A Chic Nautical Wedding in San Diego
Julie and Anthony
Julie and Anthony first met in business school at University of California, Berkeley, in 2013. About two years later, Anthony told Julie he had a special weekend planned, but little did she know what he actually had in mind.
Anthony asked Julie to meet for a drink at their favorite neighborhood bar. But instead of meeting her there, he hid in the bushes outside their home to make sure she was on her way, then snuck back in to set up the proposal. (To buy himself time, he told Julie the bus had broken down on his way there.) Inside, he made a trail of flower petals from the front door to the dining room table, which he covered in lights, flowers, and framed photos of them from throughout their relationship. He left the last frame blank, hiding her engagement ring behind it.
With the details in place, Anthony then met Julie at the cocktail bar. After a drink to calm the nerves, he told her they needed to make a quick pit stop home. "Once she saw the flower petals I think she knew what was happening," says Anthony. "I took her through the pictures, telling the story of our relationship and when we got to the last frame, I pulled out the ring from behind, got on one knee and proposed."
On September 24, 2016, 160 guests joined them for a seaside wedding celebration at Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier in San Diego. The day-of weather turned out just as they hoped—sunny and hot during the day, with a cool Pacific breeze sweeping through as guests enjoyed a vibrant cocktail hour sunset. Event planner and designer Heather Balliet of Amorology helped the duo create a coastal chic celebration, transforming the venue, which doubles as a cruise ship terminal and event space, with a theme of "Our Love is Ocean Deep."
"When we were thinking about wedding locations, we considered the Bay Area and a few other spots in California, but San Diego is such a wonderful city and we thought it would be special to have all of our loved ones in my hometown," says the bride.
Though Julie grew up in the coastal city, she and Anthony considered it a destination wedding as the majority of guests traveled from out of town for the event (Anthony's family flew in from New York). Festivities for out-of-town guests—including microbrewery tours and a scenic hike to Torrey Pines State Reserve—began the Wednesday before the wedding weekend.
After visiting more than a dozen bridal dress shops, Julie decided on a crepe Pronovias wedding dress with beaded cap sleeves. Her bridesmaids wore coral J.Crew dresses to match the sunset-inspired palette.
Julie's bouquet, created by Tint & Timber, included poppies, Chinese lantern, garden roses, and white dahlias. The ladies held bouquets of soft blush and peach Juliet roses, butter yellow stock, Ilse spray roses, orange and tangerine dahlias, and amaryllis.
Julie went for a refreshed, timeless look. She wore a floating pearl necklace that Anthony gave her as a wedding gift, along with Nadri earrings and her mother's diamond tennis bracelet.
She finished her look with a polished chignon hairstyle. "Since my dress had a classic look, I wanted to do something that had a similar feel," says Julie of her 'do by Design Visage.
Golf carts helped elderly guests (and those in heels) get to the end of the 1,000-foot-long pier. A bike peddler also shuttled people along.
The venue's waterfront locale made a clean backdrop (and offered stellar sunset views during cocktail hour), but creating an intimate feel in such a large space posed a challenge. To make it work, Heather Balliet of Amorology helped the couple decide on the theme of "Our Love is Ocean Deep," to play up the venue's proximity to the water and used bright, summery colors to create the coastal chic look.
The Amorology team worked with Back Up Backdrops and Tint & Timber to create a focal point for the ceremony. A frame draped in garlands and studded with hibiscus and rose clusters gave it structure while wooden urns, filled with petals for guests to toss at the end of the ceremony, marked the aisles.
A Sweet Welcome
Guests enjoyed a pre-ceremony snack of candied nuts. The cinnamon sugar-glazed pecans and almonds were sealed with a monogram designed by Peanut Press.
"I'm a big fan of snacks and my friends know I'm always carrying something on me," Julie says. "We thought that sharing some candied nuts at the beginning of the event would be a playful nod to my habit, while also giving the guests a little treat before the ceremony."
At 6 p.m., the ceremony began with a string trio playing "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses as Julie walked down the aisle with her father.
The pair wrote their own vows and chose readings that "focused on the reality of marriage, not just rainbows and sunshine," says Julie. "We had a number of friends and family members come up to us crying saying how much those readings resonated with them."
Officially Mr. & Mrs.
Guests tossed flower petals as the couple recessed up the aisle as newlyweds to the sound of "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys. Both agree that the ceremony was their favorite part of the day.
The Guest Book
"We tried to incorporate things into our wedding that were reflective of our personalities—fun, not too traditional, pragmatic," says Anthony. One way Julie and Anthony pulled this off was nixing the typical guestbook, instead inviting guests to jot down ideas for the couple to add to their bucket list. "We received some practical items, like making time for a monthly date night, and also some good goals, like having Limoncello in Portofino, which we can't wait to do," says Julie.
Using the Space
Holding the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception in one location made for a seamless transition among the three events. The string trio continued to play as the cocktail hour began, where guests enjoyed an offering of three signature cocktails (titled His, Hers, and Ours).
MIHO Catering provided food for the evening. Passed appetizers included bacon-wrapped heirloom dates, fried squash blossoms filled with lemon ricotta, and grilled wild Mexican shrimp in garlic with lime and chili powder. To suit the waterside venue, they included a raw bar station with oysters, tuna poke, and other seafood.
To play up the theme of "Our Love is Ocean Deep," Laura Stewart Design and Back Up Backdrops worked with Amorology to decorate a wall with pulleys and barnacle-like structures. Beneath, a seating chart adorned with sea glass led guests to their tables. The creation later became a photo booth backdrop.
The Table Markers
Wood blocks and boats numbered the tables, which were dotted with centerpieces of peach roses and white dahlias.
A mix of metallic bentwood and white aluminum chairs channeled the industrial elements of the waterside venue. Folklore Rentals provided white tables with gold bases for an additional touch of modern elegance.
The Seated Dinner
Guests dined off eclectic place settings of mixed vintage blue glassware and peach napkins from Hostess Haven. Dinner included family-style offerings like a kale salad with pomegranate, pear, squash, and feta with bourbon molasses vinaigrette; and mains of grilled steak, roasted chicken, and quinoa tagine.
"I'm one of those wedding guests that looks forward to the cake," says Julie, "so it was important to me to deliver on a variety of dessert options." The final product, by Susie Cakes, had alternating tiers of vanilla cake with lemon buttercream filling and chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream filling.
An assortment of mini desserts, including Whoopie pies, seven layer bars, and molasses cookies, satiated everyone's sweet tooth.
The Dance Floor
The couple's first dance was to the tune of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." They mixed the original song with a '40s-style cover by Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox.
"My mom and I did our mother-son dance to 'September' by Earth, Wind, and Fire, which was one of my dad's favorite songs," says Anthony. "He passed away in 2013, so it was a great way to honor him and feel like he was part of the day. Later, Julie and her father danced to the tune of Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight."
The Send Off
The newlyweds departed the venue in a 1969 Rolls Royce Shadow as guests waved sparklers.
Julie and Anthony's honeymoon checked one box on their collective bucket list. The pair went to the Cook Islands for a few days, then to French Polynesia, where they island hopped before ending the trip in Bora Bora.
Photography, Mirelle Carmichael
Location, Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier
Event planning, Heather Balliet of Amorology
Catering, MIHO Catering Co.
Flowers, Tint & Timber
Videography, Kavin Lindgren Films
Calligraphy, Betlem Calligraphy
Cake, Susie Cakes
Bride's gown, Pronovias
Bride's accessories, Nadri
Hair and makeup, Design Visage
Bridesmaids' dresses, J.Crew
Groom's suit, Chookare & Sons
Golf cart rentals, Rec Rentals