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A Playfully Elegant Wedding Weekend in Big Sur, California

by Staff

As a senior at University of San Francisco in 2009, Cam Keefe started to freak out about his future. He decided to visit the Career Services Center and there, working the front desk, was Christina Gonzalez-Lopez. “He made it a mission to leave an impression,” Christina remembers. “Normally students come in for two or three appointments, but Cam came in for five.” After a few weeks and a few failed attempts, Christina finally agreed to go out with him. “The rest is history,” she says.

A decade later, the duo returned to campus. “The night of Christina’s 30th birthday celebration, Cam asked that she join him at the USF student store so that he could buy his former classmate a sweatshirt,” the couple shares. “Confused as to why she was needed, she refused. After some 30 text messages and a sense of urgency from Cam, she reluctantly agreed.” While on campus, Cam made a detour to an area known as Lone Mountain, a hilltop with 142 Spanish steps and gorgeous city views. “He started reminiscing about his favorite memories of us together as students, like how we met, how he used to surprise me with chocolate bagels and other treats while studying, and when he first told me he loved me,” Christina shares. Then, he got down on one knee. 

For their late summer 2021 wedding, the couple wanted to create an entire weekend getaway for their guests, and split the distance between her family in L.A. and his in the Bay Area. For their venue, they landed in Big Sur. “Big Sur holds a special place in our hearts,” the couple shares. “It’s our sanctuary. There’s limited cell service and interaction with the outside world; it’s just you, the ocean, your thoughts, and peace.” At Alila Ventana Big Sur, they found massive redwoods and ocean views. “It was majestic,” Christina says. “The mix of mountains and the ocean provoked feelings of gratitude and awe.”  

Those feelings vibed perfectly with their goal for the wedding: intentionality. “We wanted our wedding to reflect us with thoughtful details that [showcase] a playful and contemporary elegance,” the couple shares. “We wanted it to reflect our love for travel and the union of our various ethnicities; integrate the apple of our eye—our fur baby, Carnito; and call attention to the fact that it was ‘about time’ we were getting married.” They continue: “We kept hearing that over and over when friends and family congratulated us on our engagement, and we knew the phrase had to be a part of our wedding festivities.”

Read on to see how their lovely wedding weekend came together with playful elegance and intentional details, all planned by Callista Osborn of Callista & Company and photographed by Norman & Blake.

The tone was set with a unique contemporary color palette of seafoam and deep forest greens, rust, blush, and golden yellow, with pops of clay. “We worked with Lotus and Ash to create personalized stationery,” the couple shares. “Our guests received a customized box with our initials on it, and inside found a wedding announcement with debossed details of [Big Sur’s] Bixby Creek Bridge. They also received a Big Sur-scented candle.” Upon arrival, guests were greeted with handwritten notecards, a property map, and a schedule of the weekend’s activities. “They also received chocolate treats with a sticker of our dog, Carnito, and a bottle of wine from nearby Paso Robles, our favorite place to go wine tasting.”

“Throughout the weekend, guests could find ‘fun fact’ signage around the property,” the couple says. “These playful signs shared some fun moments between us throughout our years of dating.” 

As a nod to their combined heritages, Christina made a point to wear pieces by Latinx, AAPI, or female designers. “My welcome party dress was by a Colombian designer, Waimari, and I accessorized it with jewelry from an AAPI designer based in San Francisco, Abacus Row,” she says. “This is a jeweler located blocks away from my first apartment with Cam. I knew I had to wear her jewelry during my wedding weekend!” The intention went even deeper: “I wore the gold Ba Fa Hoops because they featured eight beads. 8/28 was our wedding date, and the number eight is considered an auspicious number.”

The bride prepped her skin with pre-wedding hydrafacials and Japanese face masks. For her beauty look, she opted for a “simple but elevated version of me.”

Christina worked with a bridal stylist, Maradee Wahl, and would suggest the same to other future brides-to-be. “This is the most unexpected, best service of the wedding! The stylists from Maradee’s team were incredible,” she shares. “They made me and my bridesmaids feel so comfortable, and tended to every detail on the day of the wedding.” 

Carolina Herrera’s floral lace Adeline gown was the opposite of what Christina was looking for. “I went into shopping with a particular vision in mind: I wanted a gown with sleeves and did not want a sweetheart neckline,” Christina shares. “However, I tried on five dresses and was not impressed with any of them. The assistant helping me pulled out a Carolina Herrera gown and I immediately said, ‘That’s not the style I’m going for.’ She nudged and said, ‘Just try it.’” The stylist’s inclination proved accurate. “As soon as I put it on, I gasped. My eyes lit up, and I started to cry because I felt stunning.” Christina accessorized with a pair of Mikimoto pearl earrings. “I chose to wear pearl earrings for the symbolism: simplicity, peace, purity, and new beginnings.”

