Five months of dating before getting engaged may seem like a whirlwind romance, but the paths of Megan Cooper and Dan Broderick had been crossing all their lives. “We grew up in the same town, we knew many of the same people, and Danny’s sister was my babysitter when I was very young,” says Megan. After reconnecting online, the couple met for drinks, and Dan became Megan’s last-minute date for a wedding the next day. “We hadn’t seen each other in 10 years,” she admits, “but we spent every weekend together after that.” A ski trip with Dan’s sister and her daughters became the backdrop for an extraordinary proposal on New Year’s Eve, complete with a sleigh ride and a surprise appearance by Megan’s parents. “We spent the following day skiing the mountain as a new family,” Megan recalls. “It was perfect.”
If there was one challenging aspect to planning the couple’s wedding, it was the sheer number of loved ones the pair wished to accommodate on their special day – a pretty wonderful dilemma to have. “I have an enormous family and a lot of friends, and I wanted a fun wedding with all the people who are important to me,” Dan says. Although nearly 300 guests gathered on the lush lawn of a hacienda-style resort to witness the couple’s vow exchange, the entire ceremony was designed to feel highly personal. “It was very important to us to be married by someone who knew us both,” says Megan, so the couple had two friends of the family – one a Catholic deacon and the other a federal judge – officiate. An ancestral Bible was placed on the altar to represent Megan’s Welsh family roots, and a friend read an Irish blessing to honor Dan’s ethnic heritage. All of the couple’s siblings played a role in the ceremony, and the bride and groom’s traditional vows were supplemented by personal messages that they read aloud to each other.
The element of fun that was so important to Dan was also very much in evidence, from the flat sandals and coral-hued dresses worn by the bridesmaids, to the orange ping-pong balls the flower girl distributed to guests for tossing after the ceremony. Fresh lemons and oranges fashioned a dazzling path to the altar, where citrus-colored roses, dahlias, and other flora mingled with more fresh fruit on the surrounding structure. Guests kept cool by sipping iced lemonade through colorful knotted straws beneath shady umbrellas that were dotted among the rows of seating.
A bagpiper ushered guests from the cocktail hour to a tented reception that was awash in vibrant color. Cheerful centerpieces composed of tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, and oranges were crowned with vivid shades of flowers, while bright white china made a crisp contrast to melon-colored table linens. Lamps featuring clear stands filled with bright yellow lemons accented several of the reception tables, and candy-striped fabric brightened wood chiavari chairs and a cake table that displayed multiple confections. “My favorite bakery doesn’t make wedding cakes, and I wanted a really good cake,” Megan explains. “So, instead of a traditional wedding cake, we had 15 10-inch round cakes in four different flavors!” The cakes were finished with flowers and presented on fruit-filled pillars surrounded by dahlias, and one special round featured a whimsical cake topper of a bride and groom on skis. A display of citrus-hued jellybeans gave the space an extra burst of color in addition to providing an extra dessert option.
The large number of guests did not deter Megan and Dan from personally expressing their gratitude to everyone assembled. “Each table-assignment card was an envelope holding a handwritten note from myself and Danny letting every individual guest know how much they meant to us,” says Megan. Dan also took to the microphone to address the crowd at large and publicly convey the couple’s appreciation. “The honor of addressing all of our friends and family, for whom I have so much respect, while they listened intently to my ramblings was one of the most memorable aspects of the day,” the groom confides. Dan’s heartfelt speech also included a special moment of silence for all of the couple’s loved ones who could not be present.
The love and affection that Dan and Megan took such care to express was reciprocated through toasts made by the mother and father of the bride, as well as a lovely serenade from an unexpected source. “My 10-year-old niece surprised us by getting on the empty dance floor by herself – in front of 300 people – and singing a beautiful song to Megan and me,” Dan marvels. “She did such a great job, and I was so surprised and proud.” The entire event was infused with a special kind of joy that the bride sums up beautifully: “I think the most special part of our wedding was how much we love each other and how much our family and friends love us. Danny and I were always in each other’s backyard so to speak, but it took us living our lives to prepare us to really meet and fall in love. Finding each other and having the chance to celebrate in such a beautiful location with everyone we loved was the most valuable thing we could have ever asked for.”