How We Met
In 2000, I just started working for the Laguna Beach Police Department (LBPD) after working for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for five years. It was during my time with LAPD that I realized I wanted a better quality of life. I was fortunate to have found Laguna Beach after doing a lot of soul searching. Shortly after starting work at LBPD, another officer also transferred from LAPD to LBPD. He and I knew each other but out departures from LAPD to LBPD were not planned.
During an early morning shift Zack and I were enjoying the sunrise at Thalia Street beach. We couldn’t believe we were working in such a beautiful place after working in South Central Los Angeles. Zack had recently been married and he and his wife Joanne were pregnant with their first child. Zack asked if I would help him build a crib on our next day off together. I met Zack at his house and we built the crib. While visiting, he showed me his wedding album. The wedding album was amazing, but like most guys, I went right to the bridesmaid photos. That was the first time a saw Tina. I asked Zack if Tina was single and to my surprise she was. The next thing I asked him was obvious, “is she single?”
Tina and Joanne were roommates while they were completing their residency at UCLA to specialize in pediatric dentistry, after both of them became dentists. Needless to say they were very close, so before Zack was allowed to set me up for a date with Tina, I had to get the third degree from Joanne. I passed her approval.
At the time Tina was working in LA as a dentist so this presented a challenge because I just left working in LA. After getting Tina’s phone number from Joanne, I called and we met in LA at Universal City Walk. Our first date was amazing and we had an instant connection to each other. We dated for a year, driving back and forth from LA to Orange County to see each other every opportunity we could. Just over a year later I decided that I was going to propose to Tina.
While working in Laguna Beach I had a lot of friends that were into boating. One of my friends owned a yacht so I asked him if I could plan a proposal using his yacht. I asked another friend if I could use his offshore boat for my proposal plan. On September 13, 2004, I told Tina I was going to take her to Catalina Island for a 100 MPH, 30-minute ride in the offshore boat. Who wouldn’t be excited about that! We met at Newport Harbor and started idling toward the Ocean
in the harbor. As we approached the center of the harbor I had all of our closest friends and family waiting on the yacht for Tina and I to come by. As I drove toward the yacht, I pointed to it so Tina would see it. The boat had a 50-foot long banner along the side of it that said “Tina Will You Marry Me”. Tina said yes! and as we approached the yacht, she saw all of our friends and family on the boat, including her mom, dad and brother, who I flew in from Sacramento to celebrate with us.
We were married on September 17, 2005 at Seven-Degrees. During our engagement we did what most couples do and looked at every venue we could think of. Naturally we wanted the wedding to be memorable for us as well as our guests. Surprisingly, we visited Seven-Degrees last. At the time I didn’t know Seven-Degrees was a venue for weddings because I had only been there for other types of events while at work. It didn’t take long to realize that Seven-Degrees was the place we wanted to be married. We explained our vision to Dora and the staff and soon realized our vision was going to be reality. Everyone involved in our wedding planning at Seven-Degrees was amazing. Whether it was finding [the perfect menu] to creating a unique, blended ceremony that both our friends and families would enjoy, everyone at Seven-Degrees was there to help us make it perfect. On the day of the wedding words cannot express how amazed we were at the transformation that took place. Everything was absolutely perfect right down to the hanging vases above the tables at the reception. I even think they arranged for the weather to be perfect. The venue was classy and sexy. The ceremony on the terrace had a feeling of being on a tropical island. The dinner felt like a gourmet meal in a upscale restaurant and the reception was like being in a Miami nightclub. Throughout the years people have reminded us of their favorite part of the wedding. Hands down the belly dancer was a hit. She came out of nowhere, seduced the men with her moves and enticed the women to dance. Everyone danced the night away. At the end of the night and for months to come all of friends and family called to tell us it was the best wedding they had ever been to. Mission accomplished!
Following the wedding, Tina and I enjoyed two weeks visiting all of the Tahitian islands, staying in bungalows on the ocean, scuba diving and exploring the islands. Looking back, the honeymoon was so much more enjoyable knowing the wedding was perfect.
People always say don’t stress on the day of the wedding, even if things go wrong. We didn’t have to worry about anything going wrong because we were confidant that everyone at Seven-Degrees was there to make it perfect, and it was. I am fortunate to work in a beautiful beach community. I pass Seven-Degrees everyday on the way to work and on the way home. Regardless of how my day went, I know that I will smile at least twice a day, each time I look over an see Seven-Degrees, reflecting on our wedding day.
Advice For Newlyweds
Planning a wedding can be stressful. Our advice is for both the bride and groom to be involved and to be partners in the process. You will not agree on everything but if you chose the right venue, they will help you with the tough decisions. While planning the wedding at Seven-Degrees, we never heard the word NO. When we were undecided they gave us options, when we were stressed, they listened, and when we asked for something different, they said we can do that. There are a lot of places to chose from but there is no place like Seven-Degrees.
The best advice we have for couples on marriage is to always make time for each other despite how busy you are, and always start each morning and finish each night with the words I Love You.
Life After Marriage
A lot has changed since marriage. In 2007 Tina opened her own pediatric dental practice in Ranch Santa Margarita and I have since promoted to a Lieutenant in the police Department. The biggest and the best change in life is that Tina and I are the proud parents of twin girls who are now 7 years old. They are the joy of our lives. We recently purchased our dream home in Orange County and plan on raising our children here. In the next five years we look forward to making great family memories. We work hard so we can enjoy our family time. In the future we do plan on renewing our vows because when we show the twins the video and pictures of our wedding at Seven-Degrees, they get excited and want to know when we are going to do it again!
Photos by Carlos Cano – Niera Photography