Wedding of Melissa & James: Balboa Park Bride and Groom Portraits – with a Mario Kart Twist! Marina Village Ceremony and Reception

The details were gorgeous and the day sunny and bright….but keep reading because it didn’t take long before things took a definitive

Mario Kart detour….

But first, their talented team:

Photographer: Pam Savoring The Sweet Life Photography

Venue: Marina Village

Catering: Affordable Affairs

DJ: Gary Hartson

Sola wood floral bouquets:  EcoFlower

Hair and Makeup:  Plush Makeup Artistry 



**And can I just say, that when the girls are gagga over Mario Kart, YES you definitely need to capture an entire second set of the bride’s details

(shoes, bouquet and rings) to reflect that!



Q: Let’s talk fashion. How did you choose your wedding day look? How did the groom?

A: My bridal look had a bit of a bumpy start but recovered beautifully. I went to David’s Bridal with my mom, mother in law and two sisters. After trying on a whole bunch of dresses while getting increasingly hangery, we decided to leave and go have lunch. When we returned to the store, my mom and sisters started looking at dresses themselves and found the perfect dress. I wore a fit and flare gown with a wide v-neck and plunging back. The champagne gown had an ivory lace top layer embellished with crystal and pearl beads throughout. My ivory veil was ankle length and had small beads and pearls sewn into the hem to help weigh it down for the outdoor ceremony. I chose light, natural makeup completed by Jacynda from Plush Makeup and Hair Artistry and my hair was done by Nicole who styled it in a low bun with intricate braids throughout. I chose understated accessories, including a single drop pearl necklace, pearl earrings and a bracelet with pearls and an infinity charm symbolizing my intentions for this marriage. My mom was surprised when I chose burgundy heels to add a bit of color to my look but I love the way they tied the whole ensemble together. I pinned my grandfather’s blue stone ring, which I borrowed from my brother, inside my dress as my something old, new, borrowed and blue. James wore a navy blue suit by Kenneth Cole which we found at Macy’s. He paired his suit with brown dress shoes and a solid burgundy tie and pocket square. James did his hair himself. Our groomsmen wore the same suit as James and plaid burgundy and navy ties. Our bridesmaids wore lace bodice dresses with chiffon bottoms from Davids Bridal. Each girl was able to choose the style of bodice she felt most comfortable in.

Q: Did you personalize the day in any way?   What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

A: Our ceremony was extremely personalized to our tastes. We had our wedding party enter the ceremony to the Rainbow Road theme from Mario Kart on Nintendo 64. When we first started dating, James would bring me to his condo during lunch breaks and we would play Mario Kart until our food was ready. James entered the ceremony to Zelda’s Lullaby from the Legends of Zelda video game and I entered to Transformations from Beauty and the Beast. Our Officiant was a dear friend of ours who did an amazing amount of research to insure she understood our fandoms and tastes and delivered beautifully! During our ceremony, the rings were presented in a Legends of Zelda treasure chest and the chest opening theme was played when my sister and Maid of Honor raised the chest above her head and opened it. It was definitely a fun moment for us and got quite a chuckle out of our guests.Our Ceremony also included our other fandoms, incorporating quotes from and nods to Doctor Who, Scrubs, Lord of the Rings, Parks and Recreation, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and many others. We had a DIY photobooth in the loft with a large collection of props from my niece’s dress up clothes and some props created specifically for the event including a frame with our hashtag on it. My favorite part of the day was being able to drink wine during the ceremony (and I didn’t spill it on my dress!), and saying our vows, especially the part where we vowed to continue to grab each others butts even when we’re old and wrinkly. Happening upon the Mario Kart guy while taking out photos at Balboa Park was also an amazing coincidence and we love the shots we got with him.James’ favorite part of the day was when the ceremony was over, he knew he had won and he no longer had to do anymore talking in front of people. He also said he really enjoyed the wine ceremony.



The guys and girls all met at Balboa Park for a Groom’s First Look:


Q: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

A: It being over and us officially being married! But in all seriousness, the first look was the moment we were both looking forward to the most. Neither of us are very comfortable being the center of attention and were super nervous all morning about having to talk in front of people and have everyone we know staring at us all day. We texted each other a few times and talked about how we were handling our jitters. I later found out that James spent his morning pacing in the backyard and I explained that I played Mario Kart to distract myself from my anxiety. We both really just wanted to be together and be able to spend the day together, which is why we chose to do a First Look session – so we wouldn’t have to delay seeing each other until we were standing in front of everyone else. The moment we were able to hold hands in the van, with James blindfolded in the front seat, my anxiety melted away because at least we were together. We both showed up. We were going to do this thing for real.When the day was over and we were walking back to our hotel, we were both giddy with the excitement of the day being over; we both managed to make it through the day without falling on our faces or messing up during the ceremony. While we loved our day and had a great time and enjoyed visiting with our families from all over the country, we were so happy to be done with the stress of planning.

Followed by an hour of amazing and romantic portraits all around Balboa Park!



After some fun and silliness at Balboa Park we headed to Marina Village for their outdoor wedding ceremony and reception!


Q: Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any cultural or religious traditions in any part of your day?

