It was a slow burn for model Catherine Li and Carlos Morenos. The pair first met as students at UC Riverside in 2009. The two developed a friendship, but it wasn’t until March 2017 when Carlos and Catie would go on their first date to a Laker game.
Just a few years later, they decided they were in it for long haul. “Carlos popped the question New Years Eve of 2019 in the background of the house we just bought together,” remembers the couple. “He lit the backyard with candles and a screen projector. He played a video full of memories and at the end, had a sign ‘Will You Marry Me’ around our puppy. After, we celebrated the new year!”
With the COVID pandemic beginning shortly after the proposal, the couple had to make some hard decisions surrounding their wedding. “We had planned four different visions for our wedding with four different locations: one in the backyard, one in Los Angeles, the other in Mexico City, and the last at the Mission Inn. Each venue had a completely different theme. It all came down to which venue fit our budget and needs.”
Ultimately, Catie and Carlos decided on Mission Inn, a historic venue right near where they met in Riverside. “For the Mission Inn, we wanted to bring elegance with a vintage Hollywood vibe to match the venue’s vibe,” explain the couple. “We wanted to focus on quality versus quantity. Rather than celebrating ourselves, we wanted to celebrate our guests as each person was so crucial to us as individuals and as a couple. The church and church courtyard were already so beautiful as is, so our main focus was to transform the reception venue to an experience.”
Ahead, take a look at the glamorous nuptials hosted for 100 guests, planned by Forever Refined Events and photographed by Haley Rynn Ringo Photo.
Catie began her morning with her beauty team to create a “timeless elegant look” for the day. Makeup artist Melissa De La Torre gave her a soft glam look with an emphasis on lashes and a neutral pink lip. For her hair, Catie wore bouncy waves adorned with a Maria Elena Headpiece. “I always loved the old Hollywood hair look, but I decided to modernize it with a middle part,” the bride adds.
She finished off her look with Orly Kiss The Bride on her nails. “We kept it simple and classic, because all my dresses have different tones,” she shares.
When I tried it on, I just knew.
Catie chose three different dress looks for the day, however she notes that finding great designs had its limitations. “It was pretty difficult as a plus-size bride to shop for a wedding dress,” she reflects. “I was very limited in styles and locations. I was fortunate enough to have the options that I had!”
For the ceremony, she donned a Stephen Yearick Couture fitted gown with lace detailing and an overskirt that she found at Lovella Bridal. “When I tried it on, I just knew,” says Catie. “It was just a feeling I got!”
Carlos kept his wedding day attire classic with a personal touch. In addition to his tux, the groom wore his favorite watch, a 1990 Rolex Submariner ref. 16600, and a delicate open tulip as his boutonniere.
We believe that our vows are an intimate moment and want to do it together with each other.
The couple decided to do a first look and recite their vows to each other before the ceremony. “We believe that our vows are an intimate moment and want to do it together with each other,” the couple share. “It was best to do this with a first look and to avoid any time issues with photos.”
The couple then had some of their closest friends join them for photos. “I have a bridal squad and a maid of honor, and Carlos has a best man and his brothers. We are not having a party walk down the aisle with us, but asked for support from our friends to share our getting ready moments,” notes the bride.
Carlos’ brothers donned a traditional Filipino attire barong for the day, while the bridal squad each picked dresses from Moda Glam Boutique. “I let the girls pick their own dresses as I wanted them to feel beautiful! Since this was a black tie event, I felt their dresses fit that detail,” shares Catie.
Catie notes it was very important to her that her father could walk her down the aisle. “My father has Parkinson’s and it has been very difficult for him to walk lately, so it meant the world to me that he was able to,” she reflects.
The ceremony space was so beautiful,” shares Catie of Mission Inn’s church. “We really didn’t want to add any flowers, rather greenery covering the railing at the altar. We added a ton of candles to elevate the mood.”
After the newlyweds said their “I do’s,” they recessed into the charming courtyard where guest showered them in flower petals.
The party kicked off with a champagne tower that the bride and groom topped off themselves. However, this wasn’t the first celebration for the couple. A month before, the pair also held a Chinese Tea Ceremony to highlight Catie’s heritage.
The couple wanted to put their guests first at their wedding, so they included their photos in the seating chart. Each guest had a photo of themselves with Catie or Carlos to direct them to their table number. Catie adds, “Some photos were from when we were kids!”
As guests walked into the reception, they could easily feel the influence of the couple’s Old Hollywood aesthetic. “We really wanted to pay homage to the timeless look we both loved,” says Catie of the décor. “You are instantly greeted with a unique tunnel of taupe velvet with pinspot design sporadically located around the tunnel.”
“Our venue was eccentric with heavy fabric drapes and so much texture all around. From the walls to the curtain draping and lighting details, our wedding offered a Hollywood glam life to say the least,” share the couple.
Tablescapes were bursting with white florals of varying heights and gold-accented candlesticks and glassware for a tasteful glam touch.
The all-white wedding cake from Frost Me Gourmet also leant to the vintage feel of the reception aesthetic.
After a quick costume change into a sparkling long-sleeved Galia Lahav gown and a white tuxedo, the couple was ready to hit the dance floor with their nearest and dearest.
Catie’s close friend Melody Thornton of The Pussycat Dolls took to the stage to perform “At Last” as the couple had their first dance. “We were so lucky,” gushes the bride.
Catie and Carlos went all out when it came to their cocktail selection at “The C&C Bar.” They chose five signature drinks for the day: Do You Want 2 Cuddle (a margarita), 1754 Bisbee, (a long island iced tea), The Henry (a Hennessy and coke), Lola 7 Gigi (a negroni), and The Gabe (Justin Cabernet Sauvignon served with a basil garnish).
As the festivities continued, Catie swapped for gown for one more look—a lace East Meets Dress mini and Nikes.
The SoCal affair ended with a few special treats. “We served Filipino desserts and Porto’s, an LA favorite for dessert,” share the couple. “We ended the night with hamburgers and French fries from In & Out and custom sparkling water cans of our parents wedding pictures.”
Next up for Catie and Carlos? An African safari and adventures in their new life as newlyweds.