A Romantic Spring Wedding with Irish Flair at El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley, Arizona

Kathleen McCaffrey (24 and a teacher) and Aaron Flick (33 and an insurance advisor) planned a chic romantic wedding with a note of rustic flair at El

Kathleen McCaffrey (24 and a teacher) and Aaron Flick (33 and an insurance advisor) planned a chic romantic wedding with a note of rustic flair at El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley, Ariz. Shades of blush, sage, ivory, gray, smoky plum and lavender captured the essence of the spring season, while bringing a feminine edge to the decor. The day started with an outdoor ceremony on El Chorro’s expansive lawn overlooking Camelback Mountain. “The views and landscape are breathtaking,” says Kathleen. “We kept the decor to a minimum because we did not want to take away from the natural beauty of the mountain and scenery,” says Kathleen. A curly willow wedding arch framed the pair as they exchanged their own vows and fresh bunches of lilacs and lavender in gilded pots greeted guests as they arrived to the ceremony. Before heading indoors for the reception, the newlyweds and their guests enjoyed signature sips, traditional Irish beers and lawn games out on the adjacent patio. The reception took place in El Chorro’s Casa Paloma venue, a blank canvas for Kathleen and Aaron to make their own. “I am both Irish and Japanese, so we wanted to honor both sides of my family with little details,” says Kathleen. “We wanted to bring part of the beauty of Ireland to our wedding, so our wedding planner had the idea of using moss throughout. We had moss in our centerpieces, table numbers and escort card display.” White geometric table clothes had a subtle Celtic feel and Guinness flutes put a fun twist on the classic champagne toast. One-thousand handmade cranes spoke to Kathleen’s Japanese heritage and delicious details like a dessert table featuring classic Buckeyes — chocolate peanut butter balls — served as a nod to Aaron’s Ohio roots. The beauty of the season also factored in to the design, from the pale purple invitation suite with floral detailing and hand-painted macarons featuring garden-inspired blooms. A tip for the taking from Kathleen: “As cliche as it is, take everything in! The whole planning process and day goes by so fast. Hiring a photographer and a videographer were two of the best decisions we made regarding our wedding. Not only are we able to forever have images from our wedding day, but we are now also able to watch the important parts of our day for the rest of our lives. If couples are able to fit both into their wedding budget, I would recommend that they spend the money on these two expenses.”

Idieh Designs captured the essence of the couple’s romantic, spring theme in an invitation suite with pale purple hues, whimsical script fonts and floral detailing.
From the get-go, Kathleen was convinced that she wanted to walk down the aisle in a lacy fit-and-flare gown, but after visiting two different bridal salons and trying countless gowns she still hadn’t found one that brought the wow-factor she was after. “Then one of the associates at the second bridal shop had me try on an A-line dress,” says Kathleen. “I instantly fell in love. It was classic and simple, yet had the perfect amount of detail in lace and fabric.” She paired the look with an elegant pair of drop earrings, a crystal-embellished belt and a simple fingertip-length veil.
Kathleen’s bouquet had an utterly romantic feel, filled with soft shades of sage, cream, blush and dusty purple. “For my bouquet, I wanted to have mostly white and just soft pops of color,” says Kathleen. The florists at Pelal Pusher delivered, creating a stunning arrangement of garden roses, lavender, lilac, stock, ranunculuses and dusty miller.
After choosing a soft shade of lavender for their gowns, Kathleen let her five bridesmaids choose a style from Bill Levkoff’s bridesmaid collection. “I wanted them all to match, but I didn’t care about the style,” says Kathleen. “They picked the one that was most flattering for each girl.”
The celebrations kicked off with a ceremony on the Casa Paloma Event Lawn, where the couple exchanged vows with Camelback Mountain and the surrounding valley providing a breathtaking backdrop for the event. “When Aaron and I were first looking at locations, there weren’t any places that we both agreed on,” says Kathleen. “It wasn’t until we were driving home from looking at venues that we stopped at El Chorro. I had read about the venue online, but did not write it down as an option. I had no idea that they had so much extra land and venue options on their property. When we stopped by and looked around, we both knew instantly that we wanted to get married there.” For the ceremony, the pair kept the decor to the minimum, so as not to detract from the beautiful natural scenery. Pillars boasted bright purple lilacs and lavender stood at the entrance of the aisle and a few moss-covered planter boxes filled with lush white blooms were placed at the ends of intermittent rows.
While the couple decided to keep the decor to a minimum, a few key details were added to the ceremony site for a polished finish. A curly willow wedding arch decorated with bunches of romantic blush and cream-colored roses stood on the stone patio at the head of the aisle and framed the couple as they exchanged vows.
Gilded pots filled with purple lavender and lilac stood at the entrance to the ceremony and added a fresh pop of color to the decor.
Kathleen and Aaron personalized their ceremony by both writing their own vows and providing guests with ribbon and bell wands for guests to wave at the end of the ceremony. “We wanted the ceremony to be personal to the two of us,” says Kathleen. “Ringing bells at a wedding is a good luck sign and an old Irish tradition.”
Kathleen and Aaron got their menu in on the day’s theme, by serving guests a lavender lemonade signature drink during cocktail hour.
Before heading indoors for dinner and dancing, guests paid a visit to the couple’s whimsical moss-covered seating chart to find the escort cards that would lead them to their tables. The cards were pinned to a backdrop of moss displayed in an antiqued white frame, which was surrounded by potted succulents and white and purple blooms.
During cocktail hour on the El Churro patio and lawn, guests took in the views of Camelback Mountain, while sipping on signature cocktails and traditional Irish beers. To add an interactive element to the pre-dinner festivities, one of Aaron’s groomsmen handmade a set of corn hole boards customized with the couple’s initials and wedding date for guests to use.
As a nod to her Japanese heritage, Kathleen incorporated 1,000 hand-folded origami cranes into the decor. In the months leading up to the wedding, her mother handcrafted each of the origami creations, then strung them onto a string with shimmering beads for the couple to use as their photo booth backdrop.
The centerpieces fused both the Irish and Arizona landscapes, with elements like succulents, cabbage, lilac, roses and veronica displayed in moss-covered vases along the head table. “We also had sprigs of lavender on top of the menus and in our spiked lavender lemonade signature drink,” says Kathleen.
Irish-inspired details were woven throughout the day as a nod to Kathleen’s heritage. Moss was one of the major ways in which the couple incorporated the beauty of Emerald Isle into the decor, covering the centerpiece vases and table numbers in the soft, lush plant. The table linens also played into the theme, with the geometric pattern playing off a traditional Celtic motif.
Even the delicious dessert display got in on the Irish-inspired theme. The couple’s two-tier cutting cake was displayed atop a simple stand covered in rich, textured moss and full, romantic blooms.
While Kathleen and Aaron had a two-tier cake made for the traditional cake cutting, they treated guests to a comprehensive dessert bar overflowing with decadent treats. Hand-painted macarons captured the essence of the spring season, while sweets like Buckeyes (chocolate peanut butter balls) and mini strawberry cheesecake jars showed off some of the couple’s personalities.