College freshmen Blair Tarnutzer and Murphy Troy had one special thing in common: their height. “My friends set us up thinking we’d be a perfect match since we’re both tall!” laughs Blair. Connecting on their similar humor styles and high-confidence levels, the two became fast friends. “By the fall of our sophomore year, I was taken,” gushes Murphy. As a professional volleyball player, graduation saw Murphy’s career take off overseas as he competed around Europe, making the relationship a long-distance one. “Our distance over the years strengthened my feelings for her,” the groom explains. “My heart always felt full, no matter where we were in the world.”

During his fourth professional season, Murphy was playing in the beautiful seaside town of Sopot, Poland, and arranged for Blair and her mom to make a last-minute trip to see him. “I called her mother to see if it would be logistically possible to get an engagement ring in three weeks,” reveals Murphy, which prompted his future mother-in-law to quickly design, order, and retrieve her daughter’s sparkler. Once abroad, the groom arranged a scavenger hunt around Sopot for his sweetheart, ending with him on bended knee at the end of a pier. “It was so amazing. It completely captured the essence of our relationship: finding romance all over the world,” beams the bride.

Due to their busy schedules, planning the wedding was an off-and-on process for the pair. Blair was preparing to take the bar exam to go into her profession as an attorney and Murphy continued to play volleyball overseas until he made the Men’s Indoor National Team for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. As the men took home the bronze medal for the USA mere months before their October nuptials, “we were on such an Olympic high which turned into a wedding high!” exclaims the bride of the happy time.

A year and a half after their engagement, Blair and Murphy prepared to join as husband and wife at the luxurious La Quinta Resort & Club in sunny Palm Desert, California. As a native to the state, the bride desired a property location wherein her guests could relax by the pool while they mixed and mingled before gathering for the alfresco ceremony. Attendees found their seats in simple ivory lawn chairs facing the altar. Despite the heat, floral arrangements accenting the space were filled with blooms in fall colors to complement the season: dark red and deep merlot blossoms adorned each rustic urn. Blair stunned friends and family in a chic A-line gown as she met her beloved at the end of the aisle to recite their heartfelt, personal vows. “I will never forget those moments,” divulges Murphy of their customized sentiments. Upon being officially joined in matrimony by their officiant – the father of the groom – the newlyweds shared a kiss as “Let My Love Open the Door” by Pete Townshend rang out.

Friends and family immediately adjourned to the reception space to further enjoy the festivities of the evening. Long and round tables tastefully bedecked with sheer ivory and velvet blush linens rested underneath an intricate installment of fairy lights, the strings of which all met at the center of the space to create a tent effect. Each tablescape featured autumnal clusters of marsala-hued blossoms, golden leaves, and regal greenery, as well as smatterings of small votives. “We wanted to exude ‘California fall’ in the most romantic sense,” says Blair.

Along with the gourmet dinner menu, the new Mr. and Mrs. provided revelers with late-night bites of classic comfort foods as well as slices from their traditional wedding confection and the volleyball-themed groom’s cake. “The part I was most interested in was getting everyone on the dance floor,” muses Murphy. As the soirée extended to well after midnight, it was everything the duo hoped for. “We wanted everyone to be totally love-buzzed,” affirms the bride. “The day was all about celebrating the new beginning we were getting – finally living in the same place!”