There was no other way to describe the day other than pristine, maybe even glorious.
With rain predicted, the onshore breeze brought crisp, clean air. The soft gold of the sun illuminated through multidimensional clouds against a baby blue sky. It was warm enough for brides to feel comfortable in sleeveless gowns while grooms were beginning to sweat in suits and tuxedos, despite the morning breeze. The air seemed to dance with anticipation.
It was Friday, 11-11-11, at Heisler Park, a day for transcendent connubial ceremonies. There was also the overriding fact that it was an easy day to remember as a future anniversary.
As it turned out, 11 couples wanted to be married at Heisler Park on Veterans’ Day, 11-11-11, a new high for one location, said the city’s Susan Cannan, director of the city’s community services department, which issues about 400 of the $231 wedding permits annually. So, it was a day already starting out auspiciously. Most were opting for a 3 to 5 p.m. timeslot to, hopefully, catch memorable sunset hues. They selected nooks and crannies in the park, including the gazebo, and the stretch of beaches below its bluffs for intimate celebrations in a very public place.
“I believe in karma, I believe in good energy,” said Amanda Wilkins, 41, waiting for her soon-to-be husband, James Wyatt, 47, in a grassy, tree-canopied alcove at the north end of the park. It just happened to be 11:11 a.m., as a woman power-walking the sidewalk below announced to her three work-out buddies. “Wow. It’s magical,” Wilkins responded. The couple from Temecula met online six years ago.
Shae Flanigan from Irvine was marrying Adam Bates, a NATO veteran, at Picnic Beach with a reception at picnic tables lined with runners of shell-filled fishing nets on the bluff above.
“We’re both computer geeks,” said Flanigan, a Los Angeles life coach “In binary code, zero is no and one is yes. So, we’re saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes, I do, I do, I do. So, for us, it’s to infinity.”
Her eclectic array of guests came from Italy, grade school and counter-culture coaching sessions. The dress was creatively casual, with leather, bright pink hair, tattoos and lace liberally mixed in with military fresh-pressed garb and what a great-aunt would consider reasonable. “We have a huge respect for each other and our differences,” Flanigan said of her fiancé. “Very few people have that open communication to be able to do that. It works beautifully.”
Steven Provenzano was leaning over the railing in the gazebo, seriously watching the surf with his brother and best man, Jason. He didn’t look like a groom, yet, until closer inspection. Beads of sweat were beginning to bubble on his brow, strain was apparent in his eyes.
I just happened to be talking to someone about the tide pools on the rocks below. “Ma’am, do you know about the tides here?” he asked. I told him they were heading out with the low at around three in the afternoon. You could almost see the beads of sweat recede.
I saw Provenzano later that day, standing on the wet sand at low tide near a stunning wedding set-up bursting with red gladiolas. He was calm and looking cool with his short-cropped blonde hair and white tux. His groomsmen were lined up in black tuxedos. His fiancée, who he has been dating for six years, would soon arrive, stepping out of a white stretch limo to descend the stairs in a flowing white taffeta gown.
“I’m still nervous,” said Provensano, “just to make sure everything’s perfect.” He described his betrothed, Cynthia Asavisanu, as beautiful, punctual, bubbly. “Everything about her is perfect.”
He thanked me for helping him out earlier. “I was sweating earlier about the tide. Good thing it was going out.”
But the event that took the cake, or should I say castle, was a proposal.
Ajay Punjabi, of Laguna Niguel, hired a professional sandcastle builder to sculpt a two-towered monolith, replete with hearts, LED lights, rose petals and a bridge. A big heart outlined in the sand at the bottom read, “Shrina, Will You Marry Me?”
“I didn’t know it was for me,” Shrina Patel said later. “I thought it was someone else’s proposal and then I was confused because I saw my name.” But then Punjabi got down on one knee. “I had to take it in,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute, that’s not for somebody else, that’s for me.’”
Punjabi said odd numbers are considered lucky in his Hindu faith. “You can’t get any better than 11-11-11; it’s all odd,” he commented, with a grin that apparently hadn’t left his face all day.