After moving back to Los Angeles, Marissa Freeman was ready to find her soul mate. Luckily, she met her future husband, Brandon Nadel, on a popular dating site. “While OkCupid provided the perfect match, it was only the beginning of our love story,” she tells. Less than two years later, Brandon surprised Marissa with a picture-perfect proposal. “He led me to a beautiful spot at the resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean, got down on one knee, and the rest is history. Onlookers started clapping from afar, and he had arranged for our parents to surprise me and begin the celebrations” she muses.

The pair dedicated eight months to planning their nuptials with the outstanding guidance of Linda Howard Events. “I was truly surprised by how much I loved wedding planning,” the bride confides. “Linda and her amazing dream team made it so much fun every step of the way.” They invited more than 250 family and friends to attend their country club soirée. “[Our venue] has been a centerpiece of my family since before I was born,” Marissa reveals. “From my first outing as a baby for Father’s Day through having my bat mitzvah there, and everything in between and since, it is a place that has a lot of meaning to us. It’s also where I had Brandon meet my parents for the first time!”

While the couple was able to easily select a venue for the actual wedding, they wanted to make sure to pull in their love for the beach as well. They accomplished adding these beachy LA vibes throughout the wedding weekend by making Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel the wedding HQ. “We had about 100 guests staying there along with our bridal suites, rehearsal dinner, and brunch, so we were successfully able to incorporate some California surf and sand into our wedding,” shares the bride. The Pacific Ocean provided the backdrop to one of Marissa’s most unforgettable moments of the day – she recalls, “I put on my dress and veil and walked onto the stunning wraparound balcony overlooking the coastline and Laura Grier captured an epic photo of me just before Brandon and my 'first look' which was such a memorable and emotional part of the day that I think back to often. There wasn’t a cloud in the bright blue sky, as the Pacific Ocean coupled with the unique architecture of the hotel provided the picturesque setting to see each other for the first time as bride and groom.”

It was equally important to the couple to weave in Jewish traditions to the ceremony and reception. “We started with the ketubah signing [and] got married under a chuppah,” explains the bride. Florals designed by The Hidden Garden adorned the chuppah at the end of the aisle runner by The Original Runner Company and featured Marissa’s favorites: anemones, dahlias, ranunculus blossoms, and spray roses. The couple’s wedding team created a romantic, garden-inspired ambience for both the ceremony and the ballroom reception. “I wanted a timeless spring wedding that I would love for years to come,” the bride tells. “We landed on a color scheme of cream, light peach, and blueberry, with hints of rose gold.” The details were perfectly paired with glimmering votive candles and a monogrammed dance floor, where everyone danced the hora to kick-off the reception. Attendees loved the personalized cocktails, classic late-night snacks, and to-go bagels for the next morning. The band kept the party going as guests danced all night to the live music. “Everyone was singing and dancing around us at 2AM and in a moment of spontaneity people started tossing white rose petals at us as we kissed,” the bride remembers. “It was the ultimate feeling of being united together as husband and wife as we were surrounded by the love of family and friends. A feeling we will never forget!”

The bride encourages all engaged couples to enjoy the planning process. “It can get overwhelming, but it’s such a special time in your life that goes by so quickly. I truly wish I could do it all again!” she smiles.