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Real Wedding: Gemma & Steve

Although they both attended La Costa Canyon High School, Encinitas natives Gemma and Steve hardly knew each other at the time. It wasn’t until a few years after graduation that the two met at a local taco shop and began dating. They now live in Cardiff after Steve’s proposal on a Torrey Pines hike and a gorgeous wedding in Carlsbad.

Simplistic Splendor

Gemma chose an ivory silk chiffon dress from J.Crew that she loved for its comfort and minimalist design. “I felt myself in it,” she says.

Bride’s Bouquet

The flowers Gemma carried included ivory anemones, colorful ranunculus, freesias, and asclepias.

At the Altar

The couple wrote their own vows that included a Native American blessing. Gemma’s mother also read a poem by 13th-century poet Rumi.

Fab Four

The Beatles’ songs were the soundtrack for the ceremony. In front of 90 guests, the bridal party took their turn down the aisle to an acoustic guitar version of “All You Need is Love.” Gemma walked down the aisle to Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and “Here Comes the Sun” was the exit song.

Bride’s Favorite Moment

As part of his vows, Steven serenaded Gemma with John Legend’s “I Will Stay With You” on his guitar.

Groom’s Best Memory

Gemma’s vows were thorough, sincere, and brought him to tears—making it tough to pick up his guitar to sing.


Eschewing tradition, Gemma’s brother was dubbed her “Man of Honor,” while Steven’s sister took the title of “Best Woman.” Gemma wouldn’t have had it any other way: “It put a huge smile on my face to have my brother standing next to me and holding my bouquet. Steve’s sister, Holly, was equally gracious and amazing.”

Thematic Influence

With its adobe buildings and cactus and agave landscaping, the historic Leo Carrillo Ranch provided the inspiration behind the Mexican ranch theme.

DIY Décor

Handmade elements were central to the couple’s design. Gemma and Steven cut, stained, and painted all the signage. They also constructed the cupcake tower. Steven made hundreds of pottery bowls and planted miniature gardens as centerpieces, while Gemma and her mother cut and strung Mexican flags and paper flowers.

Grand Entrance

“Our introduction into the cocktail party reception with the mariachis was pretty epic,” enthuses the bride.

Food and Drink

Guests enjoyed shrimp skewers, black-bean tostadas, a taco bar, and watermelon salads while sipping margaritas, Mexican beer, wine, and Izze Sparkling Juice.

Erin Fitzpatrick

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