Tropical Beach Wedding in Santa Monica, California

Traci and Evan

Photographed by: Cari Pike PhotographyLocation: Santa Monica, California, United States

Imagining opening your mailbox to find a large green envelope, clouded in the exhilarating scent of cedar. Once opened, the envelope reveals a most unique treasure: a purple suede sash bound around green paper, and inside, a crystal-studded leaf-shaped wedding invitation cut from cedar and backed in green velvet. As the lucky recipient, you have just been invited to what clearly promises to be a most distinctive and exciting affair.

Dreaming of a beautiful beach wedding, Traci Unkrich and Evan Siegel were married on the seashore in front of the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica. As you might imagine, the evening was as far as you can get from common and bore little resemblance to any other wedding their guests have attended, beachfront or otherwise!

The couple enlisted wedding coordinator, Michael Willms, to create a memorable event with an earthy, tropical feel, pastels and typical wedding fare. Traci’s personality was clearly imprinted on every element of the wedding, from the invitations to the polished natural wood dinner tables that match a table in her home. Her love of the color purple and things that sparkle (like crystals and diamonds!) led the couple to the imaginative themes of Bali, Cambodia and Las Vegas (representing sparkle) to inspire the look and feel of their wedding.

Traci and Evan exchanged vows upon a platform built from and covered in sand in front of two gas torches. A chamber orchestra was on a sandcovered platform as well, right next to the Santa Monica boardwalk. The ceremony’s proximity to the boardwalk prompted many people to stop and take in the dramatic vision of the bride’s dress, veil and organza coat, all trimmed with beading, and the enormous bridal bouquet. The ethereal quality of the scene was enhanced even further by the sea itself. During the silent pauses throughout the ceremony, the spectacular sound of the waves crashing against the beach provided an earthy, calming soundtrack.

The 125 guests later adjourned to a dinner reception, set in an amazing tented replica of a rustic village in a tropical rainforest. Guests sat at polished wood tables, left uncovered except for runners down the centers. Turkey and beef were carved tableside, served with a variety of savory side dishes served family style. Floral touches included chandeliers made of drift wood frames, hung with fresh orchids, strings of Hawaiian leis, and chains of Austrian crystals, each spot-lit for dramatic glimmer.

The dance floor was situated in the main dinner tent, open to the full moon and surrounded by lush jungle plants. Party-goers had to walk across little bridges to get to the dance floor, which was marked at one edge by a reflecting pool with floating purple orchids. The bambootrimmed stage was located at the end of the dinner tent and was open to the beach and lit with seven-foot-high propane torches. From the dance floor, one could see the ocean waves and the sand lit up by the dancing flames of the torches, creating a somewhat tribal feel.

Hand gold-leafing and gilded accents were interspersed throughout the reception site adding a rustic, yet elegant, look to everything from the bars to the stage backdrop. With so much for the eye to take in, the wedding cake somehow managed to be the center of attention; however, most people never guessed it to be the cake! Looking like a prized relic retrieved in a primal battle, the wedding cake stood nine and one-half feet tall and was placed on a gold stand in front of the band. Inspired by both ancient temples and intricate jewelry boxes, the creation was covered in fondant and gilded in gold, and the top piece was custom-made to resemble a tiny Asian temple. Since traditional vanilla would have spoiled the exotic flair of its shell, the cake inside hinted of black forest cherry chocolate cake.

Traci and Evan started their marriage in a way befitting their unique, witty personalities and made sure that the celebration was uniquely theirs. The couple’s friends and family are sure to be talking about this outstanding soiree for years to come; no one is likely to forget the magical village that sparkled next to the Pacific Ocean on one balmy October night.

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