Each couple carries a unique story of their journey from strangers to lovebirds. Sometimes it happens in an instant; sometimes love takes its time to grow roots. For this Southern California couple, it started in a college classroom—just friends, they thought—but the fresh-faced econ students quickly saw friendship blossom into true love. Follow Amanda & Shelby as they meet, fall in love and plan their dream wedding aboard a Hornblower yacht.

How did the two of you meet?
Shelby and I met in college in an advanced economics class. It was my first discussion class and I unwittingly sat right behind him. We chatted about our other econ classes and learned we were in the same major, only he was a year ahead of me. Shelby asked for my phone number that day and each day following he came to study with me in the lecture hall. We became really great friends and frequently studied together; he was my best friend on campus.

Shelby asked me out a few times and the first couple of times I said no. I was nervous because we were such close friends and I didn’t want a date to change that. Finally, I agreed and found I absolutely loved his company as a date. Our first date was dinner at Elephant Bar, then a drive-in movie (but it was raining!). Even though I was hesitant to go out with Shelby, I still had the usual first date jitters: “will we get along?” and “what if we have nothing to talk about!”. But it turned out carrying conversation was easy because we were already friends so we obviously we hit it off.

Tell us the story of your engagement
Amanda: Shelby had this weekend getaway to San Diego planned. In the past he hasn’t been the best at planning things—he’d make dinner reservations but save the wrong date and he would lose confirmations. So I was a little worried when I learned he had planned a whole weekend without my help.

But he did great! He picked me up for a weekend of surprises at Catalina Island and let me in on some of them as we set sail: power snorkeling, riding electric bikes around the island and ziplining!

The day was great but exhausting so we took a late afternoon nap and just as I was falling asleep, Shelby snuck outside. He returned minutes later with a knock at the door and honestly, I was annoyed he didn’t bring his room key with him when he stepped out. So I got up to let him in and instead of seeing Shelby at the door, found a mason jar with a map on the floor. It was the first clue for a scavenger hunt—it was so sweet!.

I quickly changed out of my pajamas and took the hotel cab to the center of the island to find the first clue. After a few minutes I saw a yellow star-shaped balloon and another mason jar. I followed nine more clues like this, running up and down hills, back and forth across the island, then I finally made it to the last clue, where Shelby asked me to meet him at Lover’s Cove.

When I made it to him I was crying because I knew, “This is it! This is the moment I have been waiting for my entire life.” Shelby got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was still crying because I have never been happier in my life. And of course, I said “Yes!”

Shelby: Although Amanda has been in California for over 10 years, she had never been to Catalina Island. She’s also a bit of a daredevil and had been wanting to try ziplining, so I thought, “why not combine the two?”.

We snorkeled, biked and ziplined through Catalina Island, and then we were beat (turns out shooting through the air at 40mph really takes it out of you), so we went back to the room for a pre-dinner nap. As Amanda dozed off I snuck away to set up the scavenger hunt—each clue was connected to a major milestone in our relationship.

After I proposed and we walked back into town, I was so excited because I had another surprise waiting for Amanda: both of our families were there to celebrate our engagement!

Walk us through your wedding planning.
We shopped around a bit because I couldn’t decide if I wanted a boat wedding or a more rustic wedding. But once we set foot on the wedding yachts we knew this was exactly what we wanted. Shelby and I have spent a lot of time in Newport Beach for dates, so the location is special to us. We went on a Hornblower dinner cruise to see an event in action and it really sold us—we had so much fun eating delicious food and listening to great music, plus all of the staff was so friendly! We emailed Christina the next day telling her we were ready to sign a contract! The all-inclusive package we chose was really great—it included cake, flowers, a DJ, food and bar service.

Picking our flowers was one of the first steps. We chose Lavonne’s in Newport Beach and were able to send someone to pick up all of the bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages early so we could have them for wedding photos at the hotel.

Next was cake tasting—something we were so excited about! We both have a sweet tooth, so we really enjoyed trying different cakes and working with Rossmoor Pastries was so easy! They had several different cake displays and we were able to get the perfect cake for our wedding—a dulce de leche and chocolate cake.

