When Brad proposed to Jessica, he didn’t have an engagement ring. But it was still everything Jessica wanted. He surprised her at home. “When I opened the door, I found him on his knee, car keys in hand, big red bow from the commercials on the car of my dreams, parked in our driveway,” she says. “He proposed with the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 that I had been wanting for years!”
Brad says asking Jessica to marry him was an easy decision. “She’s my best friend,” he says. They got the ring a few months later and planned their nuptials in six months.
Jessica, a registered dietitian and Brad, a performance and data intelligence manager, met through mutual friends at a New Year’s Eve Party in college. They dated for eight years before getting engaged.
The couple married at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. “Deciding to have our wedding in Tahoe was a very easy decision,” says Jessica. “We both love it there, it is beautiful and not too far from home.” It was a destination wedding of sorts, with all 116 guests traveling from out of town, including two families who flew in from out of state, Michigan and New Jersey, respectively.
“We wanted a beach wedding and Lake Tahoe,” says Jessica. “Choosing a ‘winter’ wedding date made it more affordable.”
The bride’s grandfather officiated the ceremony, which was outside on the balcony overlooking Lake Tahoe and the golf course.
Seeing Brad at the ceremony left Jessica amazed. “After eight years, we finally were there,” she says. “I could feel his emotions during the ceremony. Everything was perfect.”
The weather in Lake Tahoe was sunny, yet cold with patches of snow on the ground but still great conditions and perfect for pictures. “We were paying for the amazing scenery and wanted to capture that in our photos, so we froze outside in the snow, on the golf course and beach, but ended up with amazing pictures,” says Jessica.
They kept the décor neutral “to be able to use pieces from the wedding as decor in our home,” says Jessica.
The reception meal included a carving station and a made-to-order pasta station. Jessica’s aunt made the couple’s small cake, which was mostly for cutting and photos. Guests and noshed on cupcakes featuring white cake with strawberry filling and cheesecake frosting.
The funniest and most unexpected moment of the wedding day came when Brad gave his bride a strip-tease style garter toss dance. Jessica and all the guests were very surprised!
Jessica & Brad's Wedding Resources
"My Wish for You" by Rascal Flatts
"That's Amore" by Dean Martin
"Naughty Girl" by Beyonce
"Ginuine" by Pony
- We used an app called WedPics throughout our entire engagement. The app allows guests of any wedding-related event to post all of the pictures they took on their phones or cameras to the bride and groom’s WedPics account. We got many great pictures from the bridal showers and wedding because of this. You can even order the pictures or put them into a book.
- We tried to have a low budget, low maintenance, ‘green’ wedding while keeping the theme very ‘us’. We failed on the low budget part, but managed to up cycle rod-iron candle holders and birdcages purchased on half-price goodwill days to use as centerpieces. They were all spray painted by the bride’s father. Small round glass vases were purchased from the dollar store and also spray painted to glam it up and contribute to the look. The succulents were also chosen not only for their look and colors but for the durability and ease of replanting, as mentioned above. I can’t imagine how much we would have spent if we had purchased everything from a store or even rented the centerpieces.
- We had a lot of personal touches that were provided by loved ones. Jessica’s godmother/aunt Michele made the wedding cake top. Jessica’s cousin Alicia made the ring pillow. Jessica’s grandpa Markie married them. Brad’s Nonu played ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ on his trumpet during the tree planting part of the ceremony. Jessica’s aunt Candy sewed the fabric for their sweetheart reception table. Brad’s uncle is the owner of Elite DJ Entertainment and provided personalized touches at the reception. Brad’s stepmom is a co-owner of Elegant Occasions Catering and Event Planning in Martinez which provided the desert bar, cupcakes and linens.
- The big day goes by very quickly with all the running around and timed events. I had been warned about this many times but I still found myself struggling to remember to enjoy the day, soak it in. Try to take a few minutes to enjoy all of your efforts. Look at your centerpieces when visiting guests at the tables. Look at all the details that you spent so much time and effort preparing.
- After everything was over I spent the weeks after trying to remember the details of it all, and sadly, I couldn’t. It wasn’t until we got our pictures back from our photographers that I was able to remember, or even see for the first time, how things turned out. So advise #2, invest in a good photographer!
- Slowed things down. Taken more time to soak in the day. More one-on-one time with my new husband. Been more organized about the guest list and stick to the original number and budget.
- Better organization when planning. We didn’t set deadlines or delegate tasks to others (such as the wedding party) as we should have. We were trying to minimize their responsibilities/things to do since they all have families and busy schedules themselves.