Some couples meet when they are children attending school together. Others meet years later at high school reunions, through friends’ introductions, or at Happy Hours and other events for singles. Many more hook up via Internet dating sites or Facebook and other social media. And while all marriage proposals ask prospective partners, “Will you marry me,” this question can be posed in innumerable ways and settings unique to each couple.     

The five couples profiled in “Arroyo Weddings” illustrate a small segment of this diversity. Their choices of wedding and reception venues, photographers, caterers, hair and makeup stylists, and the many other details that create the perfect wedding demonstrate their individual tastes, values and priorities. 

The five profiles also offer suggestions for vendors that can be employed at other weddings. But don’t fret if you disagree with these choices — a large selection of other vendors is available to help design the specific atmosphere you desire on your wedding day. 




Marcile Vadell-Strickland and Andy Montoya met when they sat across the classroom from each other at Monterey Hills Elementary School in South Pasadena. However, Marcile recalls that Andy wouldn’t talk to her. “However, he did sit in the backseat of my mom’s car as we gave him rides home from Monterey Hills Elementary School,” she explains on the Tie the Knot website. “My mom now reminisces about how I would tell her ‘I like this boy, Andy. I like his face.’” However, the two eventually lost touch with each other.

More than 20 years later, Marcile’s dad and best friend convinced her to attend her 13th high school reunion, telling her “You’ll never know who is hoping you’ll be there.” That person was Andy, and the couple reconnected while dancing and talking. The next night they went on their first date; nine months later, they visited their former elementary school, where Andy proposed to Marcile outside their classroom.  

Andy and Marcile were married on Nov. 21, 2015 at the First Baptist Church in Pasadena. A yellow school bus transported guests to the ceremony and reception — a tribute to the elementary school where the Montoyas began their relationship.  



Wedding Venue: First Baptist Church, 75 N. Marengo Ave., Pasadena; (626) 793-7164, 

Reception Venue: Calamigos Equestrian, 480 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank; (818) 9782-5940,

Photographer/Videographer: K. Fiero Photography; (949) 505-3353,

Cake: Porto’s Bakery & Café, 315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; (818) 956-5996,

Floral: Jessica Gray at Vave Studios, 950 Mission St., South Pasadena; (323) 487-9147,

Entertainment: DJ Albert Gonzalez, (626) 375-4822; Aaron Copenhaugen, guitarist; El Canito Cigar Events (909) 772-5121; 

Bridal Gown: Connie Tao Designs, 23 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; (626) 765-5939;

Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nordstrom;

Groom’s Tux: Macy’s;


Transportation: A yellow school bus to honor the fact that they met in elementary school




Chelsea Lee and Thomas Wuyek met in 2006 when they were freshmen at Johnson & Wales University in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Tommy was studying culinary arts and Chelsea was studying baking and pastry arts. “Our passion and love for food is what initially brought us together,” says Chelsea. “We love spending time cooking together just as much as we love going out and eating a good meal.”

After completing their college educations, the couple moved to California, Chelsea’s home state. During a 2013 trip to San Diego, Tommy, Chelsea and her parents spent the day on Coronado Island. While sitting on a bench watching the waves roll in, Tommy pulled out an engagement ring and proposed to Chelsea. 

 “I was a mess, in a pair of old jeans and a T-shirt, and my hair was crazy from being windblown by the salty air,” Chelsea recalls. “It was not how I thought I would look when I imagined being proposed to. But it didn’t matter; I had never been so happy in all my life.” Later that day, Chelsea’s sister joined the other family members for a celebratory dinner. 

The couple experienced some hard times during their two-year engagement: Tommy needed to have back surgery and Chelsea was saddened by her grandmother’s death. But the couple continued to love and support each other. They were married at the USC Pacific Asia Museum in December 2015



Wedding Venue: USC Pacific Asia Museum, 46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena; (626) 449-2742,  

Reception Venue: USC Pacific Asia Museum 

Photographer/Videographer: Samantha Turchin; (310) 738-8054,

Cake: Porto’s Bakery & Café; 315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; (818) 956-5996,

Floral: Vave Studios; 950 Mission St., South Pasadena; (323) 487-9147,

Catering: Billotti’s Catering; 45 N. San Gabriel Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 354-1295,

Wedding Planner/Consultant: Jessica Wuyek; (443) 622-6747

Bridal Gown: Tak Hua at Aria; 850 S. Broadway, Suite 604, Los Angeles; (213) 629-6981, 

Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Angelo; 1036#B West Covina Parkway, West Covina: (626) 813-7700,

Groom’s Tux: Garment District, Downtown Los Angeles

Hair & Makeup: Heather Roach; (323) 212-2204,

Stationery/Invitations: VistaPrint; 




Solomon and Pearl Henderson have been married for more than 50 years. The couple met at a wedding, at which Pearl, a bridesmaid, recalls she “was taking a breather at the reception because the cheap, tight shoes dyed-to-match were hurting my feet. … Sol drove up in his red, convertible Jaguar, wearing a hat with a pipe in his mouth. I thought ‘What a handsome, debonair gentlemen. Who is he?’”

