Joanne and Daryll were in the 8th grade when they first met back in 2001. They both attended Most Holy Trinity School in San Jose, California, and “officially dated” for a few months. Daryll was Joanne’s first boyfriend; but after graduating from the 8th grade, the two teens drifted apart and went their separate ways for high school.
Childhood Sweethearts Reunited
Joanne and Daryll hardly communicated throughout high school and college. It wasn’t until 2009, after they had graduated, that they connected again through Facebook. Once the childhood sweethearts were reunited and went on a few dates, Daryll asked Joanne to be his girlfriend again while riding on the Ferris wheel during Christmas at the park in downtown San Jose.
“Daryll was my first boyfriend and pretty much my first love,” Joanne shares. “I was completely nervous every time we talked and were around each other. He made me feel comfortable, but at the same time I was always so shy around him.”
“To infinity and beyond.”
The proposal took place during the couple’s baby shower, when Joanne was pregnant with their son, Darius. Joanne noticed that Daryll wasn’t quite himself and seemed nervous; but she assumed it was nerves due to it being their first baby shower.
“When I was finished opening the baby shower gifts in front of my family and friends, he stood up and said that there was one more gift to open,” she recalls. “He eventually went down on one knee and nervously asked me to marry him. At that point everything was such a blur because it was definitely unexpected!”
The couple secretly had a civil marriage in 2013, as they weren’t financially in a position to host their dream wedding.
“Eventually,” Joanne shares, “we told our parents about it a year later, and they immediately wanted us to have a wedding ceremony to celebrate our marriage with our close family and friends. Despite our desire to want one, we kept denying their request as we didn’t feel it was needed at that moment – nor did we have the finances. We figured we were already civilly married, so we felt there wasn’t a point in having a celebration.”
Meeting Dee Lee Events
“In 2021, Daryll and I met Dee [of Dee Lee Events] through his business partner, and our first meeting was through video chat,” says Joanne. “I honestly did not know what to expect, and I felt like I was planning a wedding just to fulfill the request of our parents. However, throughout the planning process, Dee showed us a different side to what a wedding is really about. She showed us that this process was meant to create and share our love story with our family and friends. While working with Dee, my mindset of having a wedding changed because her expertise and passion showed that this day is meant to be a celebration of our love and to create everlasting memories with our family and friends.”
A Disney Fairytale Wedding at Waldorf Astoria, Monarch Beach
No one would have guessed the couple was reluctant to have a wedding celebration, as what unfolded was a luxurious, fairytale wedding at Waldorf Astoria, Monarch Beach. Dee and her team created a magical ambiance that looked like a scene from a fairytale, with an abundance of flowers and glamorous touches. The bride was overwhelmed with a mix of happiness, joy, relief, and excitement, saying she “felt like a Disney princess that day.”
One of her favorite moments was the grand reveal of the ballroom at Waldorf Astoria, Monarch Beach.
“Upon entering the ballroom,” she describes, “I was asked to close my eyes as I was walking in. When I opened my eyes, my jaw dropped and it felt like time stood still. All the nervousness, rush, etc. went away and all that mattered at that moment was me, Daryll, and the magic that surrounded us. I ended up crying as I was looking around the ballroom because all the hard work that was spent planning had paid off and it was truly worth the wait.”
“The ambiance was like it came out of a Disney fairytale,” says Daryll. “Seeing my wife go through the grand reveal and crying meant the world to me and made everything we’ve worked hard for worth it. The décor felt like we’d been transported to an exquisite flower garden. We come from very humble backgrounds and both Joanne and I were extremely humble. It felt great to show our family and friends what we’ve been able to accomplish through our wedding. It was a moment where we felt like, ‘look how far we’ve come.’”
Keeping with their love of Disney, there were subtle details woven throughout the couple’s fairytale wedding. The couple’s wedding cake, for example, featured hidden Mickeys. Even during the wedding ceremony, while reading their own vows, both the bride and groom coincidentally ended their vows with the same quote from Toy Story – “To infinity and beyond.”
“Another major highlight was being able to get through a choreographed first dance with my wife and another choreographed dance with our parents,” Daryll adds. “Life is a collage of moments, and we’re so happy that we were able to experience and save this moment; and we thank Dee for helping us create our unique moment.”
Joanne and Daryll haven’t gone on an official honeymoon yet, but they did take a family moon to Disney with their kids after the wedding.
“Even though we were all exhausted from the wedding, it was truly memorable to be able to spend quality time with our kids,” says Joanne. “We plan to have our official honeymoon next year in Paris or Japan!”
Location: Waldorf Astoria, Monarch Beach, Dana Point, CA; Planner: Dee Lee Designs, Los Angeles, CA; Floral & Event Design: Enchanted Express; Photography: Duke Images, Los Angeles, CA