These Best-Friends-Turned-Soulmates Celebrated Their California Wedding in Elegant, Colorful Style

wedding couple posing in front of san diego hotel
KT Merry

Elizabeth Harvey and Andrew Vassiliadis met almost 15 years ago—but their initial hellos happened by chance. As Elizabeth carried a tray full of drinks during her high school job at a local pizzeria, Andrew opened the door for her and they quickly locked eyes and exchanged smiles. They built a friendly relationship outside of the restaurant, which ultimately developed into more on a trip to Napa, California, four years before Andrew would pop the question. "We risked it all and said, 'Why can't you date your best friend?'" Elizabeth says. "I learned that not only could you date your best friend, you could also fall very much in love with him."

The couple headed back to Napa on November 9, 2018, where they would celebrate their engagement—and honor a loved one along the way. "We were walking through downtown Napa with my brother, when Andrew suddenly stopped at the Veteran's Memorial Park (as a nod to my beloved late grandfather 'Opa,' a World War II veteran) and got down on one knee," the bride recalls. "We were engaged in the same place where we first decided to be a couple."

When it came time to pick a venue for their big day, the duo quickly chose the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, California. "This hotel has long been our 'staycation' place of choice, and on one such occurrence I casually said to Andrew, 'We should get married here,'" Elizabeth notes. Andrew couldn't agree more—the only thing left was to enlist the perfect wedding planner to help tie their elegant vision together. The pair chose Heather Balliet of Amorology; Andrew notes that "it was such an easy and obvious choice, and probably the best decision we could have made." The big day unfolded beautifully on November 23, 2019, as the best friends made their love official in front of their 250 guests.

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Poetic Invitation Suite

elegant white and red wedding invitations
KT Merry

A floral hand-sketched crest defined the couple's big-day invitations. "[They] were created for us through the genius of Yonder Design," Elizabeth says. "Together, we sifted through multiple options, and created something that was uniquely ours. One such detail was the manner in which the information was presented—the way the text flows on the page portrays the shape and form of a poem, something that is personally meaningful to me."

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Warm Welcome

wooden welcome box of wedding favors
KT Merry

Elizabeth and Andrew welcomed guests staying at their Fairmont Grand Del Mar venue with gift boxes—including cookies, olive oil, and other goodies.

  • How to Design a Welcome Bag That's Inspired by Your Wedding's Style
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A Dashing Duo

bride and groom in elegant wedding attire portrait at hotel
KT Merry

The bride chose an Ines Di Santo wedding dress for her nuptials; she knew the designer's "Twilight" gown was the one when it brought her to tears. "It sounds so cliché, but I knew the moment I saw myself in the mirror that no other dress could make me feel that way," she says. "I [also] knew that it was exactly what Andrew had envisioned me in, and it filled me with joy knowing I would take his breath away in that dress."

Andrew opted for a classic black Prada tuxedo with a white shirt and black tie. The groom topped off his look with custom-designed gold and diamond cuff links, which were a gift from his bride.

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Tonal Pinks

red and orange floral wedding bouquet
KT Merry

A blend of soft pink, terra-cotta, and deep red hues accented the bride's bouquet. The garden rose- and ranunculus-filled arrangement was tied with a silk ribbon and threaded with her mother-in-law's locket (the bauble held a picture of Andrew's mother and his late father).

  • How to Personalize Your Wedding Bouquet
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Outfitted in Style

bride and bridesmaids standing in garden in pastel pink dresses
KT Merry

Blush was the only requirement for the bridesmaids' dresses (and suit!). "I didn't want all matching dresses—in style or exact color," Elizabeth shares. "My matrons of honor were asked to wear something that made them stand out, and they ended up in sequined, rose-hued gowns that complemented the blush colors of the other bridesmaids' dresses beautifully." As a thank you to her right-hand women, Elizabeth gifted them white gold and diamond bracelets.

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Blush Tulle

flower girl laughing in white tulle dress
KT Merry

The couple's two flower girls wore floor-length ivory-and-blush tulle gowns from BHLDN, complete with floral appliqués.

  • Five Points to Consider When Choosing a Flower Girl for Your Wedding
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Wing Men

wedding groomsmen in black suits and sunglasses
KT Merry

"We wanted the guys to look classic, so we opted for traditional black tuxedos with white shirts and black ties," Andrew said of the groomsmen's big-day attire. "They were also all given tie bars as a thank-you gift. They, like the bridesmaid's gifts, were made of white gold with diamonds that mimic Elizabeth's engagement ring."

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Ombré Heaven

elegant wedding ceremony location with feather and flower bouquets lining the aisle
KT Merry

After meeting with Kiana Underwood of Tulipina, the pair decided to fill their ceremony space with bold flowers. The bride describes the aesthetic as a "dreamscape of moody hues meets ombré heaven."

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Altar Awaits

bride and father walking down the aisle
KT Merry

A string quartet played "La Vie en Rose" as Elizabeth and her father walked arm-in-arm down the aisle.

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Like Poetry

groom addressing guests during wedding ceremony
KT Merry

The bride loves literature and writing, and truly looked forward to the vow exchange. "I wanted my vows to flow like a sonnet, so I wrote them with that intent," she says. As for the groom? He penned his promises before the nuptials, but let his emotions flow freely in the moment as he addressed his bride and their guests.