The couple struggled with their relationship for four years before getting married. “We were both feeling rather jaded after broken engagements, so it was not easy for us to get into a serious relationship,” says Pearl. “However, from the beginning we knew that something quite special was there between us.” Although they dated others, the two always came back together.

Sol never officially proposed to Pearl. But when Pearl visited Sol at the California National Guard facility during his two-week summer training, she was surprised when he introduced her as his “fiancé.” Six months later, on Dec. 19, 1965, the couple married at the Wilshire Methodist Church in Los Angeles, with a reception in the fellowship hall.

In December 1990, after 25 years of marriage, the Hendersons renewed their vows during a ceremony at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel. Twenty-five years later, they again renewed their vows in a ceremony at the Grand Wailea Hotel in Maui, Hawaii; they also celebrated their golden anniversary with a luncheon reception at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel on Dec. 20, 2015. 

The following information refers to the Hendersons’ 50th anniversary reception in Pasadena: 



Reception Venue: Pasadena Hilton Hotel, 168 S. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena; (626) 577-1000,

Photographer/Videographer: Jerome Sykes at Photographic Memories, 37827 Wisteria Trail, Palmdale; (323) 270-1870,

Cake: Pastries by Nancy, 761 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena; (626) 794-9839,

Floral: Jacob Maarse, 655 E. Green St., Pasadena; (626) 449-0246;

Entertainment: Jazz musician Billy Mitchell and friends; (626) 641-3262 

Bridal Gown: Mon Amie, 355 S. Bristol Ave., Costa Mesa;  (714) 546-5700, 

Hair & Makeup: Chris Owens at Classy Cuts; (323) 708-1920 

Stationery/Invitations: Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 449-4320,


mutual friend introduced Jacque Robinson and Marcus Baisley about 13 years ago. The two dated for three months before ending their relationship. “I admit,” says Jacque, “I looked for him occasionally on and off through social media throughout the years and could never find a connection. Then one day in 2014 — Aug. 17, to be exact — I found him on Facebook.”

Their reconnection led to another round of dating. By then, Jacque was serving her second term on the Pasadena City Council, and in 2015 she ran for mayor, eventually losing to Councilman Terry Tornek. In the midst of the campaign, Marcus proposed to Jacque during a brief trip to Las Vegas.

“He filmed me in the car asking ‘What would I think if I came back married?’” Jacque recalls. “And I responded that I wasn’t ready because my hair wasn’t done and I didn’t have anything to wear (of all things). It never crossed my mind that the proposal was the purpose of our trip.” After arriving at their hotel, Marcus placed an engagement ring on the bed, knelt on one knee and asked Jacque to marry him.

The couple married on Oct. 24, 2015 at the Scott United Methodist Church in Pasadena. The date was carefully chosen. “His birthday is April 2 and mine is June 22,” explains Jackie. “Our wedding date is the combination of our birth months and days.”  



Wedding Venue: Scott United Methodist Church, 444 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 793-0543,

Reception Venue: Sophia Room at Noor, 300 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 200, Pasadena; (626) 793-4518,

Photographer/Videographer: Billy Preston at BP Photo 

Cake: Southern Girl Desserts, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 100, Los Angeles; (323) 293-2253;

Floral: Scarlett Flowers Designs; (626) 593-2034,

Entertainment: DJ Pierre Hall 

Wedding Planner/Consultant: Jacqueline Snell of Events by Jacqueline; (626) 399-3042

Bridal Gown: Panache Bridal, 78 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; (626) 585-8200,

Bridesmaids’ Dresses: David’s Bridal;

Hair Salon: Josephine Robinson at Salon 580; (626) 644-1778,

Makeup Salon: Nicole Stephens at Glamluxxe Makeup Artistry; (626) 644-5951,

Stationery/Invitations: Online at Paperless Post;

Transportation: Hertz, 2070 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 578-0443; 



Mercedes Blackehart, a freelance artist, videographer and production designer, and Justin Chapman, a writer and communications associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy,  could have known each other years before they started dating. The two grew up in Pasadena and Altadena, lived a few blocks from each other when they were children, had mutual friends in elementary and middle schools, and attended the same high school in Los Angeles. But they had never met until Mercedes began surfing the Internet.   

