On December 4, 2000, Nielma Bassig and Kirby Hock met in the most romantically prohibitive of situations. It was Kirby’s first day as a lawyer at Nielma’s firm and the two were attending a sexual harassment seminar about forbidden workplace romances. After six months of attempting to heed these warnings, Kirby took Nielma on their final “non event” to a point overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. He indicated to her the suitably named Kirby Cove across the Bay and told a make believe story about a boy who promised to love and care for a girl in San Francisco forever if she would travel across the water to join him in Kirby Cove.

Two years later, Kirby and Nielma returned to the shores of the Golden Gate Bridge, only this time, at a picnic at Kirby Cove. With Nielma’s Point (what they affectionately named the site of that first official date) in the distance, Kirby asked Nielma to be his wife, turning his once fabled promise into a tangible commitment.

As a testament to his chivalrous nature, Kirby waited to propose to Nielma longer than he’d hoped. His reasoning was to ask Nielma’s parents in person for their daughter’s hand, but Nielma’s father, a Chief in the Navy, was serving in the War in Iraq. When Nielma’s dad returned, Kirby secretly flew to Orange County mid-week to have dinner with her parents and then returned to propose that weekend. No sooner were they engaged than her father was asked to return to duty for the following year. Nielma and Kirby decided that May 30, 2004, one day shy of a yearlong engagement, would be the day that Nielma’s father would see his daughter as a bride, just before his deployment.

In a wedding ceremony steeped in cultural traditions, Nielma and Kirby exchanged vows at the Pelican Hill Pavilion overlooking Newport Coast’s Crystal Cove. Blending religious, ethnic and geographic symbolism, the couple wove themselves into every aspect of their highly personalized affair. French blue and gold motifs of the Golden Gate Bridge and assorted seashells, depictions of both the couple’s home in San Francisco and Nielma’s Southern California upbringing, first adorned the save-the-date cards and were carried throughout the wedding on their invitations, programs and thank you notes. The variations in blue and golden color of everything from the bridesmaids’ attire to the table linens to the floral arrangements celebrated the contrasting palette of the surf and sand.

Next, the veil sponsors shrouded the couple in a mantilla bringing them together as one, and the cord sponsors looped a figure eight made of silk cording around the couple to symbolize the infinite bond of marriage. In addition, Nielma wore a rosary on her left wrist and designed a cross as part of her dress to honor her Catholic upbringing. As they recessed as husband and wife, Nielma and Kirby were given a bible as the first gift they received as a married couple.

Little did their guests know, however, that the mood of the evening was about to shift, because the bride and groom had secretly changed their formal shoes into tap shoes! Perhaps anticipating a conventional ballad to welcome them for their first dance, everyone at the reception exploded into cheer as the couple tapped their way into married life to “It Had to Be You.” No one knew the couple could tap dance, not even Nielma and Kirby, and it was a well-rehearsed surprise that not only entertained their guests, but also reflected their willingness toward trying new things together.

With that, the surf and sand ballroom was set into motion. Nielma and Kirby’s sweetheart table was surrounded by tables covered in blue linens with those encircled by tables dressed in shades of gold, creating the effect of the ocean meeting the beach. Each centerpiece was a four foot tall glass vase filled with blue water and eight to ten feet of curly willow, tightly packed blue hydrangea and sprays of tuberose. Each arrangement was also hung with votive candles as well as being surrounded by additional candlelight. Dinner was a tasting of both the bride’s and the groom’s favorite foods. After courses of mushroom garlic consommé and Caprese salad, a duet of tropical inspired Sea bass with mango salsa and filet mignon with roasted red pepper mashed potatoes was served alongside one another. The meal was rounded out by dessert served from a decadent gelato cart and a peanut butter and chocolate wedding cake, adorned once again with the engraved Golden Gate Bridge and gold dusted seashells that first took shape on the couple’s save the date cards.

After Nielma and her father danced to the fitting “Beyond the Sea” and Kirby’s mother and he strolled the floor to the song she used to hum to him as a boy, “Tea for Two,” a meticulously planned song list representing the soundtrack of their lives begged guests to take their own dance down memory lane.

It was a night replete with personality and tradition and Nielma and Kirby’s guests were reminded of such by the favors they were given at each place setting. Each favor was a box made of Capiz shell, a translucent shell found deep in the Philippine waters and often used in creating elegant windows for homes, which was filled with chocolate seashells. They were favors in keeping with their surf and sand theme, but more importantly, symbolizing a window into Nielma and Kirby’s relationship.

Of all the many meaningful moments and aspects of their wedding, the couple felt that the pinnacle came right before they were about to be married, after Nielma was presented by her father. When Kirby took Nielma’s hand and kissed it, all the feelings of why they were getting married seemed to flow from one to the other. “In those last few minutes, one could see that we were two individuals about to become one.”