When Alexa looked out on the crowd of 120 wedding guests just before she was to walk down the aisle with her father, she felt nervous. That changed when she saw her groom.

“I couldn’t take my eyes off of him the whole time I was walking and all I wanted to do was get to him,” she says.

Sam said marrying Alexa was the moment he’d been waiting for: “In that moment, I couldn’t have felt more proud or excited to marry my best friend and the woman of my dreams.”

The couple met through a mutual friend as teenagers when they were running buddies. They dated for five and a half years before getting engaged during a pre-Christmas vacation to South Lake Tahoe. He proposed while they were watching a movie wearing their pajamas.

Engaged for nine months, they married in a fall wedding at Lake Natoma Inn. They loved the venue for its beautiful scenery and convenient location.

“The ceremony was beautiful. We had an archway full of eucalyptus with a white runner and green trees above us,” says Alexa. “We had all of our loved ones around us, and my brother was our officiant. He ran a hilarious and slightly inappropriate ceremony, and it kept all of us laughing. My husband and I wrote our own vows, and he made me tear up with his thoughtful words. It was amazing.”

Alexa wore a flowy chiffon dress with lace barefoot sandals instead of shoes. “I felt more comfortable barefoot,” she says, noting she also wore pearl earrings from Tiffany & Co. that she borrowed from her mother.

They shot wedding photos on the trail surrounding the hotel. Their reception, also at the venue,  featured a sit-down dinner and a gluten-free cake, especially for the bride.

“My favorite wedding day detail was that our table centerpieces incorporated pictures of Sam and me at the same ages throughout our childhoods,” says Alexa. “Each table had a different set of pictures, and it was really cool to go through and look at the two of us as kids at different ages.”

The day went fast but the couple soaked up the affection and support of their family and friends. “We really didn’t stress about the minute details during the wedding, we just focused on the love,” says Sam. Alexa agrees and advises fellow couples, “Throughout the process never forget that this is just one day of your life, and while it’s an amazing day, the real focus should be the love that you want to share for the rest of your life.”

—Kristen Castillo