The world is your oyster…savor every minute.

Written by: Laura Pardini 
Contributor’s website: City Style LA

There is a certain romance associated with destination weddings.   Here is an expose on two Los Angeles residents; Jake and Joanne Leslie, that planned their dream like wedding  from half way around the world.  It all started with a chance encounter on James Beach in Venice, California, which proceeded to Jake’s romantic proposal on Broad Beach in Malibu two years ago.  Their union was commemorated on the South African coast last December.  I sat down with Joanne to get some insider tips for any engaged couples thinking about booking a long distance celebration.  
Any tips for planning a destination wedding?  
Focus on the big picture.  Try not to get caught up in the minutia of details.  Learn to delegate.  Locate a reputable hotel and work with the Coordinator.  Research referrals, explore websites, and compare venues.  We picked a five star hotel called the Oyster Box Hotel.   Prince Albert and Princess Charlene just held a large dinner reception there, so its reputation is topnotch.   
We were fortunate that my parents were on vacation in South Africa, so they were able to visit the hotel a few times to meet with some of the suppliers and help us with some of the details.  I also suggest that the bride and groom go to the destination country a few days in advance to take care of last minute plans and adjust to the timeframe.

Why did you pick South Africa?   
Jake and I live in Los Angeles and we explored many options.  We both have a lot of family there, but the determining factor was that my grandparents live in South Africa and we wanted to make sure that they were a part of the celebration.  

What was your experience like picking the attire for the wedding?  
I went out with my sister, Candice Romanelli, and explored some boutiques around town.  We went to Vera Wang and picked out a few dresses.  There was one dress that stood out.   
From the minute that I put it on…my sister gasped and we both agreed that this one was the one.  It fit the atmosphere and an overall feel that I had envisioned for that day.  It was romantic, chic and had an understated elegance about it. 
Jake found a suit at J Lindeberg.  He picked a slim suit.  The draw was that it has a clean cut and retro feel.  
Did you bring a little of L.A. to your celebration?  
Yes.  We served personalized martinis called “JJ’s Passion”. 

It was modeled after my favorite drink at Katsuya in Hollywood.  Here is a similar take on the recipe: 
recipe is for 1 martini
2 slices of serrano chile
1.5 oz absolute mandarine
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz OJ
1/2 oz cranberry juice
Muddle one slice chile in bottom of cocktail shaker. Add vodka, lemon juice, oj, simple syrup, cran with a large handful of ice.  
Shake vigorously until well chilled.  Strain into sugar rimmed martini glass. garnish with chile slice.
Did you incorporate any unique features to the event?  
We had an international guest list, so we scrapped the paper invites and chose to send via internet.  We used Paperless Post.  Also, to commemorate the various cities that people were from, we displayed the locations on center place cards within the center of the dining tables.  
I know that you and Jake are super creative.  How did you go about picking the photographer?  
We wanted a photojournalistic vibe.   
We researched referrals and came across Segerius Bruce Photography.   Their style photography was exactly what we wanted for it told the story of the day.  They truly captured all those special memories and the emotion of the day.   
Any special advice for brides and grooms on the wedding day?  
Just to really enjoy the day, take it all in, and not sweat the small stuff…

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Contributor’s website: City Style LA

image credits: Segerius Bruce Photography

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