From the moment we met, to today and every day beyond, I have always known that Patrick Henry was, and always will be, the perfect one for me. He’s the perfect match for me on so many levels; mentality, emotionally, and also in a business sense. He is smart and savvy, and yes, a lot older than me. Being 20+ years younger than my husband means we do get looks and comments, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t change a thing, and I am glad we can open the minds of others to realize that love knows no limits. Here is our San Diego wedding and love story:

Saying “I Do” in Park City, Utah

It was July 3rd, 2014 in Park City, Utah when Patrick got on one knee to pop the question in a romantic, sunset surprise on a golf course green. (Read the full story on our engagement here.)

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The engagement was a complete shock to me, having only known each other for 6 months prior to that day, but we both had fallen madly in love with each other, and each other’s children, so I knew in my heart that this relationship would last. Ever since that day, he has been the most loving, supportive fiance and husband I could ever ask for, always opening doors for me and holding my hand through hard times. I feel that being in a relationship with someone much older than you gives you a sense of security like no other age group. It helps you realize that by this time in a man’s life, he knows what he wants (usually..) and he’s not afraid to go after it. Since the day he asked me to be his woman forever, Patrick and I have practically been attached at the hip. We are best friends, lovers and little did we know, wedding planners! (Well, planners of our own wedding at least, not professional wedding planners.)

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Living Together Engaged in Rancho Santa Fe

A week or so after we got back from our engagement vacation in Park City, we moved my things from the home I was renting in Las Vegas to Patrick’s home in The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe. Coming from a childhood in Michigan, living in California was a dream, and living with an older, more established man meant he had better pots & pans than I did, a bigger house (with a jacuzzi!) and the confidence and maturity I needed in life to be able to focus on my love for him and my passions in life. He also had enough energy and knowledge about life and women to be able to meet me on my level.

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Setting a Wedding Date

After moving to San Diego, Patrick and I spent two blissful years traveling, spending time with the whole family, and focusing on having fun before ever having thoughts of setting an actual date for our wedding. Patrick would take me out to his favorite social places that he knew that, being in my twenties, I would love. He would introduce me to Coronado, Del Mar, and all of the other neighborhoods in town that he enjoyed. One day a girl friend of mine who was planning her wedding went out to lunch with me, and said, “I really wanted to take a tour of this incredible wedding venue, but they are booked up a year and a half in advance! If you’re going to set a date for your wedding, I would make sure it is at least a year and a half into the future so you can plan it exactly how you want!” As soon as she said that, I started feeling the wedding excitement, and planning anxiety. I did want to plan my wedding, and a year and a half still seemed like a long time, so I talked to Patrick, and after a few weeks of discussion, we set an official date. August 12th, 2017 was going to be the day we tied the knot! Even though he’s older than me, I wanted to have a traditional wedding, and I wanted to pay for it (with the help of my family) which meant I was going to be on a budget.

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Planning a Wedding in San Diego in 3 Easy Steps

As soon as we had a date set, I started feeling nervous. I had never planned a party for more than 10 people, let alone 100! I had no idea where to start. I started searching online for a checklist of things I needed to get done. I found and downloaded their mobile app right away! This app is so great for planning weddings. It has a checklist of every single activity you can think of to prepare for the wedding, and it was a life saver for me here in San Diego! Every month from a year away from the wedding up until the wedding day, this checklist gives you a section of things to focus on for the next 30 days. Throughout the process of planning our wedding, Patrick usually had an opinion about each decision, so I would narrow my favorite flowers, colors, dresses, etc. to 8 or 10 options. Then he would pick his favorite 2 or 3 and then I would pick my absolute favorite from the options left. I think because he is older than me, it’s easier for me to let him decide on the bigger decisions, and the fact that he trusts me enough to make final decisions for our marriage says a lot about the type of man he is. Although I’m not sure if I would trust someone so much younger than myself, I am glad he constantly puts his full trust in me, and I am glad that it has allowed this incredible, yet uncommon, love to blossom. In my opinion, there are three steps to planning your wedding. The first two, are crucial!

