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Kelsey & Stephen

A rainy day in Dana Point makes one wedding all the more memorable.

The Cunninghams

“I canceled our first date,” whispers Kelsey Grubb. “I was really busy and just wanted to focus on the last few weeks of medical esthetician school.” Undeterred, Stephen Cunningham phoned back a week later. “He picked me up, and we went out with the friends that set us up.” The friends left, but Kelsey and Steve, a project manager for an Orange County-based homebuilder, stayed out—not only did they see a movie, they went ice-skating. “It was the longest date I’d ever had,” she says, laughing. “We just didn’t want it to end!”

About five months later, Steve was down on one knee at Crystal Cove, asking her to marry him. The sunset backdrop was perfect during the proposal, but the sky wasn’t as obliging on their wedding day. A family friend had checked the Farmers’ Almanac for their date and warned of rain, but no one believed it. “We’d planned the whole thing outside, and I was going to go barefoot,” recalls Kelsey of her initial plans for The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel event. Then it hit: Winter Storm Titan.

They had to make the call, and two weeks out created an entirely new program. Wedding planner Jeannie Savage and florist Nisie Vorachard transformed the hotel’s pavilion room into a light and airy space—a perfect backdrop for the couple’s playful game theme, which included Scrabble-inspired seating charts, word-search menus and life-size checkers. “We sound like we’re 90, but we love games!” says Kelsey.

No longer fearing the forecast, the couple could relax and enjoy their wedding eve. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” she explains. They tied the knot before 130 loved ones, and with a quick change into a short Monique Lhuillier dress, the reception was underway. Wanting “something different,” the couple served burgers and sweet-potato fries with cake, ice cream and cookies. “Everyone was having such fun,” remembers Kelsey. “We loved watching their faces.”

At the end of the night, the Aliso Viejo-based couple departed to the cheerful pop of confetti cannons and headed to their room, where Savage had thoughtfully placed cake and milk. The storm may have moved the party indoors (and delayed their honeymoon flight to Antigua), but it never dampened their spirits.


Venue The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Planner Jeannie Savage, Details Details
Day-Of Coordinator Brie Jones, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Flowers Nisie’s Enchanted Florist
Invitations Rachel Jane Couture
Bride’s Gown Reem Acra
Bride’s Reception Dress Monique Lhuillier
Hair & Makeup Beauty by Berit
Earrings Harm Jewelers
Bride’s Rings Henderson Jewelry
Groom’s Ring Nuggets & Carats
Tuxedos Calvin Klein
Caterer The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Ceremony Music Enchanted Evening Productions
Reception Music DJ Peter Papadopoulos, Vive Entertainment
Videographer Hoo Films