While many couples typically let their relationship blossom a bit before family introductions, Will Goodwin met a majority of Christina Alonso’s relatives before he even met Christina. The two were set up on a blind date by Christina’s uncle (Will’s employer at the time), who arranged for them to meet at her grandmother’s 80th birthday party. “Christina was running late, so there was a while where I was alone with 16 or 17 of her family members. Yet, when she walked in, she gave me a smile that put me at total peace,” says Will.
That same smile overflowed from the wave of calm Christina herself experienced the moment she first saw Will. “I had this powerful, peaceful feeling come over me that I was looking at the man I was going to one day marry. I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is it,’” she says.
It was the first time family would figure prominently in their love story, but it wouldn’t be the last.
“We really wanted to incorporate the family into the wedding as much as possible,” says Christina about the planning. To start with, the couple asked the bride’s cousin, an Episcopal reverend, to join their pastors in performing the ceremony. Then, Christina honored her strong bond with her family and friends by adorning her bridal party in pure, lily-hued dresses to match her own breathtaking drop-waist gown. “I had always envisioned my bridesmaids wearing white with me, along with my mother,” she confides.
The choice of bridesmaid vestment color was also a result of Christina’s overall vision for the wedding as an elegant affair lavished in whites and golds, a clean palette energized by warm accent tones. The old-world design of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church was accented with two floral arrangements of calla and stargazer lilies, orchids, and hydrangea blossoms behind the altar, but the existing linens and candelabras perfectly matched Christina’s color scheme. Gold-hued neckties evoked the golden voices of the Houston Boychoir that ornamented the ceremony.
The bride delights in recounting the extravagantly creative approach taken with her personal flowers. “My entire bouquet consisted of white and pale yellow cymbidium orchid petals that were pulled from the flowers and reconstructed with wire to create the [shape].”
When the vows were sealed, the custom ring Will placed on Christina’s finger incorporated round and marquise-shaped diamonds from each of their great-grandmothers’ wedding bands. The bride recalls, “Will designed the ring, and every time I look at it, it not only reminds me of the solemn vows we took, but of the marriage we hope to have throughout our years.”
The River Oaks Country Club provided not only a chic reception setting, but also ample space for the couple’s nearly 500 guests. Clear acrylic tables and chairs in the ballroom allowed the gold accents of chargers, napkins, and planters to pop against heavenly clouds of hydrangeas, orchids, roses, and dahlias with elegant understatement. Suspended overhead was a halo of gold leaf branches, lemon leaves, and votives.
“When the dining room doors swung open and we were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. William Goodwin, the room was radiating with the most beautiful use of lights, flowers, and decorations, plus our most close friends clapping and cheering,” Will recalls. “I will never forget the smile on Christina’s face. “
In order to spend sufficient time at the reception with loved ones in their prodigious 34-person wedding party, the couple alternated between two long banquet tables (one for family, one for friends) so they could sit with each group during different courses of the meal.
Music was as integral to the evening as family, and the two were intertwined. A special moment for Will was when his grandparents reenacted their own first dance to the same song to which they had waltzed over 50 years before. Christina’s Mexican heritage was honored by a mariachi band that serenaded the guests.
A separate room was styled for the dancing portion of the reception. Though painted Manzanitas and a pristine dance floor carried the wedding’s elegant white palette through to the new space, a club vibe was achieved with extravagantly costumed servers and a unique lighting design that included the couple’s logo emblazoned on walls.
Little touches were added to the reception décor that hearkened to Christina and Will’s careers. Ever the public relations maven, Christina made sure the monogram logo of the couple’s new “brand” persisted in every detail, from the custom-made favors to the labels on the cigars that were hand-rolled for guests during the reception. An eight-foot-tall ice luge carved into the shape of an oil derrick served double duty as an ode to Will’s work as a petroleum geologist while chilling themed cocktails. Suffice it to say, in oil-capital Houston, this was a feature beloved by the guests.
The reception lasted until the wee hour of 2AM. Afterward, guests were shuttled to a private residence that features one of the largest swimming pools in North America where family and friends partied for hours fortified with catering from the couple’s favorite burger joint.
As much as the couple cherished the presence of their family and friends, Christina offers this advice to future brides: “If possible, take a few minutes in a private room before the reception to breathe it all in. It’s one of my most special memories of the day because Will and I were able to sit together and soak in the precious moment.”