Navigating the Wedding World

31429615_10216670143173928_7583722362701348864_nA few short months ago, the love of my life got down on one knee. It was better than I could have dreamed; we went on a hike through the Hawaiian jungle, into a valley underneath weeping Koolau Mountains and surrounded by butterflies, silence, and greenery. Everything he said was beautiful and perfect, and I fell even deeper in love with this man that I would soon get to marry.

Our engagement was idyllic, but being engaged – not so much. Immediately, excited friends and family honed in. When is the wedding? Where will it be? What are your colors? Your theme? At my wedding, we….

I know they didn’t intend to swarm, but that’s what it felt like. I felt like I was already behind a mere day after we got engaged, since I had no clue how to plan a wedding. I’m a pretty simple, outdoorsy gal – I didn’t even have a pinterest board remotely close to weddings until the proposal. I felt like everyone was watching, and waiting, and wondering why it was taking us so long to figure it out.

Thankfully, my fiancée (I get to use that word now!) stepped in and saved the day. He set a date that we would begin planning, and kindly informed everyone in our lives that we wouldn’t be making any decisions until then. We had some time to think, and breathe, and discuss our future marriage and plans and kids. We had time to actually enjoy being engaged to one another.

I loved this magical time where I knew the wedding was coming, but there was no planning to do. No tasks, no checklists, no due dates. Just love, and joy, and incredible happiness.

Like most magical moments, though, our unhindered bliss couldn’t last forever. Our planning day came, and we bravely stepped into the wedding world. We researched venues, defined our style, made a budget. Since we own a business together, planning was no big deal for us. We knew we could do it.

Now that we’re ankles-deep in the planning process, we’re encountering a lot of the ‘swarm’. Friends and family we love and look up to want us to invite so-and-so, and include this and that, and we have to do this, and it’s not really a wedding if…

Not to mention all of the TERRIFYING articles online on what really ‘makes’ a wedding.

Honestly, though, we’re both taking a stand against it all.  We’re both outdoorsy, adventurous, simple people. We’re not into expensive wines, luxury fabrics, lush flowers, sparkles or events. We want to create a ceremony and reception that represents and compliments who we are, and that our closest friends and family can enjoy.

I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and I pretty much never recall what kind of flowers or centerpieces were there, or even the entrée selection or premium wine list. I remember the people that married, and the love they shared, and the fun I had.

That’s what I want my guests (and us) to remember.



Wedding Venue Hunting (eek!)

Happy Sunday! I apologize for my absence this past week – I flew back to California for a family emergency and stayed for about five days! Thankfully, my kickass grandpa was doing sooo much better than we all imagined J It felt like such a blessing to just be able to go home at all, especially for Easter! It was my first Easter Sunday at home in four years.

I had a few days to spare, so my mom and I decided to go venue hunting. My fiancé and I are getting married in just over a year, and since I live an ocean away, I really wanted to snag a venue and a date as soon as possible.

Rocky and I spend our lives in the water; it’s a huge, central part of our relationship and why we’re so perfect for each other. Naturally, the water has to somehow be involved in our ceremony and reception. A lot of great places got ruled out because Rocky wanted to be outside, I wanted to be inside, and we both wanted to have a view regardless of where we went. We’re too wild and rambunctious to be cooped up in your typical ballroom.

We’ve narrowed it down to three lovely choices, one on Coronado Island near San Diego, CA, one in Redondo Beach, and one in San Pedro (eek!).

Option 1 is at the Navy Lodge on Coranado Island. If you haven’t been to or heard of Coronado Island, you’re missing out. It’s an adorable little beach town that’s equally affluent and understated, with gorgeous boutiques and the always amazing Coronado Brewery. It’s a little slice of beach town heaven, tucked away a short drive over a bridge from the bustling city.



I like this venue because the boardwalk is outside, and would look amazing with flowers and lights wrapped around the rails and awnings. It’s also a lot bigger than it looks (I think it accommodates up to 200 guests) and has a glass-front cocktail lounge/mini kitchen nestled in the back. It could work for our ceremony and dancing. My one major stipulation is that I refuse to get married on the actual beach, because the last thing I want is to deal with sand. There’s sand in my car, my floor, my bed, my laundry. And I want to get fancy and wear heels, dammit.


The faults are that the venue is about a two hour drive from my area, so our guests will have to shack up at the lodge. Thankfully, the lodge is ridiculously affordable and gorgeous, but I’m not sure if I want to wake up the morning after my wedding with my entire family and friends right there for breakfast. Not sure how I feel about that one.

Option 2 is in Redondo Beach, which is close to my house and overlooks the harbor. One of Rocky and I’s favorite dates – and days ever, really – was at the Redondo Beach pier. We scarfed down fresh caught lobster there, fished there, and just have so many cute memories from it.



The pro’s of this venue, obviously, is that the place is top notch, first class, beautiful. The outdoor ceremony area comes with a flower-adorned arch, and is quaint yet breathtaking with the ocean and hills as a backdrop.

The inside is so elegant we would barely even need decorations; shiny cutlery, luxe linens, and giant windows open to the sounds of the water and the ocean breeze. I also dig the uplighting and that it’s so nice yet still small and intimate. There’s also a gorgeous hotel across the way, where Rocky and I could stay and enjoy our complimentary farewell brunch.



The only downside to this place is the price. As you can guess, it’s really, really expensive. However, we are planning to have a small wedding, so we’re going to see what we’re working with. Also, the price includes a six course meal (including pumpkin-basil tortellini as a veg option! swoon) , a one hour open bar, linens, rehearsal dinner, farewell brunch, and an unofficial wedding planner to coordinate with our cake and florist and take care of our every need. Which would be a lifesaver for me, since I won’t physically be there to take care of a lot of these things myself.

Lastly, our top choice – a beautiful venue on the San Pedro sea cliffs, overlooking a picturesque fishing dock. First, I absolutely adore San Pedro – it’s one of my favorite places I’ve come to since I could drive to relax, catch up with friends, write, and just think. It’s such a peaceful place.

This venue is by far our number one choice because it has a lot of the niceness and classiness of the Portofino, but is technically on a military base. Basically, it would cost less than half of Redondo Beach but doesn’t include the rehearsal dinner or brunch. However, they did promise that they coordinate with our florist and cake and be of as much help as possible.



I’m in love with the ceremony area clad with gazebo, which overlooks the glittering ocean and horizon. I also love that the cocktail area is an outdoor patio with a full bar, so that our guests can enjoy being outdoors both before and after the reception.




Lastly, the ballroom is gorgeous. It has the plantation windows I loved from Redondo Beach, and I also dig the vintage-y feel and the chandeliers and ceiling. It’s also very close to our house, so our friends can get home easily and safely. I also want to stay at the zillion bed and breakfasts in the area, so me and Rocky can relax and wind down the next day.

We already put a hold on our date for next-next July, and our praying to put down a deposit soon! The place fits our budget perfectly (as in maxes it out, but doesn’t go over) and includes a five course meal, a few rounds of champagne and I and my guests can request their meat to be replaced with a vegetarian or even vegan meal. Um, is this real life??