A: We decided to make our wedding wine themed once I settled on the deep burgundy Wine colored bridesmaid dresses. We truly enjoy a nice glass of wine and have spent a few of our anniversaries wine tasting in different parts of the state. We paired the burgundy with a deep navy blue and added hints of copper to incorporate a little fall orange without it feeling like halloween. Picking a theme helped us find a direction for the rest of our decorations and embellishments and allowed me to turn the reigns over to our moms with confidence that they understood what we were going for and help us make choices. It also helped me a lot because I am fairly indecisive in general and having a theme to stick to helped me hone in on the direction to take when it came to the details that I cared about. For instance, instead of using sand or candles for our unity ceremony we blended wine and drank from the cup together. Our decorations incorporated corks and wine bottles and the deep wine color was brought in as much as possible. The only piece of tradition that we kept for our ceremony was a Traditional Irish Hand Fasting or Hand Tying ceremony, during which we invited our parents and siblings to come up and tie ribbons around our hands to symbolize their support of our relationship and the knots symbolized our intention for a forever marriage.





Q: What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?

A: We didn’t have any live flowers at our wedding because I am very allergic to pollen. My sister and Matron of Honor found EcoFlower and this is where all of the bouquets and corsage flowers were purchased. I fell in love with the Marsala wedding bouquet collection as it perfectly matched the color pallet of the day, and my mom added extra greenery at the base of the bouquets to hide the wires and add a little more flair. The center piece flowers were silk flowers purchased from Michael’s that my mom arranged around candles inside the geometric lanterns to bring the Wine color out on the tables. Our Flower Girls became “leaf girls” instead and they scattered fall leaves down the aisle to incorporate the fact that our wedding technically took place in fall, though you wouldn’t know it from the local San Diego trees and weather. The ceremony backdrop also utilized silk flowers and Wine colored tulle, to bring the Wine theme out. I love that my bridesmaids and I can keep our bouquets forever as a decorative element in our homes as a reminder of the day.


Q: Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?

A: We hired a professional to put up the lighting and tulle decorations and to create the backdrop for our table, but the rest of the decorations were 100% DIY. Our mothers really stepped up to bring our vision to life. My mom, Theresa, made all of the center pieces and table decor. She embellished the EcoFlower bouquets that the bridesmaids and I carried, by adding some greenery around the base of the flowers so the wires weren’t visible and adding ribbons and lace to the handles. I found copper maple leaf napkin rings that added just a touch of copper to the flowers. Theresa also made the boutonnieres and corsages, decorated the arbor and created the wine cork table numbers from James’ mom, Maria’s, cork collection. Maria made the ceremony aisle decorations out of lights and empty wine jugs, created the guest book using a gifted wine cork collector and her personal cork collection, and designed and created the seating chart. She also made the guest favors; wine glasses with personalized wine glass charms with a tag thanking our guests for attending the “best day ever”. We bought the table linens online and Maria and her sisters had an ironing party where they ironed and delicately folded them all to be ready for our big day. Our friends helped assemble the last minute touches on our centerpieces by attaching wood cutouts of fall leaves to the small votives on our guest tables.








Q: Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?

A: Wedding planning can be overwhelming and stressful. Take one thing at a time and make sure your partner is involved if they can be. I started out trying to do things on my own and found very quickly that I wasn’t happy planning the day by myself. The day is about us as a couple, not just me and my wants. We met every single vendor together and made decisions about them together. We enlisted help as much as we could from friends and family. When I was overwhelmed, James would ask what he could take off my plate and handle himself. I tried not to ask him for his opinion on every little thing especially things I knew he really wouldn’t have an opinion on, but I made sure if it was something he cared about that he had a voice and a say. It was all about team work and exactly what we hope to continue to be as husband and wife: a team. So if you can, start practicing now.And if you aren’t able to plan everything together for whatever the reason may be (long distance, long hours, children, etc) try to remember one thing: It doesn’t matter if the cake is lopsided or the centerpieces are wrong or your maid of honor spent the morning throwing up from motion sickness (true story – my little sister is a trooper!) – at the end of the day, all that matters is that you both showed up and promised to love each other forever. The rest is just a party, just details that you won’t remember in 20 years. You know what you’ll remember? The way they looked at you as they promised you their heart. The way you felt as you said your vows and slid that ring on each others fingers. The joy of the moment when you are pronounced officially together forever till death do you part. The smiling faces of your loved ones who shared your moment with you. But most importantly, the smiling face standing next to you as you make your way onward. Our day is an absolute blur, but the thing I remember the most clearly is looking in his eyes as we exchanged our vows and knowing that he is mine and I am his and we are in this thing together. I couldn’t ask for anything more.  (Oh and one more thing specifically for the brides: if you buy a bodice undergarment, make sure you can sit in it without it stabbing you in the ribs – mine was off about 10 minutes into dinner when I couldn’t handle it anymore. Luckily it wasn’t an issue in my dress, but if you’ve got a little more on top, you’re gonna want to make sure you can smile during the toasts.)

And check out this awesome 5 star review on Wedding Wire!


And you just HAVE TO SEE their Video!



Years from now, all that will remain of your special day is your photographs, so choosing your photographer is one of your most important wedding day decisions.
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