One Couple's Laguna Beach Affair with a Gender Reveal Wedding Cake

bride and groom smiling for outdoor wedding photos
Sally Pinera

Shortly after Gloria moved to New York City from Los Angeles, a visit from her best friend in early December 2014 led to a night out on the town. She met Mike, who was celebrating his birthday weekend with his friends, at a bar. "To this day, we still joke that I was his best birthday present ever," Gloria says. Four years later, Gloria moved back to L.A. and the couple spent a year in a long-distance relationship.

In March 2019, Mike asked Gloria to come to New York for the weekend, and after a dinner date, convinced her to stop by a nearby art gallery. The lofted space was covered with candles and flowers, and Norah Jones' "Come Away with Me" played in the background. "I immediately knew what was about to happen," Gloria says. Mike set up photos on the wall representing each year of their relationship and explained the meaning behind each picture, "as if he were a gallery curator," according to Gloria. The final photo was one of Mike holding up a sign the couple had stumbled upon during a road trip that said "Happy Wife Happy Life"—a picture they took as a joke years earlier. When Mike got down on one knee to propose, Gloria immediately said yes, and with a round of applause, she realized that their closest friends and family were hiding in the dark, ready to celebrate!

Although Gloria and Mike planned a big New York wedding at their dream venue for October 2020, they pushed it back to August 2021 shortly after the pandemic struck the States. Then, in January, the couple found out they were expecting a baby, so they decided to spend just three months pulling together a scaled-back celebration closer to home. They invited 32 guests to Montage Laguna Beach, where they gave them the full Southern California experience complete with beach and mountain views. They leaned on their planner, Nancy Park of So Happi Together, when the going got tough and created an elevated garden party with lively florals. "Our wedding, for many, was the first gathering they had been to since the start of the pandemic," Gloria says. "We wanted to give our guests the experience of having traveled somewhere and back, and I think we succeeded in doing that."

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Her First Choice

bride wearing strapless a-line wedding dress
Sally Pinera

Gloria wore a silk gazar Monique Lhuillier wedding dress with an origami-inspired A-line silhouette. Although she fell in love with it the moment she tried it on, it was the very first dress she tried on, which made Gloria hesitant to immediately choose. But after trying on more styles and seeing her parents tear up when she put on the the first dress yet again, she knew it was the one. "It's simple, classic, and minimal, but has some drama and is unique," she says. "It is also a dress that was able to grow with my belly. I love it!" She was able to buy the sample off the floor and accelerate fittings to ensure it hugged her perfectly on the big day.

  • Can You Ever Try on Too Many Wedding Dresses?
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Familial Accessories

bride wedding accessories hair pins
Sally Pinera

She kept her accessories simple, wearing diamond stud earrings and blue Manolo Blahnik pumps as her "something blue." Gloria and her mother wore matching Jennifer Behr hair clips for the ceremony; the bride paired hers with a veil from Styled by TLC. "In the future, I hope that my daughter and I will also wear these matching hair clips on her wedding day," Gloria says. Later at the reception, she let her hair down and added a Maria Elena headpiece.

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With Family

grandmother smiling at bride getting ready
Sally Pinera

Gloria shared a sweet moment with her grandmother on the morning of the wedding.

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Organic Bouquet

large pink floral bridal wedding bouquet
Sally Pinera

The bride held an organic arrangement of butterfly ranunculus, blush sweet pea, peach foxglove, Juliet roses, distant drum garden roses, penny lane garden roses, Cornelia garden roses, hanging jasmine, and greenery. The bouquet was tied together with a hand-dyed silk ribbon.

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The First Look

bride and groom hugging during first look
Sally Pinera

Gloria and Mike—who wore a classic black tuxedo from The Black Tux and accessorized with a Rolex watch that was a gift from the bride's parents—shared a first look overlooking the ocean. "After having been away from Mike all day and having gone through so many emotions already up to that point, I was so excited to be with him," Gloria says. She admits that as soon as she saw a tear in Mike's eye, she teared up as well. "During our six-and-a-half-year-long relationship, there were so many times when he would say, 'I can't wait to make you my wife one day,' and that moment had finally come."

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Tiny Pansies

pink floral boutonnieres
Sally Pinera

Mike completed his look with a boutonnière of local pansies in blush-and-peach tones paired with jasmine vines and tied in a raw silk ribbon.

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Ocean Views

orange chairs lined outdoor wedding ceremony set up
Sally Pinera

Their ceremony had endless ocean views and took place on the lawn at Montage Laguna Beach. Pink-mauve velvet chairs made a statement, contrasting against the blue sky. "They were a design choice that we fell in love with and would not compromise on," says the couple's planner, Nancy. "I love a bride (and groom!) who isn't afraid of color!" Before the service began, guests enjoyed Champagne, brie cheese with grapes and candied pecans, and truffled macaroni and cheese croquettes.

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Lilac Arch

large purple and white floral wedding arch
Sally Pinera

The ceremony arch incorporated tons of lilacs that captivated guests by sight and smell. "Gloria stated that simply seeing pictures of her arch after the wedding day brought back memories of the wonderful aroma during the vows," Nancy says. Large floor arrangements flanked the aisle's entrance and were composed in the wedding's color palette of blush, peach, taupe, lilac, porcelain, and springtime green.

