The words “romantic” and “sensitive” may not always come to mind to describe an Olympic athlete, but when Alisha Biehn met gold medalist Alfrederick “Al” Joyner, a romantic and sensitive soul mate is exactly what she found.
Alisha and Al were introduced by a mutual friend on June 27, 2002, and experienced an instant bond right when they met. In fact, the expressive pair ended up spending five hours talking in a parking lot at that first meeting. After a whirlwind courtship, Al proposed the following November, choosing the same parking lot for its sentimental value. After an engagement of seven months, the two were married on June 28th, 2003, just a year and a day after the day they first met. Also for sentimental reasons, the couple chose to hold their wedding at the site of their first date, the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa.
As the bride and groom became husband and wife, the emotional ceremony certainly achieved their goal of allowing all of their guests to feel their love for each other throughout the entire wedding. Alisha takes pride in the fact that Al has no trouble expressing his romantic side, and their hand-written vows to each other were certainly a testament to that. The couple feels so fortunate to have found each other, and wanted to share those emotions with their friends and family, which is why there wasn’t a dry eye in the house during the ceremony. One of the most touching moments was when the couple presented Al’s daughter, Mary, with a gold heart-shaped locket uniting them as a family.
In lieu of a specific theme for the wedding, Al and Alisha planned everything around a very bright, tropical color scheme without a trace of neutrals or pastels. The floral arrangements were very vibrant, using orchids as the main flower. The centerpieces were square shaped vases in various sizes, filled with lush, tropical flowers such as dendro orchids, delphinium, mini calla lilies, freesia, spray roses, tuberose, hydrangea and curly willow, all in shades of fuchsia, purple and pink. Even the bridesmaids complemented the tropical color scheme, adorned in dresses in an ombre of bright pinks and fuchsia tones.
One of the most unique elements of the event was the layout of the reception, which created a festive, open atmosphere conducive to an evening of dining and dancing. Because the St. Regis property is so gorgeous, the couple chose to hold the reception outdoors on the Grand Lawn rather than in a ballroom. They set up tables on one side of the lawn, and the stage and dance floor on the other. The tables were framed by a canopy that was swagged with sheer white fabric and tiny white twinkle lights and was uplit with different hues of pinks and purples, setting the whole area aglow with magical light. The abundant flowers, along with tons of scented candles, created an incredible fragrance throughout the setting. On the opposite side of the lawn, firepits and sitting areas were set up around the dance floor. All of the guests, and even the St. Regis staff, remarked that it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever seen.
In lieu of a conventional First Dance, Al and Alisha enacted the words to the song “Color of Love” by Boyz 2 Men, which ended up being one of the highlights of the whole event. As the song began, Al walked down the stairs to the reception area by himself, and sat down at the fountain with his head in his hands and looked sad and lonely. Friends and family joked that Alisha had already left her groom, but just as the lyrics say “then an angel, out of the blue…” Alisha met him at the fountain and they danced down the aisle together to the dance floor. Again, not the types to “hold back” the couple wowed their guests with their creativity and emotion, and created a very memorable moment!
When it was time for the ceremonial cake cutting, Al and Alisha treated their loved ones to decadent confections that were a step above the expected. The wedding cake was four tiers of Tahitian vanilla cake with raspberry filling and mixed berries. Each tier was filled with bright colored orchids, roses and mixed flowers as well as huge ripe strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Not to be missed was the witty groom’s cake, designed in honor of Al’s Olympic achievements, which was a rich creation of banana bread cake with chocolate filling that was in the shape of the Olympic rings with a replica gold medal and ribbon and the years 1984 – 2004. (Al won a gold medal in the triple jump in 1984 and will be going for the gold again at this summer’s 2004 Olympic games in Athens.)
With warm memories of their extraordinary wedding, the couple carried on their tropical mood by honeymooning at The Four Seasons in Bali.