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Step 1: Find a Wedding Venue in San Diego

We traveled to my hometown in Northern Michigan to visit a few wedding venues there, thinking that being in the same area as most of my family would be easiest for everyone. But after looking around at a few different venues, and knowing I wanted to keep the budget as friendly as possible, I decided that it would be too expensive to choose a venue in the popular tourist city I am from. (Although our favorite venue close by was Treetops; see this beautiful venue here.) I called my dad (the only person I HAD to make sure would come for the wedding besides Patrick and I) and asked him, “Dad, if I have my wedding in San Diego, will you come out for it?” He said YES! And from that moment on, I started to focus on creating the perfect San Diego wedding.

San Diego WeddingWe looked at hotels like Hotel Del Coronado, Omni La Costa and La Valencia in La Jolla, and we also looked at beaches in La Jolla and Coronado. I decided it would be least expensive to have our wedding in a park or on a beach, so I started narrowing my search a bit. During an online search of beaches and a few gorgeous parks, we found Centennial Park in Coronado which I fell in love with right away. Centennial Park is just down the bike path from where the ferry lands when it carries people over from downtown, and from this park you can see the entire San Diego skyline.

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It is gorgeous, and when we visited it for the first time in person, and kissed on the grass, we knew this would be the most perfect spot to say “I do.”

Finding the right company to complete the contract for that exact spot in the park was a bit tough, but we contacted the City of Coronado and got in touch with their Lead Beach Concierge team member, and she helped us with the $500 park contract and the additional cleaning fees and damages fees if there were any afterwards.

Getting this contract signed ended up being a BIG DEAL, as another wedding party thought they had reserved this same spot, and started putting out their chairs before my rental company came to put out mine! Thank goodness our Lead Beach Concierge member was there on location that morning, to explain to the other party their mistake, and assure our wedding went just as planned.

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Overall Venue Details: Centennial Park

Hosts: Hundreds of people, depending on your contract. Ours was up to 100 people.

Times: We rented the park for the day so we could have our ceremony any time. Our rental time started at 9am, so we setup then and had the wedding at 11am.

Cost: Just over $500 for 100 people

Pros: Gorgeous backdrop, Easy access for vendors, Perfect lighting and weather (most days)

Cons: Cannot use electricity so you need speakers that run off batteries (which our amazing officiant did!)

San Diego WeddingStep 2: Hire a Wedding Photographer

Once I had the venue contract signed for August 12th of the following year, all of the planning became so much more serious. This wedding was actually happening! I was planning to marry this man who taught me how to golf and had gotten me used to fine wines and late night rendezvous to our favorite restaurants. But the wedding couldn’t happen without someone there to take amazing photos, right?! I searched all over Instagram to find my favorite photographers, and ended up reaching out to Cavin Elizabeth to sit down and talk about her pricing. Although it was a little high for my overall budget, she does take incredible wedding photos and she is local in San Diego! I highly recommend making an appointment with her if you’re planning your wedding, We ended up choosing a friend of Patrick’s, Amber Goetz, who lives out of town to be our photographer. Amber was happy to come to San Diego for a before-wedding engagement photo shoot to make sure we felt good about our decision to go with her for the big day. I was so happy with the engagement photos she took of us downtown, and couldn’t wait to plan the rest of the wedding knowing that these wedding photos would turn out perfect!

San Diego WeddingStep 3: Plan the rest.

Something to look forward to when you’re dating an older man is a lack of emotional surprises. As humans, we all have crazy days, but in general, comparing my husband to past relationships I have had, Patrick’s age has definitely turned out to be an advantage to our relationship’s well being. He is smart, patient, and usually pretty down to Earth. He doesn’t change his mind much, so planning the rest of the San Diego wedding was easy. Every detail besides the venue and photographer can be planned less than a year out. If your dream venue is not available on your set date, you’ll need to solve this problem very first. If your dream photographer cannot be available on your date, and at your venue, this is another huge issue. Once those two are locked in, it’s easy to plan the rest of the wedding in a year’s time. Here are the components of our special day, and how it all came together:

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Officiant – Your Perfect Ceremony

