Ashley Cook and Richard Goff’s friendship began on the playground when they were in fourth grade and started dating in high school. Growing up by the water in San Diego, sailing is one of their shared passions. The day before Ashley would move back to Los Angeles for her last year of law school, Richard had planned a special surprise. While they enjoyed an evening cruise, he raised the 40-foot sail. As it unfurled, a message was revealed in big bold letters: “Will you marry me?” Richard then turned and got down on one knee, ring in hand. A shocked Ashley immediately said yes. When they returned to the dock, their families were waiting to celebrate the news.
Being close to their families, the couple had a great support system to plan their wedding. Ashley worked closely with Richard’s mother to determine all the aspects of the aesthetic the bride and groom envisioned. Ashley’s parents also joined her to select a dress, vet bands, and cake tastings. The celebration with nautical charm was announced via wood-grain invitations with navy envelopes and inserts bearing an anchor motif. It was significant for the couple to have their ceremony where they had enjoyed countless hours with loved ones – the backyard of Richard’s childhood home. In fact, friends and relatives were on hand the day before the event to transform the space by setting up tents and chairs, and creating bouquets. “We couldn’t have done this without our families. Having [them] involved made the entire process so much more special for us,” notes Ashley.
Rustic signs, that matched the weathered fence, as well as chalkboard signs directed guests to the festivities. Before taking their seats, they were invited to sign their names on a pair of oars. Fittingly, docked and sailing boats afforded a picturesque backdrop to the waterfront vow exchange. Bridesmaids clad in short navy dresses were escorted by groomsmen donning grey slacks, pale blue button-down shirts, suspenders, and dark blue ties.
A dear friend playing the piano provided musical accompaniment to Ashley’s walk down the aisle. She was ethereal in a strapless gown showcasing a bodice with a sweetheart neckline, embroidery, and flower appliqués, and a flowing skirt. Dangle earrings sparkled beneath her blonde waves. The bride’s copious ivory bouquet of white hydrangeas and peonies framed by foliage hinted at the palette of the floral décor to be featured at the reception – all were designed by Richard’s mother.
“[B]ecause so may people have been a part of our joint story, we wanted to be married by a community of friends. So we picked three friends from three different [parts of our lives] to officiate,” explains Ashley. “We were lucky that all three are fantastic speakers that made it all flow perfectly.”
For the reception, everyone strolled to a close neighbor’s backyard. The newlyweds and their bridal party made quite an entrance – driving into the tent in the candy apple red 1971 Volkswagen bus Richard had restored himself. The family-style Italian dinner was served on tables with ivory tablecloths and navy runners lined with ferns in glass vases accented by sailors knots; cream tulips in silver vases; as well as alabaster hydrangeas and tiny green blooms, verdure, and herbs in distressed wood vessels. Pearl peonies and mint hydrangeas were tucked in between each layer of the wedding cake. The confection featured two flavors: vanilla cake with fresh raspberry filling and lemon-lavender blueberry cake with hazelnut buttercream filling. “We love to host and we wanted to convey to our guests that they were family to us,” shares the bride. “So it only made sense to treat our reception as our first family dinner.”
In addition to dancing on the wood-grain dance floor, attendees could also entertain themselves with lawn games that included cornhole and super-sized chess. At the end of the night, the newlyweds exited the festivities illuminated by a flurry of sparklers. They then boarded the groom’s family's boat and set sail to their happily ever after.