After meeting through a mutual friend, Justin Van Grouw and sports reporter Michelle Margaux went on their first date while they were both visiting Washington, DC. “The date lasted 9 ½ hours!” remembers Michelle of the memorable day when they rode bikes through the National Mall, visited all of the monuments – including Lincoln Memorial twice by both day and night, and had a romantic dinner on the Georgetown Waterfront

It wasn’t long before Justin proposed overlooking the Manhattan skyline, and the couple began planning their nuptials. As they wanted a New Year’s wedding, they knew they needed a warm destination for their loved ones to travel to, selecting The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, for their alfresco ceremony and cozy reception. “I wanted to lean into the ‘lodge’ theme,” shares Michelle of her vision, which incorporated woodsy, forest elements in warm, earthy tones. 

Though they had a nondenominational wedding, the couple made sure to incorporate some Jewish wedding traditions throughout, such as exchanging vows beneath a chuppah during an in-the-round ceremony, which featured natural, organic décor including branches and verdure, and breaking the glass following the personal vows. 

The bride was gorgeous in a long-sleeved, square-neck gown and carried a bouquet of playa blanca roses with uneven long stems as she met her groom at the altar. Bridesmaids wore rusty almond-toned dresses and held nosegays of similar blooms with greenery and golden auburn leaves that beautifully complemented their bridesmaid gowns

“It was the first time our long-distance worlds came together... It was really special.”

Following the heartfelt ceremony, friends and family enjoyed a fun cocktail hour before entering the reception space. The room was decorated with lush greenery covering the wood-beam ceilings, wooden chairs and guest tables adorned with warm candlelight and neutral earth-toned centerpieces, and twinkling string lights to create the ambience the pair envisioned. 

In addition to the earthy décor, friends and family were also in awe of the fare. “We had the best food… Everyone raved about the food at The Lodge at Torrey Pines!” affirms the bride of their menu featuring roasted sea bass, filet mignon, and of course, a vegetarian option. 

The bride changed into a stunning halter-neck minidress with a large bow in the back for the couple’s first dance to “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges. They also incorporated a private first dance during cocktail hour, as well as a private last dance after guests departed to ensure they truly appreciated every moment of their wedding day together. 

For another personalized twist, “we did a fun bridal-party entrance at the reception where we introduced our own bridal party in a NBA lineup format,” shares Michelle of the unique and memorable addition. 

As the couple had dated entirely long distance before getting married, “We want[ed] people to really comprehend how much we love each other… [and] see how much we mean to each other,” describes the bride of their overarching goal for their wedding. “It was the first time our long-distance worlds came together – all of my friends and family from California were able to meet his from the East Coast. It was really special.”

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