and everyone was happy to celebrate with us. I like to think they even might've liked that it was a little different."
The two things that were most important to the couple were the food and the music. "Armenian and Russian food is just delicious (hello, kebab and hummus), and dancing to Armenian and Russian music is fun."
Rita has some sound advice for other couples getting married. "It's always easy to give advice in retrospect and I don't find it helpful when people say "go with the flow" and "don't get worked up over the small stuff" (you will, and it's ok. It's an important moment for you and you are allowed to care!). However my one piece of constructive advice is to hire a wedding planner if you can, even if it's just a month-of or day-of coordinator. Our planners, Cynthia and Evelyn from With a Flair Events, were beyond amazing. Part therapists, part best friends, and every part extraordinary wedding planners, these two brought our vision to life and always made us feel calm and understood. Our wedding day was perfect beyond our wildest dreams, and we owe it to them. Another piece of advice that all our friends gave us: hire a videographer. We know a lot of couples who forewent video because of the cost, and believe me when we say it was a tough bullet to swallow, but the end product is 1000% worth it, and we're beyond thrilled that we'll have this memento to show our future children and grandchildren."
PHOTOGRAPHY Joel & Justyna; PLANNING & DESIGN With a Flair Events; CELEBRANT Friend of the Couple; GOWN Alon Livne; VEIL Nordstrom; SHOES Jimmy Choo; RINGS Vintage; GROOMS JACKET High Society Tailoring; BRIDAL PARTY ATTIRE Bhldn + The Black Tux; VIDEOGRAPHY Audrey Alba Films; HAIR & MAKE UP Julie Hiles; VENUE Valentine DTLA; CATERING Anoush Catering; BARTENDING LA Speakeasy; RENTALS MTB Rentals & Circa Event Rentals; ENTERTAINMENT Ceremony Peter Skrabk, Reception DJ Sevag; WEDDING CAKE Milk Bar & Winchell’s Donuts; FLORALS Stella Bloom Designs; STATIONERY Minted; GETTING READY VENUE Hotel Figueroa;