  • When Should You Write Your Wedding Vows?
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The Perfect Tunes

guests socializing during outdoor cocktail hour
KT Merry

Guests mingled and swayed to upbeat music courtesy of a guitarist come the cocktail hour.

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Chic Cocktail Hour Décor

antique bar setup for wedding cocktail hour
KT Merry

The greenery-decorated bar, lined with vintage rug-inspired paneling, served up a variety of drinks.

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On the Rocks

glass table with wedding signature cocktails and sign
KT Merry

Whiskey—the couple's favorite alcohol—was highlighted during the interlude. They served an old fashioned and a Manhattan as their whiskey-based signature cocktails.

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Real Time

guest typing on wedding typewriter
KT Merry

An on-the-spot poet was a hit during the early moments of the reception. "Jacqueline Suskin is a performance poet who, with just the request of a word or thought on your mind, is able to create a personal poem on her typewriter for you to keep," the bride shares.

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Take a Bite and Your Seat

red backdrop chocolate truffle dessert station
KT Merry

"Seating arrangements were displayed on a backdrop by Back Up Backdrops that included deep amber velvet, the title 'Sweet Beginnings,' and individual chocolates by each guest's name (a nod to my husband's insatiable sweet tooth)," Elizabeth notes.

  • When Should We Finalize Our Wedding's Seating Chart?
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Spectacular Seating

guests sitting at wooden tables with floral and feather garland centerpieces
KT Merry

"Regal and organic" is how the bride describes the couple's tented reception décor, which featured a vast array of seating options (a mix pf bistro, baroque, and tufted armchairs).

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Pristine Place Settings

elegant wooden table reception place setting with floral and feather centerpieces
KT Merry

Texture abounded on the tabletops, which featured crystal glasses and gold-rimmed chargers at each place setting. The velvet linens and wooden tables were a décor highlight, adds Elizabeth.

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Floral Table Décor

pastel pink floral and feather wedding reception decorations
KT Merry

"Florals adorned each table, rambling through the center and cascading off the ends in heaps of blossoms," says Elizabeth of Tulipina's incredible feather-dotted arrangements.

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Delectable Dinner

large reception dinner menu with candles below
KT Merry

"Our menu was exquisite," Elizabeth says of the dinner—which consisted of consisted of lobster butternut squash bisque with crispy shallots and basil oil, heirloom tomato and burrata salad with 25-year-old balsamic, glazed Chilean sea bass, and more—catered by the venue.

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Sweet Selection

mauve fondant cake with white floral decor
KT Merry

The couple's four-tier, almond-flavored cake with peaches and buttercream frosting—created by Hey There, Cupcake—was another reception focal point. It was wrapped in a terra-cotta fondant and accented with white floral motifs for the finishing touch.

  • Why Is a Wedding Cake So Expensive?
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Taking a Twirl

wedding couple first dance in ballroom under purple lights
KT Merry

"I'm Glad There Is You" by Julie London played as Elizabeth and Andrew took their first dance. "To decide what would be our song, we each created a playlist with three that were personally meaningful and symbolic of our relationship," the bride shares of the selection process. "We then slow danced to each song one night, and reflected on what felt best (so romantic—I recommend this to other brides-to-be)."

Good music was essential for the couple throughout their big day—especially during the reception. "We wanted our guests to feel as though they entered into a forgotten era where the soulful jazz melodies of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra are sung alongside a piano," the bride says. "Our dance reception was centered all around funk and anything that gets you on your feet. Wayne Foster Entertainment pulled out all the stops on this one: phenomenal vocalists, a full band, dancers, and even a bedazzled piano made the finale of our wedding a smash!"

  • Six Tips for Choosing the Perfect First Dance Song
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Back in Time

dj standing at elegant music station at reception
KT Merry

Mid-century motifs decorated the late-night bar area, complete with emerald velvet details, golden orb lamps, and, of course, nods to poetry via the floor signs.

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Finger Food

antique wooden shelf with wedding dessert pastries
KT Merry

In addition to the late-night sliders and French fries served at the end of the evening, guests also grabbed donuts, provided by VG Donut & Baker, from a cubby.

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wedding couple kissing on hotel patio
KT Merry

Photography, KT Merry
Venue, Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Heather Balliet of Amorology
Videography, Sculpting with Time
Flowers, Tulipina
Invitations, Yonder Design
Bride's Gown, Ines Di Santo
Flower Girls' Dresses, BHLDN
Veil, Erica Koesler
Jewelry, Harry Winston, Rolex
Shoes, Something Blue Shoes
Hair and Makeup, Team Hair and Makeup
Barber, Tyson Passey
Groom's Attire, Prada
Groomsmen's Attire, The Gentlemen's Tux Club
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands, Krasner Jeweler
Backdrops, Back Up Backdrops
Music, Wayne Foster Entertainment
Catering, Fairmont Grand Del Mar, VG Donut & Baker
Cake, Hey There, Cupcake
Rentals, Bright Event Rentals; BBJ Linens; Folklore Rentals; Found Rentals; Nuage Designs; Hire Elegance; Casa de Perin
Welcome Gifts, Salt and Pepper Co.

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