Tammy and Maricel’s Laguna Beach elopement was a day that celebrated the blending of two families, and two cultures.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
Maricel is in marketing, and she is also a teacher for Saddleback College in Orange County. Tambria is an administrator in the Los Angeles District Attorney Office, Bureau of Victim Services.
We love the water and recently added a swimming pool to our backyard! We enjoy get-togethers with family and friends, and both love reading and spending time outdoors. With our most recent passion for working in our garden!
How long have you been together, and how did you meet?
We met on Match.com on January 17, 2019. We have now been together since January 17, 2019. However, we feel as though we have known each other forever. We were both inexplicably drawn to one another, and we both felt an instant and organic connection. A connection different than anything either of us had previously experienced.
Maricel was 56, and I was 57, so we both had lived many years before finally finding each other.
Tell us about the proposal.
This is an interesting question for us, as we honestly cannot recall the first time we talked about getting married. It was never a question for either of us. However, we didn’t find one another with a U-haul in tow! We were both drawn to one another from the very beginning. After, we both agreed marriage was a certainty in our future – though neither of us had anticipated being “married.”
I asked Maricel to marry me many times in the many months before we married. At least a dozen times. However, I didn’t repeatedly ask because Maricel said no. It was just something that “we” did. She said yes, every time!
How long was your engagement?
We met on January 17, 2019, and we married on January 17, 2020. Our engagement started somewhere between the end of February and early March of 2019. In February 2019, we had matching rings made for us to wear as a promise/engagement ring.
Any stories from the lead up to the wedding, stressful or funny?
Strangely, we struggled to find an LGBTQ+ friendly officiant who spoke English and Spanish. Months before, we called the Gay and Lesbian centers in Los Angeles and Orange County and could not find an available officiant. We called local gay and lesbian agencies. Again, no luck.
We called local gay-friendly churches with no luck! Fortunately, we had a close friend (also a lesbian) who’s wife is very involved in the LGBTQ community, and she happened to have a minister friend who we met with, and she agreed to do our wedding!
We also wanted to have an “interpreter” at our wedding and reception to ensure Maricel’s family from Chile felt included. To be able to understand everything that was said as well as allow them to communicate with family and friends attending.
As we needed an “interpreter” more than someone who merely spoke both languages, we spent months contacting different agencies to locate an interpreter. And no luck! Interestingly, within just a few weeks of our wedding, I was sharing our frustration with the same friend, and of course, she knew someone who worked as a court interpreter AND available on the date of our wedding. Our friend, wife, and young daughter attended our wedding, and it was a wonderful gift that they had provided us the referrals to both our officiant and interpreter. It has also become a fun story to tell.
What lead you to the venue?
My daughter, Danielle, agreed to be our wedding planner. We told her we wanted to marry somewhere “outdoors”; however, we had no ideas about where.
She also knew that we loved the water, whether it be the ocean or a lake. My daughter came up with a shortlist of venues, and we went touring the locations with her and our Son-in-Law. As soon as we saw the beautiful view from the Gazebo in Laguna Beach, we knew that was our location!
Did you undertake any DIY projects for the big day?
Our wedding planner/daughter Danielle put together the flower arrangements for the Gazebo and our reception tables. She also made her fabulous custom decorated cookies created to match our beach vibe- which were gifts for our family and friends attending.
She created our wedding “program,” which included the words to be said by our minister and our vows. Both in English and Spanish! This was a tricky challenge for her. It required our minister and us to email her our vows to put together and keep a secret from us! We wanted to have those special words we would share during our ceremony written down in Spanish and English because many of Maricel’s family traveled from Chile to share our special day. And because we did not know how loud the ocean would be on our wedding day. It was essential to us that all of our guests could fully share in our special day!
Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.
This was definitely a challenge. We both agreed we didn’t want to wear gowns or suits. So, we both decided to wear jumpsuits. However, as there is a wide variety out there AND we didn’t want to see the other one’s wedding attire, we involved my daughter Danielle to assist us.
To ensure our individual outfits would match well with the other- Danielle shopped separately with us both! Of course, being women, we changed our minds several times and returned outfits a few times before we both found the perfect wedding attire. This sometimes involved us sending pictures via cell phone to Danielle of us trying on outfits while in the dressing room. Ensuring a specific choice would not clash with the others choice. It’s now a fun and amusing memory for us!!
Talk to us about the big day!
The weather was perfect! The entire day was beautiful. Magical.
Wonderful. Emotional. Our wedding day was truly perfect in every way for us both!
From the heartfelt words, and at times humorous remarks, spoken by our wonderful officiant, to the vows we wrote to one another, to having our closest family and friends share in our very special day, and the gorgeous pictures taken by our fantastic photographer.
What are your favorite moments?
T: We had preplanned that I would arrive early at the Gazebo and wait for her to walk down the path with her father to the Gazebo. My most favorite memory was watching Maricel walk to me with her 95-year-old father. Seeing her for the first time in her beautiful wedding outfit and that gorgeous smile of hers is something I will never forget.
(I had written my “favorite” moment, and then Maricel gave me hers to include- having not read mine!)
M: My favorite moment was reaching the Gazebo and seeing my future wife for the first time. And then seeing all of our family and friends gathered there for our ceremony.
What was your aisle, recessional, and first dance songs?
On the first day, we visited the site of our ceremony at the Gazebo in Laguna Beach there happened to be a young man sitting in the Gazebo playing his guitar and singing “Hey There Delilah.” We loved his voice and asked him if he would be willing to play a few songs for us before and after our wedding ceremony. We were delighted when he said yes if he was available on that date.
Unfortunately, he was not available on that date, as Laguna’s city did not allow amplified music at the Gazebo. When he wasn’t available to play for us, we didn’t look further for another musician.
Although we did not have music at our ceremony or reception, we had an after-party at a local nightclub in Laguna with a small group of family and friends. We were able to secure a VIP location in the club to sit, drink, and relax. This is where we had our first dance together as wife and wife, and it was absolutely perfect!!
Do you have a stand out vendor?
Our photographer, Erin, was AMAZING!!! We loved the Gazebo site and Las Brisas Restaurant in Laguna Beach. They provided us with a comfortable location to eat, drink, and celebrate with our family and closest friends.
And, of course, my daughter Danielle was simply wonderful in all things “wedding” related. She found the location, our photographer, and she took care of almost all the details, whether small or big.
What does marriage mean to you?
M: To me, marriage means commitment and companionship for life. It is being with the person I love and cherish forever.
T: To me, marriage means committing for eternity, sharing my life, and love with my forever soul mate.
Photography by Erin Marton Photography
Accessories A Bit Of Alexandria
Cake Nothing Bundt Cakes
Catering Las Brisas
Ceremony Venue Heizler Park Gazebo, Laguna Beach
Engagement Rings White Pelican
H&MU Claudia Fagundes
Officiant Elizabeth Lopez
Planner & Stylist Daughter- Danielle Sawyer
Reception Venue Las Brisas
Shoes & Pantsuits Macys
Signage & Stationery Willow Lane Paperie
Wedding Rings Blue Nile