Known to countless brides as wedding coordinator extraordinaire, Mary Dann recently stepped out from behind the scenes and into the spotlight to marry her longtime sweetheart, Jimmy McNamee. After dating on and off for 14 years, the pair, who had always remained loyal friends, decided to take their relationship to the next level. Just after waking up at home one morning, Jimmy asked Mary to be his wife. The announcement of their impending wedding followed closely behind the only other news in their lives more exciting – the couple was expecting their first child.

As a wedding coordinator for almost 15 years and a regular contributor to Inside Weddings, Mary has experience with just about every location in Southern California. One of the couple’s favorite spots is La Quinta Resort & Club, and Mary and Jimmy both decided that there was no place better suited for their own important day than this desert oasis. The Friday before Memorial Day, a date just before the busy summer wedding season (and only a few months into her pregnancy), turned out to be the ideal time for Mary and Jimmy to hold their luncheon reception at La Quinta and their outdoor Catholic ceremony in the enchanting garden of a nearby church. Less than 100 people were asked to join the couple for the intimate affair, with each and every guest holding a sincere place in Mary and Jimmy’s hearts.

Choir music filled the sun-soaked garden as Mary, carrying a simple bouquet of her favorite bright pink peonies, was escorted down the aisle by her father. During their full wedding mass, the bride and groom honored those loved ones no longer with them and recited a special prayer for their new family, a blessing that included their forthcoming bundle of joy, “Baby G” (Graham if it’s a boy; Grace if it’s a girl).

In contrast to their serene, outdoor ceremony, Mary and Jimmy created a dramatic ambience for their reception to give their guests a range of experiences throughout the day. After a Mariachi band serenaded the al fresco cocktail hour, guests were seated family-style at two, 140-foot-long tables in the ballroom. Pink linens and matching pink seat cushions were accented by chartreuse green runners, setting the stage for the alternating line of square peony arrangements wrapped in fuchsia silk and grouped votive candles that ran the length of the tables. A fiesta buffet with popular Mexican fare was thoroughly enjoyed, leaving guests primed for the decadent sweets that followed. Goodies for dipping in a milk chocolate fountain complemented the elaborate white wedding cake, intricately adorned with chocolate scroll work that borrowed from the wrought iron accents of La Quinta’s Spanish architecture.

One of Mary’s most beloved moments was when Jimmy gave a toast to the gathering and confessed how in love with her he had always been. As she fondly remembers, “He also acknowledged the amazing day my team and I created in only a few months.” High praise was certainly deserved, because the wedding Mary designed wholly reflected their tastes, personalities and the long-standing love they shared for one another. The bride and groom customized the best of Mary’s professional repertoire from over the years for their own wedding. It was a meaningful affair that celebrated the union of two closely entwined pasts that would soon give birth to a beautiful new future.