We used David Cutler with Your Perfect Ceremony to officiate our wedding. During the first sit down meeting we had with him over coffee, he started to understand our relationship and the age gap right away. He knew our love was pure, and he was excited to make our marriage official. He went above and beyond multiple times to make sure our special day went perfectly! From our in-depth interview, where he asked all the right questions and truly got to know us, to becoming my last minute wedding coordinator at the rehearsal, (who knew I needed a rehearsal coordinator?! Haha) to answering every little question I would email him in the months leading up to the big day, the preparation he put into our wedding was so great and we cannot thank him enough. He was so attentive to our customized wedding wishlist and really put the effort into making every single wish happen for us! The day-of was magical, and the words he chose for our ceremony brought many people to tears, including myself, many times. He sent us various versions of vows to look through when we didn’t want to write our own, and he even sent me photos of different ties he could wear so I could pick what looked best! This San Diego wedding officiant is amazing, hardworking and passionate about his job, and it truly showed on August 12th, 2017.

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Flowers – Del Mar Florist

We used Del Mar Floral & Gifts for our wedding flowers because Patrick had bought flowers for me to have in the house many times from their Carmel Valley store before, and they always created incredible bouquets! I didn’t even know they decorated for weddings, but I was so happy I asked because YES they do, and they do an amazing job!

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They decorated my arch exactly how I wanted it (simple yet elegant, while keeping the budget low) and they created bouquets and chair end pieces for the aisle. They incorporated all of my specific requests and I was even able to fit corsages and pinned flowers for my parents and grandparents in the budget! I can’t say enough good things about Del Mar Floral & Gifts! They made the flowers an easy part of the wedding process! They even let me go in the fridge two days before the wedding to smell and look at all of the flowers that had arrived to be arranged! I never knew a woman could be so into flowers, but I was in LOVE!

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Dress – Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller has a location in Carlsbad at The Forum that I frequent often. I absolutely love everything I buy from her line, as it usually fits me like a glove. I originally thought that it would be way too expensive to buy a dress (for one freaking day!) from Nicole Miller, but after trying on 4 or 5 dresses in the design studio, I absolutely fell in love with the Alexis Bridal Gown and knew I had to find a way to get it out of the store and onto my body by August 12th, 2017!

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I searched online, and found a few ladies who were selling used dresses. Then, a few hours after being at the design studio, my sister sent me a link to the exact Alexis dress I was looking for, in my size!! I couldn’t believe it! I was so hesitant to order it (it was $600 less than in the design studio!) but it came, and fit me absolutely perfectly! I never needed to get it hemmed or fixed in any way, and got to wear the dress that I fell in love with! I was SO happy, and encourage every bride to continue to search for that dress that you can’t help but re-try on again and again. (I only put the Alexis gown on twice that day, but didn’t want to take it off either time.) Once I had the dress in my mailbox, I watched over it like a hawk, and tried it on every month or so, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and I actually had my dream dress for my dream wedding!

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Tuxedos – The Gentleman’s Tux Club, Downtown San Diego

The tuxedo planning was definitely not my specialty, but The Tux Club made it so easy for everyone! Almost all of our groomsmen flew in from out of town, and The Tux Club sent everyone measurement guides ahead of time so they could go anywhere in their own areas where there was a professional tailor and send in their measurements without having to come to San Diego. We got to pick out the colors, and they helped us decide on another color for my father and my son, the ring bearer. A few days before the wedding, the tuxedos were all ready to pick up, and everyone dropped them off the day after without any problems. (Ok, one groomsmen forgot a tie, and had to mail it in!) If you’re looking for a convenient place to talk over your tux options, for a great price, look no further and head to The Tux Club!

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Hair/Makeup – Makeup by Adrianne

Adrianne did my makeup twice before my wedding, once for a photo shoot and once for my bridal trial. I knew she was the BEST artist for my bridal makeup, and she exceeded my expectations, as usual. She also knew the best hair stylists who did a trial and my bridal hair perfectly!!

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Adrianne and her team showed up so early (earlier than anyone that was getting makeup done, oops) and she worked tirelessly for hours making sure every bridesmaid looked incredible! My bridal makeup was perfect and she made sure to give me a tiny extra eyelash glue and lip gloss for touch ups during the day if I needed! She is such a wonderful person, so fun, and an incredible makeup artist! I wouldn’t want my wedding makeup to have been done by anyone else. Although her Instagram photos speak for themselves, I wouldn’t skip the chance to let the world know how amazing she is!!!

