Kelly & Steve’s Intimate Garden Wedding in San Juan Capistrano

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The story of how Steve and I met is not romantic let alone intentional, but it was definitely bound to happen since my best friend in high school became his best friend in college. We first met at a club in 2010 (like I said.. not romantic) and rather than dancing or flirting, we spent the majority of our time together debating on who has a better phone. I was an avid Blackberry user at the time and I just remember thinking ‘what a dork!’ as I watched Steve get pumped up to have this iPhone vs Blackberry debate. Despite my position in our debate, I was soon converted to an iPhone user when we started our long-distance relationship of five years – iMessages and FaceTime really saved our relationship! Fast forward five years, and countless driving and flying to and from San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Arizona, we found ourselves holding hands in front of all of our loved ones at our own dream wedding.

While our long-distance relationship was coming to an end, new long-distance relationships with our family and friends were set in motion as we got ready for our new chapter in Steve’s city of occupation, Phoenix, Arizona. With most of our family and friends in Los Angeles, California, this new chapter in our lives was exciting but also bittersweet. For us, our wedding was an opportunity to throw a big party with our family and close friends before leaving our hometown. Our wedding was for our loved ones as much as it was for us, which made it all the more special.

Come wedding day, a dear friend of mine, also one of my beautiful bridesmaids, told me to take mental snapshots of moments I want to remember and tell myself that ‘I’m going to remember this moment’ because the day will go by all too quickly and there will be too much happening for one to remember everything that happens that day. This is probably the best advice I can pass onto other brides as well. I specifically remember sitting at our sweetheart table and Steve and I had a brief moment to ourselves. I started to look around and admired all of our visions brought to life. It was surreal to see all our loved ones together at an event we’d been planning for months. As I was taking it all in, I felt like the clock had stopped, or maybe I just wanted time to slow down; in that moment of stillness all I could hear were chatter and laughter of all the people we love and cherish. It felt like a dream I didn’t want to wake up from. When I looked over to my left, there was my husband taking it all in as well and when we both looked at each other, we both knew that we would remember this moment forever.

Another one of my favorite moments is when I danced with my father. As a traditional and conservative parent, my dad was very reluctant to have the father-daughter dance as part of the wedding timeline. My dad and I have never been affectionate, and we probably haven’t even held hands for the past 20 years despite the fact that I’ve lived with him all my life. So the thought of dancing together in front of others was a scary one. In the end, I didn’t give either of us the option to back out and included the father-daughter dance as part of the program because when will we ever get a chance to dance together? We nervously took each other’s hand to the dance floor, and started making steps to Michael Buble’s Crazy Love. I don’t know what had come over me, but I started getting very emotional and my dad took me into his arms with gentle pats on my back to guide the tempo. To my surprise, everything about the dance felt familiar and natural, and in that moment there was no one else but me and my dad. I’ve made many memories living with my dad for the past 29 years, but this wedding gave us the best memory to cherish.

Photographer: Ether & Smith 

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