Whimsical Waterfront Wedding at Hotel del Coronado in California

Jennifer and Brandon

Photographed by: Paul Barnett PhotographerLocation: Coronado, California, United States

In planning their wedding, Jennifer and Brandon tackled one of the more challenging locations for an event: the beach. Not only did they want their ceremony to occur directly on the sand, but Jennifer and Brandon also wanted it to be an elegant and posh event. With nine months and a lot of determination, their dream wedding was realized.

Jennifer and Brandon’s love story began at a University of Michigan party. The two were drawn together and spent the evening in deep conversation. The night ended, but their life together began when Brandon offered the tired Jennifer a piggyback ride back to her dorm room. From that moment on, the two were inseparable.

It was the beauty of the Hotel del Coronado in Southern California that seduced the bride and groom into choosing it for their wedding. Considered one of America’s most beautiful beach resorts, the national historic landmark built in 1888 offered a dramatic and classic backdrop. With a beachfront ceremony and reception site, Jennifer and Brandon decided to incorporate the surf and sand into all aspects of the wedding.

A custom-built deck on the beach served as the ceremony altar. Atop the deck, four bamboo poles supported an arched canopy of sheer white panels. At the apex of the canopy dangled a chandelier from which green cymbidium orchid blossoms and green hydrangea were delicately strung. Orange and green parasols were placed on each guest’s chair to provide protection from the sun.

Jennifer and Brandon set aside a moment during their service to participate in a “sand ceremony.” Holding glass vases filled with different-colored sand, they took turns pouring the sand into one center vase. The end result was a vase with two different colors of sand permanently mixed together, signifying their union.

Strong, vibrant hues of orange, red, yellow, and green were used for the cocktail hour and reception, allowing the beachside banquet area to be brought to life with color and flair. Offering a bit of explanation for why she chose such a vivid palette, Jennifer explains, “The vibrant colors reflected my love of fashion and trends [whereas] the beach theme reflected our laid back personality.”

This theme was reflected in many of the details, including seating cards attached to starfish and placed in a welcoming sandbox. At each table, the chiavari chairs were accented with fuchsia seat cushions as well as a white starfish, draped down the back with an orange ribbon. Completing the look of each table were single orchid blossoms resting on fuchsia napkins atop orange linens.

The table centerpieces of chartreuse and gold orchids and Oriental lilies were arranged in square glass vases lined with bamboo. Eight square glass votive candles surrounded each arrangement. Yellow upside-down hanging parasols decorated with orchid blossoms in shades of orange, gold, and chartreuse were suspended over each table by wire.

Before guests claimed their wedding favors – one of six different shaped Chinese jade charms – they were asked to line up along the side of the road outside the hotel. Jennifer and Brandon passed through the tunnel of guests to a waiting 1929 Franklin car, where they sipped champagne and enjoyed a moonlit drive around Coronado Island.

When asked what advice Jennifer had for other brides, she exclaimed, “Hire a wedding coordinator! It was the best thing I ever did because I couldn’t have planned the wedding without one. Brandon and I lead very busy lives, so it helped a lot to have someone plan a schedule, etc. You still get stressed out during the wedding planning, but at least you have someone you can count on to help you.”

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