Wedding Planning

An Elegant Fusion Wedding by Embrace Life Photo

There are many reasons to love this wedding by Embrace Life Photo: Deborah and Jeff make a gorgeous couple (who doesn’t love a man in uniform?), the details they selected are perfect and simple for a fusion wedding, and the small chapel is a unique and rustic venue.  But mostly, I love this wedd

There are many reasons to love this wedding by Embrace Life Photo: Deborah and Jeff make a gorgeous couple (who doesn’t love a man in uniform?), the details they selected are perfect and simple for a fusion wedding, and the small chapel is a unique and rustic venue.  But mostly, I love this wedding for Deborah and Jeff’s perspective on their event (read more below), and how their motivation was not to create the ‘perfect’ wedding (although, in my opinion, that completely happened anyway), but rather to have an amazing celebration with their friends and family.

Did you incorporate any DIY elements?

(Deborah) The only DIY we did was the wedding
program. Actually, one of my bridesmaids did it
all and another bridesmaid and I just helped tie
the ribbons… Get your bridesmaids a nice gift!
Our vision was a fusion wedding Chinese/Western,
which was reflected in the color palette, favors,
stationery, registries (money and gift registry)
and the food.

Did your wedding location hold a specific
significance to you?

(Deborah) We chose the Ranch House because it is a
beautiful historic site, but what made it perfect
was that it was on Camp Pendleton, which is where
we had met a few years earlier. Because the chapel
was so small it was also really helpful in making
sure the guest list didn’t get out of control!

(Jeff) Camp Pendleton has been a major backdrop in
our lives in one way or another, so it seemed
natural to have it there. We lucked out that the
Ranch House is there.

What was the most meaningful part of your day?

(Deborah) Most importantly, it was the day I
married my husband. But it was also particularly
meaningful to me that my grandmothers were there
to share this big event in my life. Just earlier
in the year they each had lost their husband.
Between traditional mourning periods and the
emotional context of the day it was not clear if
they would come, so I was just really grateful
that they made the effort to be there.

(Jeff) Aside from actually getting married of
course…it was great seeing everyone. I’m not
from California so having so many members of my
family there, and friends from home that I don’t
get to see that much anymore, and military friends
that have been stationed elsewhere or left service
was rare and I loved it.

Did anything funny or out of the ordinary happen?

(Deborah) The wedding ran really smoothly. There
were a few bumps, but nothing major. Plus, what
are you going to do? The show must go on!

(Jeff) I don’t know how Deb missed this. I’m not
condoning alcohol use but…our caterer advised us
on how much alcohol to buy based on the type of
drinks he was making, number of guests, etc. We
decided that a Marine Corps crowd was probably
going to drink more than the caterer planned, so
we actually bought twice as much as he advised. We
weren’t even halfway through the reception when
the caterer came up to use and said that all the
alcohol had been consumed. Luckily, one of my
friends doesn’t drink and he knew Camp Pendleton
well enough to make a quick booze run to keep the
spirits up. We ended up drinking about 4 times the
original plan. That sounds bad but I’m actually
kind of proud of it.

Tell us details of the events surrounding the

(Deborah) I loved our rehearsal dinner which was a
barbecue at a skeet and trap shooting range. It
was nice and casual, which we wanted for ourselves
and our guests since we’d already have to dress up
for the wedding. Also, I think I realized, ‘This
is really happening!’, during the rehearsal when I
saw all the people at the chapel who had traveled
to be there. It felt strange that the wedding that
we had been planning for so long was finally

(Jeff) We had good global representation too: New
Yorkers, Texans, Oklahomans, Californians,
Aussies, Canucks (and a couple that travelled from
Hong Kong). The brunch at Deb’s parents house the
next day was pretty nice too, just about everyone
was there and it was nice to get back into the
casual feel of things after the wedding, sort of a
return to reality. I remember some ridiculously
deliciously over-frosted cupcakes at that brunch

How did you know your partner was ‘the one’?

(Deborah) I couldn’t imagine him not being in my

(Jeff) Hmmmm, i’m trying to think of how to answer
this without it being 400 pages long. It really
came down to everything that was important in my
life wasn’t as important as her.

Any advice you’d give new brides who are just
getting started?

1) Putting a wedding together can be stressful,
but don’t lose sight of what it really is–a party
(you can get married in a courthouse). NO ONE
notices or cares about the details you’re obsessed
over. Really. You’re the only one who does, so

2) Work with your fiance(e) to share the workload.
I was very fortunate that Jeff was so willing to
help out. We were working and living long-distance
so he was the main coordinator for all the
vendors. Good thing I married him!

3) K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Focus your
money on what’s important to you, you really don’t
have to have everything because it will just
stress you out for money and coordination reasons.
For us, the party was the most important (you’ve
got people spending money to come out to see you
after all!) so we prioritized money on nice food
and drinks and none on chapel decorations, nixed
the videographer, etc…

4) Choose vendors who have worked with each other
and have a good relationship. Our caterer and
florist had worked together in the past and it was
really helpful that they could coordinate between
themselves. Also, find a caterer that will let you
stock the alcohol (they provide the bar tender)
and you’ll save a lot of money on mark-up.

5) Insure the wedding. Depending on your total
budget it can run a few hundred dollars, but it’s
a small price for peace of mind since you’re
spending thousands on the wedding already.


Photographer: Embrace Life Photography

Venue: Rancho Santa Margarita Ranch House, Camp

Dress: Casablanca Bridal Couture from Marylinn’s
Bridal (Pasadena, CA)

Bridesmaid dresses: Black Halo

Shoes: Jimmy Choo. A gift from Jeff (how could I
NOT marry him?!)

Accessories: Earrings were purchased day-of at the
make up salon! My something old, borrowed & blue
was my great-grandmother’s sapphire engagement

Makeup: Senna Cosmetics in Corona Del Mar

Hair: Cherlyn at Images in Corona Del Mar

Stationery (including menus): H2 Cards

Groom’s Attire: Marine Corps dress blues

Groomsmen’s Attire: Friar Tux

Catering: ChileCo Catering

Cake: Flour Power

Flowers: Embellishment

DJ/Entertainment: Michael Carcano DJ services