:: Ocean and City Views in Coronado ::
Submitted by :: Grooms, Mr. Oscar De las salas and Mr. Gary Jackson
MRSter: How did you meet?
O + G: We were brought together from diverse backgrounds, perspectives and continents, and found love and partnership that neither of us expected. Our different styles, energy and talents have found a balance in life and love that has grown more intense and more inspiring each day. We were friends long before the time that fate took a surprising course, and the relationship that we know today, started quietly with a Friday afternoon lunch, which was in reality a thinly veiled interview/date to survey the possible future together for us. Apparently passing the tests, the connection grew stronger and we became a couple in 2007, to the surprise of many friends. In 2008, little Hugo (our pug) found this family merely a week prior to us moving in together and making a home in a house which we later discovered we had both placed separate offers as single men.
MRSter: Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?
O + G: In the non-romantic sense, as a same-sex couple, we had to travel to a state in which then our marriage would be legally recognized. But with that reality, we also valued the importance of a location which reflects both of our backgrounds and origins as children. Gary was born in a small port town in Washington state, north of Seattle, while Oscar was born in the port city of Barranquilla, Colombia in South America. So holding the most important ceremony of our lives near the ocean and bay, and next to a marina, offered us a connection to our roots, as well as a beautiful backdrop. And given the close vicinity and connection that Arizonan’s have to San Diego, the quaint nature of Coronado became the perfect choice for our wedding and for the ease of our guests to travel.
MRSter: How did your family and friends respond to the decision?
O + G: We both believe strongly that our friends are our family, and we are very lucky to have a network of intimate friends who value and believe in our relationship – so anywhere we would hold the wedding, we knew that our close friends would literally drop everything and simply ask – where and when and we will be there. We chose to have a small, intimate ceremony, so we knew that the travel and commitment that comes with that would not be an issue. In fact, all of our guests found our choice to be the perfect fit and they all took an extended weekend to enjoy the beauty and vibe of San Diego.
MRSter: How many people attended the wedding?
O + G: We chose to keep it small and limit the number of guests to about 28 people, not including us. This made for a wonderful mix of friends, intimate cocktail parties and a strong connection between every attendee.
MRSter: How/why did you choose the location/destination?
O + G: As we noted above, we have an affinity for the coast and a port city. Sitting along a marina brings both of us a sense of calm and well-being, and being from Arizona, San Diego is a perfect contrast to the desert locations and heat of the Sonoran landscape. As part of our decision, two close friends (Mark and Angela Karp, who also own an events company called Angelic Grove) opened their home on the Glorietta Bay Marina to us for a location scouting trip, which afforded us time to spend in Coronado and experience the beauty of the island. The city of Coronado recreation department was extremely helpful and supportive in helping us find the right ceremony location, and when we walked into Centennial Park in Coronado, which overlooks the San Diego Bay and city skyline, we knew we had found our location.
MRSter: Was planning a destination wedding easy?
O + G: No, No, No. Given our circle of friends and business in Phoenix, we know many event planners, florists, and entertainment companies in Arizona, but San Diego was an unknown to us. Luckily we have many referrals to contact, but we still had to take a leap of faith with several providers. And the San Diego market is a very laid back coastal community, so there is no sense of urgency in the industry. It made it challenging to get timely responses and confirmations in coordination in the market.
MRSter: Can you describe the ceremony?
O + G: We wanted to have a close, personal ceremony what reflected our sense of style, and the importance of marriage equality for us and our friends. With Oscar’s background in fashion, he also had a clear vision of the overall feeling he wanted in the color scheme. Our wedding was based in the feeling of the beach, bay, marina and natural pieces of nature, so the overall look of the ceremony was one of classic and fresh design. The guests sat overlooking the bay on crystal ghost chairs, with sun parasols and sandalwood hand fans to cool in the sun. Since we are a couple from diverse background and countries, we also wanted to incorporate those origins in the event, and also maintain an open format and wrote the entire ceremony ourselves. The ceremony was backed by acoustic classical Spanish guitar music, by artist David De Alva. Our officiate was our close friend and artist, Mayme Kratz, who we have known for 20 years, and knows each of us very well, bringing a personal emotion to the proceedings. Without family at the ceremony, and avoiding traditions set for opposite sex couples, we also wanted to include our closest friends to present the two grooms for marriage. Our friends Jeff Brodin and Irma Diehl give their approval of the union as representatives of all of the friends of Oscar and Gary. To note the cultural mixing, we asked another couple of Anglo and Latin backgrounds, Bill and Irma Diehl to read a verse in both Spanish and English, representing the diversity of culture in this marriage. At the conclusion of the ceremony, we also loved the tradition in the Jewish culture of breaking the glass, but we wanted to take it to a different level. We wrote on cards several myths and negatives that we wanted to crush and ‘break’ – so our friends, Erika and Russ Dickey read aloud each item, such as bigotry, hatred, false traditions, ignorance, and put them into a bag with the glass – which we then broke by foot. The overall impact of the ceremony was one of embrace, love and hope.
