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Sailboat Engagement Session in San Diego

This sweet little love sesh right here? It’s my happy place this afternoon. A breezy gallery snapped up by Carmen Santorelli with not one, but three gorgeous dresses in blush, turquoise and gold, a floppy beach hat, a cozy sailboat, rays of warm sunshine and loads of nautical lovin’. Come kick back with me in the gallery.


From the beautiful Bride…Dean and I met in San Diego in 2012. After convincing myself that I could move all of my furniture on my own, moving day came and I realized that I was in some serious need of help. I called my nearby friend Phil and asked that he bring as many friends as he could to help. Turns out, most of these friends were not in any condition to help the morning after an “all nighter”. The only person willing to help was Phil’s friend, Dean.

Dean showed up with the biggest smile on his face and I specifically remember thinking to myself; now, this is the kind of man that I want to marry. I actually remember being upset after meeting him because I was under the impression that he was already taken. I guess I just assumed that someone this incredible and kind had to already be taken off the market. Turns out, he wasn’t and I couldn’t be more grateful. The week after we met, I went to my home state of Colorado to visit. Upon returning, I learned that Dean had been trying to get a hold of me, but was (without his knowledge) given the wrong number by our mutual friends. The next time I saw him, he was overly apologetic thinking that I hadn’t returned his calls or texts because he was too forward. After assuring him that he just had the wrong number we finally went on our first date and have spent almost every single day together since.

Together for nearly two years, I was more than ready to become his wife but with no indication from him, figured an engagement was still a long time away. When I woke up one Sunday morning, Dean handed me a cup of coffee and a note explaining that he was taking me away for a couple of days on a surprise trip for our “birthdays”. The note was complete with a packing list and the reassurance that he had already called my boss to tell him I wouldn’t be at work Monday morning. I had no idea where we were going until we arrived at the Dana point marina. I then knew we were headed to Catalina Island, a place I had been longing to visit since we started dating.

Once we finally set foot on Catalina we enjoyed an amazing day of exploring the island, eating to our hearts content and just enjoying one another’s company. After lunch, Dean mentioned that we needed to start getting ready for dinner and told me that he rented a sailboat and wanted to have a sunset cruise before our dinner reservations that night. I thought this was a little suspicious (and over the top) for our birthday but refused to let my mind wander to the thoughts of our engagement in fear of being let down if it didn’t happen.

After spending about an hour on the boat we came to a point where we were literally surrounded by hundreds of dolphins and sea lions all swimming together surrounding the boat. Even the captain of the boat mentioned that he had never seen anything like it. At this point I was so distracted with trying to capture pictures of the circus happening in the water around us, that getting engaged was the furthest thing from my mind. Not even a minute later, Dean got down on one wobbly knee and asked me to be his fiancée. Turns out, this weekend was to celebrate the beginning of the rest of our lives together. That moment is one that I wish I could relive a million times over because I don’t think I have ever been so overwhelmed with joy in my life.

When the incredible Carmen Santorelli and I started to brainstorm where we should take our engagement photos it seemed only fateful that a sailboat engagement session was something she too had been dreaming of and gathering inspiration for, for quite some time. When she told me about this, I knew that this would be the perfect backdrop to tell the story of where this chapter in our story began.

Photography: Carmen Santorelli Photography

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Soft + Romantic Summer Winery Wedding

Every now and then a wedding comes along that nearly leaves me without words. I’m talking those weddings that push the envelope of pretty and make me thank my lucky stars to be a part of this little ol’ blog. But sure enough, when it’s vendors like Joy ProctorCamellia Floral DesignsAria Studios and KT Merry behind the scenes, events like that just naturally unfold. The story starts with this duo’s gorgeous engagement and ends in the full wedding gallery waiting right here.


