Danyelle Bengochea and Taylor Verhaalen's January wedding can only be described in one way: a glamorous night at the museum. The couple wanted to give guests a quintessential San Diego experience for their destination nuptials and the San Diego Museum of Art was the perfect place.
"I didn’t think that getting married there was an option, but when we walked in and both felt how cool and romantic it would be, we knew there was no other choice," says Danyelle of the venue search. The bride grew up vacationing in the California city and spent many days in the museum as an art history student at the University of San Diego.
The couple is based in Las Vegas—where Danyelle owns Grey Pearl Bridal—and opted to hire a planner from their hometown in case face-to-face meetings were necessary. (They were!) Enter Angelica McDonnell of Angelica Rose Events, who brought their luxurious, yet charming vision to life. "We hired a stellar vendor team," explains the bride. "I didn’t give a ton of specific direction because we hired people whose work we already loved. The easiest part was telling them to do what they wanted because I knew that it would turn out amazing."
By highlighting the venue's natural beauty through minimal, modern décor and tossing away typical traditions like a wedding cake and signature cocktails (although, they served 14 beers on tap!), the couple was able to make the day completely their own. Read on to relive this modern night at the museum, photographed by Gaby Jeter of Gaby J Photography.
"The museum is so beautiful that I really didn’t want to cover it. I wanted to play with the architecture of all of the spaces we used," says Danyelle of her overall vision. To complement the venue, the color scheme focused on neutrals accented by copper and navy blue.
Like many modern couples, Danyelle and Taylor met on the dating app Bumble—although, Danyelle reveals she was too nervous to "swipe right" on Taylor at first! When they did meet in-person for the first time, they quickly realized that they had a few mutual friends. After their second date, Danyelle was sure he was "the one," even texting her friend, "This guy could ask me to marry him tomorrow, and I’d probably say ‘yes’ because it wouldn’t be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done."
"I was in a unique spot as the owner of a wedding dress boutique," shares Danyelle on finding her gown. "There was always this pressure when I would hear people say, 'I can’t wait to see what you pick out!'" That's why Danyelle opted for a custom creation by bridal designer and friend Christopher Paunil. The silk crepe halter dress was finished with a satin overskirt to add drama to her ceremony look but was removed for the reception.
She paired the gown with white Christian Louboutin pumps and custom pearl earrings, which were a wedding gift from her mother.
When it came to her bridal bouquet, Danyelle had two requests: It must include anthuriums and no greenery. "I wanted the flowers to look like a sculpture," she says. "Natalie of Native Poppy took those requests and ran with it!"
Taylor and Danyelle went tuxedo shopping early on in the planning process, which she claims "helped us get really excited about the rest to come." For his final look, the groom settled on a navy blue tuxedo with a grosgrain lapel by Hugo Boss and a monogrammed watch from his mother.
The soon-to-be husband and wife shared a private moment together ahead of the wedding ceremony.
They were able to pull off the entire day in just six months (and save-the-dates were sent before booking half of the vendors!), but Danyelle says the entire planning process brought them even closer together as they were able to learn even more about each other ahead of the day.
Danyelle originally told her bridesmaids, her younger sister, and best friend, to wear whatever they wanted on the big day as her "anti-bridal party statement." But two months before the wedding, her bridesmaids were begging for some direction so the bride commissioned two copper velvet gowns from a dressmaker. "Two days before the wedding, my sister pulled me aside and said, 'The dresses didn’t fit us. We decided to buy our own black dresses.' I think any other bride would’ve freaked out. I just internally laughed—because it’s what I originally asked for—and said, 'Go for it.'" As for the velvet gowns? Danyelle kept one for herself and gifted the other to her cousin who wanted another option for the wedding.
As to not take away from the beauty of the museum itself, the couple kept décor simple and modern, opting for two oversized floral arrangements to flank the entrance of the aisle. They also chose lucite details like ghost chairs and a clear seating chart display to avoid any distractions from the already exquisite space.
The gallery's staircase served as a built-in wedding altar and focal point for the couple's "I dos." "Lining the staircase with greenery and candles kept it soft," explains Danyelle.