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Cake – Jenny Wenny Cakes

Jenny and her team did an incredible job on my wedding cake!! The cake tasting was so much fun, with all of the different options and flavors, and she understood our vision for what we wanted. (Patrick and I even practiced smashing bites in each others mouths at the tasting!) When I saw the finished cake at our wedding, I was taken back. It was even more gorgeous than I could’ve imagined!! She is an amazing artist and the cake was absolutely delicious!!

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Musician – Jabe Amato

I cannot say enough about Jabe and his incredible artistic talent!! I had been looking for the perfect guitarist for our wedding for awhile, and when I heard his voice I knew he would be perfect for my wedding reception.

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He has an impressive set list you can pick and choose from and he’s very responsive. He made our wedding day perfect, from the four songs he sang and played before the ceremony began, to the songs that I snuck into the ceremony schedule last minute, to the reception where he sang and played his heart out!! (He also announced the father/daughter dance and the cake cutting!! Bonus points for announcing when it definitely was NOT in the job description!) I cannot wait to go see him play at one of his regular gigs! He truly made my wedding day the most incredible day ever!!! And when he played “Sweet Child O Mine” by Guns & Roses while my father and I had our first dance everyone burst into tears. It was a perfect, unforgettable moment!

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Wedding Reception Location – Il Fornaio, Coronado

Il Fornaio was the perfect place for our wedding reception. They worked with us to design the perfect table layout, and the service on the day of was great! The food was delicious, (they gave us several menu options to choose from) and the patio was perfect for my family from out of state to view Coronado Bay and the San Diego skyline.

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Our guitarist fit out on the patio and we even made a little room to dance! We had the cake setup just inside the doors to the bar, with our guest book and other decorations. The staff was incredibly helpful to all of our guests, and the venue made for some pretty spectacular photos!

Wedding Night Hotel – Andaz, Downtown San Diego

We have always loved staying at the Andaz hotel in downtown San Diego, so we figured, why go anywhere else for our wedding night? I am so glad we didn’t! They greeted us with excitement at the valet (as I drove up in the getaway car, because our designated wedding driver had a bit too much to drink! Haha) and they had our room ready, complete with a champagne toast and special note to the “New Newlyweds.” I was so happy (and exhausted) and we both fell asleep within minutes. (I feel like this is probably the real wedding night story for most weddings.) When I woke up, I was alone in the room, but turned over to find an incredible note from my husband telling me to meet him on the rooftop. (I still keep that note to “my wife” in my wallet to look at every single day!) I met him on the roof of the Andaz hotel, and we had another toast to our future, and started our REAL wedding night off perfectly!!

Wedding Night Celebration – Omnia Nightclub, Downtown San Diego

Patrick and I are not your average couple. He is 20+ years older than me, and most of the time, likes to stay out later than I do! So naturally, we looked for somewhere to celebrate our wedding night, and since we love Omnia Nightclub, it seemed like the perfect place for our wedding night celebration! We danced all night in our own VIP section, and they even put “Congratulations Patrick and Amanda!” up on the big screen with our picture!! I totally recommend the end balcony sections, they are the BEST for having a good view of the DJ and also having a lot more privacy than the VIP sections on the main floor. This nightclub is, in my opinion, the best in San Diego, and for a wild couple like Patrick and I, it was the perfect ending to our amazing San Diego wedding day.

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Our Wedding Vows

Remember the various wedding vow options I mentioned earlier that our officiant David gave us? I’ll leave you with our final choice for the Henry wedding vows we selected. I will always love this man no matter our age difference, and San Diego was THE MOST PERFECT PLACE for our ceremony, reception and wedding night! If you’re planning your wedding here in America’s Finest City, I hope our love story has helped you with a few decisions! This day took over a year for me to plan, but honestly, you will never forget every little step along the way! (I only cried about 6 times while writing this story!) Enjoy it, and love until your heart feels like it will burst!!

On this day I promise you these things;

I will laugh with you in times of joy

and comfort you in times of sorrow.

I will share in your dreams,

and support your goals.

I will listen to you with compassion,

and speak to you with encouragement.

I will help you when you need it,

and step aside when you don’t.

I will remain faithful to you throughout our lives.

You are my best friend

and I will love and respect you

for as long as we both shall live.