Although they grew up just a few miles apart (and attended rival high schools!), Katie Albright and Tyler Miller didn't meet until mutual friends introduced them during a night out in Newport Beach, California, where they were both living. Once they officially met, it was clear that the similarities ran far deeper than neighboring hometowns: Both Katie and Tyler attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and lived just blocks apart while there. "As fate would have it, timing was everything and we did not formally meet until 2010," Katie says. Four years later, Tyler asked Katie to marry him at the start of their vacation in Hawaii on November 12, 2014. "It was the best way to begin our trip!"
This California duo gave themselves just over a year to plan their West Coast "I do's," enlisting the help of Brooke Keegan Special Events to help bring their vision of a charming and elegant seaside wedding to life. "When I got engaged, the best advice I received was to get a good wedding planner. I know first hand how unpredictable life can be so finding the right person to help take charge in planning my wedding was the best thing I could have ever done for myself," Katie says. "I was told that Brooke was fearless, loved to be challenged, and was the one person I could depend on to always get things done at the end of the day. I couldn't imagine anyone else in charge of planning my wedding."
The end result was an absolutely breathtaking wedding at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, in Dana Point, California. The bride and groom invited 173 guests to take part in their November 14, 2015, nuptials and, lucky for us, Marisa Holmes captured every perfect detail.
When considering possible venues, Katie and Tyler had a strict list of credentials that needed to be met, all focused around keeping the bride's mother, who is fighting brain cancer, comfortable and part of the action. "My vision for a wedding included somewhere close in proximity to our home in Newport Beach that was wheelchair accessible and where we could host the ceremony and reception on the same property," the bride says. "I also wanted a venue where my mom would have somewhere to lay down during part of the day if she felt tired. Our first and only scouting visit was to the Rtiz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. As we toured the property, we were immediately met with outstanding service."
Other pluses? The couple loved the scenic lawn with ocean views, perfect for their ceremony, and the elegant ballroom, complete with a terrace patio. "Basically everything about this venue was a dream for us," says Katie.
They invited guests to the party with an elegant paper suite from Jen Simpson Design that featured a custom monogram and calligraphy penned by Little Miss Press.
Katie took an open-minded approach to wedding dress shopping, visiting her first salon without any expectations and tried on a variety of different silhouettes and fabrics. "I probably tried on 30 dresses and didn't fall in love with any of them, but that experience helped me narrow down my search," she says. With an idea of what she wanted — a fit-and-flare mermaid style with a sweetheart neckline — she headed back out to find her wedding dress, and she did just that with the second style she tried on. Once she put on this Monique Lhuillier gown, Katie knew she didn't want to take it off. "That 'this is it' feeling was profound and I had absolute conviction that this was the dress for me." Her favorite part about the blush Spanish tulle frock? How it twirled!
She accessorized with her great grandmother's vintage diamond brooch, which was pinned to the base of her veil, and her mother's diamond and sapphire eternity band and her wedding band, which was retrofitted to wrap around Katie's engagement ring. "I love that it reminds me daily or two people who hold the biggest pieces of my heart: my husband and my mother," the bride says.
Her bouquet was an ultra-romantic mix of peonies, garden roses, and greenery, all tied together with a blush ribbon and a touch of Spanish tulle from the hem of Katie's dress.
Tyler's attire was a slight twist on classic. He chose a navy blue tuxedo jacket with a narrow black satin shawl lapel, which he paired with black dress pants and a bowtie. As a longtime blackjack lover, the groom kept two lucky chips from his favorite Las Vegas hotel in his pocket on the wedding day — but didn't tell the bride about them until the next day! "I just loved the story and we will always keep those chips as a sentiment to our incredible day," Katie says.
A white ranunculus boutonniere finished his look.
With a large bridal party (18 attendants in total!) the bride and groom wanted to keep everyone's attire simple. Katie let her 'maids pick between two different Jenny Yoo dresses in a dusty blue color while Tyler asked his groomsmen to rent the same blue tuxedos.
