A Rustic, Elegant Beach Wedding at Monarch Bay Club in Dana Point, California

Leah Petersen (25 and a physical therapy doctoral student and yoga instructor) met Brian Wolfman (26 and a commercial real estate broker) at a “When I Grow Up”-themed party on a cold night as students at the University of Colorado Boulder. Leah dressed as a dolphin trainer in a blue wetsuit and immediately stood out in the crowd. “While other girls were [barely] clothed and freezing, Brian tells me he knew I was a keeper, with brains to match the beauty.” The two held a refined seaside wedding on Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California, the same spot where Brian had proposed. The 134 guests followed a wooden walkway to the beach ceremony. Stainless steel lanterns lined the aisle, and guests kept cool under ivory paper parasols. The day’s colors reflected the oceanside site and included pale blue, ivory and silver accents. Bouquets and boutonnieres comprised mostly white flowers, with velvety dusty miller adding a touch of color and texture. During cocktail hour, guests lounged on couches in the sand and located their seating assignments on large mirrors, which also displayed the dinner buffet offerings. The day’s nautical theme continued at the reception, which was steps from the ceremony at the St. Regis Monarch Bay Club. Table settings were made with driftwood, sea glass, candles and roses. For dessert, a variety of 10-inch cakes were shipped from a Denver, Colorado, bakery and displayed on a long wooden table decorated with more driftwood and model ships. “Find your partner at least once or twice during the entire event, and step back as if you’re and outsider looking in,” Leah says. “Scan the party and take in what is happening around you, watch family and friends interact, watch grandparents dance with your best friends. A wedding brings together all aspects of your life and provides a special gathering, so make sure you stop and take it all in.” —Carolyn Meers