An Italian and Greek-Inspired Wedding in San Diego, California
When Talissa met Andreas at the beginning of high school in 2005, she knew he was special. "I instantly had a crush on him and we became good friends over the years," says Talissa. "We started dating our junior year of high school and went our separate ways during college, but we always found our way back to each other."
On December 24, 2018, Andreas took Talissa to one of their favorite high school spots—a scenic overlook in their neighborhood—and asked her to marry him. She said yes, and the couple surprised their families with the news during Christmas Eve dinner. The pair began planning a local wedding at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, California. "After looking at tons of venues, we couldn't find anything that compared," says Talissa. "We were drawn to the Tuscan private feel and all of the beautiful rose bushes."
Talissa, an event planner, took over the design and organization of the wedding—with day-of help from her team—to put together an event that honored the couple's cultural backgrounds: "I am Italian, with my extended family living in Rome and South Africa, and he is Greek, with extended family in Athens," she says. "Being that we are both from those countries, our lives are filled with lots of love, passion, food, travel, and family time." They incorporated olive branches into the floral design, chose an Italian-themed menu, and included some of the region's most iconic wedding traditions in their November 23, 2019, wedding for 140 friends and family.
"I wanted all of our guests to take a piece of what we get to experience in Italy and Greece all the time," she says. "After the wedding, we got so many comments from guests saying not only was the wedding beautiful, but you could feel the love in the space. If you've been to Italy or Greece, that is how you feel when you leave."
The couple's ivory, gold, and gray color palette gave their invitation suite from Michaela McBride Calligraphy a subtle elegance. "I was really excited about these, and worked closely with Michaela to get these designed," says Talissa. The notes included hand-drawn calligraphy on Italian handmade paper and a vellum wrap with a hand-sketched floral illustration.
Her Gorgeous Gown
Talissa chose an off-the-shoulder wedding dress from Pronovias with a lace bodice and matching detailing on the skirt. "The second I tried it on, I just knew," she says. "I continued to look for more dresses, but I have never felt more 'me' than I did in that dress." She added sparkle with a pair of sentimental earrings: "I wanted to keep it simple," she says, "so I wore the diamond studs that my dad gave to my mom when they were younger."
A Family Affair
The bride describes the time she spent with her parents in the bridal suite as one of her favorite parts of the day—including the moment when they adjusted her veil together. "I remember that moment vividly and I was thinking, 'I can't believe this moment is here,'" she says.
The two flower girls wore white dresses with tulle skirts and lace accents and bow-tied flats. "The flower girls were the cutest, truly," says Talissa. "They wore olive leaf crowns and were so excited to participate."
Riding in Style
Talissa and her father rode together to the ceremony in a vintage car. "Getting in the car with my dad and sharing that moment will be one I will never forget," says the bride. "He wanted a vintage car because that is what my mom drove to their ceremony in, and he said he always envisioned helping me out of the car on my wedding day. I felt true peace during that ride and it was such a beautiful way to begin my walk down the aisle with him."
An existing metal arch served as a focal point for the ceremony, while olive branches, peonies, garden roses, and foliage turned it into a verdant backdrop. "My florist covered the arch with wispy and vine-like greenery that looked like it had grown there, which was key for me," says Talissa. "I didn't want it to look overly orchestrated or overdone, but natural, organic, and soft."
At the Altar
Before Talissa and her father began their walk down the aisle, they shared a spiritual moment. "I always said that I wanted to see an orange butterfly on my wedding day as it is a symbol of a loved one being near," says Talissa. "As we turned the corner to get to the main aisle, a huge orange butterfly passed both of us and we both looked at each other and smiled." As Talissa and her father approached the altar and the bride and groom saw each other for the first time that day, Andreas reached up to wipe his eyes.
