San Juan Capistrano Real Wedding


July 6, 2020
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Anya Kernes Photography

There is little that compares to the comfort of home. That’s why, despite living in Chicago, Amy and Nicholas chose to do a destination wedding in the bride’s hometown of San Juan Capistrano, California. The setting also met the couple’s desire for an outdoor reception with a “garden-inspired” vibe, which would have been hard to pull off in the “Windy City” of Chicago. 

“Nicholas and I met through mutual friends when I was a senior in college at Notre Dame…we hit it off right away and started dating once I moved to Chicago post-graduation,” the bride says.

The ceremony was to take place in Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano – the same parish Amy attended school at from kindergarten through the eighth grade. To celebrate, the couple held the reception at Amy’s family’s private estate. Both locations required sourcing a team of dedicated vendors to make the blank canvases come to life – an area of expertise they knew only a stellar, local planner could do.

“We knew early on that we would not be able to pull this off on our own and hired [our planner] Megan to be our eyes and ears on the ground. We could not have pulled off a destination wedding at a ‘blank slate’ venue without Megan’s local relationships and expertise,” the couple says.

The first “splash of paint” on the blank canvas was the couple’s decision to go with a warm, neutral color palette of taupe, nude, dusty rose and deeper burgundy accents. The estate itself resembled a French château, so Amy and Nicholas also aimed to keep with the old-world European country style already established. With major details in place, the couple could rely on their planner and vendors to take the reins.

“We kicked off the evening with a cocktail hour where guests were served tray-passed champagne and hors d’oeuvres, as a jazz trio played in the background,” the bride says.

Guests were then invited to the reception space, walking across fresh lavender. A formal, plated dinner was served with guests seated under twinkling string lights. A cozy lounge vignette set-up with pashminas beckoned guests to mingle in comfort.

The last few hours of the night were spent on the dance floor, “which was packed to the brim thanks to our talented band,” the two say. The evening was capped off with a sparkler exit and the couple was whisked away in a family friend’s vintage car.

Perhaps saying “I do” away from home doesn’t always require unfamiliar places to be a special, unique event.

Vendors: Photographer: Anya Kernes Photography; Wedding Planner: Louise & Third; Ceremony Site: Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano; Florist: Mulberry & Moss; Stationery: Copper Willow Paper Studio; Gown Designer: Pronovias; Shoes: Jimmy Choo; Groom’s Clothing Designer: J.Crew; Bridesmaids’ Clothing Designer: Watters; Groomsmen’s Clothing Designer: The Black Tux; Rentals: MTB Event Rentals and Archive Rentals; Tabletop Rentals: Casa de Perrin; Linens: La Tavola Linen; Styling Ceramics: Simple Things Ceramics; Styling Surface: Locust Collection; Catering: Colette’s Catering & Events; Desserts: Grace and Honey Cakes; Band: Rembrandt Band; Hair & Makeup: Design Visage; Transportation: Best Valet and Best VIP

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