When Melissa and her younger sister Lauren were children, they spent countless moments enacting Melissa’s dream wedding ceremony together. Melissa would take advantage of Lauren’s mullet haircut, and dress her up as her groom and strategically place her at the end of their aisle of cleared leaves. She would have Lauren wait by the “altar”, as she practiced walking down the aisle to her handsome groom. And now we finally had the chance to witness and be a part of Melissa’s special day with her dream groom, Derek (who thankfully has a better haircut than Lauren did).
Derek and Melissa’s love story started in the most unsuspecting place – a bar! It was in 2011, and Derek played it very coy that night as several guys attempted to talk to Melissa. But she was not very easily distracted, since she had her eye on Derek the entire night. And long story short, they’ve been together ever since!
And then there was the addition of Gabby. Gabby is their pup who has been part of their little family for a few years now, and it was so beautiful to watch the three of them together and see how Gabby is so clearly an integral part of their love. Every one of our couple’s relationships is so unique and special, and when Derek and Melissa told us that Gabby would be in the wedding party, it made so much sense and we were so excited! Who doesn’t love including a pup in photos?
Their wedding day took place at Rincon Beach Club. The space is a hidden gem on Santa Claus Lane and the second you walk in, you feel like you’ve been transported to a secret garden. The ceremony area has a beautiful arch covered in blooming flowers, and there were lots of peonies which always makes our hearts so happy!!
Melissa and her Maid of Honor and sister, Lauren, got ready at a beach house just steps away from the venue, while her bridesmaids got ready off property. We always love capturing the bridesmaid’s first look, and this made for the best first look we’ve ever seen because the bridesmaids didn’t even get to see her getting ready!
After the bridesmaid’s first look, it was time for the bride and groom to see each other for the first time. Melissa absolutely took our breath away when we first saw her, so we couldn’t even imagine what Derek would feel when he saw her. Her stunning custom gown with her gorgeous bouquet had us feeling so excited and inspired, we could hardly wait to capture this special moment.
When Derek turned around to see his bride, his mouth was wide open. His jaw dropped and could have hit the floor! On top of this, Gabby came running towards them right after and that’s when everybody started tearing up (including us). Gabby had a white leash wrapped in flowers and a flower collar. Absolutely adorable.
Miriam did a wonderful job officiating the ceremony and talked about how special Derek and Melissa are as individuals, and how they are even more incredible together. She deemed them a power couple and talked about how they will continue to bring their families together because of the importance of family to each of them. After they were pronounced Mr. and Mrs., they walked back up the aisle with Gabby leading the way and stopped for an end of the aisle kiss which is always one of our favorite moments to capture.
Cocktail hour was set up and had delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails waiting for all of the guests. Santa Claus beach is perfect in the evening for golden hour portraits, so we snuck away with the bride and groom and took them to the beach for the most dreamy “just married” shots.
At Rincon Beach Club, they use the same space for the ceremony and the reception so during cocktail hour, they quickly flip it. It always blows us away to watch their team work so efficiently, and we have always loved the results. This reception setup was no exception, as the couple chose bright summer flowers for the centerpieces on the tables, and their cake table was absolute GOALS! They had the brides’ grandparent’s cake topper on their cake, as well as a photo of her grandparents cutting the cake at their wedding. Such a special way to remember and include loved ones on your special day!
Speaking of reminiscing, the speeches were so sentimental and hearing from the closest people to our couple is always so special.
Derek’s brother had nothing but praises for our lovebirds. “I never knew you could be any more perfect, until I saw you and Melissa together. Melissa, I love the way you ground him and support him, I love the way you guys adventure together. You tackle everything that life has to throw at you as a team. The way you grow together is beautiful, and I can’t wait to see all the other accomplishments you guys achieve as husband and wife.” Shortly after, Melissa’s sister, Lauren, reminisced about being replaced by Derek as Melissa’s groom.
After the speeches were over and all the toasts were made, Melissa and Derek WOWED us with a beautiful first dance together. Their mother/son and father/daughter dances were so beautiful too! The mother of the bride being a dance teacher may have helped with their fabulous choreography and dance moves. Then the dance floor opened up and DJ Darla B kept it packed all night. We love that they wrapped up such an exceptional day with their guests forming a tunnel for them to run through to their new life together!