Church Ceremony + Tropical Outdoor Reception in San Diego

Nancy Cherashore and Carlos Abi Ganem

Photographed by: Bryan Miller PhotographyLocation: San Diego, California, United States

Nancy Cherashore never anticipated that her journey to Buenos Aires, Argentina was actually leading to her destiny. After transferring to her company’s office in the South American city, she unexpectedly met her future husband Carlos Abi Ganem. “We kept spending more and more time together, and we both enjoyed being with one another immensely,” the groom muses. “We discovered that we make a great team and that life was much easier when we were together.” Because he was still residing in Argentina, Nancy’s sister put Carlos in contact with a jeweler who helped him choose the perfect ring via text messages. He presented the diamond to his sweetheart during a family vacation in Hawaii, where their server brought it out on a silver platter during Nancy’s birthday dinner. “I could barely squeak out a yes!” she exclaims.

The pair devoted 10 months to planning their celebration and ensuring that each aspect of the day showcased their personalities. “I was surprised by how involved in the details I got! I didn’t expect to be so detail-oriented, but I really wanted everything to reflect our vibe,” the bride reveals. Their 180 attendees, many who flew in from New York and Argentina, gathered to witness a beautiful ceremony at Nancy’s high school chapel, where her parents also tied the knot years prior. “We were lucky enough to have a priest who was bilingual,” she explains. “It was really important to us that part of the wedding be in Spanish, since Carlos’ parents don’t speak English.” In spirit of the couple’s tropical theme, the bridal party proceeded down the aisle holding loosely constructed bouquets of colorful blooms, interspersed with fresh greenery. The bride wore a lovely gown of embroidered tulle, while bridesmaids wore long navy floral dresses.

The celebration continued at a local luxury property where a custom wooden structure was erected. “My dad got really involved with this element – he has a great eye for design,” notes the bride. The vibrant décor continued into the reception space creating a cheerful, warm ambience. “I wanted the theme to reflect a lush, ‘moody’ tropical feeling, like something out of a [Paul] Gauguin painting. [Our florist] created perfect bouquets and tablescapes filled with bright pink and dark red flowers and lush greens, with lots of shimmering candles,” Nancy illustrates. “The canopy structure was perfect to add hanging lush greenery and more airy, ethereal light fixtures.” Each place setting highlighted a large palm with a clear silver-rimmed charger atop, a ribbon-fastened linen napkin, and a customized menu card.

Among a number of special moments for Carlos were the toasts, as it’s not an Argentine wedding custom and thus was a new experience for him. “[The speeches] were incredibly emotional and made me feel grateful to have my friends and family there to celebrate with us,” he reminisces. The groom also wanted to dance the tango with his sweetheart, so he and Nancy took lessons and opened the first dance with the routine they learned together. “It was a hit!” gushes the bride. “Carlos helped our instructor choreograph some moves to his favorite classical tango song.” Everyone danced the night away to the energetic rhythms of the live band, who performed a specific playlist chosen by the couple.

Reflecting on the emotions she endured throughout the planning process, Nancy realizes that quality time with loved ones is much more meaningful than worrying about perfecting every detail. “As the wedding comes closer, do your best to just go with the flow,” she encourages. “It’s more important to enjoy the time with your fiancé, family, and friends than to be sure the napkins are exactly right or being annoyed because something isn’t turning out precisely how you wanted.”