From the Bride… James and I are both very close to our families, so when searching for a location we envisioned a venue where we could celebrate the coming together of our two families. When we first set foot on the grounds of Sunstone Villa, we knew it was absolutely perfect for us! Not only were the Villa and surrounding vineyards utterly breathtaking, but our families were also able to stay with us at the Villa through the weekend. Looking back now, we realized that our families being together in the days leading up to our wedding was just as precious as our actual wedding day. We could not have imagined a more perfect location!

James and I wanted our wedding to be simple, timeless and romantic, yet also full of fun and warmth. We wanted our decor elements to be very personal and selected items we knew we’d eventually display in our home. We made several trips to our local antique faire searching for vintage trays, frames and containers. Our favorite find was the large antique gold frame we used as our escort card display. When we first found the frame, it was in desperate need of a little TLC. After a couple visits to the hardware store and through some trial and error, James and I were able to bring the frame back to life! The fact that we pulled an all-nighter restoring the frame made displaying it so much more meaningful. We also spent months collecting candles, votives and hurricanes and placed them all over the Villa to add a beautiful glow. We especially loved working with Carolyn Jane and Angelique Ink to create custom hand calligraphy signs, escort and place cards, menus and programs. They added the perfect personal touch to our wedding day.

Music is very important to us and we wanted the music at our wedding to be a reflection of our relationship. Over the course of our engagement, we continuously added songs to our “wedding playlist.” By the end, we had enough songs to fill the entire day! Hearing our selections played throughout the day was incredibly special, in particular our first dance song, which we had chosen on our very first date!!

The best advice I could give any bride is to choose experienced vendors they can wholeheartedly trust to execute their big day. We were told that our wedding day would fly by quickly but had no idea what that truly meant until it was actually happening! Luckily, we had an amazing team to support us and ensure every detail was attended to so that we could focus on spending time with our family and friends. Our coordinator, Joy, of Joy Proctor Design, was a dream to work with and quite possibly the sweetest person we’ve ever met! From day one, she gave us amazing advice on the planning process and was an invaluable partner. On top of that, she has an amazing eye for design; we knew we could trust her to bring our wedding vision to life! Our photographer, KT Merry, and her assistant, Chad, made the perfect team and captured the precious moments of our big day beautifully. KT and Chad were by our side the entire day and made us feel extremely comfortable in front of the camera. They were super sweet, patient and consummate professionals who executed with expert precision. We also absolutely adored our videographers, Aria Studios. They were so nice and fun to hang out with, like being with old friends. They’re based in Hawaii and braved not one, but two(!) hurricane warnings just to make it to our wedding! Watching their incredible Same Day Edit video at our reception was the perfect way to end the best day of our lives.

The SDE video, together with the quiet excitement of our first look, our adorable nieces and nephews as our flower girls and ring bearers, our first dance, the reactions we had to our SURPRISE horse-drawn carriage ride, making lifelong memories with our families, hearing the amazing speeches from our closest friends, and especially seeing James at the end of our ceremony aisle were some of the best moments of our wedding. All the planning and focusing on the details were definitely worth it! We could not have asked for more!

From Joy of Joy Proctor Design… I had the pleasure of helping Inga and James with planning for their beautiful wedding at Sunstone Villa. Inga chose a muted color palate of blush and peach paired with soft greens and greys to compliment the understated elegance of the venue.

Guests were greeted with lavender lemonade before making their way to the ceremony. Estate urns filled with organic florals by Cameilla Design sat on either side of the aisle, creating the most elegant entrance to the “I dos” which were held under and old oak tree. After the ceremony, Inga and James invited guests to join them for cocktails and bean toss before taking a quick moment to look out over their wedding from a balcony above. As a wedding gift, the grooms sister surprised them with a horse drawn carriage ride at sunset. Before making their way to dinner, guests found their calligraphy seating assignments by Carolyn Jane Design on a large gold frame backed in dupioni silk. Walking through the home to the reception, guests were greeted with more than 200 candles lining the stairwell and foyer tables – creating a truly romantic welcome to dinner.

