While Lara was working in Tokyo, Japan, performing for a Disney aerial show, Preston, a professional baseball player, was spending the season playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. “We actually met through Tinder Japan,” shares Lara. “After a few dates we both knew this was too good to be true!”

When Lara and Preston made the long trip from California to Cape Town, South Africa in 2018, Preston had an engagement ring tucked in the bottom of his backpack. After an afternoon of wine tasting and a nice dinner Lara entered their hotel room to dancing candle light and rose petals on the ground. Preston got down on one knee and popped the question.

The couple desired a vintage-style wedding. “We wanted our wedding to be magical and dreamlike,” shares Lara. They decided early on to do everything themselves to save some money. “Together we had a blast getting all the decorations,” says the bride. “We shopped at Goodwill multiple times a week to collect all the plates, utensils and table decorations to give it that vintage feel. We needed 120 so it took a lot of trips to all different locations but it was tons of fun.”

Preston’s cousin, a local youth pastor, officiated the wedding. “Besides the beautiful weather and location, the most special part was looking around and seeing people from literally, all over the world,” says Lara. “I had friends and family from South Africa, as well as Australia, Japan, France, The Netherlands and various parts of America. It really was emotional to see everyone come together from all corners of the world to celebrate our special day!” The couple also chose to write their own vows and saved them along with a special bottle of wine that they can open in five years’ time to reminisce.

They kicked off the reception with the first dance. Lara, coming from a lifelong career in contemporary dance, definitely wanted it to be special. Preston on the other hand, a “two left feet” kind of guy, was terrified. “We said for months we need to practice, to get it right, it had to be perfect,” says Lara. But in real life, the bride choreographed it the night before the wedding, and then the morning of the wedding, the couple practiced for 30 minutes then went back to getting ready for the big day. “We danced to Haley Reinhart’s rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love.’ It was a romantic dance that really stopped the room. Preston actually remembered all the steps… almost.”

After the chaos of planning and getting ready for the big day, the couple says it felt like they hardly saw each other in the six weeks prior. “We wanted our wedding day to be about each other, and we can’t remember a moment the whole night that we weren’t right next to each other.”  

—Darren Elms