While waiting for a flight at a Toronto airport in 2012, Mercedes perused the OkCupid online dating site and viewed Justin’s profile. Justin later sent a message to Mercedes and the two agreed to a first date at a wine bar in Old Pasadena.  Within a couple of weeks they had moved in together and within nine months they were engaged. 

Justin, a longtime contributor to the Pasadena Weekly, formally proposed to Mercedes while they visited Hangzhou, China, a lush lake garden city with which the two instantly fell in love. Handed a gold pouch adorned with Chinese symbols, Mercedes opened it to find a box containing Justin’s grandmother’s ring. Justin bent down on one knee to propose, and despite some complaints that the ring didn’t fit and that she should have worn a better shirt, Mercedes said yes.

Mercedes and Justin married at the Zorthian Ranch in Altadena on Sept. 19, 2015, with Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek officiating. The wedding theme was “Embrace Your Inner Creature.” Mercedes, friends and family members made the hand-drawn invitations, the papier-mache animal centerpieces, masks for the photo booth, and other decorations. The couple’s Chihuahua-mix dogs, Nico and Fiona, served as ring bearers.  


Wedding Venue: Zorthian Ranch, 3990 Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena; (626) 797-3359,

Reception Venue: Zorthian Ranch

Photographer: Siouxzen Kang; (323) 301-3893,

Videographer: Jaq Schmidt;

Catering: Gourmet a Go Go; (818) 249-9034,

Entertainment: Stoop Steady 6; (626) 710-7575,; Music Mania, (661) 619-6455,

Officiant: Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek; (626) 744-4111, 


That Special Day

That Special Day

First comes love, then the marriage proposal, followed by the often intense preparations needed to create a memorable and magical wedding. One of the most pressing details is the choice of vendors who will take photographs, cater the food, provide wedding apparel for the bride and groom and supply other services on wedding day. While some couples let wedding planners select vendors, others prefer to do this themselves.     


This is a tale of five weddings — and the vendors who contributed to the events’ success.



Love Story

Ric R. Roman and Monica Flores Roman met at a professionals’ networking event, eyeing each other from opposite sides of the room. Several months later the two had their second meeting at an office birthday party at Lola’s martini bar. They started discretely dating, keeping their office romance secret for more than a year as they built a successful financial practice. 


One night last year, Ric told Monica they were meeting clients for dinner. But the dinner was at Lola’s and the clients were nowhere in sight. Ric read Monica a poem he wrote to  express his love, then got down on one knee, pulled out a ring and asked her to marry him.  


The two were married at St. Philip the Apostle Church, the site of Monica’s elementary and middle school, and held their wedding reception at Alverno High School, which Monica also attended and where she now serves on the board of directors and chairs the marketing and development committee. Monica’s father, who owns a tequila company, gave each wedding guest a bottle of extra anejo tequila decorated with the bride and groom’s logo.  



Wedding Venue: St. Philip the Apostle Church

Reception Venue: Villa del Sol d’Oro, on the campus of Alverno High School

Photographer/Videographer: Sari Makki Photography

Cake: Jaime Cakes

Catering: Santa Anita Gardens Catering

Rentals: Lindbergh McPherson

Lighting: Majjak Productions

Entertainment: The D’Jay Company

Bridal Gown: ProNovias

Bridesmaids Dresses: Alfred Angelo

Groom Tux: Northridge Suit Outlet

Hair/Makeup: Egle Miciene

Stationery/Invitations: On Graphics Design

Transportation: VIP Limo



Love Story 


Patrice Cardamone Veyna and Brandon Veyna have been inseparable since they met seven years ago. Back then, Patrice, a student at Pepperdine University, and her friends stopped at Duke’s Restaurant in Malibu before heading for spring break in Palm Springs. “I had just sworn off guys,” Patrice recalls. “However, right when we walked into Duke’s there was a very handsome surfer guy at the bar laughing with his buddies and my heart and head at the same time went ‘oh no, we are in trouble.’”


The two discovered they had many things in common, such as growing up in Catholic households and attending Catholic schools. Five years later, Brandon proposed while the two attended Patrice’s family reunion at the Outer Banks, North Carolina. As they walked along the beach, Patrice saw a heart drawn in the sand. Then Brandon got down on one knee, told Patrice how much he loved her and said he wanted her to be his wife.


