Baseball, Sustainability and Travel Inspired This Boho Wedding at Franciscan Gardens in California
For wedding planners, there’s often extra pressure when it comes to dreaming up their own day. California-based event pro Alessandra Tacconelli met the task head-on. Not only did she plan a creative boho-meets-sporty event to celebrate her marriage to professional baseball player John Brontsema, but she also prioritized sustainability in her decor. In the end, the couple's wedding at Franciscan Gardens in San Juan Capistrano, California, was a beautiful blending of some of the duo's favorite things (like travel and baseball) with a meaningful celebration of their community of loved ones.
Given John's career in baseball, travel has always been a big part of the couple's relationship and something they wanted to highlight in the wedding design. "John and I met in high school in Santa Barbara, but we’ve traveled all over for his career, from Arizona and Arkansas to Delaware and New York," explains Alessandra. "When we tied the knot in San Juan Capistrano, California, the lyric 'home is wherever I’m with you'—from 'Home,' by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros—inspired us," says Alessandra. The song's lyrics even informed John's wedding vows to Alessandra: “Home is truly, whenever I’m with you. We’ve grown up together and we’ve been by each other's side for some of life’s biggest moments…No matter the amount of miles between us, my love for you has never wavered and grown bigger than I ever knew possible.” When it came to layering in travel-inspired details into the wedding's design, Alessandra "looked to my 2019 travels Down Under and let an Australian aesthetic inform the event—a look that also lent itself to prioritizing sustainability in our wedding decor." As a way to celebrate all the places their relationship has taken them, the couple chose to name their reception tables after those locales instead of simply numbering the tables. One table was named Louisville, Kentucky, as a nod to "the location of the Kansas City Royals single A facility where John lived for 1 season," while another was named New York, New York in honor of the location where the couple got engaged! By creatively naming all their tables after locations of interest from their relationship, Alessandra and John ensured that their wedding day felt that a meaningful and cohesive celebration of them and their love story.
To bring the entire event together, the couple filled the day with boho, Australian-inspired decor that was packed to the brim with pampas grass accents. "Ever since taking a trip to Australia in 2019, I’ve been obsessed with their floral heavy weddings. When it came to my own wedding, I knew I didn’t want any greenery whatsoever so in return I wanted a ton of florals and lots of dried texture. I’m always so inspired by neutrals so I wanted my florals to be just that," recalls Alessandra. As a wedding planner, Alessandra knows the importance of designing a wedding in a way that complements the venue, rather than trying to fight against it aesthetically. For her own wedding, the venue's hedge walls were a big selling point when booking the venue and also informed the design direction of the day. "What sold me on the venue was the fact that I had never worked at the venue or planned another couple's wedding there before. We loved that the venue was surrounded by hedge walls and felt very secluded, everything could be outside with a small guest count and that the beautiful San Juan Capistrano Mission was so close by for photos! Additionally, since hedges surrounded our venue, I opted to forgo any greenery in the arrangements we brought in. Instead, I filled our wedding with neutral-hued dried textures, all of which popped against the hedges," explains Alessandra. Focusing on dried decor also allowed the couple to be more sustainable with their arrangements. "Using dried elements is an easy way to be eco-conscious. We incorporated dried botanicals sourced and reused from previous events my floral designer and I had worked on together. Notably, the hanging arrangement above the head table was first used at my bridal shower and then repurposed at the wedding. Our ceremony installation included reused dried ingredients like pampas grass—we later repurposed the piece at our reception, flanking our sweetheart table," shares Alessandra. In addition to their ceremony altar installation and the dramatic hanging pampas grass chandeliers, the couple also created a pampas grass wall that served as a photo backdrop, complete with a custom laser-cut wood sign bearing the couple's last name.
Celebrating baseball was a no-brainer when it came to adding personalized details into the wedding at Franciscan Gardens. Notably, as an alternative to a traditional guest book, the couple asked friends and family to autograph keepsake baseballs. In addition to baseball, the couple made sure to personalize their wedding by bringing in details that connected with their interests. For example, "ever since high school I've had such a love for baking," says Alessandra. "I actually had my own baking business back in the day! So when it came time to thinking through an escort display, I thought what better way than providing our guests with a sweet treat to give a node to my love for baking and desserts? We had two beautifully arched shelf walls made by Wild House Ink and then Hey, There Cupcake! created salted caramel and chocolate truffles that were then placed inside a small white box covered with a tan sleeve that had our guests' names and their table assignment." The couple also personalized the drink offerings for the event, serving Arnold Palmers as those are John's go-to sip.
Given that Alessandra plans weddings as a professional, it's safe to say she's seen it all. However, being on the other side of the planning journey as a bride opened her eyes in a new way to what it's like to plan a wedding. "Planning my wedding was both rewarding and eye-opening. I’ve done many couples’ weddings, but designing my own showed me another side of the process and I can now relate to my clients on a new level. It was such a rewarding process to finally plan my wedding! I already had an idea of the vendors I wanted to work with as I have created such great friendships with vendors over the years. Planning with vendors I love, have great relationships with and trust made the process such a joy."
When asked what advice planner-turned-bride Alessandra has for other to-be-weds, she encourages couples to remember that "like anything, when planning a wedding, balance is key. For example, with sustainability, even if you just pick one or two things to focus on, you can take steps to be more eco-conscious while staying true to your design." Additionally, she encourages to-be-weds to remember that it's your day that you can do your way. "It’s totally fine to have different numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen. It’s your day, don’t feel like everything has to be picture perfect and even. We had different numbers and it honestly didn’t phase me once looking back at all our photos! This is your wedding day! You decide what you do and don’t want to do!"