The bride also used the staircase for her dramatic entrance with her father, who she says was slightly afraid he would accidentally trip down the aisle. "He handled [the stairs] like a champ! I think my dad loved his brief moment in the spotlight," recalls the bride. "It was dramatic and surprising for guests who were expecting me to walk in from behind them."
Taylor's sibling, Courtney, had the honor of officiating the emotional ceremony. Danyelle exclaims, "I’m so happy we asked them. They worked really hard to make sure it was personal. They sat down with us one night to ask us about our history as a couple, what we loved about each other [and] how we feel about marriage. I appreciated the effort and knew that they would be amazing."
I had practiced so many times, but I was super overwhelmed when it came time to speak them out loud for real.
Danyelle admits she and Taylor cried all the way through exchanging their handwritten vows. "I had practiced so many times, but I was super overwhelmed when it came time to speak them out loud for real," she remembers.
After the newlyweds left the altar to Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition," Danyelle's brother greeted the couple with "tears rolling down his face." The bride admits, "We had a moment where we embraced and ugly cried the happiest tears."
We made it a special point to sneak away a couple of different moments by ourselves throughout the day. It was the perfect little breather.
"We made it a special point to sneak away a couple of different moments by ourselves throughout the day," Danyelle says. During cocktail hour, they found themselves sharing a quiet moment together in one of the museum's galleries. "It was the perfect little breather."
After guests wandered through the museum during cocktail hour (with complimentary docents in hand!), they were led into the building's Panama 66 restaurant for the reception.
"I immediately had a vision of really long tablescapes and having it just glow in candlelight," says Danyelle of her wedding reception. To accommodate their family-style meal, Danyelle and Taylor sat guests at four buffet tables decorated with ikebana floral arrangements, bud vases, and copper taper candles.
The place settings were inspired by a trip the couple took to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden while wedding planning. "I was sending photos of dinnerware to our wedding planner," shares Danyelle from her travels. The couple settled on black-and-white ceramic plates and copper flatware, with gold-rimmed glassware to add a touch of elegance.
"For dinner, we insisted on family-style," the bride explains. "We’ve always been people who share our food. It’s a sign of love to share food with others, and it was a great way to get people talking to each other through the meal!" Of course, the platters of baby gem salad, coffee crusted brisket, swiss chard, and goat cheese ravioli, tahini sweet potatoes, beets and burrata, and roasted vegetables did not disappoint—and 14 different San Diego beers on tap made the perfect pair.
The couple's first dance kicked off a night of non-stop dancing (for real, there was always someone on the dancefloor all night Danyelle claims). A few of Taylor's groomsmen even convinced the live band to let him play the drums for a song. "He was awesome," says the bride of the memory.
The couple decided to wait eight months before honeymooning in Mexico because the "thought of planning a trip on top of planning a wedding didn’t sound appealing. We loved that we had something to look forward to later, though!"
After her own "I dos," Danyelle reminds brides and grooms-to-be to put themselves first during the planning process. "This day is about you as a couple—celebrating the life and love you’ve created and will create. If you’re excited about all of the aspects of your wedding, your guests will enjoy themselves, too!"
Ceremony Venue San Diego Museum of Art
Reception Venue San Diego Museum of Art; Panama 66
Planner Angelica Rose Events
Officiant Courtney Verhaalen
Bridal Gown Christopher Paunil, from Grey Pearl
Veil Jaclyn Jordan
Jewelry T-Bird Jewels
Shoes Christian Louboutin
Hair and Makeup Elwynn and Cass Beauty Concierge
Bridesmaid Dresses Alexa Chung; Osman
Groom’s Attire Hugo Boss
Groomsmen Attire The Black Tux
Engagement Ring Dee Berkeley Jewelry
Wedding Bands Marrow Fine; Miansai
Floral Design Native Poppy
Invitations and Paper Products Paper and Home
Music Dallas and Doll
Catering Miho Catering Co.
Rentals Adore Folklore; Chivari Guys; Concepts Event Design
Accommodations Kimpton Palomar San Diego
Photography Gaby J Photography