Danielle and Val met when they were both serving in the military out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. “We didn’t get along at first, actually,” Val remembers. “But then I realized that we had a lot in common and started spending more time together. We’ve pretty much been inseparable since.”
Val chose the deck of a cruise ship outside of Ketchikan, Alaska, to pop the question to Danielle on her mid-tour leave from Iraq. “We were waiting for them to dock and let us disembark, and I was thinking it was the last town that the cruise was going to pull into,” he says. “After carrying that ring around in my pocket for a week waiting for the right moment, I figured it was then or never.”
The newly engaged duo was selected as the winners of Operation Wedded Bliss, a search for a military couple to receive a dream wedding put together by a very generous group of local wedding professionals. Prior to getting the good news, Danielle says, “I’d keep trying to plan here and there, and then get overwhelmed and give up and postpone our tentative date, so with all of the vendors involved in Operation Wedded Bliss stepping in to help, [it] made all the difference in actually getting us down the aisle.”
“We were the extremely fortunate beneficiaries of Operation Wedded Bliss, a collaborative effort between several local Sacramento vendors to give one military couple the wedding of their dreams. They are absolutely our heroes, and we can’t begin to express enough gratitude for everything they’ve done.”
“These amazing and talented vendors truly made our big day special beyond our wildest dreams by graciously donating their services, time, and skills to make it all come together. None of this would have been possible without their generosity. So to Joe Thompson and everyone at Crisp Catering; Mark Billingsley and Rick Byrd (Super Sounds DJ Services); Shelley Larkin (Pizzazz! Event Planning) and the K Street Collective staff; Roger Ele and Chantel Elder (Eleakis & Elder Photography); Sandra Gonzalez and Mariella Stie (Sparkle Bridal Couture); John Carvalho and Marnie Stiles (Carvalho Family Winery); David and Waldi Paige (Cake and Candy Specialties); Rodger Sargent (Five Star Wedding Videos); Jajuan Francis and the Design with Floraé artists; Pamela Pamperin; and Rev. Ed Donaghy—we wanted to offer our humble thanks. They are absolutely our heroes, and we can’t begin to express enough gratitude for everything they’ve done.”
Both Danielle and Val shared a mutual affection for the Disney/Pixar film Up, so they decided to build a theme around it. “Well, the theme was unique,” Val shares. “We’ve always had this shared philosophy about living life to the fullest, so that had kind of become ‘our’ movie.” The result was a colorful, joyous reception filled with, of course, balloons.
For the couple, watching their dream wedding come together before their eyes really exceeded all their expectations. “There were a lot of fun surprises that Shelley Larkin with Pizzazz! Event Planning threw in!” remembers the bride.
“I literally cried at one point, right after I saw the whole ceremony setup,” Danielle says. “I really couldn’t believe how much we were being given in order to have an unbelievable start to the rest of our lives.”