Erica Berge and Ryan Thomas met while in college, at a party of a mutual friend. Ryan sparked Erica’s attention with his sense of humor, and the two felt great chemistry and an instant connection to each other. In February of 2003, Ryan took Erica to the bluffs of Corona Del Mar, the site of their first kiss, to propose marriage. Just nine months later, the couple became husband and wife in another gorgeous coastal setting, Laguna Niguel.

Erica and Ryan were married at The Laguna Presbyterian Church, during a religious ceremony, which was very important to the couple. The marriage was witnessed by 225 of the couple’s loved ones, including ten bridesmaids and seven groomsmen. Erica will never forget the moment that she and Ryan locked eyes as her father escorted her down the aisle towards her husband-to-be. In honor of his family’s Norwegian heritage, the father-of-the-bride added his own heartfelt touch to the ceremony by reciting a traditional blessing in Norwegian, which added a sense of history to the day. The couple’s guests were treated to a most romantic surprise when a flock of doves was released in honor of the celebration.

Following the late afternoon ceremony, the party continued at the world-renowned Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel. There, the guests enjoyed a formal evening of dining and dancing, with a four-course dinner that featured entrees of Ono and filet mignon, lively entertainment by a full band, and a luscious five-tiered, buttercream, lemon and raspberry cake adorned with a monogram of Erica and Ryan’s initials. The bride and groom took great care to ensure that each element of their wedding fit their personalities, and even the ocean-front room itself, The Pavilion, was chosen in tribute to their shared love of the beach and the water.

The bride and groom chose The Ritz-Carlton for its impeccable first-class service as well as for its famous Old World elegance. The historical hotel, which boasts one of Southern California’s top oceanfront settings, is reminiscent of a European mansion, complete with muted Oriental rugs, crystal chandeliers and inviting fireplaces and sitting areas. Erica and Ryan kept this specific ambience in mind when planning the look and formality of their wedding. In accordance with this theme, they filled the reception with the romantic light of hundreds of candles, simple and elegant floral arrangements and a sophisticated color scheme of white, creams, champagnes and neutral browns. The flowers were white, cream and champagne roses accented with cascading deep green ivy, displayed in silver candelabras in varying heights.

Erica and Ryan bestowed their guests with several thoughtful mementos of the day: the wedding favors were deliciously scented red currant Votivo candles wrapped in paper that bore the couple’s names and the date. At the end of the reception, the bride and groom ensured sweet memories of the occasion by directing their guests to a candy bar to fill treat bags emblazoned with “Sweet Dreams, Erica & Ryan.” A final warm gesture concluded the evening as the guests were greeted in the valet area with a stunning white lily bouquet bearing a charming note that read “When You Wish Upon A Star, Dreams Are Never Far. Thank You for Sharing Our Special Day. Love, Erica and Ryan.”