Waiting at the bar was the attractive stranger Jillian Novak had planned to meet for dinner. She had presumed the evening would be yet another dull date – but boring it was not. “I was happily surprised by how handsome and interesting he was,” she confides. Erik Hoffman was definitely not the typical Los Angeles man who Jillian had encountered in the past: “I remember teasing him for wearing cowboy boots to a beach bar in the middle of summer.” Erik, too, found Jillian to be refreshingly different, even special. “The butterflies in my stomach… I had never felt that way around anyone else,” he admits.

Admitting that the planning was more hard work than she originally anticipated, Jillian enlisted of the aid of loved ones and event professionals. “There were so many more details to figure out than I had expected!” she remembers. Thankfully, the bride got through it all breezily with the help of a talented celebrity-wedding planner and owner of Tessa Lyn Events, as well as her sister – a lawyer and travel agent – who assisted with contracts and booking blocks of hotel rooms.

The ceremony was inspired by the look and ambience of a romantic and elegant garden party. A color scheme of champagne, blush, gold, and ivory was incorporated into the décor, with a focal point being the various-sized bullion lanterns bedecked in vines and summer florals. A striking 17th-century French gate was decorated in the same fashion and led guests to the seating area.

As a nod to Spain – an area of the world the couple adores – a Spanish flamenco guitarist played throughout the service. “It made me feel like we were in a different place, exotic and dreamy,” illustrates Jillian of the music selection. “It was one of my favorite parts of the day.”

Bridesmaids wearing long dresses in a variety of muted shades preceded the bride. Jillian made her grand entrance in a beautifully feminine A-line gown featuring frothy layers and a sweetheart neckline. She carried a larger version of her attendants’ bouquets, which were created in shades of white and pink from peonies, ranunculus blossoms, garden roses, and bay leaves. “I wanted the arrangements to be very green, lush, and to go with the garden feel,” Jillian clarifies. “They were beautiful.”

Jillian and Erik recognized that they come from very different religious and cultural backgrounds, which they wanted to embrace as a fun element. “We first drank wine from my great-grandmother’s kiddish cup and then drank beer from a German wedding stein,” shares the bride.

The reception continued the garden theme, but also showcased glamorous touches, such as gold-rimmed glass chargers, gilt flatware, and pretty chiavari chairs. For added drama, the newlyweds opted for the floral centerpieces to be placed in tall fluted vases alongside glass hurricanes with floating candles. “The best part was the vines reaching out from the centerpieces… that really brought the garden feeling inside,” describes Jillian.

An ultra-glossy white dance floor featured the same wreath motif that was introduced in their invitation suite. Jillian and Erik took their places in the center and began dancing to a choreographed salsa number they learned to the song “Bailamos” by Enrique Iglesias. The proud groom jokingly confirms that it was indeed a spectacular show. “It really set the mood for the festivities that followed,” he adds.

Guests enjoyed a seated dinner and slices of the gorgeous hand-painted wedding confection. “It was beautifully designed, but we got the most compliments on the taste of it,” Jillian says of the cake that was so good, they ate leftovers for two full weeks. “It was almond vanilla cake with an almond berry frosting, and we also had a layer with coconut frosting.”

Friends and family were also able to take delight in personalized bottles of homemade Limoncello. “Erik has been obsessed with perfecting his own batches ever since we visited Italy and a chef shared his recipe,” reveals Jillian. “And since we always get requests for them, we figured they would make the perfect guest favors – which also ended up doubling as escort cards because they turned out so nicely.”

For other couples planning their nuptials, Jillian suggests breaking down the tasks into smaller, manageable steps. “And keep checklists!” She also says they each realized who was good at what and it made working together easier, without putting unrealistic expectations on one another. All in all, the newlyweds agree that their wedding was “pretty epic.” The groom offers one final tidbit: “Do not worry. She will be back to normal after the wedding.”