When it came to a wedding venue, Ashley Schoff had three main provisos: it had to be a hotel; it had to be near her mother’s house; and it had to be beautiful. However, her fiancé, Jamie Iglehart, had a different priority. “[He] wanted to get married outside,” Ashley says, “but I’d been so cold at the last four outdoor weddings we’d attended that I wanted to be indoors!” When the couple came across the Grand Del Mar in beautiful southern California, they were dazzled by how perfect it was. In addition to meeting all of Ashley’s criteria, “it was new, gorgeous, and had an amazing European chapel on site,” she says. “We had a location we loved,” concedes the groom, “but I sort of lamented the fact that everything would take place indoors.” When their consultant suggested an “outside-in” theme for the event, the couple loved the idea and happily gave the concept the green light immediately.
On the day of the wedding, glowing candles edged the aisle between Italian hand-carved pews in “Elizabeth Capella,” the Grand Del Mar’s exquisite private chapel. Gardenias dotted garlands of ivy that were wound around wrought-iron candle stands, and comprised the bride’s timelessly elegant bouquet. The jewel tones of the chapel’s stained-glass quatrefoil window were reflected in the amethyst-hued gowns of the bridesmaids, and contrasted beautifully with Ashley’s snowy white trumpet gown. At the start of the service, Jamie placed a petite bouquet on an empty seat in memory of his mother, and then the couple exchanged vows in a traditional Christian ceremony. Yet, for all the formality of the setting and the solemnity of the service, the bride and groom made no attempt to contain their joyful personalities. “Jamie and I were making each other laugh and chatting to the point where the reverend told us to be quiet!” Ashley confides. “It was pretty funny.”
While the décor for the cocktail hour was a fantasy of purple florals, the reception featured blooms in rich golds and reds in addition to shades of violet. Two towering trees adorned with flowers and candles flanked the entryway to the ballroom, anchoring the “outside-in” effect created in Jamie’s honor. “The trees were amazing, and something I had never seen before,” notes Ashley. Centerpieces composed of orchid sprays were arranged in cut-crystal vases to mimic the shape of trees, and crystal compotes filled with fresh blossoms provided a low-standing alternative. Candlelight and roses completed the romantic tableau.
The couple paid particular attention to the menu for the reception, offering guests a trio of soups, a roasted-pear salad, and a choice of three entrées. “I definitely had big input in that department, a subject near and dear,” says the groom. Throughout the dinner a live band played so guests could take to the dance floor as well as enjoy background music while they dined. “The dancing started from the moment we entered the ballroom and only stopped for the courses,” Ashley confirms. “The band played instrumental Radiohead during dessert!” Jamie adds. The groom even joined the musicians onstage for a favorite ACDC song, and the bride was right behind him. “We were both barefoot and bouncing up and down, screaming, ‘You Shook Me All Night Long,’” Ashley recalls of her favorite wedding memory. Jamie’s most memorable moment was of a quieter sort. “I specifically remember looking at Ashley during the reception while toasts were being given – one of the few moments when we were both sitting down – and she had this huge smile on her face that still makes me teary.”
One of the secrets to their success was the couple’s ability to work well together while collaborating on a vision that would make both of them happy. In fact, Jamie firmly believes that wedding planning is the easy part. “The tough part is making the decision [to get engaged],” says the groom, “but commitment is its own reward. I look at my single friends now and can’t help feeling sorry for them.” And the event itself? “I’ve never danced more or had more fun in my life,” Jamie enthuses. “I’d re-live the whole day in a heartbeat.”