MRSter: Would you mind describing the reception?
O + G: We made our way in a classic 1955 Bel Air convertible to the Bluewater Boathouse on Glorietta Bay Marina, in which we had the entire balcony overlooking the marina. It was a perfect setting for cocktails, with a four course seated dinner in candlelight. We chose the texture and simplicity of white linens, and white hydrangeas in clear cylinders to maintain the classic look, with a contemporary tone. The reception was underscored with big band music from the 1940s completing the mood of retro, and complementing the history of Coronado and the boathouse we were in, which was built in 1887. One of our close friends provided a special dessert table with Brazilian and Lebanese chocolates and sweets, adding both a sweet and stunning addition to the reception,
MRSter: Did you do any pre/post activities? If so, please describe them.
O + G: Since we did not have a rehearsal dinner, we chose to hold what we called our bachelor cocktail party on the evening prior to the wedding. At the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, we had our entire guest list join us for cocktails and tapas on the private half-circle balcony jutting from the side of the hotel, overlooking the bay, with additions of blue and bright green flowers to the white wedding theme to punch up the color a bit. With our guests in beautiful summer cocktail attire, it was an amazing pre-event for our friends to meet up and connect prior to the wedding day itself.
MRSter: What did you use when planning your wedding – internet searches, wedding magazines, personal referrals, wedding planner?
O + G: We contacted several local Sean Diego wedding coordinators and sadly, never received any follow-through from ANY of them. Not sure why – same-sex couple or maybe too small? So our good friends from Angelic Grove events provided us with some local resources in San Diego, and we did the coordination ourselves, from requesting quotes, checking rates and finding what we wanted on the Internet. We booked the location for the wedding ourselves from the city of Coronado, and handled the coordination of both our bachelor cocktails, reception set-up, cake, classic car – all ourselves.
MRSter: What was your favorite moment on the wedding day?
O + G: There are so many moments which took our breath away, which includes our personal vows read to each other. This was the first time we had heard each other’s vows and our hearts were filled to overflowing. But for the event itself, one of our favorite moments was driving in the classic convertible along Orange Avenue and coming over the crest of the street to the reception at the historic boathouse, to see all of our guests standing and waving to greet the new grooms at the reception. It was exhilarating and emotional all at once.
MRSter: Do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?
O + G:
a) Give yourself time to plan and use your friends as much as you can for a sounding board.
b) Understand that nothing will be perfect. The perfection of the day lies in your connection and love from your friends, your family and the personal moments.
c) If you are getting wed in a public venue, hire security.
d) Invest in a fantastic photographer. The event itself goes by so fast, that you will not remember the individual moments themselves – but good photos will revive those memories in your heart to relive again and again.
e) When you choose your flowers, colors, outfits etc – remember that these photos and images are forever. Trends and fashion may come and go, but your photos will be there forever. Last thing you want is to have some current fashion trend that will disappear and leave you with a look that you and your family will cringe each time you see that photos.
f) Have someone you trust, whether that is a coordinator or a friend, double check on the ceremony and reception set-up prior to walking in. As we noted, nothing goes as planned, but don’t leave your requirements for your wedding in the hands of the people who manage the space. What is the adage? Trust by verify.
Breaking Hate, Dapper Dog, Destination
Photographer: Kristina Lee Photography
Rehearsal Cocktails: Tracy vanDam Fotografie
Wedding and Reception: Kristina Lee Photography
Wedding Planner: Self-planned
Ceremony: Centennial Park, Coronado, CA
Reception: Bluewater Boathouse, Coronado, CA
Florist: Flowers By Erin
Grooms’ Clothing Designer: SuitSupply
Bridesmaids/Groomsmens’ Clothing Designer: self
Wedding Consultant: Angelic Grove
Bluewater Boathouse was the location for the Reception and provided the multi-course meals, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres
Cake provided by Extraordinary Desserts, San Diego, CA
Dessert Table provided by: Sweets Table by Micheline Etkin
Ghost Chair Rentals by: Raphael’s Party Rentals
Parasols and Fans by: Paper Lantern Store
Classic Car Transportation provided by: Haynes Antique Car Chauffeuring
Centennial Park, Coronado, CA