A Waterfront Wedding at the Ritz Carlton

Bride walking down the aisle during the ceremony on a waterfront golf course

When Hunter and Tammy got engaged, Tammy told everyone she wanted a small wedding including 10-20 of their closest family and friends who knew and supported them as a couple. Tammy wanted a destination wedding in California, outdoors and by the water, with pretty string lights and food for everyone to enjoy. She wanted the day to incorporate things about them as a couple, as well as fun details to make their guests feel just as special as they would that day. Although the small guest count was just not feasible given the size of their families and friend groups, Tammy was firm on California as their wedding destination, and on planning a special day for everyone involved. 

Essentially, Tammy wanted to host their family and friends in a place she held close to her heart – the beautiful coastline trailing from San Francisco to Big Sur. The couple originally settled on Pebble Beach Resorts for their  ceremony, overlooking the ocean and with their reception at the Pebble Beach Beach and Tennis Club. They planned on a Big Sur brunch the next day at COAST, a gorgeous cafe-meets-art-gallery that Hunter and Tammy had discovered during their previous visit to the area.

But a couple of months after we started planning their wedding, booking the venues and a few key vendors, COVID-19 hit.

Bride and Groom during the ceremony in front of circle floral arch

Planning just suddenly stopped. Even though Tammy was ready to keep things moving, there wasn’t anything for them to do. California practically closed temporarily and their wedding planning came to a standstill. It was also difficult to plan so far ahead without knowing what the world would look like by their wedding day. Then, a few months before their original date, Pebble Beach Resorts informed them they could no longer host their wedding. 

Although we tried to find backup options in the Big Sur/Carmel area, Monterey County was very restrictive about the kinds of events allowed, including guest count. They had finally come to terms with a very small, outdoor wedding of 12 people in Big Sur but then the Big Sur fires started. Thankfully, they eventually landed at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California, where weddings were legally allowed outdoors and where their original October date was still available. 

Because of the uncertainty about when they could have their wedding if postponed or canceled, they decided to keep their original date. It was hard to tell if 2021 or even 2022 would bring the same restrictions for weddings.

That said, wedding planning during COVID was far from easy or enjoyable. Every new idea was battled with a new restriction change in the area: their guest count, their venue. It was difficult finding vendors two months out from the wedding, along with fighting budgets and expectations, waiting for late RSVPs to arrive and hoping that COVID cases didn’t spike and lead to San Mateo county rules changing for weddings and gatherings.  Tammy and Hunter were constantly worried and on the edge of their seats, always expecting the metaphorical 6,000th shoe to drop.

Bride and Groom cheering champagne flutes at dinner.

In the end, we planned a wedding that was beautiful and abided by all of the state and local guidelines and tried to be as safe as possible. A number of their guests got tested before traveling to the wedding, including the couple themselves. They wore masks except on their wedding day, but provided masks for all guests, along with hand sanitizer and spaced out dinner tables. 

With respect to her personal details that day, Tammy knew from the beginning that she needed to stay true to herself. That meant wearing glittery Kate Spade sneakers instead of heels. She wore a chocolate diamond ring gifted to her by her grandmother. Since she couldn’t be with them in person on their wedding day, Tammy wanted her to feel included and feel her presence with her. Tammy’s earrings were her “Something New”. She wore a fishtail braid with flowers interlaced to fit into the California ocean feel of their wedding.

Tammy’s signature cocktail drink was a Diet Coke, since she was known to rarely be without one. Hunter chose to do a twist on a classic Old Fashioned.  His drink came with a rock candy stirrer and maple simple syrup. As a nod to Tammy’s Guatemalan heritage and because she and Hunter both love them, they chose a spicy mango margarita as their third cocktail option. 

Hunter and Tammy wanted the entire day to feel cohesive from start to finish. They wanted people to feel like they were in a separate venue entirely from the hotel and for their reception tables to each feel like a special “pod.” To do that, they put a small Tuscan arbor over each table and covered the arbors in hanging, greenery-covered string lights and a greenery canopy. Their menus at each setting displayed wax seals and each guest’s name and orchids and succulents were scattered throughout the olive leaf table runners. 

Wooden Reception Tables with Greenery Arches

Tammy and Hunter originally planned to incorporate a lot of blue to fit the venue at Pebble Beach Resorts, but when Tammy and Hunter shifted plans to the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay they instead decided to use whites and greens for a more classic and timeless look, with blue hues incorporated throughout their paper goods. Tammy loved orchids so those were their main flowers for the day.

Their wedding favors, personalized Luggage tags, doubled as escort cards, not only because Hunter and Tammy’s love of traveling, but also because celebrating their love in 2020 felt like the ultimate journey. It’s what they truly wanted for their wedding day: to transport people to a better place than they had been all year, to a place where Hunter and Tammy could celebrate love all together with their guests, dance into the night, and just be happy.

It was truly a fairytale brought to life.

Escort card greenery wall with cursive text "Love's Journey"

Vendor Team:

Pocketful Of Plans

Rachael Kazmier

Venue, Bar and Catering: 
The Ritz-Calrton Half Moon Bay 

Theoni Collection

Standard Party Rentals 

Standard Party Rentals 

Little Bird Paper Company 

Seascape Flowers

MUAH (Makeup and Hair)

Brian Borgia, Monterey Bay Wedding Officiants

DJ and Entertainment:
Belmont Entertainment

Jasmine Bridal Couture Chicago

Bridesmaids Dresses:
Jasmine Bridal Galleria Chicago

Kate Spade 

Mens Suits:
Mens Warehouse – Calvin Klein

Jean Dousset

A Fabulous Fete

Desserts – Cinnamon Rolls:
Cinnaholic – San Jose

Wedding featured in Carats & Cake

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