When Laurena Tamayo attended a party with her cousin, she didn’t expect to meet the love of her life; however, that’s exactly what happened when he introduced her to his friend, Darrell Bolden. “I lied to her and said I didn’t know how to salsa… I wanted her to dance with me and teach me – even though I knew how,” muses the groom. After that first night of dancing together, their romance blossomed and it wasn’t long before Darrell was ready to take the next step in their relationship. After asking her mother, two brothers, and grandparents for their blessings, the groom-to-be went ring shopping with the man who introduced the duo two years prior. Overlooking the city at midnight on Christmas, Darrell asked Laurena to spend the rest of her life with him.

Spending over a year to simply relish and enjoy their engagement, Laurena and Darrell gave themselves just nine months to plan their celebration, enlisting the help of the expert event planners at International Event Company. On the day of the winter ceremony, over 200 guests gathered at a luxurious property in Newport Beach, California to witness the sunset vow exchange. Due to inclement weather, the pair’s ceremony space, which overlooked the Pacific Ocean, was covered with a translucent tent adorned with twinkling string lights that provided a romantic glow once the sun went down.

“We wanted a ‘Gatsby-Deco’ feel to it,” describes the bride of the motif, so the décor showcased a black, gold, and ivory color palette with Art Deco-inspired patterns. Along the aisle, which featured a glittering custom runner created by The Original Runner Company, acrylic boxes filled with “floating” roses alternated with floral-embellished chandeliers next to guests’ seats. Modern tunes, including “All of Me” by John Legend and “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, were performed by a string ensemble as guests found their seats atop gilt-backed chairs with velvet ebony cushions.

Bridesmaids in champagne-hued gowns and groomsmen in dapper suits preceded the bride down the aisle as they joined the groom – who wore an alabaster tuxedo jacket and black bow tie – at the altar, which was marked by a fountain embellished with creamy blooms. At last, Laurena emerged on the arm of her younger brother to the tune of “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri. She wore a dazzling V-neck embroidered gown and carried a lush bouquet of phalaenopsis orchids. Since Darrell’s father had passed away when he was a child, a photo of him was displayed on a chair next to his mother. Following the couple’s heartfelt vows, Laurena and Darrell were pronounced husband and wife and walked up the aisle to “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve.

Following an alfresco cocktail hour complete with a Champagne tower, loved ones found their seating cards on a black-and-gold display adorned with flickering candle votives and trays filled with vanilla petals. As attendees entered the ballroom for the reception, they were mesmerized by the stylish space, which was enveloped in dramatic drapery and illuminated with candlelight and glistening chandeliers suspended overhead. A winding table in the center of the room displayed both high and low arrangements of calla lilies, tulips, roses, orchids, and anemones, while surrounding tables showcased mirrored tops and centerpieces featuring similar flowers. The couple’s sweetheart table was perhaps the most impressive, as it was decorated with ebony ostrich feathers and situated in front of a towering wall bedecked with hundreds of alabaster blossoms.

The couple was thrilled to celebrate with all of their loved ones, spending quality time with everyone on the obsidian dance floor festooned with an oversized gilt monogram. “The music was the highlight of the reception. We had a live band that had an amazing performance!” confirms the groom. The newlyweds’ family members also performed at the celebration, which added a sweet, personalized touch to their event. To honor the bride’s Native American heritage – Serrano and Cahuilla specifically – the men in her family sang traditional bird songs to celebrate their marriage. “Darrell’s older sister also sang an amazing song for us as a gift,” shares Laurena of the performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Love the Lord.”

Slices of the six-layer wedding cake featuring a hand-painted Art Deco design and cascading white sugar roses kept energy levels high, as did a candy buffet and cigar table. Planning their celebration in under one year, the bride and groom have some sound advice for future couples: “Take your time, work together, and hire a wedding planner,” urges Laurena. “Everyone will always have an opinion on how things should be done, but it is your day and you have the ultimate say.” Her beloved agrees and adds one final piece of wisdom: “Happy wife, happy life. Whatever she says goes,” smiles Darrell. “Trust me, it makes things go a lot smoother.”