An Earthy, Exotic California Wedding at Pelican Inn

Real Weddings
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Photo: Cooper Carras Photography

In 2007, BenJoaquín attended a performance of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor to watch his sister, an opera singer, perform. He found himself captivated by her friend, soprano Khori, whom he spotted after the show. "Her performance was hauntingly beautiful," BenJoaquín says, "and even though she was totally out of my league, I tried to make eye contact all night." Their paths crossed again at a party a few weeks later, and BenJoaquín still couldn't get Khori's attention. But the third time proved to be the charm: On a sunny afternoon, BenJoaquín and his sister were at a park in San Francisco when Khori called to meet up. The pair instantly hit it off, and the afternoon turned into an evening outing to see the 1960 film "The Apartment." "I think we both started planning the wedding that night," he says.

It wasn't until four years later, on October 15, 2011, that the couple married at the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach, California, a Tudor-style inn and pub tucked near a coastal redwood forest. "We've spent many Sunday afternoons drinking pints on the lawn," says Khori. Almost all of the 63 guests flew in for the intimate wedding weekend, which included a Friday horseback ride and beach bonfire, and a Saturday-afternoon ceremony in the inn's glass-enclosed conservatory.

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"As an opera singer, I have plenty of princess moments. I didn't want to be onstage at my wedding," says Khori, 31, who wore a simple spaghetti-strap dress fashioned from a vintage ivory sari—a nod to her Indian heritage. Artist Darcy Vasudev painted a traditional Indian henna tattoo on Khori's palms. "I wanted my bouquet to look
wild and to fit in with the English-country style of the venue," says Khori (seen below posing with her sister).

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The service was similarly relaxed, with mix-and-match chairs from the dining room and garlands of Easter lilies and carnations. "Everyone was beaming. BenJoaquín was crying," says Khori. "I floated—literally, floated—down the aisle." The couple wrote their own vows; fittingly, BenJoaquín, 27, included lines from "The Apartment," the film they'd seen on their first date. The bride's dog, Redford, stayed by her side during the ceremony. "My vows began with 'My dearest love'—Redford leapt up instantly!" she says.

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After the ceremony, blues guitarist Ike Cosse—"he plays at our local farmer's market," says Khori—jammed on the lawn while guests downed pints of Guinness and pub-style hors d'oeuvres like miniature fish-and-chips. Then guests headed to the cozy, fire-lit dining room for a buffet-style reception of roasted salmon, brown sugar-crusted ham, and prime rib, accompanied by organic vegetables grown at a farm just down the road.

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Reception tables were topped with persimmons, sweet peas, olives, Queen Anne's lace, tulips, ranunculus, and privet in vintage vessels. The croquembouche was made of Tahitian vanilla, Meyer lemon, and Four Barrel espresso profiteroles. "We had fun kissing each other over the top of the croquembouche!" says Khori.

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Next came dancing (For which Khori changed into a lace mini by Diane von Furstenberg) and rounds of toasts—including one from Khori's 92-year-old grandmother. "At one point, we looked out on the dining room," says Khori. "Our families had blended, and we knew people had made lifelong friends—we'll never forget how special that night was."

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Photos: Cooper Carras Photography

Venue & catering: Pelican Inn || Bride's dress and veil: Judy Lee || Bride's reception dress: Diane von Furstenberg || Bride's shoes: Stuart Weitzman || Groom's suit: Al's Attire || Flowers: Studio Choo || Stationery: Andy Beers, Ore Studios || Cocktail-hour music: Ike Cosse; 408-261- 3622 || Croquembouche: Lori Oyamada; phlurp9@hotmail.com || Hair & makeup: Eliza Desch || Photography: Cooper Carras Photography

Visit our Real Weddings page to find more bohemian style inspiration.

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