The last two weeks have been something of a whirlwind. In fact, in 12 days, I went from Nashville to Venice Beach to Orange County to LA to Miami to Grand Cayman to Charleston and back to Tennessee last night. I’m pretty sure I covered all coasts and most U.S. time zones in that period of time. But there were some very special people whose big days I could not miss.
I met Daina through my cousin John; she’s a native Californian who moved to Nashville some 14 years ago for college. Lucky for all of us—particularly Brian—she stayed put and now works for a non-profit that services Africa. Tiny girl, huge heart.
She and Brian have been dating for ages it seems—as someone who got married nearly five years after meeting my now-husband, I can relate to the taking-your-time bit—and had the most adorable engagement at Dana Point (fittingly) in California last Christmas day. His family flew out for the surprise, and her gang was all there. We were all not-so-secretly hoping they’d decide to wed in the OC so there’d be an excuse for a Nashville-takes-California weekend. We were not disappointed. There may have even been a #WhereIsRyanAtwood hashtag floating around the email chains. (Though who are we kidding? Any of us would have settled for Seth Cohen.)
A couple months ago, I had the pleasure of taking some engagement shots of Daina and Brian around 12 South in Nashville. Not like that was hard; these two are incapable of looking anything but pretty.
SVV and Ella came, as did their dog Max (who might or might not be one of Ella’s male suitors, I can’t say for certain). We had the best afternoon together, kicked off (and capped off) with pickleback shots, the couple’s favorite. It was only a precursor of all the fun we’d have in California celebrating the bride- and groom-to-be.
On Friday morning, we headed an hour down the coast to Orange County where many of our friends were already enjoying the scenery. Or being the scenery. Sometimes they get the concepts mixed up.
Christina and Katy were getting in that afternoon, and I had found the four of us an adorable Airbnb rental right in the heart of Dana Point. It was the perfect base from which to play in the pool and sip mimosas as we’re wont to do.
And a little monkeying around, too.
We all headed out for the rehearsal dinner at Cannon’s that night—well, minus Katy who was delayed 12 hours thanks to American Airlines (WASN’T ME FOR A CHANGE…I KNOW)—and dined in the most gorgeous setting ever.
You coastal California people are onto something. I don’t know what SVV and I were doing living in chilly San Francisco for four years when we could have been here instead. Hat tip to the groom’s family for planning an event in such a stunning place.
The wedding day was an unseasonably warm OC afternoon—the forecast called for triple digits, though in reality it probably peaked around 98—but by 4pm in the shade, it was just perfect.
The whole event was held at the Villa in nearby San Juan Capistrano, which is one cutesy town worth a visit, wedding or no wedding. The venue was right off the main drag, but you’d never know it; it could have easily been tucked away in the vineyards of Tuscany for as quiet and remote-feeling as it was.
Let me just preface the wedding by saying that Daina was the chillest bride ever. Twelve days before the big day—and just a week before she flew to California—her dress burned in a fire while at the tailor. She had to buy a new one and get it altered. Did she complain? Not for a second. Instead, she shrugged: “Those people lost their business; all I lost was a dress.”
A month before the wedding, their officiant had to back out. Again, they didn’t freak out; they simply asked our friend Austin (who officiated my cousin’s wedding in July) to step in. But it all went off without a hitch. Even Old Man Max wearing a tux and hobbling down the aisle on a leash.
The reception was in the same place as the ceremony, which was oh-so-convenient. It seems like lately I’ve been to a whole lot of weddings where you have to drive from one point to another, which can be all manners of frustrating with parking multiple times and wanting to start the cocktail hour early but having to worry about driving. We didn’t have to worry about either, so as the newlyweds were off getting their photos snapped, we got the party started.
And how much do you love the hashtag, a riff on Brian’s last—and Daina’s new—name? Naturally, I had to request a little 1D at the reception, and the Nashville-based DJs (who work at our top radio station) looked at me like I was crazy. (Sorry, Dan and Jayson! I promise it was for a good cause….)
The weekend was one we’d long been anticipating, and the 48 hours we were all in Orange County at once passed in a flash. I have no doubt we’ll continue the celebrating now that we’re all back in Nashville together.