Seaside Celebration in Orange County, California

Kristi and Joel

Photographed by: Barnet PhotographyLocation: Dana Point, California, United States

College life has a way of paving the future, and Kristi Bautista and Joel Drenckpohl are a most beautiful example of this phenomenon. At the end of Kristi’s senior year of high school, she visited a friend at Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington. She was introduced to her friend’s roommate, Joel, and the two took a liking to each other and became great friends through phone calls and e-mails. When Kristi started her freshman year at Whitworth in the fall, she and Joel started dating right away. As Kristi explains, “When we were together, life was just simply right!”

Kristi, who has a definite distaste for surprises, was truly shocked by Joel’s proposal in April of 2002. Longing to share a sunrise with his beloved, Joel woke Kristi up at four a.m. on an extremely cold morning. Kristi admits to being silent and very annoyed during the thirty-minute drive through Mt. Spokane and the ten-minute hike that followed it. They ended up overlooking a beautiful valley full of pine trees and a river. Joel wisely lightened the mood by playing his guitar, and just as the sun was rising, he got down on one knee and asked Kristi to be his wife. The pre-dawn journey was a success, as Kristi accepted his proposal!

During the one year period of intense wedding planning, Kristi and her mom successfully conquered the impossible, with the wedding to be held in Dana Point and all the key players living in separate cities: Kristi in Spokane, Joel in Seattle, and the mother of the bride in La Canada!

Kristi had always dreamed of a beach wedding and walking down the aisle in bare feet, and the Bautista family’s house on Capistrano Beach in Dana Point was clearly the ideal location. Joel and Kristi were married in a late afternoon ceremony, performed by Reverend Kevin Sheldahl, who was the bride’s high school youth pastor. They exchanged vows beneath a floral archway embellished with lush greenery and clustered hydrangea blossoms, roses, and lilies framing the sea. The nuptials were witnessed not only by the 175 wedding guests, but also by neighbors who came out onto their patios all up and down the beach to catch a glimpse of the celebration. Just as Kristi had imagined, she walked down the aisle with her bare feet sinking into the warm sand. The bride and groom drank in the simplicity of the setting, and felt at peace as they looked out onto the ocean. After such a whirlwind of planning, they made sure that the real meaning of the day shone through: that their wedding was a celebration of who God is and what He has done in the couple’s lives.

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres awaited the joyous crowd following the stunning ceremony. Latin guitarists created the mood while guests enjoyed exotic fruit drinks and smoothies, jumbo shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, sushi and Brazilian coconut chicken among many other delectable appetizers.

The perfect sunset, a live band and interactive food stations provided a lively and entertaining reception. The reception was presented as a seaside buffet, which was set along the edges of a white tent wrapped in tulle and twinkling lights. The lavish assortment included almost every type of cuisine imaginable, including filet tenderloin, a mashed potato martini bar accompanied by an array of toppings, gourmet pizza, pasta prepared to order, and a chef preparing grilled beef and chicken fajitas along with five varieties of quesadillas, sweet corn tamales and salsa verde. The three-tiered white wedding cake was perhaps just slightly overshadowed by the outrageously decadent surprise dessert: a three-layer French chocolate fountain provided a most delicious coating for marshmallows, strawberries, bananas, rolled nuts, hazelnut rice krispie treats, mini biscotti and peanut butter balls. To top it off, guests visited the espresso bar for fresh lattes, mochas, espresso, cappuccinos, and flavored coffees.

What could have been a quaintly simple seaside celebration was actually an exquisitely designed elegant event, with no detail overlooked. Kristi and Joel’s guests were treated to the very best the California has to offer, with an unmatched seascape, ideal weather, eclectic fare, and the perfectly balanced ambience of casual chic.

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