To lock down our dinner menu we took a short day from our work week to have lunch on one of the Hornblower yachts. It was great because it was just the two of us with the chef, who brought out different menu items for us to select from. We were able to try appetizers, salads, main courses and desserts, then finalize our menu right there. All of the food we tasted was so delicious and the chef truly catered to our and our guests’ needs, tastes and allergies.

Finding a photographer was easy. My older sister had gotten married two years earlier and hired Stephanie Joy Photography. Shelby and I both really liked her work so choosing Stephanie to shoot our wedding was a no-brainer. She also offers a great package: two photographers, an engagement shoot and all day wedding coverage. Stephanie even created our save the date invitations!

For music, we chose DJ Kelli Kel. I still remember this one night, we sat on the phone for about 30-45 minutes with her, discussing all of the music we wanted played during the different stages of the celebration. She really understood our vision. Shelby and I have different tastes in music—he likes 80’s rock and I like country. But DJ Kelli Kel was able to work with us to create a playlist that catered to both of us. We even played some polkas for my Polish family, which was a ton of fun, and even though some guests didn’t know how to polka, they were out there anyway! Needless to say, the dance floor was never empty and we even had aunts and uncles that don’t usually dance out there! It was great!

What drew you to Hornblower’s Endless Dreams yacht?
Shelby: As soon as I stepped onto a wedding yacht, I knew “this was where we had to have our wedding—on the water, with the sunset as the backdrop—what more could you ask for?”.

Amanda: When I was young, my aunt and uncle got married on a boat. It was such an unforgettable experience and I remember growing up thinking my wedding would definitely be on a yacht.

Shelby, the first look was so sweet. What did you think when you saw Amanda in her dress for the first time?
I was thinking how beautiful she looked. From her hair to her makeup to the beautiful hairpiece, everything was pulled together perfectly.

Shelby, what went through your head when you saw Amanda walking down the aisle?
I was both nervous and excited. I wanted to make sure everything went according to plan and I said all the right words.

Amanda, how did you feel when you were walking down the aisle?
I was a little nervous! We had already done our first look so I didn’t have to worry about those nerves but I don’t like having a ton of attention on me and all of our family and friends were there watching us. I was also focused on not crying. We had written our own vows and I was afraid I would start crying when I heard Shelby’s and that I wouldn’t be able to get through mine. Luckily I held it together and remember thinking I was so happy and excited to see all of our ideas come together for our wedding day. But most importantly I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to spend the rest of my life with this man.

How closely did you work with your Hornblower wedding coordinator?
We were constantly emailing or calling Christina with questions. We went to visit the yacht multiple times, to show our parents the venue, measure items for our DIY decorations, etc. Each time we visited, Christina was so cheerful and happy to help. Working with her was great; she really helped us put together the most beautiful wedding.

What was your favorite part of the day?
Shelby: After our first dance Amanda and I were able to sneak away for a few minutes of alone time on the deck. There was no place I would have rather been than on the water with my bride by my side and an old fashioned in my hand.

Amanda: Like Shelby said, one of my favorite parts of the day was getting two minutes to escape to the roof of the yacht with my new husband—it was so peaceful up there. But I also loved getting to see all of my friends and family in the same place. Since most of my family is on the East Coast, it’s rare that everybody can get together at the same time.

What was the best piece of advice you got from family members about marriage?
Compromise is key.

Finally, what’s one word you would use to describe your wedding day?
Amanda: Perfect.

Shelby: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Just kidding, don’t put that one in. “Fun” would be good!

Photography: Stephanie Joy Photography
Dress: Alfred & Angelo
Suit: Hugo Boss (South Coast Plaza)
Hair & Makeup: Elizabeth Hickman
Flowers: LaVonne’s Florist
Cake: Rossmoor Pastries
Music: DJ Kelli Kel
Endless Dreams yacht: Hornblower Cruises & Events.

Stay tuned for our upcoming posts where we will be featuring real weddings on Hornblower yachts across all of our ports!

A Hornblower wedding is truly a departure from the ordinary. We would love to chat with you about your unique wedding, browse our wedding packages at any of our ports: San Francisco, Berkeley, San Diego, New York, Marina del Rey, Long Beach or Newport Beach. Or fill out the form below and a Hornblower wedding coordinator will help you get started.

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