Sacramento WeddingsCollege sweethearts Emily and Mark were able to put together their dream wedding within a year’s time, thanks to careful planning.

Both Sacramento-area natives, the two didn’t meet until their freshman year at UC Santa Cruz. “We were actually next door neighbors in the dorms,” Mark recalls. “We started dating the first week of school and have been together ever since.”

After dating for five-and-a-half years, Mark popped the question and the planning commenced. “We liked the idea of a fall wedding but decided that a spring wedding, a year later, would allow us time to enjoy being engaged and plan the kind of wedding we both wanted most,” Mark says.

As Emily took the reins during the early stages of the planning process—tracking down vendors and keeping things organized—she started to realize she needed some help. “I had the extreme confidence of a 23-year-old bride as we began planning,” Emily says, “[but] once I came to my senses, I called Jenn of Jenn Robirds Events, who saved the day.”

“Emily was doing a fantastic job, but calling in Jenn a month before the wedding allowed us to have both a perfect wedding and actually enjoy our engagement,” Mark adds. “We got to have our cake and eat it, too!”

About 160 of the couple’s family and friends attended their ceremony and reception at The Flower Farm in Loomis. To bring in a personal touch, the nuptials incorporated family and close friends. “My dad presented a reading during the ceremony—I was so touched that he lent his voice—and our officiant was a personal friend of mine, whom I respect and love immensely. Her humor kept me laughing and her sageness made me cry,” Emily says.

The bride says many guests found it surprising that her mother walked her down the aisle. “If anyone was going to give me away, it was definitely going to be my mom—she made me who I am today,” she explains.

Their vintage-inspired reception featured rustic charm, a moving toast from Mark’s brother and best man, food from Randy Peters Catering, and dancing thanks to the DJ skills of Chris from Mix Different. “I learned that my husband could break dance—this was surprising!” Emily says.

When asked what wisdom she would bestow upon brides-to-be, Emily says to enjoy the fun of planning without making it the be-all-end-all of your life. “Take this with a grain of salt, but I think remembering that your wedding is a party you’re throwing for your loved ones is one of the best things I ever heard.”

—Corrie Pelc