Mandy and Vanessa met at Ikea. Yes, Ikea. Vanessa was there with her son, and Mandy was shopping with her friend, Sonia. “Sonia, who was a mutual friend, saw Vanessa from across the store and yelled ‘Nenna!’” remembers Mandy. The pair had met a couple of times prior at mutual friends’ events, however, this time it clicked. “We both told Sonia we thought the other was cute, and we hung out that night, and the rest is history.”

Mandy proposed to Vanessa on a hiking trail behind their first home. Mandy told Vanessa that they were taking pictures for Aiden’s sixth birthday, but really she had her ring on a cupcake, to propose. “Aiden got a little proposal cupcake, too,” the couple shares. “The whole thing was photographed by Nikki from Nikki Hancock Photography, and [was] one of the most special moments.” Vanessa proposed to Mandy soon after at Grace Patriot Winery, where she took Mandy for a walk through the vineyard. “It was beautiful, intimate and perfect,” says Mandy. “We both cried and couldn’t wait to get started planning our future.”

They wanted their wedding to be intimate and about their family of three uniting. Vanessa’s Godmother, Monica, married them during a beautiful ceremony. “It was centered around acceptance, love, faith and coming together as a family,” says Mandy. “There was not a dry eye in the house, and the venue was just breathtaking.”

The reception was at the same location as the ceremony, at Lawley Ranch. “It was so fun and went by way too fast,” says Vanessa. “The speeches were the most memorable part, but the food and desserts were outrageously yummy, [and] getting to see all of our guests enjoying themselves.” There were so many memorable moments, but the highlight of the day was the moment when Mandy, Vanessa and Aiden became a family. “The look on Aiden’s face after we were married,” says Mandy. “He was so proud, and we were so in love with our little family.”

—Darren Elms