Nikole and Joe met not far from where they both grew up in San Bruno. “He used to come into the restaurant that I started working at right out of high school,” says Nikole. “I was immediately drawn to his construction man look and his very friendly carefree attitude. It never failed, he was always making someone laugh or engaging in some intense shoptalk.” Shoptalk led to small talk and then a date.

Many years later, the couple planned a trip to Costa Rica. “As Joe is TERRIBLY afraid of flying, I think he was more frightened by the flight than actually asking me to marry him,” shares Nikole. “He did seem nervous over breakfast…he ate very little and seemed liked he was rushed,” she recalls. “After breakfast we went for a walk along the beach trail but Joe had other plans. He led me around the resort beach area and over a pretty rough rocky area. He grabbed my hand and spun me around so that I was facing him…there he was, down on one knee. I truly thought I was outside of my body.”

While planning the wedding, the couple were lucky have family and friends around them ready to lend support.

“Joe and I made it a priority to ensure our whole family was able to be a part of it or at least be able to witness it.” All of their sisters and brothers were in the wedding party and the grandparents were able to make the trip.

The couple kept the ceremony short and sweet. “We did not write our own vows but actually did something even better,” shares the bride. “One of our best friends was our ordained minister who did not share what he was going to say until the actual ceremony was happening—this made our ceremony special because he spoke specifically to us and our bond and partnership.”

Both the ceremony and reception were held at The Secret Gardens in Bodega Bay. “It’s tucked away in a small fishermen’s town with barely any foot traffic or major restaurants and lodging,” says Nikole. “The minute I stepped foot in this place I knew it was the one. It’s weird, most women feel this way about the dress when they find the one…but not me. The venue left me breathless and I immediately knew this is where Joe and I needed to confirm our eternity together.” 

—Darren Elms