This content originally appeared as "Status Update: Married!" in Brides magazine.
What does it look like when thousands of brides plan a wedding together? Like this! On April 7, 2013, Briana Hainley, a 30-year-old kindergarten teacher, and Jason Schnitzer, a 26-year-old real estate agent, said I do under the most unique of circumstances. Not only was their wedding broadcast to tens-of-thousands of viewers, they weren't allowed to plan a single detail!
Just two months before, the Anaheim, California-based couple learned they were one of three finalists in the running to win Brides' million-dollar wedding. "The only thing I've ever won is a two-dollar scratch off," says the groom. The bride was more confident: "All along, I said, 'Babe, we're going to win!" And after a tireless week spent rallying friends, family, and complete strangers to vote for them, Briana and Jason learned that the dream wedding was theirs. "That was probably the most stressful week of our lives!" says the bride.
"If anything it brought us together and made us stronger. We couldn't have done it without the teamwork."
As the wedding planning kicked off, the couple got to kick back and watch as every wedding detail, from the dress to the flowers to the cake, was voted on by millions of Facebook users. (Spoiler alert: Briana and Jason loved every detail that was chosen.)
AaB Creates co-founders Xochitl Gonzalez and Mayra Castillo, the wedding whizzes who planned and coordinated the big day, dreamed up four different wedding inspiration boards for readers to choose from. Their "beach chic" theme was the far and away favorite, perfect for the seaside celebration. Sun-kissed hues and warm accents were topped off with iridescent Capiz shells, and a cascading backdrop of glistening gold sequins called to mind the sun setting over the Pacific—just as it did during Briana and Jason's wedding.
The only voting category that the bride was nervous about was, understandably, her wedding dress. On a whirlwind trip to New York City to meet with Brides editors for her hair trial, Briana had a chance to try on each of the four wedding dresses that would be voted on. She stunned in each, but a beaded lace Oleg Cassini for David's Bridal gown brought tears. Thankfully, voters agreed with the bride-to-be and her dream dress won decisively. "After that one, I was like, 'I don't care about anything else.
I got the dress. We're good," jokes the bride, whose look was completed with ivory satin heels from David's Bridal.
"My bridesmaids begged Facebook voters to pick the White by Vera Wang chiffon gowns," says Briana of the ultimately winning bridesmaid style. "It was funny to watch them go through what I was dealing with on a daily basis!" The flower girls each wore tulle dresses from David's Bridal.
Jason and his groomsmen all wore traditional black tuxedos from Jos. A. Bank.
The embossed gray and pale pink invitation suite from Brides Fine Wedding Papers for Checkerboard captured the day's "beach chic" theme perfectly.
Ninety-eight wedding guests took in Pacific Ocean views from the stunning venue, the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California.
"A ballroom chair can be generic left on its own, so we used ghost chairs," says Gonzalez, of the seating provided by Luxe Event Rentals. "The were glam and they didn't distract from the natural environment."
Large arrangements of delphinium and dusty miller framed the ceremony space.
Jason and his groomsmen wore boutonnieres of ranunculus, dusty miller, and seeded eucalyptus.
Bridesmaids carried romantic bouquets of ranunculus and dusty miller. More than 7,000 ranunculus blooms were flown in from Italy for the wedding!
The ring bearer, Briana's four-year-old cousin, nearly stole the show when he took a tumble coming down the stairs. He quickly recovered (without letting the ring pillow drop!) and celebrated his trip down the aisle with a high-five from Jason.
Briana walked down the aisle on the arm of her father.
The bride's lush bouquet featured ivory and blush ranunculus and dusty miller.
Briana and Jason exchanged teary, heartfelt vows. "We only dated a year before engaged. But when you know, you know!" says Briana. "We couldn't be happier."
Following their first kiss, eight confetti cannons fired to celebrate the newlyweds and signal the start of the party!
Briana and Jason were whisked away to cocktail hour in an adorably decorated security golf cart.
Cocktail hour featured tasty his and hers signature drinks. The bride's was a "Nolet Silver Rose Gimlet" made with Nolet gin, fresh lemonade, elderflower liqueur, and fresh lime juice garnished with rose petals.
The groom's signature cocktail, a "Ketel One Oranje Sunset," was made with Ketel One vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, agave nectar, lemon juice, and sparkling dessert wine.
Cocktail hour overlooked the St. Regis's stunning golf course and the Pacific Ocean. Elegant furniture was grouped around low tables featuring lanterns and pictures of the couple.
The kids stole the best seats in the house!
Readers chose Gloriana's "(Kissed You) Goodnight" for the couple's first dance, performed live by the band! Then Jason and Briana danced to their song, "Amazed," by Lonestar. "It's a mushy-gushy country song," says Jason, "but the lyrics hold true for us."
The wedding favors doubled as escort cards, with their calligraphed tags.
"We gave out these mini compasses. They matched the waterfront setting and symbolize finding the person you love," says Gonzalez.
The bride's favorite color (pink!) made its way into many of the details—from the ceremony program, to the centerpieces, and even to the champagne flutes. "Our color scheme was pale pink, peach, and cream, but some of the ranunculus came in looking orange, which was a happy accident. Orange looked fantastic with the gold chairs, shells, and sequined linens," says Castillo.
The planners found these flower containers at Target and liked them so much, they DIY'ed a bunch more. The rope offered a nice textural contrast to the table's shiny gold accents.
The sit-down, four-course dinner featured a multicolor baby-beet salad, cheese gnocchi with prosciutto, surf and turf, and for dessert, vanilla-passion cream with hazelnut mousse and mango-passion sorbet.
At their seats, guests received a second sweet favor: Hand-painted chocolate seashells.
Buddy Valastro (the star of TLC's Cake Boss) was in charge of the cake. "I channeled the beach with fondant seashells and brown-sugar sand," he says. The three-tiered confection traveled 2,820 miles from New Jersey, by car, to make it in time for the wedding.