An Intimate, Family-Focused Laguna Beach Wedding with a Sunset-Inspired Color Palette

One of the couple's favorite artists, American Idol's Willie Spence, serenaded the couple during their ceremony and reception.

bride and groom in garden
Photo: Charla Storey

Family comes first for Kristin and Dwayne: Not only did they meet when Kris' daughter hired Dwayne, the CEO of a fitness company, as a trainer, but Dwayne's 2021 proposal, "an at-home dinner for the family," also included her children.

The couple's 48-guest wedding at the Montage Laguna Beach in Laguna Beach, California, mixed their love of the coast with their deep family ties. With their planner, Gretchen Culver of Rocket Science Events, the couple chose a sunset color palette: "We took cues from Mother Nature," says Kris. "Warm and vibrant pinks, oranges, with a touch of yellow plus a rich teal and tan." They also focused on creating a personal and warm atmosphere. "We wanted to create an intimate experience for our guests, to evoke a feeling of home—like our guests came over to our house for a nice dinner party," she says.

A nice dinner party, that is, but with several elegant upgrades: A sunset toast with the couple's favorite Veuve Clicquot Rosé bubbly, a dramatic broken-arch floral installation that framed the couple during their ceremony, coordinating Cartier bracelets they gave each other as wedding gifts, bespoke attire for the bride and groom, and an evening of private performances from American Idol contestant Willie Spence—one of Dwayne's favorite singers. But in a day full of memorable moments, the couple's first look stands out as one of their most cherished. "When I stepped outside to the garden near the ocean, and saw Dwayne with his back to me, I immediately slowed my breathing, just seeing him. It is a feeling I'll never forget," says Kris. "Once I approached him and he turned around and hugged me and spoke to me, I was instantly calm and happy. He always has that impact on me and in that moment, more than ever. The rest of the day went perfectly and we both felt just calm and joyful."

Montage Laguna Beach
Charla Storey

Beach, Please

The Montage Laguna Beach is one of Kris and Dwayne's favorite places: They visited it on their first trip as a couple, rented a house across from the hotel during lockdown, and now own a home nearby. "The Montage was the obvious choice for us, being a place with great memories and meaning for our relationship," they say. "We love the natural beauty and peacefulness of the location and we were so grateful to be able to share it with our closest friends and family."

colorful wedding invitations
Charla Storey

Wave Hello

Fig. 2 Design created a one-of-a-kind invitation comprising die-cut, wave-shaped cards that stacked to create a colorful piece of art. "Our invitation was unlike anything I've ever seen!" says Kris. "The invitation was equally beautiful front and back: The back was orange book cloth with a blind embossed monogram and die-cut in shapes of leaves to reveal a teal herringbone pattern below. Everything about them was personal!"

treat boxes for wedding
Charla Storey

Boxing Day

Custom treat boxes incorporated the herringbone pattern from the invitation—but with white on teal, instead of the inverse—with tan cord that secured a note from the couple and a custom-monogrammed tag.

bride and daughter before ceremony
Charla Storey

Bespoke Beauty

Kris chose a made-to-order wedding dress from Suzanne Neville for her ceremony gown. "It was perfect for me, because it had flowing silk fabric that moved in the ocean breeze," she says. "The simple silk design was perfect for my age and style, with a matching belt to add a little sophistication, but a high leg slit made it a little more fun and sexy for an outdoor wedding at the beach. I loved every minute of wearing it and can't wait to find another event and reason for a bespoke Suzanne Neville!" Kris' daughter, Sophia, served as the only bridesmaid in a draped blue gown from Marchesa Notte.

bouquet with roses, ranunculus, sweet pea, tulips, and protea
Charla Storey

Peachy Keen

Delicate pink, peach, and yellow blooms—including roses, ranunculus, sweet pea, tulips, and protea—complemented the vibrant pink ceremony flowers and the ocean-inspired blues of the palette with gentle sunset shades.

bride's wedding accessories
Charla Storey

Sparkle and Shine

Kris finished her look with sparkling Jimmy Choo heels, an Yves Saint Lauren clutch, and two pieces of sentimental jewelry: earrings she and Dwayne picked out on their engagement trip, and a Cartier bracelet he gave her as a wedding gift.

groom in a dark teal Isaia suit
Charla Storey


Dwayne also donned a bespoke look, choosing a dark teal Isaia suit from Martin Patrick 3 paired with a pin dot Etro tie. He and Kris bought his Breitling watch on a trip to New York City before their engagement, and she gave him his own Cartier bangle on the big day.

groom with son
Charla Storey

Father and Son

Dwayne's son, Quincy, served as the only groomsman, in a charcoal gray suit and a teal silk tie. Kris' son, Ethan, and the couple's officiant, a family friend, wore the same outfit; all three men also donned matching white Valentino sneakers.

wedding arch with pink floral bougainvillea, orchids, roses, and other blooms
Charla Storey