With This Ring
A Catholic priest officiated the ceremony, adding personal elements to the standard text. "It was important to me that we had a traditional ceremony combined with the beautiful outdoors," says Talissa. "I remember looking up as I stood under the huge arch, right before our vows, and I said to Andreas, 'Look around, can you believe all this is for us?' It was breathtaking." The couple wrote their own vows, which Talissa calls "so special." "I get the chills still thinking about my ceremony," she says. "It was personal, intentional, and full of meaning, which is what we both wanted."
The Best of Friends
After the ceremony, the newlyweds posed with their bridal party while the rest of the guests continued on to the cocktail hour. Andreas wore a black Hugo Boss tuxedo, while the groomsmen wore black suits and bow ties that complemented the bridesmaids' pale gray gowns.
A Simple DIY
The couple wanted an understated seating chart, but Talissa had a difficult time finding one that matched her vision. Instead, she found an oversized frame that she loved, covered it with a neutral linen, and set it up between two statement floral arrangements as a freestanding display.
Under the Lights
At the reception, light wood tables with curved post bases coordinated with the couple's upholstered chairs and delicate ivory runners. "The entire feel of the day was meant to embody being in the Tuscan countryside and dining al fresco with friends and family under the twinkle lights," says Talissa. "Intimate and warm, effortless and natural, and just full of love."
Center of Attention
Lush ivory roses spilled out of low stone vessels on each table, while taper candles in tall glass holders shimmered throughout the space.
For the place settings, Talissa chose white ceramic chargers with a vintage-inspired textured border, silver flatware, and crystal stemware. The menus—which included a wax seal—displayed the entrée options of filet mignon, sea bass, and orecchiette from Giuseppe Fine Catering.
The couple incorporated a well-known Italian and Greek tradition of sending guests home with custom drawstring bags filled with five almonds representing "health, happiness, prosperity, children, and longevity," says Talissa. The couple presented the bags on antique platters—a labor of love from the mother of the bride. "My mom scoured so many vintage shops for the perfect silver trays for my bomboniere favor display," says Talissa.
A loosely-gathered collection of flowers and foliage surrounded a minimalist white cake on a silver pedestal; the couple chose hazelnut cake with Nutella, praline cream, and chocolate mousse, and vanilla cake with berry jam, vanilla cream, and white chocolate from Jenny Wenny Cakes. They also offered a gourmet twist on ice cream cones: fresh biscotti cones—made on-site—filled with Italian gelato. "The things we splurged on, customized, and added are the things that people still remember about our wedding," says Talissa. "Did we really need them to make homemade biscotti waffle cones on-site instead of bringing them in already made? No. But everyone keeps talking about the smell as they walked into our after-party area!"
Husband and Wife
Talissa and Andreas chose "Yours" by Russell Dickerson for their first dance. "I love country music," says Talissa, "and after years of listening to it with me, Andreas started to love it and always sings this one to me."
To the Happy Couple
The couple sat together at a wooden pedestal sweetheart table, where they cherished the speeches and the time spent with friends and family. "The toasts were so incredibly special to both Andreas and me and the evening felt like an intimate dinner party with all of our favorite people," says Talissa. "We laughed, cried, and enjoyed every minute. We felt truly in the moment."
Photography, Lauren Fair Photography
Venue, Rancho Bernardo Inn
Event Planning, Events By Talissa
Catering, Giuseppe Fine Catering
Flowers, Carla Kayes Floral Design
Videography, Audrey Alba Films
Stationery, Michaela McBride Calligraphy
Cake, Jenny Wenny Cakes
Music, Battleson Entertainment
Rentals, Archive Rentals; Bright Event Rentals; The Chiavari Guys; Concepts Event Design; Hire Elegance; Raphael's Party Rentals
Bride's Gown and Veil, Pronovias
Hair, Blush and Adore
Makeup, Taylor Haupt Makeup
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Birdy Grey
Groom's Attire, Hugo Boss
Transportation, Rolls Livery
Day-of Paper Goods, Sugared Fig Paperie