The couple's Labrador, Harlow, has been with them since the very start of their relationship, so it was important was she was included in the day. "When I first met Tyler, I had just gotten Harlow, and luckily for me, he was a dog person," the bride says. "We had a family friend bring her down to our hotel to take pictures with us before the ceremony. Our florist made a beautiful collar for her. We loved having her there and she made us feel so relaxed and happy."
Since the adorable pup couldn't stay for the entire celebration, Katie and Tyler tapped their two nephews and niece to serve as ring bearers and flower girl.
The outdoor ceremony space absolutely nailed the couple's charming and elegant seaside vibe. With views of the Pacific Ocean behind them, Katie and Tyler didn't need to add much for a spectacular setting. Potted arrangements of peonies, garden roses, eucalyptus, and olive branches welcomed guests into the space while a border of lavender, rosemary, and white roses lined the aisle. For their altar, the duo had their florist covered a wooden arbor with cascading flowers and foliage. "It made for a completely picturesque moment, and really enlivened the space where we exchanged our vows," the bride says.
A string ensemble performed their own rendition of John Legend's "All of Me" while the bride and her father made their way down the aisle. Once at the altar, Katie and Tyler exchanged traditional vows, but personalized their ceremony with plenty of touching, funny, and memorable anecdotes from their relationship.
"There's so much excitement, joy, and cheer in that moment when a bride and groom kiss and are announced as husband and wife," says Katie. "We wanted our recessional song to be upbeat and make our guests want to leap out of their seats with happiness." So they made their official exit and Mr. and Mrs. Miller to a string rendition of "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men.
The couple repurposed their invitation monogram for their cocktail hour napkins. Immediately following the ceremony, guests toasted the newlyweds with tall flutes of bubbly.
The reception included a mix of long wooden farmhouse tables and round tables topped with taupe linens. For each farmhouse table, a long garland of eucalyptus and roses was draped down the center. "I really wanted the natural wood to be exposed," Katie says. Plenty of candles in a variety of different sizes were the perfect finishing touches.
On each round table, the bride and groom selected silver-footed bowls that were filled with a lush mix of ponies, roses, hydrangeas, and greenery. At every seat, guests found a square ceramic charger and a menu card topped with a fresh flower or olive branch. There, everyone enjoyed a surf and turn dinner.
One of the bride's biggest wedding pet peeves is when guests have to wait for dessert long after the cake is cut. "In my experience at weddings, after the couple cuts the cake it usually takes a while for it to be plated and served," Katie says. "By that time, everyone is already out on the dance floor and hardly touches dessert." Their solution was to have the venue make a smaller confection for the bride and groom to cut with sheet cakes in the back pre-sliced for guests to enjoy immediately after the cake cutting.
Guests danced the night away before seeing the newlyweds off for one seriously cool honeymoon. Katie and Tyler rented a campervan and enjoyed a month on the North and South Islands of New Zealand, where the bride's mother grew up.
Venue, Catering & Cake: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel || Wedding Planner: Brooke Keegan Special Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier, purchased at Erin Cole Couture Bridal || Hair: Hair and Makeup Girl by Heidi Garrett || Makeup: Mirror Mirror Beauty by Berit || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo || Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: Friar Tux || Engagement Ring: Watch Expo Limited || Wedding Bands: Carol Klein Fine Jewelry; Robbins Brothers || Floral Design: Isari Flower Studio || Invitations & Paper Products: Jen Simpson Design || Calligraphy: Little Miss Press || Music: Enchanted Evening Music Productions; West Coast Music || Linens: La Tavola || Rentals: Signature Party Rentals || Photo Booth: Smilebooth || Videographer: Cloudless Weddings || Photographer: Marisa Holmes
Planning your own California wedding? Then check out another couple's West Coast nuptials in the video below.