Dreams do come true and bride Gabby knows that better than anyone! A magical and luxurious wedding was the one special day for her and her husband Brendan — a dream venue and dress, elaborate and detailed preparations, touching speeches and the symbolic exchange of love. Most importantly, the most loyal and loving people were there to support them throughout the day. Read more about the royal style wedding, which was captured by our talented member Jessica Livingston.
Tell us a little about yourselves. How did you meet? What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies?
Brendan and I met 6 years ago. Brendan was playing professional hockey and I was in my final year of my undergraduate degree in gender, race and social justice. We followed each other on Instagram and after talking for about a month via texting and FaceTime, we went on our first date. After our first date on the Monday we saw each other every day after the fact and he was my boyfriend by the Friday. It was truly love at first sight and I fell for him so hard. Brendan and I both have chosen a career in law. I am in my first year of my articles and Brendan just started first year law school. We are doing long distance currently, but still are inseparable and I am lucky to call him my husband.
Did you have any pre-wedding events, like a rehearsal dinner or bridal shower?
I had two bridal showers and of course a rehearsal dinner. The reason for two bridal showers, is that my in-laws live about 4 hours away from the city and they wanted to host something for me. It was special to have both, as I was able to celebrate with their family/friends and then a few months later celebrate in my city, with my close family/friends. Our rehearsal dinner was held at the Torrey Pines golf course, home of the US Open. Brendan is a big golfer, so this was his one request for the wedding. It ended up being the most beautiful night and if you know of the location, it is right on the cliffs of La Jolla and has the most incredible sunsets. Did you have any special or unique elements (such as a signature cocktail or a fragrance) at your wedding? We served a spinoff of an Aperol Spritz. My maid of honour’s mom hosted the bridal shower a month before my wedding and one of her signature drinks for the party was a ‘Semmer Spritz’, after my new last name: Semchuk. I decided to use that for my signature cocktail at the wedding and it was an absolute hit. For my signature fragrance, I asked my Mom if she would secretly go and pick something special for me. She chose an incredible scent from Le Labo and presented it to me right before our ceremony. It was a touching moment, a special tradition I will never forget. Now every time and smell this fragrance, it takes me back to my ceremony and wedding day.
Where was your wedding? Why did you choose this venue?
Our wedding was at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego. My parents have a property in Del Mar and since I was a little girl I have always wanted to get married there, specifically at the little chapel on the property. It has always been a dream of mine to walk down the aisle in a small church and that vision came true. I have been dreaming of this day my entire life.
What was the concept behind your wedding and how did you find your inspiration?
My concept was romantic regency, with a formal twist. Everything was elegant and timeless. I wanted natural colours such as the white and green aesthetic which you will see featured in many of the photos throughout the day. The florals created the romantic look, as they were placed everywhere throughout the evening and done in a very ethereal way. When I walked down the aisle, there were flowers gracing the chandeliers above me, as well as flanking the aisle on either side. At the end of the aisle was a full flower arch…it was pure magic. I didn’t want anything simple; my aesthetic was classic, elegant and delicate. Everything I did for the wedding, I put a unique twist on. For example, I wanted my entire bridal party (including myself) to have very petite wedding bouquets. For the bridesmaids I chose a more green forward bouquet, while my wedding bouquet was white forward. I also added myrtle into my bouquet only, as that is what every royal wedding has, to commemorate love. More specifically, since the mid-1800s, British royal brides often carried myrtle in their bridal bouquet. The tradition stems from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's 1840 wedding, when the Queen carried myrtle — known as the herb of love — at her nuptials. I found a lot of my inspiration came from my admiration for royal weddings and how classic/timeless they are. They are always romantic and traditionally held in a church, like mine. I wanted my guests to feel like they were transported to a different place and time. Our wedding chapel for the ceremony felt as if you were stepping back in European time. The Grand Del Mar hotel chapel holds a lot of history, including the fact that the pews were custom hand made in Italy and shipped over for the opening of the resort. I didn’t want anything modern and or typical of my generation’s wedding trends/choices. I personally loved my parent’s wedding and my Mom helped a lot with my vision.
How long did it take to plan your wedding? Did you encounter any challenges during the planning process?