The two got married in August 2014 at the Holy Family Catholic Church in South Pasadena.




Wedding Venue: Holy Family Church

Reception Venue: A family friend’s home in Altadena.

Photographer/Videographer: Debra Morrison

Cake: The Walrus & Hedgehog (see Directory)

Floral: Vavé Studios (see Directory)

Entertainment and Lighting: Light Up the Night Entertainment Services (see Directory) 

Bridal Gown: Panaché Bridal

Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Victoria’s Secret

Groom Tux: Neda Menswear

Hair Salon: LuxeLab

Makeup Salon: Heather Pepe

Stationery/Invitations/Menus/Place Cards: Alyssa Stefek Photography




Love Story

Denise Robb and Michael Vanier’s relationship proves that dating websites can work. Denise, a political science professor at Pierce College, and Michael, who teaches computer science at Caltech, met on e-Harmony and discovered they had a lot in common. In addition to being professors, they both love cats and write comedy. When Michael first told Denise he was a comedy writer, she recalls she was skeptical because “most people who said ‘I have some great jokes for you’ simply weren’t funny. Mike turned out to be hysterical.” He eventually wrote material that was well received when Denise, a professional standup comic, performed it. 


Mike also took Denise to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to see what she describes as “the worst opera we had ever seen based on David Cronenberg’s horror movie ‘The Fly.’” While they were discussing the opera’s awfulness, Mike pulled out a ring, got on his knees and proposed.   


The couple was married by the Rev. Tera Little at the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena, where they also held their wedding reception. Denise gave birth to their son Joshua a year later.



Wedding & Reception Venue: Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church

Photographer/Videographer: Leslie Barton

Cake: Sweet and Organic Desserts

Flowers: Mina McFarland

Catering: Doomie’s Home Cooking

Entertainment: DJ and karaoke by Johnny Stewart

Bridal Gown: One Night Affair

Hair Salon: Cheveux  Salon

Makeup Salon: Veronica Lane Garcia



Love Story

 Many people start training in martial arts and find a lifestyle. Nina and Kristopher Burranasombati started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and found each other. 


They were both white belts the day they met and over a few years they “choked” their way to a loving relationship. In that time they both received blue belts, ran marathons, traveled together, and took part in many adventures. 


After three years of dating, Kristopher pulled off the ultimate submission — he proposed to Nina during a fictitious belt promotion ceremony with the help of Professor Alberto Crane at Gracie Barra in Burbank. Kristopher got down on one knee and presented Nina with a beautiful pear-  shaped ring and asked her to marry him…she excitedly responded, “Yes!” After the proposal they continued class and it was business as usual on the mats. When people ask Nina how Kristopher proposed, she usually sums it up by saying, “Proposed, slapped, bumped and rolled… True story!”


The two were married outdoors on a beautiful fall evening with lots of romantic candles.  


“Married life is great,” Nina says. “A family that trains together stays together.”



Wedding & Reception Venue: The Little White House at Calamigos Equestrian Center

Photographer: Bruno Ohara

Videographer: Envision Production

Cake: Portos Bakery

Floral: My Flower Guy

Entertainment: VIP DJ Entertainment

Wedding Planner/Consultant: Peggy Kelley, Timeless Celebrations (see Directory)

Bridal Gown: Unique Vintage

Hair & Make-up: Acree Beauty 

Invitations: Simply Stated Stationery



Love Story

When Darlene and David Caro first met nearly two years ago, it was nothing short of destiny being fulfilled.


“It felt like we’ve known each other for years,” says Darlene.


As Darlene describes it, the two met for dinner at a local restaurant, and from the moment they saw one another, they were in love.


“We danced the night away,” she recalls. “We were engrossed in nonstop conversation. … It was like we had known each other for a lifetime.”


David and Darlene were actually talking about their ideas about marriage when David popped the question.


“That’s when David reached in his pocket and pulled out this small black velvet box. He dropped to one knee and va va voom — he looked in my eyes and asked me to share the rest of his life with him while placing this big, beautiful diamond ring on my finger.”



Wedding & Reception Venue: University Club (see Directory)

Photographer/Videographer:  Pablo Cruz of LaughnLove Photography

Cake:  Artistic Cakes

Floral:  Penelope Designs

Linens:  GBS Linens

Entertainment:  Ace Band

Wedding Planner/Consultant:  Penelope Designs

Bridal Gown:  Alfred Angelo

Bridesmaids Dresses:  Macy’s

Hair Salon:  Raul Velasquez

Make-up:  Artistry by Valerie 

Invitations:  Norma Ornelas 


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