Photography by
Maya Myers Photography

Karen Sanchez & Raul Menjivar

May 22, 2015 in Malibu, California

Karen Sanchez was working for a real estate company when Raul Menjivar, a real estate investor, reached out to her via a mutual friend on Facebook. Turning down his initial request to connect, Raul remained persistent (much to Karen’s annoyance), and Karen grudgingly agreed to a quick business meeting at Starbucks. “He immediately caught my eye with his energy and excitement for our line of work,” says Karen. “Our industry was bad with the recession. People were losing jobs, but he stood out to me; so I agreed to start working with him.”

After working together for six months, the two decided to meet at Benihana’s to celebrate their business success. At that point, Karen had no idea that Raul’s intentions were anything but business. “Once we both relaxed, we began talking about our personal lives and realized we had a lot in common with our upbringing and morals,” she says. “For the first time, I realized I had feelings for him.”

Three years of dating led to a surprise engagement in Napa Valley. For months, Raul had been designing an engagement ring and made secret arrangements–all, while Karen thought she was the one planning their Napa Valley trip. On their last night, the couple drove up to an intimate hillside restaurant with breathtaking views of the region. There, Raul dropped to one knee and proposed. “I was still crying tears of joy when I said, ‘I need to call my family’,” describes Karen. “My fiancé then whispered into my ear that my family was watching. I turned around and saw them all–even my 87-year-old grandmother who hadn’t flown in ten years was there.”

During the wedding planning process, Karen and Raul decided they wanted their wedding to be traditional, yet unique. With a specific wedding vision, the couple was thrilled when they finally found the perfect wedding venue to fit their criteria–Malibu Rocky Oaks. “One of the most unique elements the estate had to offer was the helipad for our ceremony,” Karen explains. “It allowed us to create a circular seating arrangement, so we could feel our families and friends were with us in becoming one.”

When the wedding day arrived, the bride was completely relaxed and happy. “The moment I put my veil on, it hit me–this is my wedding, and I’m marrying the man of my dreams,” she says. “I took it in, I was present.” An elegant ceremony site complemented the loving and celebratory ambiance created by family and friends.

For the father-daughter dance, the bride and her father had been rehearsing a routine for weeks, dancing to Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight.” When the music started, a recorded song began playing instead of the live band, causing the bride to look over in panic. Her father simply said, “It’s okay, let’s just roll with it.” “I started listening to the lyrics and realized the song was about me,” says Karen. “My father had written the song and his friend recorded it. We both burst into tears and it was one of the most memorable moments of the night.”

>Written By: Lauren Malamala

Location: Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards Malibu, CA; Event Design and Planner: A Stunning Affair Wedding and Event Planning Los Angeles, CA; Floral Design and Linen: Butterfly Floral & Event Design Los Angeles, CA;
Rentals and Lighting: A Rental Connection Los Angeles, CA; Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier; Bride’s Earrings: Tiffany & Co.; Groom’s Attire: Ralph Lauren;