Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Who among us can read these words and not think wedding?

Since time immemorial, weddings have followed a path strewn with tradition. From the snow-white gown and lacy train to the first messy bite of cake, nary a bride has dared deviate from the manual handed down by mothers and grandmothers who take it for granted that her wedding will look identical to the ones back in the day.


Wedding at Pelican HillTo the amazement of hoteliers, restaurateurs, party planners and especially mothers, 21st century weddings are going rogue. Among the more noticeable challenges to the tried and true is duration, as couples stretch their 15 seconds of fame from the typical weekend affair into multiday events.

At Pelican Hill,® which has encouraged the trend with some creative thinking of its own, that can mean anything from Wednesday evening clambakes to Monday morning Bloody Mary bars.

“The ceremony-followed-by-reception format is no longer the only option,” said Alicia Townsend, an event coordinator with Details Details in Orange County.

“Wedding guests don’t just send the bride and groom off on a honeymoon the next morning. Instead, couples are opting to spend quality time with friends and family, and they’re putting a lot of effort into creating activities to thank them for making the trip.”

Wedding at Pelican Hill
All images from REHEARSAL DINNER GOES SURFSIDE courtesy of Jasmine Starr.

Claire Matusek and her husband, Ryan, who married at The Resort at Pelican Hill® in April, chose to forgo the ritual of a rehearsal dinner, instead kicking off the celebration with an offbeat coastal soirée on the sand at nearby Crystal Cove.

Hundreds of friends and loved ones, many from the East Coast, were whisked by private coaches to and from the Welcome Beach Party.

“We got the idea for the welcome party when we were talking with [Pelican Hill director of weddings and special events] Fernanda Jaime. It had our name written all over it,” said the new Mrs. Matusek. “We wanted to spend time with everyone before the actual I do’s, and also allow our guests to get to know each other.”

The beach party was the polar opposite of their black-tie wedding—which was exactly what they wanted. Blankets and daybeds dotted the sand, steel drummers set the mood with rhythmic Caribbean tunes and guests feasted on their choice of barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, pick-your-fixins’ burgers and old-fashioned s’mores.

“It was all very welcoming, low stress and family friendly,” said Matusek. “Nobody wanted to leave.”

1 of 3
Thinking Outside the Altar

pelican110_CBr1FFayaz Chamadia, owner of Bloom Box, a creative design and floral company in Orange County, agreed that couples are redefining weddings, to the point of holding what was only recently considered unthinkable: weeknight vows. “I’ve seen a huge increase in midweek weddings,” said Chamadia. “We do a lot of Thursday weddings and even some on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It may have to do with being an attractive option for guests wanting to avoid weekend air travel, or it may just be Orange County’s most innovative wedding trend.”

Whatever the reasons, every day can be a wedding day at Pelican Hill.® “We’ve hosted midweek celebrations for up to 400 people,” said Jaime. “Today’s couples understand that if their guests are going to make a vacation out of the trip, it doesn’t really matter which day of the week they get married.”

In addition to choosing weekdays instead of weekends, couples are looking beyond the traditional ballroom, instead combining a lawn ceremony with alfresco dining, and reveling, under the stars.

“I love the idea of couples marrying and celebrating on the Mar Vista Event Lawn,” said Jaime. “Between the panoramic views and the classic Roman architecture, it is the epitome of a destination wedding.”

All Images for THINKING OUTSIDE THE ALTAR courtesy of John and Joseph Photography.

One can easily imagine that the designers of the Resort’s outdoor spaces had such ceremonies in mind, particularly when they laid out the stately oval of manicured grass that extends to a dramatic ridge some 300 feet above the sea. Venture to the edge and discover a fairy tale Italian rotunda, clearly built for two.

“Between the velvety air, the natural flora and fauna and the gentle ocean breezes,” said Jaime, “it’s no surprise that brides fall in love all over again.”

Chamadia recently designed a wedding where everything took place on the Mar Vista Event Lawn at the Resort. After formal vows were exchanged under the Rotunda, the 45 guests relaxed on plush lounge furniture and gathered around elegantly draped cocktail tables.

Dinner was served steps away, under a 14-foot high silk canopy punctuated with crystal chandeliers. Giving new meaning to inclusivity, the couple requested a 45-person table surrounded by decadent, reflective chairs that sparkled in the light. “It was epic,” said Chamadia, “and breathtaking.”

“Every bride and groom is different. Some are all about the basics, while others want us to go all out. And we love that,” said Jamie. “It is both our passion and our pleasure to come up with new concepts that inject a couple’s personality into the wedding experience.”

For more information about weddings at Pelican Hill, please contact our wedding team at 877.624.6035.

  • Wedding at Pelican Hill

1 of 3
The Resort at Pelican Hill VISIT PELICAN HILL