Celebrity Tips for the Ultimate California Coastal Wedding

Jenna Johnson and Val Chmerkovskiy tie the knot with romantic flourish at Terranea Resort.

Born near the great Black Sea, Val Chmerkovskiy knew he wanted to get married by the water. “There is something inside me that is drawn to the ocean,” shares the Dancing with the Stars professional dancer. “I love it. I’m inspired by it. Its power, its beauty, its generosity, its ability to cleanse and replenish.”

When he and his then-fiancé Jenna Johnson, also a professional dancer on the hit show, began looking at venues for their wedding, Terranea Resort stood out immediately. “The surroundings take you far, far away from California and into what can be reminiscent of Tuscany or the beautiful mountain side of Lake Como,” says Val. “As much as we like to compare beauty, there is no need to do it with Terranea. It is a gorgeous venue that stands on its own.”

Jenna adds that the resort had many of their “must haves” in a venue. “We wanted to be surrounded by water, have a stunning outside ceremony location and a gorgeous ballroom to hold an epic party, treat our family and friends to a romantic getaway and the ambience of love felt everywhere,” she describes. “We found all of that and so much more during our wedding weekend at Terranea.”

 Inspired by Jenna and Val’s gorgeous celebration, we offer four ideas to add a unique and special touch to your own big day that are sure to garner 10s from all your guests.

Get Close to Nature

Perched on a bluff and overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the breathtaking Palos Verdes Peninsula, Terranea Resort organically embraces Mother Nature’s gifts. Jenna and Val chose a prime spot to exchange vows, right on the property’s edge with the blue waters and an endless sky behind them.

“It’s almost like having all the elements of our beautiful planet be not just the backdrop but a part of our ceremony,” shares the bride. “From the moment we got engaged we both knew we wanted water to be near us. So when we found Terranea Resort, it was all of our dreams coming true.”

Go Big and Bold on the Chuppah

In the Jewish faith, the chuppah is a canopy under which the couple exchanges their vows. Many brides and grooms, regardless of faith, have adopted this lovely tradition to set the stage for their big moment. At Jenna and Val’s ceremony on the bluff, a cascade of tibet roses, ranunculus, astilbe, lisianthus, garden roses and peonies, all in whites and ivories, framed both the couple and their spectacular view.

“I knew going into my wedding that in general I only wanted white flowers and greenery,” explains Jenna. “I wanted all the flower arrangements to be classy and sophisticated. When we were discussing the chuppah, I knew I wanted it to feel very ethereal, so we draped it and covered it in the same gorgeous white flowers and greenery! It turned out absolutely stunning.”

Let Them Eat Cake…and More Dessert!

Why settle for just wedding cake when you can treat your guests to all kinds of sweet delights? In addition to a lovely five-tier wedding cake, the newlyweds offered their guests a selection of desserts prepared by Terranea’s award-winning culinary team, including hazelnut cheesecake cherry brûlée, caramel cheesecake crème brûlée and a chocolate mousse fudge torte.

“Dessert is our love language!” says Jenna. “We both have an incredibly big sweet tooth and wanted to treat our guests to more than just cake, although our cake was absolutely delicious. But I know my siblings definitely enjoyed all the desserts we chose.”

Keep the First Dance Sweet and Simple

Although the Dancing with the Stars couple both have ample moves on the dance floor, they decided to leave the splashy dance numbers and dazzling choreography for television audiences to enjoy. Choosing intimacy over excess, the pair instead enjoyed a simple but connected moment together on the dance floor, radiating their love to all the guests around them.

“We had talked about what our first dance song should be, but nothing was clicking for us,” remembers Jenna. “We decided not to force anything and let it come to us organically.”

Val loves music, especially jazz music, and when the couple is spending time at home, there’s always a soundtrack. “I will never forget this one night we were at home and Val said, ‘Alexa, play Louis Armstrong,’” recalls Jenna. “The first song that played was ‘Le Vie En Rose.’ We looked at each other and there was an instant understanding of what this song was going to be for us. Val grabbed my hand and started slow dancing with me in our kitchen. This is one of my favorite memories leading up to our wedding.”

Photography by Duke Images