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Here Comes the Bride

wedding ceremony processional guests standing
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A string trio played softly as Gloria made her way down the aisle with her father.

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Better and Better

bride smiling while groom reads vows during ceremony
Sally Pinera

The bride's close friend, who she has known since the first grade, officiated the ceremony. Gloria and Mike wrote their own vows, which included inside jokes and memories from their relationship. "Since the beginning, Mike used to always say that things will always get better and better because, 'If it doesn't get better, it doesn't make sense,'" Gloria says. "We both had that quote at the end of our vows and we had no idea!"

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With Mom

groom hugging mom under floral arch
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Mike gave his mom a hug as the family posed for portraits after the ceremony.

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Lounging in Laguna

beige and white outdoor wedding lounge area
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Gloria and Mike hired a vocalist and guitarist for the cocktail hour, during which guests enjoyed an open bar. They served miniature lobster quesadillas, spicy tuna tartare tacos, bacon-wrapped scallops, and miniature cheeseburgers. A loveseat, gold-rimmed coffee table, and comfortable chairs in the mauve-and-blush color scheme of the day were set up in front of ocean views.

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That's a Wrap

white linen wrapped pink bow tied wedding favors
Sally Pinera

Rolled pashminas doubled as escort cards thanks to calligraphed notes tied with ribbon.

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Draped Reception

outdoor linen draped curtain reception seating area
Sally Pinera

The reception took place on another section of the lawn; Nancy created distinct spaces for dinner and dancing. A custom pergola was draped in champagne-hued flowing fabric to frame the interior dining tables.

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Aglow Florals

glass lighting fixtures over floral decor covered reception table
Sally Pinera

Nancy sourced ombré pendant lights to hang from the pergola, along with wisteria and greenery. Tables were dressed with velvet linens in an oatmeal shade, and a variety of low organic centerpiece florals lined each station. Blush taper candles in glass hurricanes were placed between each arrangement.

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Upgraded Paper

raw edge table number cards with taper candles
Sally Pinera

The duo skipped formal wedding invitations given the change of plans, so they splurged on other day-of-stationery, including table numbers on handmade taupe paper.

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Textural Settings

rose gold wedding reception place setting details
Sally Pinera

Mike and Gloria selected matte rose gold flatware paired with cut crystal and gold rim blush stemware. Each guest had their own blush pink cut crystal salad and pepper cellars. Custom taupe envelopes held the dinner menus, also printed on handmade paper, along with individual letters the couple wrote to their loved ones. Envelopes were closed with a wax seal that was melted with bits of dried flowers.

Attendees enjoyed a three-course plated meal that began with a beet salad, followed by either a pan-seared chilean sea bass or a grilled beef tenderloin au poivre. For dessert, they served a warm peach and apricot crisp with ice cream.

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The First Dance

groom smiling at bride during first dance
Sally Pinera

The couple's band played "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley for their first dance, a song they chose for how well it describes their love story. "Despite all the hurdles and the major differences between us, we couldn't help but fall in love with each other and be together," Gloria says.

After taking a spin with her new husband, Gloria hit the dance floor with her dad. She had participated in competitive ballroom dancing in high school, and her father learned for a few years, as well, so they always planned to do a waltz on her big day. They worked with a ballroom instructor to create challenging choreography full of turns and lifts. "I really enjoyed spending so much quality time with my dad while preparing the waltz, and there were definitely times when we both teared up while practicing," Gloria says. "I was always a daddy's girl, so the father-daughter dance was something very special to the both of us and so worth the hours of practice."

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An Upbeat Spin

mother son dance wearing sunglasses
Sally Pinera

Mike shared a dance with his mother that started off slow and steady and quickly morphed into a fun contest to "Gangnam Style," complete with sunglass props.

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Gender Reveal Cake

two tiered white frosted gold flake detail pink floral accent wedding cake
Sally Pinera

The couple's tiered wedding cake, provided by the venue, was embellished with gold foil and fresh florals—and also served as their big gender reveal. The cream and berries confection was dyed pink to indicate they were having a daughter! The band played Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" as the couple sliced into the treat.

To other pairs planning their big days, Gloria says, "Regardless of whatever situation you're faced with, try to let go of any preconceived notion of how your day should go. At the end of the day, you will realize that everything was perfect the way it was because it was your own unique day."

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bride and groom embrace in kiss outside
Sally Pinera

Photography, Sally Pinera
Memo Collective
Venue, Catering, and Cake,
Montage Laguna Beach
Wedding Planning and Event Design,
Nancy Park, So Happi Together
Siren Floral Co
Paper Products,
Sugared Fig Paperie
Bride's Gown,
Monique Lhullier
Bride's Veil,
Styled by TLC
Bride's Accessories,
Jennifer Behr; Maria Elena Headpieces
Bride's Shoes,
Manolo Blahnik
Hair and Makeup,
Studio MMB
Groom's Attire,
The Black Tux; Rolex
Downbeat Agency
Found Rental Co; Casa de Perrin; La Tavola Linen; Chiavari Chair Rentals
Lighting and Draping,
Amber Event Production

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