Nicholas Barnett may be able to maneuver effortlessly on the football field as a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, but it took him some time to win Amanda Langston’s heart. The pair went to rival universities in Oregon, but they eventually became acquainted thanks to the persistence of their respective friends who were determined the two would meet. “Because of the relentlessness of our friends, Nick was under the impression I had a crush on him even though we hadn’t formally met!” laughs Amanda. “So he was a little arrogant at first, but I set him straight.” After spending time together, the two became smitten, and Nick realized that he wanted Amanda’s hand in marriage. “Every time I saw her or heard her voice, it made me want to be a better man… She made me feel like I could do anything in the world with her by my side,” he confides. On his first break from football camp after being drafted by the Packers, Nick proposed to Amanda over her graduation weekend. “It was such a surprise, and it made a big day even more special!” recalls the bride of the engagement.

Although the two initially wed in a small, impromptu ceremony at Lambeau Field in 2008, Amanda and Nick wanted to see their formal wedding dreams come to fruition. “Since the pressure of marriage was already off, it became a day to spend with family and celebrate our love,” explains the bride. Plans for a wedding in Cabo San Lucas were derailed due to circumstances in Mexico, but with the aid of their event planner, the couple quickly regrouped and began scouting new locations. At the last site they visited, the couple fell in love with the European charm and unparalleled service of The Grand Del Mar. Amanda’s fondness for Spanish flair could be seen in the venue’s architecture, and was cleverly implemented in the wedding décor. “I wanted a crisp, clean look that reflected a romantic Spanish feel,” says the bride of her chosen color combination of cream, brown, black, and tangerine.

The ceremony was held on a manicured lawn beneath a grand Moroccan inspired pavilion. White love seats and cushioned benches provided comfortable guest seating, and black chandeliers strung from towering vine-wrapped poles kept the setting uniquely understated. Walking down the aisle to a live rendition of her favorite song by Dru Hill, Amanda looked stunning in a strapless gown embellished with floral details designed by Monique Lhuillier. A classic bouquet comprised of roses and calla lilies added to the bride’s natural elegance. “She was so beautiful,” describes Nick. “We both felt such joy and a sense of fulfillment.”

The reception was held in the hotel’s majestic Elizabeth Ballroom, where rectangular tables were arranged with wrought-iron candelabras wrapped with ivy and flowers. “The ivy was to honor my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which is the oldest black sorority internationally,” Amanda says. The couple was most excited to reveal all of the treats they had in store for their guests: Casino games, a donut maker, and a cigar roller were all on hand to keep guests amped for the night’s festivities. Nick and a few family members even performed a breakdance routine. “Nick is known for his parties,” says Amanda, “and the fun elements are what people will remember.” The groom had arranged for another special performance, this time by a famous R&B singer. “Ever since grade school I had envisioned hearing ‘Make It Last Forever’ by Keith Sweat while kissing my wife on the dance floor at my reception,” Nick says. “So I made a call, and was blessed enough to have him agree to perform.”

Fireworks marked the end of the reception before some after party festivities began. “We are very relaxed people, but at the same time we love great food, music, and entertainment,” says the groom. The entire event from start to finish reflected the couple’s combined style, and was worth the extra time it took to make the wedding perfect.