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Reception Style: Gracious Garden

Using lush greenery, industrial design elements, and rustic accents to transform Santa Monica’s largest outdoor wedding venue into an intimate garden party.

Photography by Heidi Ryder

Tiato, the verdant venue that LA couple Jeff Cohen And Tim Laurie selected for their September 5, 2015, wedding and reception, takes its name from one of Vietnam’s most flavorful herbs. This member of the mint family is among dozens of herbs and plants that thrive in this downtown Santa Monica restaurant’s fragrant and colorful gardens.

“It’s a great reception setting for couples who want a bit of an open, garden ambience but also a chic industrial vibe,” says one of the planners with HoneyFitz Events, praising the venue’s mix of indoor and outdoor spaces and its exposed-brick walls, bare concrete floors, and repurposed wood. “It’s one of the area’s largest outdoor dining and event spaces, yet it feels intimate.”

HoneyFitz and the group of talented vendors captured the spirit of an elegant garden party by setting tall glass vases filled with water, orchids, and floating candles atop each dining table, using Tiato’s rustic wine barrels as cocktail tables in the bar, and hanging intricate paper chandeliers across the outdoor reception area. “We ordered them on Etsy and strung them up ourselves,” says one of the staff at HoneyFitz. “They photographed beautifully.”

Frozen Finale: instead of serving a cake, the grooms hired an ice cream truck to provide dessert.

Grooms Jeff Cohen and Tim Laurie descend a grand staircase during a photo session at LA’s hip and historic Culver Hotel, which served as the wedding party’s pre-ceremony venue.  HoneyFitz Events uses the Culver Hotel often: “It’s nearby, it’s cute, and it provides a great opportunity for taking ‘first look’ photos before the ceremony,” a member of their team explains. At the top of this page, guests enjoy a delicious feast of modern Vietnamese-inspired fare—such as chicken satay and filet of miso sole—in the spacious outdoor dining area of Santa Monica’s trendy Tiato Kitchen Market Garden + Venue.

Part of the acclaimed Crustacean restaurant and catering group, Tiato cultivates an eco-chic vibe with its living wall and the largest outdoor dining space in Santa Monica. 

The grooms chose golden yellow and pale gray as their wedding colors. The cheerful combination appeared in everything from the boutonnieres of yellow craspedia cradled inside silver-gray leaves of dusty miller to the napkins and tablecloths, invitations and logos, and whimsical bow ties and striped socks.

Arrangements of succulents and white orchids were placed atop vintage wooden wine barrels, which served as cocktail tables in the bar. Guests were asked to write their well wishes on wooden Jenga blocks, which they placed in gray wicker baskets.

West Hollywood–based flower shop Seed Floral built a dramatic wall of reclaimed wood and decorated it with a variety of white and yellow orchids and other flowers.

Tim and Jeff created a distinctive logo for their invitations and napkins (they also placed a decal with the same logo on the dance floor).

The couple skipped the traditional cake cutting at their reception. HoneyFitz recommended King Kone LA ice cream truck as a novel alternative. “We’d hired King Kone ourselves before on a personal basis, and it’s always been such a hit,” says one of the planners. “They serve the best ice cream, and they also do milk shakes. They parked next to Tiato, and guests just lined up during dancing and the reception.”