(Moss Media 2007)

Melissa & Jarrod Balser

Ceremony: September 29, 2007

Their beach: Carmel River State Beach

Why this beach: Melissa: Jarrod and I love vacationing in tropical places, but he went to school at CSUMB. Carmel River Beach just felt intimate and special to us.

How far in advance did you plan?: Melissa: We got engaged on Christmas Day, 2006, and starting planning in January.

Was there a Plan B?: Melissa: During the rehearsal, the exact time as the wedding, it was cold and cloudy, and it rained. The day itself was amazing, gorgeous. Our reception was at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, and Sarah, our planner there, kept reassuring me everything would be OK. In fact, she saved the day by sourcing a replacement arch when our supplier double-booked it.

Sand between their toes?: Melissa:I was going to wear flip-flops and these beautiful jeweled sandals for the reception, but I went barefoot all day. All the girls went barefoot, but they chose their own dresses - cocktail length and a color related to the sea. Only one person had been to a beach wedding before, but afterwards, people were saying "I'm going to recommend this to my daughter!"

Most memorable moment?: Melissa: John Kelly, our celebrant, mentioned the beach, how we love snorkeling, and really helped people understand why they were on a beach.


Advice to the newly engaged: Melissa: Always call your vendors every month so you have time to fix anything that goes wrong [like my arch]. Even if you think something will be cheesy, do it anyway. I loved our sandcastle wedding cake. The beach is great for photographs: Everyone can be in the picture.

Unexpected guests: Melissa: I actually knew how many kids were coming, and I made up plastic beach buckets for each of them, with a shovel, sandcastle molds, frisbees, and toys to play with inside during the reception. One girl told me "I felt so important," and they were so quiet and happy.

The photographer: Alli Wood

Nancy & Robert Smith

Ceremony: June 24, 2006

Their beach: Asilomar State Beach

Why this beach: Nancy: We are beach people - I wish we could live there all the time. The beach "called" to us when we discussed renewing our vows on our 35th wedding anniversary.

How far in advance did you plan?: Nancy: I mentioned "save the date," in our Christmas cards about a year and a half before the event. I wanted a whole weekend with friends and family from the East Coast that we don't see very often: I wanted them to have plenty of notice.

(Laurie Giesen)

Was there a Plan B?: Nancy: Not really We were at Asilomar for the weekend, including hors d'oeuvres, two breakfasts and the main reception dinner. The facility staff offered a lot of advice and excellent service at a very good price.

Sand between their toes?: Nancy: The girls in the ceremony got a little chilly around sunset: They put on the groomsmen's jackets. I'm barefoot most of the time anyway, but I did choose a dress that had a little jacket. Every time I left our room, I ran into friends having a great time, like a real reunion.

Most memorable moment?: Nancy: Just seeing all our friends together in that perfect setting, even if they were holding on to their hats, was wonderful.

Advice to the newly engaged: Nancy: Plan your photos with fog and breezes in mind; take advantage of Asilomar's meadow fora more sheltered spot. Be aware that if the weather kicks up, you may not be able to use the beach at all.

Unexpected guests: Nancy: I was always seeing deer, raccoons, birds: the setting was fantastic. My little granddaughter, Jesse Gross, loved the sand.

The photographer: Laurie Giesen

Io-Nami &Adam Wolk

Ceremony: January 19, 2003

Their beach: Asilomar State Beach

Why this beach: Io: We both love being outside at the beach, and Asilomar is such a special place. We look forward to taking our kids there someday. Adam: We knew it was a wonderful place to start our life together.

How far in advance did you plan?: Io:Adam was in medical school, so our wedding had to fit in with term times. It was discouraging at first. We drove down to Asilomar in September, and the only time available was January, so we went with it.

Was there a Plan B?: Io: Amy [our wedding planner] at Asilomar was experienced, calm, invested in our event. Adam: Indispensable! Io: She made sure we had a "Plan B" - the big reception hall at the Conference Grounds.

Sand between their toes?: Io:The wedding party were goodsports about the beach setting; I was concerned everyone wouldbe cold. Adam: One big challenge was getting the grandmothers and great-aunts to the beach. I think they actually enjoyed the ride down being carried by the groomsmen!

Most memorable moment?: Io: It was so cold and dreary at the beginning, then the sun came out just as we were beginning the processional. It was a very special moment.

Advice to the newly engaged: Adam: The wind may interfere with the microphone, making it hard for guests to hear. And beaches can be chilly. Io: Don't sweat the small stuff. Be flexible, be realistic: maybe you shouldn't choose January [laughter], but whenever you're outside, you're going to have weather.

Unexpected guests: Io: One lady came up after we had finished the ceremony and were taking the pictures. She chatted about the weather as if seeing someone in a wedding dress wasn't unusual!

The photographer: Laurie Giesen

Learn more about the Monterey Bay area at MontereyBayAdventures.com.