California Love – Inside Fil & Hanna’s Dreamy Simi Valley Wedding
All of the Real Weddings we feature here at Bride Club ME are special, but this dreamy Californian wedding is particularly significant as it’s the wedding of BCME Contributing Writer, Peta Al Akawi’s brother, Fil.
Fil, and his now wife Hanna, held their wedding on September 14th at a private residence in Simi Valley, California. Fil, originally from the UK, and Hanna, originally from Hungary, reside in Los Angeles and as that’s where they met and fell in love, the couple were sure they wanted their special day to take place in The Golden State.
Although an intimate wedding of approximately 70 guests, Fil and Hanna’s international guest list was made up of family and friends flying in from far afield destinations including Hungary, Dubai, UK, New York and Canada.
Read on as we speak to Bride Hanna about how her dream wedding went from multiple Pinterest boards, to reality. There’s also a note from BCME’s Peta on her experience as a guest.
Enjoy Bride Clubbers! …
♡ Hanna, let’s start with the proposal…How did your hubby pop the question?
Ah, that was the cutest day! Fil and I were just going to dinner as normal and I had no idea what was in store for me. As we walked passed the old theatre where we had our first date, Fil asked me to close my eyes. I assumed it was so he could give me my Christmas present as it was around that time of year. Once I opened my eyes, he asked me to turn around and as I was scanning the street looking, my eyes got stuck on a movie poster that read ‘Hanna Szabo will you marry me?’ and when I turned around in shock and excitement, Fil was down on one knee. The rest is a blur. It was like I left my body, it was so surreal. The best part is once he proposed the dinner was still on, and he surprised me with an engagement party with my friends and family. It was perfect. The ring is also perfect.
♡ Did you have a specific vision for your wedding?
I spent a long time looking for a venue and once I saw our location, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to lean into the fun element of the western theme, but it was also important to me to make it classy. I knew I had to choose a delicate color theme in order to bring in some elegance and avoid the ‘ho down’ vibe…I wanted to create a sophisticated, but very chilled, atmosphere. It was very important for me to have farm style tables, benches, lots of fairy lights, and a touch of greenery. The location was magical, what an extraordinary place the Azarva Family has built.
I would like to give a special shout out to Kim Pinola; she helped a lot with the placements and the overall vision. Without her input and unbelievable taste, it wouldn’t have been quite the same.
♡ How did you decide on a location?
The location sort of found us. It belongs to my friend’s parents and someone suggested it to me…The rest was history! I got very lucky. Luck was definitely on my side for the whole wedding.
♡ Tell us about the inspiration behind your beautiful two-piece bridal gown?
I love this story! I was helping a good friend of mine, Emily, look for her wedding dress at work and we were spending a lot of time looking for inspiration for her big day. We stumbled upon a 2 piece couture gown, I believe it was Dior but I could be wrong, and well, I fell in love. So, I had the ‘AH HA’ moment of a perfect dress years before I got engaged. I just knew if my time ever came, that would be my dress. Emily’s friend, Tashina Hunter, actually made my dress so it all came full circle. The dress also ties in with my luck; I had full faith in Tashina’s skill and never even looked for a back up dress. It took over 6 months to make my dress and I had all the faith in the world in Tashina. She even helped me design the back, since I was never able to get a picture of the back of the original dress. We went for vintage buttons and I absolutely loved the final look.
♡ What did you find the most enjoyable part of planning your big day?
The most enjoyable part was seeing it all come together. I had so many moments of not knowing how the tables would all fit, or how the benches would look for the isle, etc. I found myself occasionally second guessing myself because there were so many elements to the whole day. The only place my vision really existed was in my head. So, it was such an incredible feeling to see it all come together. I was very proud. Not to mention it was so special to me to have my family and friends help Fil and I set up. My sister in law’s husband, Rami, had a sharp eye for table placement, my parents helped dress the tables and my best friend and I set up the isle. It’s a beautiful memory, even though it was the hottest day of the summer!
♡ We understand you had a wedding coordinator on the day, but not a wedding planner. With that in mind, what was the most challenging thing about planning your own wedding from scratch?
Being the only one with the answers! A wedding planner can delegate and is good at that, however I am not. I was too in control of it all, and that for sure was the hardest part. It almost felt like I was on a job. I think it ended up being a good thing though because I got everything as close to perfect as possible and I was able to relax on the day because of that. I would definitely recommend letting go a bit to future brides out there…Other people are also very capable!
♡ What was your favorite part of the whole day?
Hmmm…That’s hard, there are so many moments that I loved! Firstly, I woke up to a huge surprise from my husband, Fil. He had booked us a surprise honeymoon to Hawaii and that filled me with so much love, that was definitely one of the best parts of my day. From the actual wedding though, I loved the window of time where we were all sitting at the beautiful tables and our guests were hanging out, giving speeches, having fun. I loved looking around at all the people I love. That was so special.
We had a very high number of guests from out of town, quite a lot from out of the country, so it was so special to see everyone we love, in one place. That was the most special part of the whole day for me.
♡ What’s your top three tips for brides to be?
♡ My biggest advice is to not worry on the actual wedding day. Have a drink and just enjoy. It all goes by so fast, try to hold onto those special moments.
♡ Invest in an ‘on the day’ coordinator. It’s important to let your family and friends enjoy.
♡ Lastly, and a it’s big one, not every venue needs a ton of flowers. We skipped flower arrangements all together and it wasn’t missed at all. There are so many alternatives to traditional wedding planning. YouTube is your best friend! I really recommend thinking outside the box and tailoring everything to you and your partner’s taste and style.
A Note From BCME Contributor And Guest, Peta
This wedding was so special to me as not only was it my only Brother’s wedding, but my Husband Rami was a Groomsman, my 80 year old Grandparents were there who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary during that same month, and my Mum and I wrote and read a poem for Fil and Hanna during the speeches….A truly magical day!
My brother’s wife Hanna is a set designer in LA and is incredibly creative and talented, so I knew the wedding was going to be aesthetically amazing and full of little quirky, personal touches. But when I first saw the venue the day before the wedding when we were helping Fil and Hanna set up, I was blown away and I honestly haven’t seen anything like it before in my life.
The incredible family who own the property have spent years building a village in their back yard that looks like the set of a Hollywood Western movie complete with a Saloon, General Store and even a Jail! There was so much to look at and it really acted as the most perfect backdrop for Fil and Hanna’s special day. By the time we had finished setting up for the wedding day, the whole place just screamed Fil & Hanna and I couldn’t think of a better place for them to have said their ‘I dos’.
Wonder Bride Hanna planned the entire wedding from scratch and had a very tight budget to stick to. Once I saw everything come together on the day, I felt really inspired by what can be achieved with a great venue/backdrop, DIY decorations, patience and an awesome photographer.
I’m so proud of what both Fil and Hanna created and I’m so blessed that my Husband and I were able to be a part of this extremely special day.
The Bride’s Little Pink Book
Location: Private Home to the Azarva Family / Tables & Benches: LA Party Rentals / Flowers: La Tige / Blessing Arch: Green Set / Photographer: Marissa Alves / Dress: Miss Tashina / Bridesmaid Dresses: Davids Bridal / Wedding Day Coordinator: Nasreen Jadmani
♡ Anything/anyone else you wish to add/credit?
Yes, just a special thank you to my family and family-in-law and a special thanks to my sister Babs, she really took on a lot, and I’m so grateful. I would also like to thank the Azarva Family who opened up their home to us and helped us pull off the best wedding, ever.