Sharing a special first date at a high-school football game, Anna Castro and Luke Kennard were instantly smitten after “meeting” during Anna’s visit home from college for a family member’s birthday party. “Luke was across the street at a friend’s house, and as they say, the rest is history!” she describes. 

“I was playing basketball in the driveway. We exchanged a few glances… and though she doesn’t like to admit it, she direct messaged me a few days later,” Luke tells with a smile. “I tried to play it cool, but I noticed her from the second she pulled down the street. I was just a high schooler at the time and didn’t have the nerve to approach her with everyone around, but I definitely tried to make her know I was interested from afar.” 

Years later, the Memphis Grizzlies NBA star proposed to his beloved in the backyard of their home. Though they had already curated an engagement ring together, which allowed the bride-to-be to design the style of her dreams, she had no say in when the magical moment would unfold. “It was perfect,” she reminisces. “I didn’t think it was possible for me to have no clue it was coming, but I was 100% surprised.” Luke had secured the blessing of his bride’s father prior to the proposal. He told me, “She’ll be the best teammate you’ll ever have.” He was right. 

Over the course of the next 10 months, Anna worked with their wedding planner to craft the perfect celebration. The bride reveals she was shocked by how much she enjoyed the process and credits her planner – Tessa Brand of Tessa Lyn Events – for taking her ideas, improving them, and executing them flawlessly. “Invest in an incredible planner who you trust wholeheartedly,” urges Anna. “It will be the best money you spend!” 

At the time of planning, Luke was playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, so it made for an easy decision as to where they would host their nuptials. “We knew we wanted to get married in California, so our guests could make a vacation out of it,” explains Anna. “We toured one venue and fell in love right away.”

“Tessa [Brand] and the rest of our vendors made it all come to life even better than I could have hoped!”

The Spanish-style features of the estate created the perfect setting for the timeless look Anna envisioned for their outdoor ceremony. “I wanted lots of white décor accents and tons of florals,” she illustrates. The floral-lined aisle was completely covered in a layer of fresh petals and an impressive, oversized flower-adorned arch marked the spot for the vow exchange that commenced with a prayer from Luke’s Uncle Wade. A short-and-sweet service officiated by Anna’s cousin Stefen blended personal and meaningful elements, which was exactly what the couple desired for their “I dos.” 

The bride was a vision in a stunning fit-and-flare strapless gown exquisitely embellished with pearls, beads, and sequins. She carried a garden-style bouquet of white roses enveloped in greenery. The groom, equally dapper in an ebony tuxedo and bow tie, adds that though they had a “first look,” it was an incredibly memorable moment seeing Anna walk down the aisle towards him. “It was the first time that day that it really set in for me that we were actually getting married,” he confides. “I had already seen her prior to that, but something about her coming down the aisle just felt different. I’ll never forget it.” 

During cocktail hour, loved ones noshed on comfort food options, such as grilled-cheese bites and pizza, and imbibed on signature cocktails that featured the newlyweds’ initials. For the reception, dinner presented a Latin-inspired menu, including mini tacos, Cuban sandwiches, and yucca fries served tapas style, as a nod to Anna’s family heritage. 

The dramatic décor scheme within the tent highlighted all the details of which the bride dreamed, including white draping, massive chandeliers, and a plethora of florals. “Tessa and the rest of our vendors made it all come to life even better than I could have hoped!” confirms the bride of the perfect day. 

Anna, Luke, and over 150 friends and family who flew into town to celebrate continued the merriment well into the night. “I’ve never sang and danced so much in my life; it was exactly what we hoped for!” tells the new Mrs. “Nearly all of our guests were from home in Ohio who we’ve known for the majority of our lives. It made the weekend so much more personal and intimate to have that many guests who have been around since the beginning of our relationship attend. I truly didn’t want it to end!”

This real wedding was originally published in the Fall 2023 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

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