Romantic Meets Edgy at One Couple’s Personalized Wedding at Valentine in Downtown LA
“Ryan recognized me from Tinder as a fellow Chapman University alum, but I had ignored him on the app,” laughs Syndey Westra, recounting the day she met her future husband, Ryan, at a bar in Los Angeles. Only minutes into their conversation, Ryan asked Sydney to a concert the very next day. They danced and sipped and had a blast. “I didn’t remember this until months later, but I wrote in his phone: 'Sydney Jacobs U LOVE ME' in the contact at the end of the night. Turns out I was right.”
During a visit to his home state of Washington, Ryan took Sydney on a hike up Mt. Si. After some unusual requests, including changing clothes and “considering showering,” they reached the mountaintop. After following her boyfriend’s aimless wandering as he searched for the “perfect spot,” Sydney still had no idea what was to come. He picked a place, set up his camera and walked over to his girlfriend. “I posed with him, my hand on his heart, and I could feel it pounding violently. I looked at him, confused. Voice shaking, he told me there would be many more mountains to climb together, both real and metaphorical, and got down on one knee.”
As one of the first couples in their friend group to become engaged, the bride and groom didn’t have much personal inspiration. “I got pretty sucked into Wedding TikTok and was constantly finding inspiration from other real weddings!” reveals Sydney. After distilling their ideas, the pair identified two key factors for their dream wedding. “(1) To party late into the night. (2) To make it feel as personalized to us as possible. We wanted to make a lasting impact on us and our guests.” In order to create the perfect vibe, Sydney decided to take on the role of wedding planner herself.
Their selected venue provided the idyllic backdrop for their big day: mixing ample greenery with an edgy downtown vibe. “We initially were gravitating towards forests and tree-filled locations, but they ended up feeling too much of a blank slate for us,” the bride describes. “We wanted a venue that felt unique in its own and a character and life of its own, so we instantly fell in love with the eclectic style of Valentine.” On their fall wedding day, guests were greeted by tons of DIY decor elements dotted throughout the space—from signage to marquee letters to a custom cornhole set.
Sydney walked down the aisle clad in a timeless, fitted gown with a twist. “My dress felt like a combination of my favorite parts of other dresses that I had tried on: something classic that I could modernize with accessories. The detachable sleeves were everything to me, so I worked backward and had to find a dress that worked with those!” Wearing a stylish black tuxedo, Ryan met his beloved at the altar.
Officiated by their best friend, the vows were deep and personal. “We wanted the script to focus on mindfulness, which we achieved in three ways,” the bride tells. “First, our officiant requested an unplugged ceremony. Next, before we began, he asked everyone in the room to take 30 seconds of mindfulness and silence to take everything in, look around the room and breathe. Last, we did a “group vow,” in which we asked our guests to support our marriage, detailing how our wedding also celebrated their love for us.”
The reception space exuded modern romance through strategic lighting. Says Sydney, “I loved the natural wood of the tables and didn’t want to hide them with chargers or table runners. I loved the organic feel of light wood and candlelight with simple and clean bud vases.” Since the space had greenery to spare, the couple decided to keep the floral additions purposeful. “We didn’t want to overdo it with flowers! We wanted pops of color without drawing too much away from the venue itself.”
As they wanted from the get-go, Syndey and Ryan incorporated countless personalizations into their wedding day. “We commissioned our bridesman to create a custom wedding illustration for us to include in the decor. We wanted the wedding to feel super unique to us, so we used that illustration as one might use a monogram: cocktail napkins, dessert toppers, stationery, etc.,” the bride explains. “Ryan wrote and performed a song for me before our first dance, which was a huge hit and had people cheering on their feet—definitely a highlight! We also projected a 3-hour video compilation of iPhone footage of us that Ryan made. It gave our loved ones a glimpse into our love story and all the adventures we’ve been on together: from fun travel videos to the weird, silly videos of us home alone in the pandemic.”
The newlyweds’ advice for other couples is simple. “Be to be prepared to let go,” they say. “You can run around in circles and stress out, but there comes a time when you have to let go and enjoy.”