Lavender-Hued Spring Wedding in Marina del Rey, California

Jennifer and James
Photographed by: David Michael PhotographyLocation: Santa Monica, California, United States

Before ever knowing who her future husband would be, Jennifer Grgurich knew where she would marry him. “The first time I stepped foot into the Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Rey, I told my sister I wanted to get married there. I was fifteen years old.” Several much-needed years later, and Jennifer’s wedding fantasy was rounded out by a leading man. She met James Abdalla while attending a soccer game he was coaching and the two soon became one another’s fans for life. With a joint desire to marry in the springtime, the couple began planning their dream wedding and added a whole new chapter to Jennifer’s already ample collection of family memories that took place at the Ritz.

Supported by their wedding coordinator and Jennifer’s mother, the couple achieved their goal of planning an affair that was a clear reflection of them both. With a backdrop for their ceremony as gorgeous as the hotel’s Rose Garden already was, the focus for its future design was simple: to add even more flowers. Working with Jennifer’s favorite colors - ivory, sage green and purple – their florist lined each row with tall bouquets of orchids, tiger lilies and baby roses and enveloped the gazebo to match. Bunches of lavender were also worked into the floral scheme because its fresh, calming scent was also Jennifer’s favorite.

Just before entering the ceremony on her father’s arm, Jennifer and he laughed about the silly memories they had shared over the years which was a perfect way to settle both of their nerves. Amidst the serenity of the garden, Jennifer emerged wearing a simple sheath dress and shoes with crystal-studded straps that conveyed the sassy side of her personality. The couple was married in a moving ceremony that brought both families together, symbolized by the lighting of a unity candle by both of their mothers.

After a cocktail hour overlooking the marina, Jennifer and James shared their first dance together and kicked off a night of lively celebration. Everyone spent ample time on the dance floor, something Jennifer and James hoped would be the case, because one of their initial concerns was choosing the right band to create a fun atmosphere. Guests were also treated to a dinner of shitake mushroom salad, chicken stuffed with leeks and truffles and a lemon tart to accompany the newlyweds’ chocolate chip-filled wedding cake. But the surprise of the evening was the unveiling of a flowing chocolate fountain with a selection of treats for dipping into it that became a huge hit with the crowd. “The whole ballroom smelled like chocolate. It was amazing,” remembers Jennifer.

Jennifer and James could not have asked for a more beautiful wedding. “We had the best day of our lives because everyone we loved was able to attend.” It was such a wonderful experience that Jennifer found herself in tears after the reception because the dream wedding she had thought about for so long was finally over. What she and James didn’t know was that his mother had spent some time earlier in the evening adding romantic touches to their wedding night suite. Rose petals, candles and a plate of chocolate covered strawberries greeted the couple as they crossed the threshold of their room. It was a loving reminder that even then, their romantic encounters as newlyweds were not over. Jennifer and James had a whole honeymoon to look forward to where new adventures and experiences in far off Bora Bora would eventually become some of their most cherished memories.

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