Nine years ago, Christie Sperry met her perfect match in Chris York. His wit reeled her in and his charm kept her intrigued. He remembered every detail that she ever said and had big dreams for their future. The only problem was, they had never actually seen each other. What started on Facebook progressed to chats with instant messaging. Then they stepped it up to phone conversations. After countless hours on the phone and years of friendship, Chris made the bold move of flying from Chicago to meet Christie in person.
“He was my best friend before I had ever laid eyes on him,” says Christie. “In fact, before ever seeing Chris, I told my friend Kristin that if I didn’t marry this guy, one of us was going to have to snag him, because he’s too good to let go.”
When Chris showed up at Orange County airport that fateful February afternoon in 2007, Christie was pleased to find out he was not bad on the eyes. This was before Facebook had photo albums and Chris had the question mark as his default image. “I’m sure it was love at first sight since I arrived with a Pepperoni Pizza in hand,” laughs Christie.
Their first weekend together was a lot of fun. After Christie drove him to the airport and bid him farewell, on the way home from the airport, she sobbed because she already missed him. It was at that moment that she decided she never wanted to spend a day without him. Christie flew to Chicago a few weeks later and moved there a few months after that.
Seven years into their relationship, Chris decided it was time to propose. He always wanted to surprise Christie, and with a trip to Paris and Italy around the corner, he knew, she knew, it was in the works. The day after they came home from spending two weeks in those romantic cities, Christie was saddened that there was no proposal, and while having morning coffee with their two-pound Chihuahua, Chris asked her to spend forever with him. Christie was very surprised, and even more surprised to learn that he had spent four months working with her mom and family jeweler to design her dream wedding ring.
Being a professional wedding planner, the planning was easy for Christie. The only problem was that she had twenty other weddings to plan in conjunction with her own. “I could have had everything done with the snap of a finger,” she laughs, “but I wanted to include Chris in the decision making so the wedding was a true reflection of us.”
Her dad knew she absolutely loved the St. Regis in Monarch Beach. As a Valentine’s Day Gift, he surprised them by booking their dream wedding venue!
“The actual wedding day was the best day of our lives” says Christie. She woke up with a tear-jerking text from my mom at six a.m. saying “The day is here. I can’t believe my little girl is getting married today!” The girls gathered in the bridal suite and the groomsmen in Chris’ suite to get ready for the big day ahead.
The formalities started out with a very meaningful ceremony in the Catholic church where the couple took the same vows as their parents and grandparents. They took photos around the beautiful Mission San Juan Capistrano gardens and then went back to the St. Regis for the festivities.
They had a beautiful grand entrance followed by a prayer delivered by a close family friend. Guests feasted over a four-course meal as they listened to touching speeches. After the sun went down, the couple took to the dance floor for their first dance. At the most climactic moment, a canon of butterflies was released and according to Christie, was probably the most romantic moment of the night. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when she danced to “I Loved Her First” with her dad, and Chris danced to “Because You Loved Me” with his mom.
Having planned over four hundred weddings (mostly in ballrooms), Christie didn’t want the same for their wedding; especially at a hotel with such a magnificent ocean view. The couple asked the hotel if they would allow them to have the reception on the big stretch of lawn overlooking a perfectly manicured golf course and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Their request was honored.
“I’m so glad we pushed the envelope,” says Christie “because as the sun set over the beautiful Pacific blue ocean, the sparkly blush table cloths were shining and the scent of flowers was in the air. The juxtaposition of nature and the glamorous elements we brought in made it a setting straight out of the heavens.”
Some special touches from the wedding included the selection of music. When Christie and Chris had not yet met in person, Chris would always send her CD’s with music he thought she would like. He always inspired her through music. Christie saw it fitting that Chris should choose their first dance song. He chose “Heart of the World” by Lady Antebellum because it takes you through the progression of a relationship, the love that’s present when you first meet, on your wedding day, when you’re raising children, and the trying times along with the good times.
Christie wore the same clutch that Chris’ mom and grandmother wore on their wedding days, complete with a lucky penny inside. Chris’ parents also gave them a book of love poems that his dad gave his mom on their wedding day.
Her parents were especially happy to welcome Chris into the family, so much so that her dad had a trophy made with a plaque that read “first son-in-law.”
Since Christie had planned hundreds of luxury weddings, guests were so excited because they thought she was saving all of her favorite things she had learned over the years for her own wedding.
Although Christie admits she did employ a few of those secrets, she says, “The real secret I’ve learned throughout the years is to be in the moment with your groom. That is by far, the hardest kept secret that most brides do not master—to not get caught up in the décor or how the flowers look on the wedding day, but to remember that this day is about your love, and only love. If you let the rest distract you, you’ve missed the point entirely.”
“At the end of the day, we were overwhelmed with love,” says Christie. “It took us weeks to process what went on that day, especially with 280 guests. Luckily, we had the beautiful beaches of The Ritz Carlton in Aruba waiting for us!”