We knew that Mandy Burchett was THE perfect model for our “Surf’s Up!” shoot the minute we met her. We were struck not only by her beauty, but her easy-going and fun-loving attitude—she epitomized the look and feel for what we wanted!

The only problem was that we couldn’t get her to stop smiling (we’re joking about that being a problem—we love smiley, happy brides!)—truly, Mandy, you were amazing to work with and we’re honored to have you grace our “Surf’s Up!” styled shoot…now you can get to know this fabulous young lady too!

RW: What made you want to model for this shoot?
MB: I wanted to model for Real Weddings because I thought it would be an amazing experience. I also wanted to share with other real brides that you don’t have to look a certain way to be a bride; I know my look is different with my body type, hair color and tattoos. I want people to see that confidence can come in any shape or size.

RW: What was your favorite part of modeling?
MB: This experience was something else! I absolutely loved not having to have an opinion on my look for the day! I normally would NEVER put on a strapless dress, have my hair up, or wear dark makeup. It was wonderful to see myself in different styles and to be part of such an artistic experience.

RW:  What was your favorite part of this shoot? Did you relate to the concept?
MB: My favorite part was all of the excitement. Everyone who was involved was so glad and honored to be there. Working with so many vendors and hearing about their passions was super cool. I related to the shoot in the sense that I love bright colors. The shoot was styled so well and had this relaxed-beachy feel to it. The venue where we shot was phenomenal too; it was fun to see all the workers really interested in the whole photo shoot as well.

RW: What do you do for a living?
MB: I work in commercial insurance at a company called United Fire Group. I’ve been here for almost two years and received the job right out of college. It challenges me and allows me to grow so much. I have a degree in English and creative writing, so I do miss my more artistic side, but having opportunities like modeling for a really cool magazine helps me stay artistic. I also love everyone I work with, and I’m super happy with where I’m at in life right now.

RW: What do you do for fun?
MB: I love being crafty and finding DIY projects on occasion. Otherwise I’m pretty social; my husband and I love to find new craft breweries, eat fancy cheese and hang out with friends. We also love to play board games and host parties. We won’t pass up a good movie either—we actually got quite a few movie gift cards as wedding presents since people know we love to go!

RW: Tell us about your love story. How did you meet? What was the proposal like?
MB: We met in college and had a bunch of mutual friends. We both ended up as English majors, so then we ended up in classes together. We started carpooling to one class together and just building a friendship. Then somehow, we went on a date. I was a little hesitant at first, but after a few months, we were pretty much inseparable. We went through both our college graduations, not having jobs sporadically, and some other life trials. After two years, I was pretty much ready to marry him. For each anniversary we had gone to Lake Tahoe to get out of town for a bit. On our second anniversary, we did a day trip. We had already exchanged gifts the night before, and he had gotten me a myriad of things—from a Taylor Swift CD to a new can opener (I had desperately been needing one). I wasn’t expecting anything but a nice relaxing day. We went out to lunch, drank a bit, did some shopping in South Lake and were just enjoying ourselves. As the evening was winding down, we decided to go out to one of my favorite areas of the lake, Camp Richardson, to watch the sunset. While sitting there, reading books and talking to the ducks walking by, and I said we needed to take some pictures. We hadn’t taken any yet—and it was our anniversary!—so I convinced him to set up my iPhone with the photo timer, and we would take turns running back and forth to pose for the pictures. We were getting some pretty funny pictures out of it; during one, he was taking forever to set it up so it wouldn’t fall down (turns out he was actually fumbling with the ring), and he ran over to me but I thought he had fallen, and we only had 10 seconds to pose! Turns out he was just down on one knee proposing! I was so shocked that I asked if it was real several times before actually saying yes. I ultimately said yes, with a ton of tears involved. It was a really sweet moment, and it was just us; no hiding people, nothing crazy, just the two of us committing to get married. It was really awesome.

RW: Tell us about your own wedding.
MB: Most people probably say this, but our wedding was so much fun! We got married in Nevada City at the Miner’s Foundry. Let me tell you, this building is a hidden gem! It’s over 200 years old and has the most gorgeous stone room with a fireplace. I fell in love with it instantly. While wedding planning, I really wanted it to be simple and personal. I didn’t want to have all these requirements with certified people or preferred vendors—I wanted to have options, and the Foundry gave us just that. We did hunter/emerald greens and gold accents. I had wood round centerpieces, with these great green bottles that had greenery and baby’s breath sticking out of them; we also added a bunch of candles. My dad is kind of a woodworking guy so he made us all these amazing signs and even a five-foot-tall light up “LOVE” sign for the back of the room. We also had drapery that went through the rafters that was backlit with twinkle lights. The whole thing was a dream really, and we didn’t have any issues all day. The weather was even 50 degrees and sunny; I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Almost everything was DIY; my cupcakes were donated from multiple family friends and their hard work; our alcohol we got for a great deal and had a friend pour; the food was done by another family who used to be caterers; and I made all of the appetizers myself, and asked a friend to set them up. It really all came together, and we were so grateful for everyone involved.

