Alison and T.J. met as undergrads at the University of Southern California in 2009. Alison, who played on the women’s tennis team, enjoyed shared movie nights with the men’s golf team, where T.J. was a member.
“T.J. came to most of the women’s tennis matches and sat behind my court and cheered me on,” remembers Alison. “I never lost a tennis match when he watched me play.”
A decade later, the couple got engaged at their favorite beach spot in Manhattan Beach. They established roots in Redondo Beach and wanted their wedding to highlight the South Bay and why they love living here.
“It was important that we picked a place that resembled ‘us,’” shares Alison. “We enjoy getting churros on the Redondo Beach Pier, going to the beach, riding bikes on The Strand and listening to live music. We go to Shade Hotel often for happy hour, to watch the sunset and listen to live music. The view of the marina and ocean from the top deck is spectacular. We felt that Shade Hotel was perfect.”
Most important to the couple was having all their loved ones in one place at the same time, since most of Alison’s family is here in California and T.J.’s family lives in Missouri and Florida. With a two-year engagement, they had plenty of time to plan.
Alison asked her aunt Gracie Miller to help her with project management alongside Shade’s event team members Emely Lopez and Collette Charlesworth. With the extra help, Alison and T.J. had time to enjoy date nights and dance lessons with Marco Spadafora at Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Redondo Beach.
They also loved cake tasting at Torrance Bakery. “My parents used to get my birthday cakes from Torrance Bakery, so the cake was very nostalgic,” says Alison.
The sunset ceremony was held on the Sky Level of Shade Hotel with a beautiful view of the marina and the ocean. Their dogs, Roxy and Buddy, walked down the aisle with the bridal party. Alison’s bouquet was wrapped in one of her late father’s shirts as she walked down the aisle to one of his favorite songs, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” sung by Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole.
Both mothers gave words of advice before Alison and T.J. exchanged their personally written vows. “We felt like the ceremony resembled everything that we valued,” says Alison.
The reception was at Shade’s Horizon Level, opening with a choreographed first dance to “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. “My father-daughter dance was with my paternal grandfather, Wilson Ramos, who is a Vietnam War veteran,” says Alison. T.J.’s mother-son dance was to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. DJ Rob Corrall, also from Redondo, kept the party going all night.
When the day was over, the newlyweds came home to their hotel room at Shade and discovered a heartfelt handwritten letter from Emely along with Champagne, a charcuterie board, and to-go boxes of their wedding cake, churros and grilled cheese sandwiches. “Emely made sure we were fed throughout the day and even after the day,” says Alison. “It was a personalized touch that was very much appreciated.”