One Couple's Formal Destination Wedding in Carmel, California

Real Weddings

When Catherine first spotted Todd out on the town in Fort Worth, Texas, she couldn't take her eyes off of him. Their relationship took off and, after two years of dating, Catherine turned her attention towards figuring out just how Todd would pop the question. "I am an investigator at heart," she admits. "I was determined to know when I was getting engaged." But much to her delighted chagrin, Todd caught his bride-to-be off guard by planning a midweek proposal. "I walked in from work and there he was in my kitchen," Catherine recalls. "I hardly remember anything because I was blacked out in shock. But it was perfect and private, just like I wanted it."

The couple invited 200 guests to join them in Carmel, California, for their November 22, 2014, wedding and planned a warm celebration with plenty of knockout flowers. With the help of Giulia Events, Catherine and Todd's dream of a formal ceremony and reception came to life, and Heather Rowland Photography was on hand to capture every breathtaking memory.

Catherine often visited Carmel with her family as a child, so a ceremony at the beautiful Carmel Mission Basilica and a reception at the Carmel Valley Inn felt completely right for the couple. "It's a magical place for me because I have so many happy memories there," she says. "We were so excited to show our guests, who had never been to Carmel, what a truly beautiful area it is."

Carmel also lent the couple the perfect backdrop for their wedding vision of a romantic and warm party since Catherine and Todd felt this was a place where guests could relax and have easy conversation. They set the tone for their elegant fall day with white, blue, and gold invitations crafted by Cotton Paperie.

After searching through bridal salons, Catherine had narrowed her dress search down to just two gowns, and while she loved both looks, neither turned out to be the one she wore down the aisle. At the last minute, a friend pulled a stunning Ines Di Santo gown from the racks, and the then-bride-to-be thought, "How did I miss this one?" The gorgeous lace number featured delicate straps, a low back, and a sweetheart neckline. "It was perfect," says Catherine, "I instantly knew my decision was made."

Her blush-toned bouquet of peonies and roses was the perfect accent for her classic bridal look.

Carmel, California, Destination Wedding Ideas, Groom in Classic Black Tuxedo Carmel, California, Destination Wedding Ideas, Dusty Miller and Ranunculus Boutonniere Catherine-Todd-IMAGE8

Heather Rowland

Todd wore a classic black and white tuxedo, paired with Horned Frog cufflinks, a gift from Catherine and a nod to their shared Texas Christian University affiliation. His boutonniere featured dusty miller and delicate pink blooms.

Because Catherine's bridesmaids had to travel for the couple's destination wedding, she worked to make sure they didn't blow their budgets on their bridesmaids dresses. Their Donna Morgan midnight-blue gowns married eye-catching fashion and a reasonable price point.

The bridesmaids carried bouquets that mimicked the bride's, with peonies and dusty miller, while the couple's flower girl wore a crown of blooms and a white dress.

Catherine's father walked her down the aisle as an organist played at the Carmel Mission Basilica, which the couple chose for their ceremony because of its history. "The church dates back to the 1770s," the bride says. "To walk down the aisle in the footpaths of so many brides before me was beautiful."

The couple hosted an outdoor cocktail hour, offering female guests blush-hued pashminas to ward off the November chill. Waiters passed cocktails as a live musician played soft jazz music while the sun set in the distance.

Guests found their seating assignments inside ivory and gold frames that were hung from the branches of nearby trees.

Inside the reception room, a massive chandelier made from gold dipped leaves hung above tables draped in ivory satin linens and topped with a mix of lush centerpieces and floral garlands. "I wanted a very romantic and warm feeling to our wedding," Catherine explains. "I wanted lots of candles and flower arrangements that were low enough so that guests could enjoy conversation across the tables."

The couple's carrot, chocolate, and lemon-flavored cake was covered in ruffled icing and decorated with fresh flowers. Catherine also surprised Todd with a golf-inspired groom's cake, a nod to his passion for the sport.

While Catherine admits both she and Todd hate being the center of attention, their first dance to Keith Whitney's "When You Say Nothing" was one of her favorite wedding moments. "We just looked into each other's eyes and talked about the day and everything that had just happened. We forgot about everyone else and just enjoyed each other."

The couple left through a tunnel of sparklers, and honeymooned in the British West Indies.

Ceremony Venue: The Carmel Mission Basilica || Reception Venue, Catering & Accommodations: Carmel Valley Ranch || Wedding Planner: Giulia Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Ines Di Santo || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair & Makeup: Plays Wells With Brushes || Bridesmaids Dresses: Donna Morgan || Groom's Attire: Suit Supply || Wedding Bands: Haltoms || Florist: Christine Cater || Invitations: Cotton Paperie || Music: Hip Service || Cake: Layers || Transportation: Main Event || Videographer: D.P. Weddings || Photography: Heather Rowland

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Searching for more destination wedding inspiration? Then check out another couple's far-flung nuptials in the video below.

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