Expecto Patronum! With a little design magic we brought the fictional Harry Potter tale to life. But for us it wasn’t as easy as waving a wand. In fact the planning process brought waves doubt and questions that kept us up at night.
As designers we are accustomed to taking on challenges, so when Cindy and Matthew explained that they wanted the ultimate Harry Potter wedding, we were thrilled yet admittedly terrified. The idea was so romantic, but the obstacles were significant. First, our darling bride and groom were the most dedicated Harry Potter fans, so the experience had to feel authentic. The next major challenge was to maintain the feel of a luxury wedding, because the Harry Potter theme can quickly look like a child’s birthday or halloween party. We knew we had to make careful choices, the Harry Potter dream could become silly looking nightmare. (Did I mention the sleepless nights?) Filmmakers have massive budgets and sophisticated special effects to bring pages of Harry Potter to life. We had neither, so we had to get creative. Fortunately Cindy and Matt made great creative partners, so together we channeled our own Witchcraft and Wizardry.
For starters, we needed a venue that emulated Hogwarts, but would also provide a warm, romantic space for an upscale wedding. Hollywood Castle, located high in the hills of Los Angeles, was the best of both worlds: An outdoor venue capitalizing on the beautiful Southern California weather and sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills; yet providing an old-world feel with stone castle walls and overgrown botanicals. We had found the ideal backdrop, and now it was time to transform the space into an otherworldly wedding.
Upon arrival, guests made their way to a lush garden ceremony lined antique church pews, weathered books and layered wood slabs from Archive Rentals. At the end of the aisle, Cindy and Matt were framed by an iron gazebo covered in vines and woven with trailing amaranths and quicksand roses provided by JL Designs. With the “I Do’s” complete, the “sorting ceremony” began, and each guest was called into their respective Hogwarts house/reception table.
We designed the reception with the great halls of Hogwarts in mind. Long feasting tables from Archive Rentals were adorned with authentic artifacts from the novel series all in a moody gold and burgundy palette. For the tabletop, we took a sophisticated approach, starting with luxe brass flatware and chargers, built on the palette by adding a mix of brass and garnet crystal goblets. A mix of ornate white china showcased a favor at each place setting, the bride’s own pièce de résistance: chocolate frogs! Centerpieces were no less dramatic. With the help of our couple, we designed long scrolling table runners made of aged Harry Potter book pages. JL Designs then draped massive floral garlands along the tables which poured over onto the floor. Taper candles in clear glass bottles added height and mystery as they melted into the night. And finally, we added stunning arrangements above in towering crystal candelabras filled with black ranunculus, red garden roses and untamed greenery. As guests dined under the stars and toasted the new couple in the glow of candlelight, we knew that we had achieved the most romantic possible version of Harry Potter.
After dinner, guests made their way inside the castle for one more big-screen surprise. Cindy and Matt would have their first dance under a hundred “floating candles” which seemed to hover magically above the dance floor. Matt and Cindy danced the night away as if in the Great Hall itself. In awe of the night and overjoyed for our couple, we went home to have a good night’s sleep, and one last Harry Potter dream.
Photography: Nirav Patel | Location: Hollywood Castle | Event planning: Crosby + Jon | Catering: 24 Carrots | Flowers: JL Designs | Stationery and Calligraphy: Owl Post Calligraphy | Music: Keith Divel | Rentals: Archive Rentals | Lighting: Class Party Rentals | Bride’s gown: James Clifford