“Cam has gotten a weekly haircut since I can remember,” Christina says. “The night before the wedding, he texted his barber asking for a cut and lineup. His barber had recently converted a Mercedes sprinter into a mobile barbershop, and drove down the coast to be there in the morning.” Then, the groom slipped into an emerald velvet tuxedo with the phrase “’Bout Time Cam” stitched into the inside pocket.

The couple decided to do a first look ahead of the ceremony. “Christina is known for crying over everything,” the couple shares. “If we did not see each other prior to the ceremony, she would have been so nervous and cried walking down the aisle and throughout her vows.”  

Cam, on the other hand, “is known for bringing his friends together and being intentional with them,” Christina says. “He had his groomsmen wear shoes designed by his friend from business school, Gullar, [who has] a company based out of Taiwan, Cam’s favorite country in the world.” They paired the vegan leather shoes with suits from Indochino.

Our planner, Callista, created a style guide [for the bridesmaids],” Christina says. “I loved the idea of all my bridesmaids wearing a champagne-colored dress, but asked them to pick any style. They all found their dresses on Fame and Partners, and all of them looked gorgeous.”

The most obvious nod to their “It’s About Time” slogan? A giant sign floating in the pool just outside the ceremony space.

The plants were meant to bring together the countries our roots tie to.

Plants wrapped in rust-colored silk were arranged in a grid on either side of the gray laminate aisle, and a crescent-shaped altar arch featured fan palm, grass, cacti, and bamboo. “These plants were meant to bring together Chinese, Irish, Mexican, and Guatemalan landscapes—the countries our roots tie to,” the couple shares.

The bride walked herself down the aisle, to the tune of “Just My Imagination” by The Temptations. “I wanted to feel empowered and liberated, and honor my independence and strength by walking down the aisle alone,” she says.

The couple exchanged personalized vows then recessed out to another soul track: “Can’t Help Myself” by The Four Tops. “We wanted to pay an ode to Christina’s grandparents, who played a lot of R&B, soul, and funk while growing up,” the couple says. Christina’s favorite memories as a kid were listening to The Temptations, The Ronettes, and The Four Tops with her grandparents; it only felt right to play music by them during our wedding.”

It was a magical and memorable part of the day, and one of my favorite times with Cam.

During cocktail hour, the couple’s 100 guests were surprised by The Revelator Brass Band. “The band led us through the redwoods to the Sur House Terrace, where our reception was being held, and played a set until dinner started,” Christina says. “It was a magical and memorable part of the evening and one of my favorite times with Cam. There was a moment when Cam and his mom were dancing together in the middle of the tall redwood trees that was a special mother-son moment.”

The terrace was set with light wood tables and chairs, decked with dried and fresh carnations in taupe, rust, and dusty pink, and pillar candles in clear glass hurricanes. Speckled chargers were topped with umber floral plates and paired with copper flatware. “One of the guests’ favorite features was the blind debossed copper foil menus on pearl white Lettra paper,” Christina says. “Their names were hand-calligraphed on copper half circles that also served as a paperweight for the menu.”

Food and cake tasting were some of the couple’s favorite parts of planning. “Both undoubtedly were unique and fun times that evoke happy memories,” they share. “Due to COVID, we had to pick up the cake samples and do our own at-home tasting. We made a Friday date night out of it —and both of us kept going back to the Meyer lemon cake.” The talented Jasmine Rae Cakes turned their favorite flavor into a sculptural creation symbolic of the California coast. “The ocean breeze color and free-flowing nature of the piece were reminiscent of our relationship: We are constantly moving and adapting to the situations around us,” the couple says. 

After dinner, guests moved indoors for the dance party. “The central dance floor was under Chinese paper lanterns, and the barscape and lounge vignettes had candles and bowls of dry ice,” the couple shares. “One of our favorite details was a bar menu that featured our dog, Carnito, and we also had an image of Carnito on hotel slippers for our guests to slip into for dancing!”

Cam’s one non-negotiable in planning? Booking The Les for reception music. “Good music is essential to Cam, and he knew The Les would do a phenomenal job,” Christina says. “He had all of us up and moving, including my grandpa! But, he brought us back to the music we all loved and grew up with, which was nostalgic.” Their first dance track: “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers. 

They duo changed into second looks for the dance party: Cam in a black tux with Space Jam Jordans, and Christina into a second Carolina Herrera. This time, she wore the shorter Noelle dress. “I also wore Jimmy Choo red Romy suede pumps,” she says. “Our afterparty was a nod to Cam’s Chinese heritage, and I wanted to wear red for luck, joy, and happiness.” All three were achieved abundantly. “Everyone let loose and had an amazing time. We were all smiling the whole night.”

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