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Circle of Love

Krista Poehler & Ashley Kokjohn

Circle of Love

LIKE MANY OF THE BEST LOVE STORIES, this one began with a beautiful friendship. Krista Poehler and Ashley Kokjohn were immediately drawn to each other when they met in college, and spent countless hours discussing family, life goals and much more. Despite living apart during graduate school—with Krista in Colorado and Ashley in Boston—the friendship remained strong. Before long, their relationship evolved into much more than friendship; they realized they were in love and had been waiting for each other all along. Upon graduating, they moved to San Diego, where they settled into new careers and a new life together.

On November 3, 2007, Krista and Ashley celebrated their love and commitment with 150 friends and family members at the Ebell of Los Angeles. The historic venue, with its magnificent architecture, high ceilings and dark wood, exudes an old-fashioned elegance the couple wanted.

Escorted by their parents, each bride made a grand entrance down an L-shaped, red-carpeted staircase, then down an aisle leading to the ballroom stage where the ceremony was held. The brides were radiant in formal white gowns; their parents wore black, and the bridesmaids wore taupe. Two oversize wicker baskets filled with green and burgundy flowers added a splash of color to the understated, elegant stage. The couple exchanged matching diamond eternity bands and read vows they wrote themselves, then their parents joined the bridal party and surrounded them in a “circle of love.” A cherished moment for both brides, this part of the ceremony was designed to symbolize the immense support they have had from friends and family. “It was beautiful, spiritual and really perfect for our ceremony,” says Ashley.

“We don’t encounter too much direct bias in our everyday lives, but our friends and family insulate us from what we do endure,” says Krista. “Both of us, at some point in our lives, questioned whether we would ever get to have an event like this—like the ones our sisters had—and whether people would celebrate and support us.” Their wedding day proved to be all that and more.

After the ceremony, “It was just one big party,” says Krista. “It was elegant, the music was great, the food was delicious, and I really think—and hope— that our guests had an amazing time.” Each table was named after places in the world where each bride had written a letter to the other, and each table displayed either one of those letters, an e-mail or journal entry. “It was quite an experience to go back through our history together,” says Krista. “We had some of our very first e-mails from when we first became friends.”

Highlights of the reception included Krista’s cousin singing “Fields of Gold.” After the traditional dance with their fathers, the brides also had a lively mother/daughter dance to “Twistin’ the Night Away.” The couple and the guests filled the dance floor all night long, mostly swing dancing to oldies and big-band tunes.

There were toasts throughout the evening, with dads, sisters, friends and other well-wishers taking the opportunity to congratulate the happy couple. In an eloquent and heartfelt moment, Krista’s father expressed his deep respect for the love between his daughter and Ashley, acknowledging “the mountain they had climbed to be together.” “It was truly the best day of my life” Krista says.

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Allana Taranto, Ars Magna Studio

ALLANA TARANTO describes her style as “a blend of traditional standards and creative exploration.” She photographed her first wedding for a friend just months after high school graduation, and went on to study photography and art education in college and graduate school. The key components in choosing the right photographer are whether you appreciate their eye and enjoy spending time with them, she says. “When those two elements click into place, images really take off.”

This was certainly the case with Krista and Ashley. “From our first meeting, I could see how much in love and how excited these two women were to formally join their lives together,” Taranto says. “They are an amazing couple, and their wedding was a truly blissful celebration.”

“Her vantage point and perspective of our evening was exactly what we wanted,” says Krista. She and Ashley were thrilled with the results.

“Both women were very receptive to our ideas and trusting of our artistic vision,” says Taranto, who brought another professional photographer along to ensure that none of those precious— and often spontaneous—moments were missed. “Weddings are a remarkable turning point in people’s lives,” Taranto continues. “I hope that the images of their wedding reflect the joy and love that they share, and the images and album we create for them become part of their history.”

The Ebell of Los Angeles

FOUNDED IN 1894 AS LOS ANGELES’ most glamorous women’s social club, the Ebell epitomizes old-fashioned sophistication and charm. Three ballrooms, a garden courtyard and other unique spaces offer a variety of options for a wedding in the magnificent 75,000- square-foot Italian Renaissance building. The art salon, with its draped doorways and original paintings by local artists, serves as a foyer for the lounge, which features an ornate Italian ceiling, wrought-iron chandeliers, antique furniture and a stage with a grand piano. Carved, arched columns and high ceilings frame an elegant dining room, with large French doors that open onto a peaceful courtyard.

Couples may bring in their own caterers, but most use the inhouse caterer, Louis Penchan, who prepares creative menus. “It’s very important to work closely with couples, coordinators and vendors to ensure that all the details are in place to create a smooth and stressfree event,” says Teddi Dysart, special events representative for the Ebell. Both Dysart and Melissa Allen, director of catering and special events, were independent wedding planners prior to working at the Ebell, so they have plenty of experience assisting couples.

Krista and Ashley loved their venue. “The Ebell was amazing,” says Krista. “The location, the people, the food and really everything about it was great. We would definitely recommend it.”

Krislyn Komarov, KRISLYN Design

“MY APPROACH TO DESIGN is organic and free thinking. I always strive to tell a story—and a wedding is a visual display of the couple’s story,” says Krislyn Komarov, CEO and chief of inspiration of KRISLYN, her eponymous Los Angeles design studio and boutique. Komarov has worked with flowers and organic materials since she was very young, transforming sticks, stones, vintage accessories and other found objects into beautiful creations. “I was spending all of my free time and money doing this, so I decided to try to turn it into a full-time business,” she says. After 15 years, she is well-known for her creative designs, with an impressive client list that includes big-name celebrities, entertainment giants and hip hotel brands.

Luckily for the brides, Komarov also happens to be Krista’s sister. She designed the flowers and décor to create a natural, sophisticated, garden look. “We decided to keep with the aesthetics of the beautiful, historic building and keep the floral element bountiful and somewhat more traditional, but with a personal twist,” she says. For the bouquets, “Ashley wanted a little more ‘princess’ and Krista wanted more sleek-and-sophisticated.” Komarov used the same palette of greens and dark burgundy that she used throughout the wedding, but each had its own unique flair.

“We gave her general desires, but my biggest wish was that she just put her magnificent talent to work,” says Krista. “Her visions are breathtaking. It was nice to have surprising little moments of beauty as I walked around throughout the day.”