Anne-Marie Logrippo and Adam Esser's relationship is "a classic story of love happening when you least expect it," says the bride. They met at a birthday party and struck up a conversation when Adam complimented Anne-Marie on her shoes. They strolled and talked for hours on their first date, realizing just how much they had in common. Years later, when Adam was ready to propose, he took Anne-Marie on yet another walk - this time while on vacation in Aspen - and popped the question alongside a scenic river. "Who would have thought that a pair of sneakers would lead me to my future husband?" laughs Anne-Marie. "Ten years later, I still have those shoes."
Both Anne-Marie and Adam were raised in different parts of California before meeting in New York, and they were set on finding a venue for their reception that paid tribute to both coasts. Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, California, turned out to be the perfect mix: Its grand architecture reminded the couple of Old World New York, and the beachfront location celebrated the beauty of the Pacific. They also chose to get married in a nearby Catholic church and asked Anne-Marie's cousin, Monsignor David Cassato, to travel from New York to conduct the service. "It was extremely important to us to have him officiate," says Anne-Marie. "His involvement was one way we were able to set the tone for the welcoming, personal, and spiritual setting that we wanted for our big day."
In fact, several family members contributed to the ceremony, including the couple's parents, aunts, and godmothers, who participated in several Catholic traditions and performed readings significant to the bride and groom. To Anne-Marie and Adam's surprise, her paternal grandmother was also able to attend the ceremony despite her failing health. "Her presence at such an extraordinary time in our lives was the best wedding gift we could have received," says Anne-Marie. To honor her late maternal grandmother, Anne-Marie wrapped her grandmother's rosary beads around the handle of her bouquet before walking down the aisle. The bride and groom exchanged vows surrounded by 120 loved ones and tranquil arrangements of white lilies, roses, and orchids that were mixed with maple leaves for a touch of the season.
The autumnal theme was further realized at the reception, with flowers and decor in a range of browns, greens, and oranges. Cylindrical vases filled with modern bouquets of amber calla lilies lined the staircase to the reception, directing guests toward a pair of bronze trees that displayed the escort cards. The dinner tables' tall centerpieces made of curly willow branches hung with roses, orchids, and crystals also took on the look of trees shedding their autumn foliage. Arrangements in small vases filled with cut brown glass surrounded the centerpieces and sat atop luxurious, textured linens.
Immediately after the couple cut their cake, the band began playing "New York, New York," while a Rockettes-esque group of dancers took to the floor for a kick line. Thinking it was just a fun way to pay tribute to the city where they fell in love, Anne-Marie, Adam, and their guests unknowingly followed the dancers out of the ballroom to discover an elaborate Big Apple-themed after party. It was a complete surprise to everyone, including the newlyweds, and they marveled at the attention to detail that was paid to the decor. The hallway was filled with three-dimensional sets creating an interactive New York City street. Guests visited a newsstand (displaying real newspapers with the headline "Logrippo Weds Esser"), a replica of the Italian restaurant where the newlyweds had their first date, a sweet shop (to fill bakery boxes with treats), and an old fashioned soda fountain serving ice cream sundaes - the couple's favorite. (Anne-Marie and Adam also gave out ice cream scoops to their guests to let them know a donation was made on their behalf to Peace Games, a charity close to their hearts. The tag on each favor said, "Here's the scoop!").
It was an amazing way to end the night... or, rather, start the morning. "Guests were blown away by the New York experience and stayed until the wee hours enjoying it all," remembers the bride. With only a few hours of sleep under their belts, the newlyweds and their close knit group of guests gathered, once again, for a farewell brunch to reminisce about the previous day and celebrate the couple's future. "The warm, comfortable, and fun atmosphere all weekend reflected our love of family, friends, and celebrating life," says Anne-Marie.