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Real Wedding: Rachel & Matthew

We love this story! If you didn’t follow the Ultimate San Diego Wedding contest presented by Bridal Insider, now it’s your time to catch up! Lucky couple Rachel and Matthew entered to win a completely free wedding by some of the best in the business. Read about the couple’s whole process from meetings with vendors to makeup trial runs here. See their wedding in our Spring/Summer issue of Exquisite Weddings (Now on newsstands!!) and peek at extra photos here. These images from Carrie McCluskey will melt your heart they are so beautiful!

For Rachel Stewart and Matthew O’Donovan, it was love at first sight. As second generation San Diegans, they connected over their deep passion for their hometown, especially the city’s sports teams. The two had been planning a simple courthouse ceremony followed by a small party—it was all they could afford as young working parents. But when they heard about the Ultimate San Diego Wedding contest, Rachel’s dream of a perfect fairytale wedding became a possibility—if only they could win.

Two hundred couples entered the buzz-stirring contest sponsored by Rachel and Matthew were ecstatic when they made it into the top three. After radio and television appearances, the finalists all held their breath when it was time for the denizens of San Diego to cast their votes. “Even to this day, we can’t believe we won,” exclaims Rachel. Over 30 local wedding vendors and industry professionals donated their time, services and products to make this dream wedding come true.

On January 19th, the bride and groom tied the knot at the El Cortez, surrounded by 75 family members and friends. The bride wore a striking Martina Liana gown from The White Flower Bridal Boutique. Rachel Welland of Bliss Events, who served as the event coordinator, divulges, “I had a great time working with the participating vendors and showcasing their talents to design the perfect winter wedding, honoring the style and history of the El Cortez venue. Rachel and Matthew are wonderful people who really deserved this special treat. I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life.

The bride adds, “There were so many memorable touches, from the bouquets and wedding dress to the cake and the most unbelievable sweetheart table. I had never seen anything like it. We felt like a king and queen.”

Another truly special surprise, a local painter from Live Event Artists, created a portrait of the couple having their first dance. The stunning completed canvas was presented to them at the evening’s end, as a “heirloom that will be passed down to our children, and theirs,” gushes Rachel.

“No words can describe the gratitude we feel for those who made this happen. All the vendors that participated in the wedding were so talented, kind, and incredibly generous. We feel extremely blessed,” chimes Rachel.

See more photos from this wedding on

Candy Buffet: A Sweet Addition, Rentals: Abbey Party Rents, Bride and Bridal Party Makeup: AC Makeup, Bride and Bridal Party Hair: Audra Rene Studio, Beverages: Best Beverage Catering, Wedding Coordinator: Bliss Events, Getting Ready Location: Britt Scripps Inn, Photographer: Carrie McCluskey Photography, Rentals: Concepts Event Design, Entertainment: David Patrone, DJ: DJ Daniel Peterson, Rehearsal Dinner: Eden Restaurant, Wedding Venue: El Cortez, DJ: Elite British DJ, Transportation: Elite Image Limousine, Cupcake Stands: Enticing Tables, Coffee Truck: Joe’s on the Nose, Catering: Giuseppe Fine Catering, Guitarist: Guitarist Anthony Garcia, Photographer:  Heather Elise Photography, Floral Design: Kathy Wright & Co., Entertainment:  Kevin Viner Magician, Live Painter: Live Event Artist, Invitation Design: Love at First Invite, Videography: NR3 Video Productions, Table decor: Plates & Napkins, Desserts: Sensational Treats, Service Staff:  Service Staff (Food Team), Photobooth: Starlight Photo Booth, Cake: Sweet Cheeks Baking Co., Wedding Gown: The White Flower Bridal Boutique,Photography: The Boudoir Divas, Tuxedos: A Better Deal Tuxedo, Officiant: Vows From the Heart

One Response

  1. Aleah + Nick Valley Tuesday, March 1, 2011 Reply

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