Karen La Caze & Jay Gabriel

September 27, 2003 /// San Pedro, CA /// Photographed by Jon Barber

Abundant Blessings

Captivating, warm, and dreamlike– those are the words that best capture the wedding of Karen Therese LaCaze and Jay Maurice Gabriel. The wedding was a beautiful culmination of an engagement that began with a romantic marriage proposal at the doors of the Notre Dame in Paris. The couple wanted a garden wedding, a rarity for Catholic ceremonies, but was able to secure special dispensation to hold their wedding outdoors. With this permission granted, the couple chose to hold the ceremony in a lush garden at the Catholic nursing home where Karen’s grandfather lives.

In addition to the lovely setting, Jay and Karen were further blessed with a gorgeous sunny afternoon for their wedding. Located just off the chapel, the lovely garden was replete with flowers and chimed with amorous melodies provided by a Spanish guitar quartet. Performed by two monsignors and one priest and attended by loved-ones and guests of the nursing home, the ceremony was full of reverence and heartwarming feelings. The presence of the bride’s grandfather lent the wedding an especially personal significance. At Karen’s birth, her grandfather told her father that he would live to see her walk down the aisle. At the age of ninety-seven, grandfather realized this lifelong dream.

Nicely reflecting the wedding’s sense of warmth, deep chocolate brown was the event’s main color theme. The bride’s bouquet was a captivating creation of chocolate cosmos, black calla lilies, chocolate orchids, white orchids and black beauty roses, tied with a dark chocolate silk ribbon. As an excellent counterpoint, the bridesmaids’ bouquets creatively brought together light pink daisies, chocolate cosmos, black beauty roses, and purple leaf plum. The bride wore a stunning strapless sheath dress adorned with handmade silk flowers that accented the back draping. Made from ivory with a hint of blush duchess satin, the dress exuded elegance and classic simplicity. The bridesmaids wore two-piece, deep chocolate brown dresses accented in the back with a lovely fabric fan nestled between the two pieces.

Always envisioning their daughter’s after-wedding celebration at their home, the bride’s mother and father held the reception at their house in Rolling Hills, California. Illuminating the scene was a plethora of paper lanterns, whose warm light grew even warmer as fog from the ocean made its way across the terrain to the rolling hills of Karen’s family home. Karen’s father even had constructed a large scaffolding in the backyard, which made for a unique seating arrangement for the reception. Music provided by a Brazilian group and a twelve-piece band served as a perfect aural backdrop for the magical setting.

The table centerpieces were handmade wood boxes filled with black calla lilies, apple colored flowers, chocolate cosmos, black beauty roses and green orchids. Dramatic candelabras were covered with birch branches and green orchids, and countless candles added to the reception’s glowing atmosphere. Karen personally designed the wedding cake, a gorgeous five-tiered confection that revealed chocolate ganache and delicate lemon flavors. Covered in a light green fondant, the cake was elegantly decorated with chocolate colored ribbons that added detail to each layer and also featured green hydrangea between each tier.

Not to be overlooked are the numerous ways that Karen’s parents completely put their hearts and souls in her wedding festivities. For example, rather than hiring an outside planner, Karen’s mother coordinated the entire wedding herself, from the largest tasks to the smallest of details. Also, one of the most touching moments came when Karen’s father toasted the newlyweds with a special cuvée he made from the family vineyard especially for his daughter’s wedding. Among the day’s many perfectly planned and designed nuances was a moving and thoughtful presentation by the bride and groom to award mini cakes to guests who had anniversaries and birthdays that coincided with the couple’s special day. The gesture is a prime example of the generous and loving spirit of Karen and Jay’s personalities and of their new life together.

Aimee Manis