Lily and Ryan met via online dating. After three days of intriguing online conversations, they went out on a first date. Five and a half years later, they married in front of 150 guests at Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, in the city where Lily grew up. “Growing up in the Catholic faith it was important for us to receive the sacrament of marriage in the church in front of our family and friends,” says Ryan, explaining it was the same church where Lily received her First Communion and Confirmation.

Lily was ecstatic. “Knowing that I was going to marry Ryan made all of the stress of the wedding day go away,” she says. “The love radiating from all of those in attendance made me feel so blessed, and I couldn’t wait to marry my best friend.” Ryan felt happy and fortunate on the big day. “My favorite part of the wedding day was waiting at the altar for the love of my life to make her way to me,” he says, “I was overtaken with emotion when I saw how beautiful she looked.”

Deacon Ron Panziera, Lily’s family friend, officiated the ceremony, which featured many of the bride’s Mexican traditions including las aras matrimoniales which is an exchange of 13 gold coins, and el lazo, which symbolizes an everlasting union.

In addition to their family-only wedding party, the couple’s four-year-old rabbit, Bandit, was ring bearer. He was dapper in a custom suit made by Lily’s aunt. Both Lily and Ryan wore bunny-themed socks on the big day, a nod to Bandit!

The elegant color scheme of cream, light green, peach and pink was a fit for the rustic ceremony venue. The reception was held on a patio under an oak tree at Lily’s aunt’s private ranch in the foothills of Soledad, surrounded by vineyards, farmland and white barns. Lily’s mother created the floral arrangements, including the bride’s bouquet and the centerpieces.

At the reception, the couple shared a dance with their mothers at the same time to the song “We Are Family” to symbolize the families uniting. They also had a traditional Mexican money dance. The buffet, including chicken fajitas, birria, rice and beans, as well as pan dulce and other treats, reflected the bride’s Mexican heritage. The groom’s taste was reflected in the banana wedding cake—his favorite flavor.

The day went fast but the newlyweds soaked it all in. “Fortunately, Lily and I took time to enjoy the moment and all the hard work that we put into the wedding,” remembers Ryan. 

—Kristen Castillo