Though they met in very common modern fashion, via a dating app, Lauren Pollare and C.J. LongHammer discovered that they had actually grown up in the same town. “We must have crossed paths hundreds of times in our childhood,” explains Lauren. “We had a wonderful shared history, which made everything immediately feel comfortable.” 

While in the midst of the Covid pandemic, the pair opted to take a road trip to Colorado to visit family. It was during that getaway, on a gorgeous outdoor excursion, complete with a picturesque creek and waterfall, that C.J. felt compelled to get on bended knee and propose to his beloved. 

“I truly didn’t realize what was going on and said, ‘Yes, of course, we’ve talked about this,’ and then I finally understood what was happening,” illustrates Lauren. “This wasn’t just talking about future plans. This was him actually asking me to be his wife!” 

The affianced pair agreed to keep it a secret for a few months and proceed with a more traditional route, where C.J. asked Lauren’s parents for their blessing. Under the guise of a photo shoot, C.J. proposed again using the heirloom Lauren’s mother had given him for the occasion, proudly presenting Lauren with her grandmother’s newly set engagement ring. 

The bride began wedding planning with her mother who “was at every meeting and helped with every decision,” says Lauren, who also hired event planner Alexandra Rembac of Sterling Engagements for her professional creativity and expertise. 

The groom was also very involved in the overall process: “C.J. is incredibly creative, and so I wanted his opinion on everything!” emphasizes Lauren. “We wanted color. We didn’t want another white-with-pops-of-green wedding.” When Alexandra took the couple to visit a gorgeous venue just outside of San Diego, they immediately fell in love with its Spanish tile and the vibrant colors – which sparked inspiration for the big day. 

“We wanted color. We didn’t want another white-with-pops-of-green wedding.”

An alfresco ceremony space showcased a wood chuppah adorned with bright peonies, roses, dahlias, ranunculus blossoms, poppies, and more. The heartfelt service was filled with bits of Jewish, Catholic, and Methodist customs, but it mostly focused on the couple’s love and not any one particular faith. 

Lauren was a vision in a strapless gown featuring leather appliqué flowers on the bodice and a frothy tulle skirt, while C.J. wore a custom suit, vest, and bow tie fashioned from feathers. At the conclusion, the couple made their way to cocktail hour to the tune of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys as a nod to their many intimate conversations daydreaming about their future life together and “how nice it would be.” 

Guests found their seating assignments via Spanish tiles set on a table filled with punch-colored florals, providing a hint of what the reception décor would entail. Long wooden tables were bedecked in a plethora of cheerful flower arrangements set in short bullion vessels, paired with tapered candles, and copper-hued glassware. 

Meticulously arranged on each wicker placemat was a blue dinner plate, personalized dinner menu, twisted linen napkin with colored border, and a perfect fresh floral. Small groupings of citrus completed the stunning, whimsical styles. Round tables swathed in crisp white tablecloths from Luxe Linen highlighted the same “California” concept. 

Though the newlyweds did cut into a small Funfetti cake after dinner, they offered a larger array of desserts and ice cream flavors to their loved ones. “C.J. loves ice cream!” notes the bride. The sweet treats provided the extra energy everyone needed to hit the dance floor. “I loved the dancing. Our DJ was fire, and it was an incredible dance party!” describes Lauren, who also notes that she wouldn’t do anything differently because the day “was all really wonderful.” 

Lauren admits she did stress a bit, but urges other engaged couples to recognize that nobody else will notice when things go wrong, so don’t harp on anything. “When else in your life will you ever have all the people you love in one place together. That is something really special!” she adds. C.J. expands on this lovely thought: “Try to plan for something that brings people closer together, whether that is the event space, the music, or the food. Seeing everyone that you love so much so happy is the best way to start the next chapter of your life together.”

This real wedding was originally published in the Summer 2023 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

To order a copy of the Summer 2023 issue, visit our library of Inside Weddings back issues available for purchase.

Some of the links included may be affiliate; however, everything we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. When you make a purchase, we may receive revenue. Thank you for your support!