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Rachel & Nick

Reflecting the serene shores of Newport Beach, a classically elegant and thoroughly fun affair celebrates a friendship-turned-romance.

A stunning outdoor ceremony came complete with 180-degree ocean views.

Sometimes, family really does know best. Just ask fitness instructor Rachel Grace, whose new husband, real-estate director Nick Roberts, is a very good friend of her brother’s. It was only natural that, prior to pairing up permanently, the two would run into one another from time to time. In fact, Rachel allows, “We had met at random events and even vacationed together over the years.”

But it wasn’t until Nick’s sister’s 21st birthday party in Las Vegas that sparks would start to fly. After two nights of flirting and dancing, the duo went on their first date in January 2011, and have been inseparable ever since. A year and a half later, the ever-romantic Nick proposed to Rachel on a hike overlooking Laguna Beach. Before the proposal, at Nick’s request, Rachel’s two brothers had set up a blanket, complete with Champagne and scattered rose petals, in a secluded spot he had found just weeks earlier.

Picturing a romantic outdoor wedding ceremony, the couple chose the classically beautiful Resort at Pelican Hill to host their nuptials. “Even though Rachel and Nick are both fashion-forward and modern with their lifestyles, when it came to their wedding ceremony, they kept things traditional,” says the couple’s wedding planner, Carrie Johnson of Details Details. With its Italian rotunda overlooking the ocean, the space’s majestic lawn proved the perfect spot to exchange vows, which the couple wrote themselves. “It was very important to both of us that we shared our feelings for each other that day,” Rachel explains. “I made sure to go first because I, indeed, was very nervous.” But, surrounded by loved ones, including bridesmaids bedecked in lavender Amsale gowns, the Monique Lhuillier-clad bride made it through without a hitch. That’s not to say it wasn’t extremely emotional, though. Adds Johnson, “There wasn’t a dry eye at the ceremony.” One carefully conceived, at that.

The couple wanted a light, airy, dreamy affair, which White Lilac Inc. event design accomplished with a palette of soft silver, white, ivory, blue and gray, and an array of gorgeous white blooms. “We wanted a very fresh feel,” Rachel describes, “a bit more contemporary with lots of flowers and the room draped in sheer white fabric.” The centerpieces consisted of different styles: white orchid leis hanging from the chandeliers; tall glass vases exploding with lush profusions of Hawaiian dendrobium and white phalaenopsis orchids; and low arrangements with groupings of monobotanical flowers in containers of varying size. One of the most striking elements was the floating wedding cake, which hung suspended from the ballroom’s center chandelier.

Ambience aside, memorable moments included a high-energy grand entrance, which saw the couple introduce the entire wedding party. Rachel names the couple’s first dance, to Brad Paisley’s “Then,” as her “favorite part of the day,” because it reflected her and Nick’s love of country music, as did their wedding favors: CDs with some of their top tunes. Other highlights included moving speeches from friends and family, and a high-gloss gray dance floor with a custom monogram.

From the ceremony’s start to the reception’s end, when the couple escaped to their suite in the hotel’s Bentley, everything went effortlessly. In the words of the bride, “It was the day of our dreams, and looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.”