RW: If you could offer any advice to future brides, what would it be?
MB: The best thing I tell engaged people or just anyone about weddings, is that first and foremost it is about getting married and making a lifelong commitment. Ultimately, nothing else should matter if you’re married at the end of the day. The next thing I say is to have fun! So many people miss out on enjoying their day, eating the food they paid so much for, dancing with long lost friends, etc. I tell everyone to stop and enjoy; it goes fast—it’s only a few hours and then it’s done. Next, make a budget. I don’t care if you’re a millionaire or if someone is footing the whole bill and you don’t care about money, make a budget and stick to it. Weddings can get crazy expensive crazy fast, and I’ve known people who have $4 [left] the night before their wedding. That’s super stressful. We had decided that no one item or vendor was going to cost more than the price of our rings combined, which allowed us to keep the core of our wedding (the rings), as the most valuable part of the day. It was also a neat way to explain to a vendor that they were just out of budget. The wedding industry is vast, and turning down a vendor is hard when they took the time to meet with you. If you explain that your value and morals for the wedding coincide with your finances, they are surprisingly understanding. Wedding planning is hard, but if you know what you want, you’re having open conversations with your significant other and you stay relaxed about it, then you will enjoy the time of your engagement. It breaks my heart when people say that being engaged was the worst part of their relationship. It should be an amazing time for the two of you to become one in your needs and wants. Also, do not ever forget to ask for help—everyone is willing to help to some capacity!

—Interviewed by Kelley Saia

“Surf’s Up” was produced by Nicole Reece—Elegant Inspirations Event & Wedding Consultations, Vicky Marco—Bella Bloom, Emily Peter and Wendy Sipple—Real Weddings Magazine.

The Details //  Venue
The Park Ultra Lounge  |  916-442-8855  |  theparkdowntown.com

Melissa Babasin Photography  |  916-412-8914  |  melissababasinphotography.com

Design, Styling and Coordination
Elegant Inspirations Events & Wedding Consultations  |  916-708-8565  |  707-718-0238  |  elegantinspirationseventsandweddings.com

Styling and Floral Design
Bella Bloom  |  916-498-8588  |  bellabloomflowers.com

Above and Beyond Cakes  |  916-672-2259  |  aboveandbeyondcakes.com

Catering and Cocktails
Cafeteria 15L  |  916-442-8855  |  cafeteria15l.com

For The Love of Hairspray  |  949-422-1957  |  fortheloveofhairspray.com

Happily Beautiful Makeup Artistry & Skin Studio  |  530-632-0607  |  happilybeautifulmakeup.com

Sparkle Bridal Couture  |  916-538-6615  |  sparklebridalcouture.com

Jewelry and Hair Accessories (Mandy’s Main Look and Additional Looks)
Pink Beauty Bridal  |  916-402-0785   |   pinkbeautybridal.com

Jewelry (Mandy’s Additional Looks)
Macy’s   |   macys.com  |  Arden Fair Mall | 916-925-2845 | Downtown Plaza | 916-444-3333
Sunrise Mall | 916-962-3333 | Westfield Galleria at Roseville | 916-771-3333

Paperie and Décor Signage
Invitations by Kalyn Ruijters   |  707-953-7201  |  somethingnewinvites.etsy.com

Plates, Chargers, Flatware and Glassware Rentals
Celebrations! Party Rentals & Tents  |  916-773-2133  |  775-773-8900  |  celebrationspartyrentals.com

Linen Rentals
America’s Party Rental  |  916-339-3544  |  americaspartyrental.com

Décor Rentals  
The Antique Owl  |  916-502-5951  |  theantiqueowl.com

Custom Décor Pillow and Foil Lettering
Swoonable  |  swoonable.net

JB Wedding Photography  |  916-220-0159   |   jbweddingphoto.com

Special thanks to our real bride model, Mandy Burchett, and to all of the professionals who contributed to this feature!

Click here to see more from our “Surf’s Up!” styled shoot, and stay tuned for more posts from our “Surf’s Up!” styled shoot!

Blog post by Real Weddings Magazine’s Editor/Publisher Wendy Sipple.

Photos by Melissa Babasin Photography / copyright Real Weddings Magazine.

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