As young interns spending their summer in Washington, DC, Karin Michonski and Michael Wallerstein were both looking to get a leg up on their professional lives – little did the 18- and 22-year-old know that they would meet their forever partner. “The most memorable part of our first meeting was the immediate teasing and flirtation between us,” laughs Karin. “Mike taking me to a sweet dinner using his very own credit card, which I thought was the coolest thing ever.” After five years together, Mike popped the question using some sneaky tactics. “He tricked me on Christmas Day by gifting me a jewelry box containing a belly button ring. Four days later, on a trip for my birthday, he proposed,” she says. “He had told my father what he was up to, but wanted to throw me off. I was shocked and happy and cried and said YES!”

Upon making the smart selection of hiring Thomas Bui of Thomas Bui Lifestyle as their planner, they set off to design their nuptials around the 2016 Pantone Color of the Year: Serenity. “It’s similar to periwinkle. From there, we developed a rose gold accent with greens to make for a romantic setting in the beautiful ballroom,” notes the bride. Though careful not to get overwhelmed by the little things, Karin quickly realized just how much goes into planning. “There is so much to pick – down to the napkins and plates!” she exclaims.

Five years after their engagement, Karin’s four bridesmaids gathered in the hotel venue to prepare. While they stepped into their light blue dresses, the bride’s mother helped her daughter into a sleek bridal gown with many illusion details, a plunging neckline, and an airy overskirt. When the time came, Karin entered through the wrought-iron gates bedecked with creamy florals and strolled down the aisle unaccompanied. She met her handsome groom – wearing a deep navy suit – at the end of their petal-patterned aisle. The two sweethearts exchanged vows underneath a structured arch adorned with countless vines, blooms, and suspended gems against a backdrop of the beach and the Pacific Ocean. After the vow exchange, white doves were released into the air.

As their 73 guests adjourned inside to begin celebrating, the wedding party took photos together on the nearby beach, which played host to a custom seven-foot sandcastle commissioned by the newlyweds. “It was in the style of The Little Mermaid,” informs Karin. Upon joining friends and family, the new Mr. and Mrs. gazed upon their reception space, which was filled with varying table sizes, all featuring shimmering, metallic linens and grand foliage arrangements. “The centerpieces were tall and ornate – they included hanging glass balls with candles inside and gardenias, roses, and white-colored flowers complemented by beautiful green plants,” explains the bride.

Attendees sipped on signature cocktails – elderflower lemonade for the bride and a jalapeño margarita for the groom – and danced the night away on the wood-panel dance floor. To top off the delicious culinary offerings, revelers were treated to a dessert table filled with sweet snacks, including the couple’s three-tier, lemon-flavored wedding cake in gold featuring seashell and seahorse designs. As a final goodnight, the entire party gathered outside at the end of the night to witness a firework spectacular. Karin’s advice for future couples is simple: “go with your gut on everything!”