The dinner reception was held in front of the house, with European market lights hanging over head. The bride and groom sat with their bridal party at a long wooden table from the Tent Merchant with a beautiful ivory dupioni silk runner from La Tavola linen. Guests sat at round tables covered in the same ivory dupioni linen with two beautiful centerpieces mixed throughout the tables. Rustic stoneware chargers and ornate silver flatware sat at each place setting, with a dinner menu tied in jute and a sprig of rosemary.

The gorgeous cake by Decadance was the perfect soft accent to the design. After the cake was cut, guests made their way to the back patio of the house to a late night lounge with natural linen sofas set around the oversized fireplace. SBB gourmet made pizzas for the late night crowd in the outdoor pizza oven.

Photography: KT Merry Photography | Videography: Aria Studios | Event Design: Joy Proctor | Floral Design: Camellia Floral Designs | Wedding Dress: Vera Wang | Bride's Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Catering: SBB Gourmet Catering | Hair And Makeup: Ann Ho Of StylesByAnn | Calligraphy: Angelique Ink | Calligraphy: Carolyn Jane | DJ: DJ Mel | Grooms Attire: John Varvatos | Cake : Decadence Fine Cakes & Confections | Ceremony + Reception Venue: Sunstone Winery | Lighting : Bella Vista Designs | Linens : La Tavola | Photo Booth: Outrageous Photo Booths | Rentals: The Tent Merchant | Wedding Coordination: Joy Proctor

Jenny Yoo is a member of our Look Book. For more information on how members are chosen, click here. Jenny Yoo and La Tavola Fine Linen Rental are members of our Little Black Book. Find out how members are chosen by visiting our FAQ page.
Jenny Yoo

La Tavola Fine Linen Rental

From Sonoma to San Francisco: A California Engagement

We love when we get to see a wedding come full circle and today we’re diving into just that. We’ve cozied up to KT Merry for a California engagement that showcases not only the natural beauty of Sonoma but the chic city streets of San Francisco too. And then? And then we have the wedding of this cute duo following suit. That’s the whole full circle part and it’s coming up in just a bit! Until then, check out the full gallery.

From The Bride…James asked me to marry him on our first date. Crazy, I know! I guess some things are just meant to be and I was lucky enough to find someone who knew that we were meant to be from the very beginning! I, on the other hand, am naturally a bit more cautious, so even though I thought James was amazing, I couldn’t help but laugh his question off. Undeterred, James simply smiled and said that the next time he asked, he hoped for a different answer.

Ten months later, we decided to take a trip to Monterey, a short two-hour drive from our home in San Francisco. We both wanted a carefree getaway, so we didn’t plan any activities in advance (or so I thought!). On the second day of our trip, James asked what I felt like doing and I suggested a hike in Point Lobos State Reserve. I must have answered exactly as he thought I would, because somehow he already knew the perfect trail for us! At the end of our hike, we found ourselves immersed in the picturesque backdrop of the California coastline. With the sea cliffs high above and the ocean’s waves crashing down below, we stood and watched the breathtaking sunset. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect way to end our day. That is, until James pulled off the surprise of my life! Just as the last bit of light disappeared behind the horizon, he calmly took my hand in his, looked up at me and asked me to marry him…again! But this time, he was on one knee…this time, he was holding a stunning ring…and this time, I said YES!!!

James and Inga will be getting married this summer at The Villa at Sunstone.

Photography: KT Merry | Hair And Makeup: Styles By Ann | Black Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Blue Dress: Parker | Gold Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Gray Suit: Hugo Boss | Lace Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Nude Shoes: Brian Atwood | Second Location: Legion Of Honor | Sport Coat: John Varvatos | White Dress: Alice + Olivia

Monique Lhuillier is a member of our Look Book. For more information on how members are chosen, click here. Legion of Honor is a member of our Little Black Book. Find out how members are chosen by visiting our FAQ page.
Legion of Honor