Glitzy Ballroom Wedding at The St. Regis Monarch Beach

Ashley and David

Photographed by: David Michael PhotographyLocation: Dana Point, California, United States

What was the most memorable part about the first time Ashley Daneshgar and David Josephson met? “The fact that we couldn’t have been less interested in each other,” laughs Ashley. They met at an engagement party—and only because Ashley wanted to set one of her friends up with one of David’s. Life has a funny way of bringing the right people together, however, and it wasn’t long before Ashley and David were attending another engagement party, this time in honor of their own upcoming wedding in Southern California.

Actually, there was more than one event to keep the busy couple excited about tying the knot. In keeping with Persian-Jewish tradition, the couple’s families held multiple pre-wedding celebrations to commemorate the intertwining of futures. Ashley’s family hosted a Shirini, which celebrated the symbolic “giving away” of the bride to the groom’s family. Gifts and sweets were exchanged between their closest circle of friends and family members. In turn, the groom’s parents threw a Pagosha to officially welcome the bride into their family with much love and appreciation.

The Ketubah signing, which is often witnessed just before the ceremony on the wedding day itself, became another separate event for Ashley and David. In Jewish law, the Ketubah cannot be signed until sundown, and because the couple held the wedding during the summer (when sunset comes late in the day), a big party was held a month before the wedding instead. With tented cabanas and a hip, lounge-like atmosphere, it was designed to feel very different from the lavish wedding they would finally celebrate in July at the St. Regis Hotel Monarch Beach.

Lush and luxurious styling was the basis for the much-anticipated affair that Ashley describes as “romantic, traditional, magical and pure. I always imagined having a wedding that was all white and cream with candles all around the room.” With a ring bearer leading the way down the aisle in an adorable miniature Model T, Ashley descended the long staircase to a summer wonderland of beauty and warmth. “There were people everywhere—guests were seated, everyone had come out of their hotel rooms to watch from the balconies—and the music was so romantic that I started to cry. I couldn’t believe the moment had come.” Tall, draped stands supporting roses, hydrangea and cymbidium orchids parted the way to the chuppah, where a dazzling chandelier of flowers and flickering candles floated overhead.

And in the immense ballroom arranged to accommodate 550 guests, an incredible wash of white, celadon and pink softened by candlelight wrapped the reception in romance. More floral chandeliers hung from the ceiling to mimic the multitude of centerpieces and candelabras that decorated the mix of round, square and long tables. Atop the delicately embroidered white linens, pearl appliqués that were tied around each napkin were so pretty that, Ashley says, “I saw a guest wearing one as a necklace.” After hours of mingling and enjoying the breathtaking décor, guests participated in a Persian tradition that required them to pick flowers from the centerpieces with which to shower the bride and groom as they danced in the middle of the room. “It felt like a fairytale,” remembers Ashley with fondness.

As the evening turned into morning, the couple gifted its guests with thoughtful favors for the trip home. Silver bags of ground coffee and pink boxes of delicious Krispy Kreme doughnuts were given to guests as they left the party at the impressive hour of three o’clock in the morning. Each bag was inscribed with “A Perfect Blend— Ashley and David 7/2/05,” and on each box, wishes of “Sweet Dreams” and love from the grateful couple.

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