Tara Millamena was 19 years-old and Ivan Arefkov was 21 when they randomly spotted each other at an 18+ nightclub in Hollywood. Both were new to living in Los Angeles, and one of the first things Tara noticed was how attentive Ivan was toward her.
“I was too young to drink,” she explains, “but he was very attentive when getting me all the grapefruit punch I wanted. Ivan would say he saw my ‘beautiful smile from across the room.’ Now, ten years later, we have grown and learned so much about each other and could not be more excited to be married!”
“I wanted the look to be very inspired by the Netflix show, Bridgerton.”
The proposal took place in February 2021 next to a beach tower in Laguna Beach, California. As a content creator, Tara was used to taking tons of photos and videos for her social media platform. She also uses a self-timer for their couple photos; so she didn’t think anything of it when they were posing for a photo in front of the tower, until Ivan got down on one knee and popped the question.
“When planning our wedding, I told my wedding designer that we were having a small wedding,” Tara describes. “I told her the budget was mostly going to aesthetics. I mentioned how I wanted the look to be very inspired by the Netflix show, Bridgerton. She was the one who told me about this beautiful teahouse that can work for smaller weddings, which would add to my Bridgerton aesthetic. Ivan really helped me make the final decisions when it came to catering, as that was the part of our wedding I was least excited for.
I am in no way a ‘foodie.’ In fact, I can be quite picky, so I let him handle most of catering. But when it came to aesthetic and décor, that was all my wedding designer, Kehrin Hassan. My most memorable moment was walking down the rose petal aisle. I was surrounded by beautiful fresh flowers that had such a strong, lovely aroma. It was just a romantic feeling.”
The couple’s flowers were a mix of blooms and greenery, focusing on a Bridgerton inspired wedding blend of roses and peonies. Gold candelabras also added a fairytale-like, Beauty and the Beast type of flair, which complemented the ambiance perfectly. Blush colors were a must, and a live harpist completed the Bridgerton effect.
“The most unique part of our wedding was the wedding ‘flip,’” the bride adds. “We had our wedding at the Everglades Wonder Gardens which is a stunning tea house. So the flip from ‘Ceremony’ to ‘Dinner Reception’ was done by my wedding designer and the vendors.
They flipped the room in the hour that our guests and I were having cocktail hour at a lawn near the tea house and taking wedding portrait shots. It was so special to see how the room transformed so beautifully. I feel like, because we were able to have a small wedding, it worked in our advantage when creating a beautiful aesthetic with such special little details.”
“My best advice is to make sure that you consider all the wedding traditions before you say ‘no’ to them,” she continues. “Originally, I thought my wedding was too small for a first dance; but it was one of my favorite moments! We did the waltz while our harpist played ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ from The Nutcracker. Our honeymoon is still being planned, but we have our eye on Bora Bora.”
Photography: Lindsey Alaine Photography, Naples, FL; Wedding Dress: Pronovias