The planning process took about 2 years. When we got engaged, we wanted to begin to plan the wedding, but we also wanted to take the time to enjoy being engaged. I think that is a huge component of getting married, is enjoying the lead up of just being a fiancé. I truly recommend that to any bride out there, if you have the luxury, don’t rush. The wait makes it that much more exciting and gives you so much time to plan the ‘special day’. Honestly, we rarely encountered any challenges throughout the wedding process. Having a wedding planner can make a huge difference, especially when you are planning a destination wedding and need to know of the vendor selection in the area. Wedding planners also keep you on your toes regarding deadlines and when things need to be done by, such as dress picking, meetings with the florist, choosing linens, etc… Especially having them day of the wedding is a huge weight off your shoulders and relieves any wedding stress and or anxiety you may have. In saying that, I made sure that all of the decisions made were mine and what I had envisioned since I was a little girl. Melissa, my wedding planner was just amazing for that and allowed me to have full control of the wedding, but still under her guidance and expertise.
How many guests did you have? And what was the seating arrangement at the wedding like?
We had 120 guests, which consisted of 12 round tables of 10. We chose round tables to allow everyone the ability to mingle respectively and move around the ballroom efficiently.
Tell us about your outfits. How many different styles have you tried?
I had only one dress and it was my dream wedding gown. I wore a Berta Privée, which I bought at The Bustle in San Diego. Berta was my dream designer and I have followed them closely for many years. I was encouraged to have more than one look, but truly couldn’t, as I was that in love with my dress. I even wore my vail the entire evening, because I custom made it to match the shade of my dress which was the colour ‘latte’. Before choosing my dress, I probably tried on roughly 50 dresses, all different styles, brands and colours. I had no idea going in what I wanted and no paticular type of dress that I envisioned wearing. It was the most fun part of the wedding process and I encourage any and every bride to not rush it.
What was your first dance song? Did you choreograph or improvise?
'Can’t Help Falling in Love'. It was completely improvised and all in the moment. I never wanted it to feel unnatural. Brendan and I often dance around our apartment, so although this wasn’t necessarily the same, it is very ‘us’.
Did you have any special performances or entertainment?
No, just a DJ, who was awesome and really made the night a party.
What was the most memorable moment from your wedding day?
Too many to choose from, but I will give my top 4: 1) Seeing Brendan for the first time as I began to walk down the aisle; 2) Seeing my parents for the first time when I was finally in my dress; 3) Immediately after the ceremony taking off in a vintage white Porsche with a ‘Just Married’ sign on the back. 4) The moment the cold sparklers went off at ‘cake cutting’.
Did you have any wedding favours? What did you give each other as a gift?
Instead of a gift, we had a coffee cart at our wedding reception. Essentially, we contracted out a local barista who came and crafted espresso drinks on site. Guests could choose from any of their favourites: mocha, flat white, cortado, latte, etc…. Our signature espresso drinks were ‘Gabby’s Go-To’ which was an oat milk latte and ‘Brendan’s Brew’ which was a caramel macchiato.
What helped you cope with the anxiety before the wedding?
Surrounding yourself with the right type of people: Family, close friends and loved ones. Another tip is be with your fiancé. Brendan and I about a month before our wedding went on spontaneous little dates that were out of the norm for us: One night with did pottery and painted little espresso cups for our new place. Enjoy the time you have together before you are officially married and try not to stress the little things.
What advice would you give to couples who are currently planning their wedding?
Take your time with wedding planning and don’t rush into anything. Recognize that you don’t need to splurge to have an extravagant wedding. Brendan and I opted out of a wedding cake (which is very untraditional) and chose to have a croquembouche instead. Not only was this an absolute hit with our guests, but we saved an enormous amount of money. Further to that, it looked glamorous and made the ‘cake cutting’ photos that much more incredible. Be creative and don’t feel like you have to follow the standard and or the ‘Pinterest Perfect’ wedding. A fun fact is that a croquembouche is considered a traditional wedding cake in France.
Wedding Croquembouche: @frenchgourmet
Speedster Car: @seasideclassics
Wedding Dress: @thebustlebridalboutique by @bertaprivee & @berta
Coffee Cart: @danielscoffeecart