A Citrus-Toned Beach Wedding in Santa Monica, California

Eileen and Steve

Photographed by: David Michael PhotographyLocation: Santa Monica, California, United States

The wedding of Eileen McDonough and Steve Mlikan was a blend of cultures and memories with a definite Southern California twist that made it unique. Eileen is a fourth generation Californian, and Steve, who was born in Canada, is of Croatian descent, and his parents immigrated to Canada forty-five years ago but still keep many Croatian traditions in their lives. In honor of their guests who came from all over the United States as well as from Canada and even Croatia, the couple displayed small American, Canadian and Croatian flags in the planters on the patio to greet their guests as they arrived for cocktails at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica.

Eileen and Steve exchanged vows in an afternoon ceremony at Saint Monica’s Church in Santa Monica, chosen because the bride had grown up in that parish. The reception site held its own nostalgia for her family as well -- Eileen’s father was a towel boy at the Jonathan Club in the late 1940s. With locations that possess an innate California charm, the day lent itself to the kind of lighthearted energy that the bride recalls “felt more like a celebration than a traditional wedding banquet.”

The look of the Indian Summer wedding came straight from Eileen’s personality and memories of her childhood, from the cheery lemon trees in her backyard to the smell of Sunkist oranges and days spent at the beach. Perfectly fitting her vision, Eileen chose a citrus theme for the wedding, something that she had never seen done before. The theme was carried out through the sunny color palette of lemon yellow, tangerine orange and lime green and was present everywhere from the flowers, programs, bridesmaids’ attire, menus, cocktails and the wedding cake. Even the invitations conveyed the theme, inspired by a vintage postcard of lemons that Eileen’s sister had sent to her.

Eileen and her bridesmaids carried tightly wrapped bouquets full of confetti roses, yellow and orange tulips, hydrangea leaves and bells of Ireland. The centerpieces incorporated these flowers in bouquets that rested in glass bubble bowls filled with lemons and limes. The bar and the guest book table were embellished with tall cylindrical vases filled with lemons, limes and oranges underneath a spray of flowers. Even the groomsmen matched the citrus hues by sporting orange tulip boutonnières.

The formal dinner reception featured refreshing, summery fare including a citrus salad, filet and Jonathan Club sand dabs, and a thematic citrus dessert trio of tangerine, lemon and grapefruit sorbets. The delightful wedding cake itself was a gorgeous illustration of the citrus theme, consisting of white cake with lemon filling, coated with thick white fondant, adorned with fresh flowers and slices of oranges and lemons.

Eileen and Steve hold so many sentimental moments in their wedding memories, but they both agree that the top of the list is the moving toast that Steve gave to his bride during the reception. Eileen recalls also being very emotional during her walk down the aisle with her father who, at eighty years old, is still in fantastic health. One of the event’s highlights, and one that will be long remembered by the guests, was the performance by Eileen and her dad, as they sang to “Shall We Dance?” from the musical “The King And I” as they danced the traditional Father-Daughter dance.

The evening of dancing and fun, which even included Croatian music, was just as lively and uplifting as the citrus palette that Eileen had chosen to symbolize the event. After the wedding, Steve and Eileen enjoyed even more sunshine-filled celebratory days as they honeymooned in Scottsdale and Sedona, Arizona.

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