Enchanted-Garden Theme Wedding at Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach

Alison and Ben

Photographed by: Lawrence Crandall PhotographyLocation: Newport Beach, California, United States

With so much to celebrate, Alison Schneider and Ben Levine chose to host their wedding during a long holiday weekend. And for these two, only a series of meticulously conceived events would do: a Tuscan-themed Shabbat dinner on Friday evening; an Asian-influenced rehearsal dinner; and an elegant farewell brunch all in honor of their lavish Sunday wedding. Luckily, the happy couple was constantly surrounded by family and friends whose love and support provided the true inspiration behind the magical Newport Beach weekend.

Alison and Ben, along with her mother and their indispensable consulting and design team, were determined to create an unforgettable experience for their 250 guests. This began with the decision to have the Balboa Bay Club be the location for their special day. It was where both sets of parents happily met each other for the first time, and the bride and groom knew it was the perfect place to formally join their two families together. Not only was it a beautiful venue, but the club’s chef was also amenable to creating innovative menus for both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding feast—something integral to the couple’s original design.

And in keeping with such attention to detail, special efforts were made by Alison and Ben’s florist to attend the bride’s dress fittings so that he would capture the correct colors and sentiments of the couple’s grand vision. An “Enchanted Garden” theme was the result of his visits, and it was brought to life with centerpieces that rose over five feet in massive silver candelabras, sprouting a profusion of summer colors. The romantic air was enhanced by votive candles with small glittering rhinestones that shimmered against elegant ivory and platinum place settings, dupioni silk napkins also bedazzled with large rhinestones and specialty linens, which were hand embroidered and flown in from overseas, just in time for Alison and Ben’s event.

But before being treated to the spectacular reception display, guests sat under a billowing, draped tent to witness the couple’s traditional Jewish ceremony. The bride was escorted down an aisle carpeted with thousands of rose petals by both her father and her step-father and met her groom beneath a chiffon chuppah crowned with a crystal chandelier. With her, she carried her grandmother’s Bible, adorned with cascading roses and ivy, as her bouquet.

After a very chic, poolside cocktail hour that featured Gypsy Kings-like Spanish music, guests were treated to a stunning show in the ballroom created by Wayne Foster Entertainment. Inspired by the “bottle dance” from Fiddler on the Roof, Jewish folk performers staged an elaborate routine while balancing bottles of wine on their heads. Throughout the celebration, the more than 30 talented musicians and vocalists kept the dance floor packed and had guests performing their own routines until the early hours of the morning.

After all that dancing, a late night sugar fix in the form of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor was just what the crowd ordered. Guests splurged on root beer floats, all types of baked goodies, cheesecake lollipops and created their own sundaes from the smorgasbord of gourmet ice creams, waffle cones and toppings. This was in addition to the couple’s artistic wedding cake with layers that mirrored both the platinum accents on Alison’s gown and the floral embroidery on the custom table linens.

But the most meaningful portion of the evening for the bride and groom came in the form of a touching toast made by the grandmother of the bride. She spoke about the many summers Alison and her cousins spent with her in Michigan, and it was during her speech that, as Alison notes, she and Ben realized that “this family tradition would continue with a whole new generation of kids and cousins from the union of these two large families.” It was a stirring moment for the elated bride and groom, who were already in the midst of creating their own personal tradition—one that they would celebrate every July 4th for years to come and remind them of the extraordinary weekend when they first commemorated their love.

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