The romantic proposal Karo Gyurjyan had planned began with a private helicopter ride over the coast of California. “Karo knows that my favorite place is the ocean, so we flew over it and eventually landed at Emma Wood State Beach,” explains Vard Nikoghosyan. “He led me over to the water, where two horses with neck wreaths waited for us on the shore. We rode the horses along the sea until we finally came to a rose-petal pathway, which led to a romantic setup of ‘Marry Me’ written in the sand with the sounds of the waves crashing next to us.”
During their courtship, the twosome would talk about their childhood dreams, revealing they shared the idea of one day having an outdoor wedding by the ocean. Since Karo first expressed his feelings to Vard while enjoying cocktails at a café on a Malibu ranch, they knew the wedding area of the property would be the ideal spot to exchange vows. “We both knew in our hearts that would be the venue, as that’s where our love story began,” affirms Vard.
The bride and groom desired an elegant, classy affair, but wanted to also include unique elements that would make their event stand apart. “White is the perfect color for elegance, and I was glad that I could achieve that look by the talent of my event and floral designer, Eddie Zaratsian [of Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle and Design].”
Guests took their seats beneath a grand tree decorated with garlands of blooms suspended from the branches. Additional white-rose arrangements bedecked the lush outdoor space creating a dreamy, romantic vibe. “In Armenia – where I am from – my name means ‘rose,’ so I chose to have white roses in many of the flower displays, including my bridal bouquet,” says Vard. She looked resplendent wearing a custom ball gown designed by Sahar Fotouhi of Panache Atelier as she walked down the aisle to meet her beloved.
“White is the perfect color for elegance, and I was glad that I could achieve that look by the talent of my event and floral designer, Eddie Zaratsian.”
Once the service concluded, attendees made their way to the reception venue for a night of revelry. The extraordinary décor concept Vard had always envisioned was beautifully brought to fruition by Eddie Zaratsian, including a muted color palette of vanilla, nude, and bright white. “I wanted to wow everyone as soon as they walked in,” affirms Vard. Round tables, surrounded by oval-shaped white chairs with gilt accents, showcased alternating styles of stunning floral arrangements or crystal candelabras. A bed of lush florals highlighted the pièce de résistance: a towering wedding cake accented with sugar blooms and touches of gold fondant.
One of Vard’s most sentimental memories of the day is the custom of the groom’s mother welcoming the couple into the reception. The mother of the groom places a plate at the entrance for the couple to break upon entering, symbolizing good luck. “She then welcomes her new daughter-in-law by placing the traditional Armenian bread, lavash, on the newlyweds’ shoulders and offers them honey to invite happiness into their marriage,” explains Vard. The bride also took great delight in the cultural tradition of the “Harsi Par” – meaning the bride’s dance, which she performs for her husband.
As the couple readied for their first dance together, Karo surprised his new wife with a special song. “It was the most beautiful gift I’ve received in my life,” admits Vard, remembering when one of her favorite singers revealed himself and began singing the ballad. “The fact that some of the lyrics were written by Karo just brings me to tears because the lyrics of our song came from his heart.” Suddenly the bride realized they’d have to dance to this new song and not the original one they had practiced their choreography to, and she felt sheer panic. “It was then that Karo looked me in the eyes, smiled, and said, ‘Just follow my lead,’” confides Vard. “Every time I remember those feelings, I still get butterflies.”
The newlyweds loved every minute of their special day and reflect back on all the wonderful memories they made during the planning as well. “Don’t stress too much because if you do, you’ll wish to relive those days by enjoying that time instead of stressing,” says Vard. “Planning your wedding is a beautiful process.” Karo agrees: “Enjoy every second because it passes by in a heartbeat.”