Lauren and James met at a mutual friend’s house back in 2011, when James, an Air Force veteran, had recently returned back to California. They connected and soon starting hanging out at social gatherings and sporting events. A year later they moved into their first place together and have gained a myriad of fur (and feathered) babies.
Over the years, they had talked about getting married but the proposal was still a surprise for Lauren. James got down on one knee and proposed following the bride’s birthday dinner with her family.
“Because we had been together as a couple for many years before, seven years at the time, and lived together for about the same amount of time, we had already felt like we were married,” she says. “We decided to make it official a week later at the courthouse.” Then they started planning a formal ceremony and reception, which was held months later at Scott’s Seafood on the River.
The couple wanted their wedding to be comfortable for them and their guests. While they had some traditional elements like the father-daughter dance and cake cutting, their celebration was tailored to their tastes.
Lauren says they weren’t stressed or nervous because they were already legally married. “Being together and sharing our love with family and friends was the best part,” she says.
Their ceremony, held outdoors on a warm fall day, was short and sweet. “It took longer for us to walk down the aisle than it did to say ‘I do,’” says Lauren, noting guests told the couple how much they appreciated not having to sit through a long ceremony.
The couple and their parents helped plan the wedding. A big highlight was the ice sculpture with flowers pressed inside as well as the newlywed’s initials carved into it, coordinated by James’s mother. They focused on having colorful, seasonal floral arrangements for their bouquets and centerpieces, bringing beautiful pops of color into the already picturesque venue. “We wanted to make sure that our floral arrangements were colorful. It made sense to us that rather than picking a specific color palette or style of centerpiece and bouquets to match a theme for the wedding all of the floral arrangements should be a representation of what plants were in bloom during the season at the time,” recalls the bride.
Their reception was held in the large tent on-site with floor to ceiling windows facing the marina. The tent, which was draped with fabric and glowing lights, featured three chandeliers and a big space for everyone to mingle and dance.
Looking back on their wedding, they say the most memorable moment, “was when we were able to step back and take everything in,” says Lauren. “Watching our guests enjoying themselves and being able to share that quiet time amongst all of the dancing and noise was really special.”
— Kristen Castillo