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John & Wendy | The Surprise Elopement & Wedding at The Victorian House in Ventura, CA

bride and groom in vintage venue, wedding flat lay, wedding cake, bride shoes

This surprise elopement and wedding at The Victorian House in Ventura, CA was truly unique and special!

But please allow me to introduce John and Wendy first. My husband and I have known Wendy for many years. It was truly a pleasure to follow both of our families journeys in life. She cheered us on welcoming our son and we loved seeing her sons growing. When Wendy met John years ago, we were so happy they found each other. They just had that amazing glow together!

Guess how they met! Their beginning is a Bumble success story that almost wasn’t. Wendy was going to shut down her account but scrolled through and found this handsome fireman in Simi Valley. Her message to him hadn’t gone through. With minutes left, she messaged him again and they started chatting. A few days later they went on a first date and this is what it was like according to Wendy:

“Our first look at each other felt like it was a scene straight from a movie. You know, when the couple make eye contact and look at each other and everyone around them freezes and nothing going on around them matters? Yep, that’s exactly what happened to each of us. We had the best first date ever, staying late and shutting down Don Cuco’s! A few nights later on our second date, he made me a fantastic dinner at his lovely “treehouse” apartment. The forever vibe was already being felt by both of us and on our third date John gave me the spare key to his place. Needless to say I never gave it back! I can’t believe that was 5 years ago!!”

Wendy and John have been the best of friends and can still spend hours talking and laughing. They can almost always finish each other’s sentences and constantly say to each other “get out of my head”. They moved in together just before the pandemic hit. Since then, they’ve only grown stronger, facing life’s challenges together as a united couple.

This last year has been one of those tough years.

Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer last spring. When you are faced with this disease there are a lot of unknowns and an uncertain future. But one thing was certain for them: their commitment and love for one another. They knew it was time to make this official. So they eloped! I got to capture that elopement which you can see in this post here: John & Wendy | Thousand Oaks Civic Center Secret Elopement. They faced Wendy’s diagnosis together, with a new level of love and respect for each other.

They kept this elopement a secret. John and Wendy really wanted to have a big surprise and celebration with family and friends and not just on any day but a very special one: February 29th. Getting married on Leap Year started as a joke for them only a little while into dating each other. At the time, they said they’d get married that very next leap year but at that point they discovered that it was only around 2 months away which was a bit too soon. Now the Leap Year is here again in 2024!

Their wedding day was everything they wanted it to be: a one-of-a-kind day filled with love, joy, tears, hugs, and laughter. The Victorian House in Ventura was the perfect setting for it, with its cool vintage vibe and lots of places for people to enjoy and hang out at.

No one knew they eloped, and everyone thought they came to the wedding ceremony. So Wendy and John gathered their sweet family and friends at the venue’s charming outside patio garden under the string lights. Then they revealed their secret surprise as they shared a video of their journey together. The video ended with breaking the news that they already tied the knot! It was so touching and special!

I was honored to not only be a photographer but also a guest that day. And now you are also welcome to join us all through photos below. Cheers to John and Wendy and their love, joy, and true commitment for each other! May your love conquer any obstacles and grow stronger with each day!

bride vintage portraits
wedding flat lay shoes, florals, invitation, rings, dress
bride vintage portraits
groom getting ready putting on his cufflinks
bride getting ready
groom at the bar with a drink, groom fixing bowtie
bride in front of mirror in vintage room
bride vintage portraits, earrings flat lay


Photographer: Dasha Dean Photography, Venue: The Victorian House Ventura, DJ: Nick Dean, Cake: Awkward Pastry, Caterer: Fire & Wood Catering, Invitations: Truly Inspired Paper Co., Flowers: Trader Joe’s, Engagement/ wedding ring: Point No Point Studio, Wedding Gown: Blithe for Pronovias, Bridal Salon: Ever After, Alterations: A Stitch In Time, Shoes: Badgley Mischka, Hair accessory: French Love Bridal, Earrings: Bride’s prom 30 years ago, MUAH: Ciao Bella Beauty Co., Tan: Spray Tans by Stephanie, Eyebrows: Illuminate Skin Studio, Nails: Kristy’s Nails, Groom Tux: Vera Wang for Men’s Wearhouse, Sneakers: Vans

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