California Dreamin’

Michele and Jeff Blaize’s wedding literally stopped traffic. This was just one of the moments that made their casual, bohemian-inspired, California beach wedding special. A close friend of the couple led them and their roughly 50 wedding guests across the Pacific Coast Highway to the Santa Monica State Beach. The friend carried a homemade “here comes the bride” sign, made of a large piece of palm wood painted in bright blue. After knowing each other for 22 years, Michele and Jeff’s wedding on Oct. 12, 2013, was a dream come true.

Michele, originally from Mount Vernon, Ind., describes her relationship as a perfect, wonderful fit. She and Jeff attended Indiana University together, where they dated and became best friends. About 17 years ago, they each moved to California; Michele was in Los Angeles while Jeff, a native of Anderson, Ind., spent time in San Francisco and along the coast. They developed a routine of spending Thanksgiving together with friends in California, and as the years went by, they realized their time in college together was special.

On Thanksgiving in 2010, Michele remembers Jeff saying as he proposed, “I’ve always loved you, and you need someone to take care of you and Sinjin (Michele’s 8-year-old son). If we’re ever going to give this a shot, let’s try it now.” Jeff wanted to pick out the ring by himself, but Michele gave him subtle hints through her Pinterest board titled “Jewels.” Michele describes the engagement ring he chose, an 18-karat faceted moonstone set in diamonds, as breathtakingly and perfectly beautiful.

Everything, from the flower crown she bought at a local florist shop, to the dress she had custom made, came together in a short amount of time to perfectly embody Michele’s vision for the wedding.

The reception was held at the home of a good friend of Jeff’s and Michele’s. There were vintage glass bottles filled with wildflowers adorning the buffet table, which included ceviche cups, pork sliders with coleslaw, and shrimp skewers. To save money, Michele and Jeff offered self-serve cocktails to guests in lieu of a bartender. The cake topper was a pair of quirky troll dolls Michele found on eBay.

It was important to Michele to have her guests’ children and her own son involved in this special day. Two babysitters were hired, and sand toys were available during the ceremony on the beach. There was a pool at the house, where a lifeguard was on duty. The kids enjoyed night swimming and ate pizza and cupcakes.

“It was definitely a bohemian, ethnic vibe,” Michele says. “It was fun and from the heart.” Rob Halfon, a good friend of the couple’s from Indiana University days, officiated the ceremony. They used their nicknames, Jefe and Soleil, in their vows, and both got some laughs from the crowd as they delivered them. “Keeping it small made it feel more intimate,” Michele says. “We have known each other for over 20 years, so we have a lot of history.”

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