Christine Bemis and Cameron Hardin met on a cruise ship back in 2014 — Christine was on her way from Long Beach, California, to Mexico. Cameron was onboard with family, celebrating his aunt and uncle’s 25th wedding anniversary. The young couple’s brief vacation flirtation turned into a casual, long-distance relationship as Christine headed home to California and Cameron returned to Kentucky.
The duo eventually lost touch, seemingly moving on with their lives. “Then he moved out to California to start working for his family company,” Christine says. “Suddenly, he was in my area … I called him up, and that’s how we actually started dating.”
That was in 2017. About three years later, on February 25, 2020, Christine was faced with her final exam to receive her architect license. “Cameron had set up a surprise dinner, assuming I would pass it,” she recalls with a laugh, adding that she was astonished to learn he had set up a big celebration with all their friends. “At the end of the dinner, he stood up to make a toast,” she says, “then he got down on one knee and proposed. It was really sweet. I was surprised twice.”
Like so many other couples, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to their wedding plans, but once the two were ready to tie the knot, they enlisted the help of Christy Burton at Christina Burton Events to be their day-of coordinator. “I wish we could have hired her to do the whole thing,” Christine says. “She was amazing and handled the day really well.”
“I really loved my dress,” Christine exclaims. “I still love my dress. It’s by Anais Anette; it’s the Dakota dress. I actually purchased something else … and then called the dress shop to change it back the next day. I was really in love with it as soon as I’d tried it on, but I was afraid it would be uncomfortable.”
Christine had her seamstress add spaghetti straps to the off-the-shoulder piece to make the dress work. This allowed her to be comfortable throughout the celebration, from the moment she and Cameron exchanged vows all the way to the dance floor. (SB Tip: Convertible wedding dresses with adjustable or removable elements are proving to be incredibly popular in 2022!)
The celebration was held at The Clerestory in Lexington. Housed in a former bus depot and inspired by the original architecture of the building, it is an industrial-style venue. Christine opted to incorporate moody jewel tones via her flowers and bridesmaids’ dresses.
Before guests arrived for the ceremony, the bride and groom stole an intimate moment for themselves. “We wrote our own vows and did them privately when we did the first look,” she says, “then we did traditional vows during the ceremony in front of everybody.”
During the cocktail hour that followed, the couple’s 180 guests enjoyed a selection of drinks with passed trays of lumpia, a type of fried Filipino spring roll. “We’re both half Filipino,” Christine explains. To ensure guests had ample time to enjoy the space and each other, the outdoor cocktail area was filled with classic games like Jenga, Connect 4, high-stakes checkers, and cornhole.
The reception dinner featured scallops, brisket, chicken, green beans, and potatoes, and the couple’s cake was a three-tier chocolate confection with vanilla buttercream icing. The stunning cake layered with ribbons of white icing was embellished with fresh flowers to match the rest of the decor.
After dinner, Christine moved to “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars with her new father-in-law. Then, Cameron and his mom swayed to “Never Too Far” by Dianne Reeves. The couple then shared their first dance to “Best Part” by H.E.R.
Music was a pivotal element of their celebration, featuring a DJ and a live band. “We had a crazy big band with a horn section and four vocalists,” Christine says of the reception. “They were so amazing; they absolutely made the party.”
While the ceremony details and raucous reception were important, the pair paid particular attention to quality time with family and friends throughout the weekend. Christine shares that renting a couple of Airbnbs was an essential aspect of their wedding weekend that helped to tie everything and everyone together.
“We had a lot of people travel in from California,” she explains. “I’m from California; he has a ton of family in California, and we also have friends living elsewhere in the U.S.” The couple utilized the rentals not just to accommodate their numerous out-of-town guests but also to serve as party spaces throughout the weekend. “They were like home bases,” Christine says. “One for the bridal party; one for the groomsmen. The groomsmen’s house, in particular, was the after-party house.”
In fact, if Christine could offer other brides a piece of advice for wedding planning, arranging those extra spaces and opportunities for family and friends to enjoy each other is a must. Their guests returned to these “home bases” again and again throughout the festivities. “It made it fun,” she says. “We got to enjoy our guests over a weekend instead of trying to pack it all into a day.”
Christine also advises future brides to remember to make time with their fiancé to talk about topics other than wedding planning. “I don’t mean to exclude them or take it all on yourself,” she says. “There will still be plenty of planning with them. There is just so much wedding stuff to talk about and so many decisions to make that it can be all-encompassing, and it can really overshadow that ‘being engaged’ high.”
“Try to carve out a date night every other week,” says Christine, “something where neither of you talks about the wedding, and you can just enjoy being engaged and happy at this point in your lives.”
Thank you so much, Christine and Cameron, for recreating this special day for us. And thanks to Sur La Lune Photography for the gorgeous photos.
Photographer: Sur La Lune Photography
Videographer: Slye Films
Wedding Gown: Anais Anette, purchased at Love and Lace Bridal Salon
Wedding Party Attire: BHLDN, Revelry, and Generation Tux
Hair & Makeup: Georgi at Hair Bar and Emma Nelson at Emma Nelson Beauty
Invitations, Programs, and Menu Cards: Shutterfly
Flowers: Fields in Bloom
Entertainment: 2nd Wind Band
Cake: Sam’s Club
Wedding Coordinator: Christy Burton at Christina Burton Events
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