Pink Perfection

The couple wanted the hotel's ocean views to remain the focus of their ceremony backdrop, so they accented the waterscape with a round stage made of dark wood, flanked by flower-draped columns created by Honey and Poppies. "The columns were an ode to the two iconic palm trees at the Montage Laguna Beach (named Lucy and Desi), [and] were covered in vibrant pink florals—bougainvillea, orchids, roses, and other blooms," says Kris.

bride and groom kissing during ceremony
Charla Storey

Saying "I Do"

The bride's son escorted her down the aisle as former American Idol contestant Willie Spence serenaded the group with "Here and Now" by Luther Vandross. Kris and Dwayne asked a close friend to create their ceremony, which also included vows that incorporated modern and traditional elements. "He included his own writings about how we met, the start of our relationship, and about what our friends and family know and love about each of us," says Kris. "It was so special and personal and touching. It was nice to not know exactly what he was going to say until we were standing there."

outdoor wedding reception lounge area
Charla Storey

Lounging Around

Outdoor lounge areas "were just the coolest," raves the couple. "The artisan lounge furniture also evoked the ocean, with some pieces made of driftwood and others featuring a wave pattern."

sangria with fruit at wedding reception
Charla Storey

Fresh and Fruity

Violet-colored glass tumblers held white sangria overflowing with fresh fruit—a light, refreshing, and tropical treat served as the couple's signature drink.

wedding reception room with rustic wood tables, cream-colored boucle chairs, and vibrant centerpieces
Charla Storey

Cozy and Chic

Kris and Dwayne chose to host their reception inside the hotel's Studio Restaurant, accenting its "old-school charm" by using rustic wood tables, cream-colored boucle chairs, and vibrant centerpieces. "Gretchen gave it a real residential feel with the items she selected," says Kris.

wedding place setting with ceramic plates and pink and orange flowers
Charla Storey

Feeling at Home

The couple's "exquisite" tabletop design included purple glassware, teal linen napkins, and horn napkin rings alongside varied ceramic chargers and bread-and-butter plates. "My favorite one was speckled brown and white and reminded me of waves washing over the sand," says Kris. "The centerpieces were lush floral masterpieces comprising of more beautiful blooms—roses, peonies, ranunculus, tulips and unique elements loosely arranged in ceramic vessels. All of it felt very residential and welcoming."

menu for wedding reception
Charla Storey

Menu Notes

The newlyweds served a five-course meal provided by the hotel's chefs, which included sea bass, short rib, and chicken. Bespoke menus—designed as a keepsake—included each guest's name calligraphed on the front. "Each layer was die-cut, revealing the course; the shapes of the paper also mimicked waves," says Kris. "So special."

bride and groom kissing during reception
Charla Storey

Light Fantastic

To add to the cozy atmosphere in the room, the couple hung octagon-shaped pendant lights made of bronze and glass in the center of the room. "Bougainvillea cascaded down and around the pendants," says Kris. "It was a very pretty focal piece."

dessert table at wedding reception
Charla Storey

Short and Sweet

A teal tablecloth backed the couple's display of bite-sized cookies, cakes, and sweets on their dessert buffet.

simple, two-tier wedding cake with flowers
Charla Storey

Two of a Kind

A simple, two-tier cake sat on a raised gold stand; ivory fondant was covered with peach, pink, and orange flowers. "We had two flavors," says Kris, "a rich chocolate cake and the best carrot cake I've ever had."

bride and groom sitting on teal sofa
Charla Storey

So Happy Together

A lush teal sofa anchored an intimate lounge area that the couple created within their reception room—and served as a quiet spot for a private moment before the full reception began. Kris changed into an asymmetrical, one-shoulder dress from Michelle Mason and teal Manolo Blahnik heels before the couple joined their guests on the dance floor.

Though they had asked Willie to sing an original for their first dance after dinner, says Kris, "He surprised us with a touching rendition of 'So Beautiful' during dinner and we were spontaneously inspired to get up and dance to it. So, our 'first first dance' was a bit of an unplanned and very special moment. He then provided what felt like a private concert during dinner for the intimate assembly of guests. It was one of the highlights of the weekend."

bride and groom looking over water
Charla Storey


Photography, Charla Storey Photography
Venue and Catering, Montaga Laguna Beach
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Rocket Science Events
Event Production, Amy Nichols Special Events
Flowers, Honey and Poppies
Videography, Cloudless Films
Stationery, Fig. 2 Design
Music, Willie Spence
Rentals, The Ark; BBJ La Tavola; Edge Design & Décor; Elan Event Rentals; Found Rentals
Bride's Gown, Suzanne Neville (ceremony); Michelle Mason (reception)
Bride's Accessories, Jimmy Choo shoes (ceremony); Manolo Blahnik shoes (reception); Chanel earrings; Cartier bracelet
Hair and Makeup, Team Hair and Makeup
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Marchesa Notte
Groom's Attire, Martin Patrick 3
Groom's Accessories, Ferragamo shoes and belt; ETRO tie; Tom Ford pocket square; Lanvin cuff links; Breitling watch
Rings, David Yurman (groom); Nathan Alan Jewelers (bride)

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