Eileen Bess
By Eileen Bess Published 04/15/2012 16:26:00 | Views: 2441
Amelia Paige Stamper and John Richard Owens III: Things That Can't Be Planned

Location: Serra Plaza, San Juan Capistrano, CA; Cakes: Filigree Cakes, Los Angeles, CA; Caterer: Sundried Tomato, San Juan Capistrano, CA; Floral Design: Jen K Floral Design, Santa Ana, CA; Rentals: Chiavari Chair Rentals, Los Angeles, CA; Event Planner and Stationery: Halleigh Hill, Moment Prive, Newport Coast, CA; Entertainment: Undercover Live Entertainment; Bridesmaids Dresses: Belsoie at Jaclyns Bridal, Santa Ana, CA; Shoes: Badgely Mischka; Hair: Ceasar Pacheco, Huntington Beach, CA; Makeup: Brenda Oen & Co., Los Angeles, CA; Wedding Gown: Kenneth Pool at The White Dress, Corona del Mar, CA; Photography: Samuel Lippke Studios, Long Beach, CA

John Owens and Amelia Stamper met in a Barcelona hostel in June of 2008 while Amelia was on a an excursion from her study abroad in London and John was on a weekend getaway with a friend. Having just graduated from the Naval Academy, John spontaneously found himself in Spain during his graduation trip and remembers the moment he first saw Amelia: "We caught one another's eyes in the hall of our hostel one day and shared several chance encounters over the next two days. A late-night chat and a day of touring left both of us knowing that we needed to know each other." The duo proceeded to email back and forth throughout their respective trips and agreed that "we had to see each other again. The best way I know how to describe it is that we were destined to find each other that night," says Amelia. "I love telling people our story because it is such a great reminder that the best things in life are the things that cannot be planned."

After the semester was over, Amelia returned home to Southern California and John reported to his first duty stationed in Virginia Beach. Three weeks later they knew they had to see each other again and John "flew me out for a visit. Everyone was shocked by the story and the only way I could explain it was that I didn't have another choice," shares Amelia. That single visit led to many more over the next six months, only to end when John was "coincidentally" assigned a job on an aircraft carrier in San Diego. "It felt too good to be true," says Amelia, "and oftentimes, it was." John's new job would have him gone 15 of 24 months, with an eight-month deployment. "Our time apart helped us learn how to rely on our faith as the center of our relationship," recognizes Amelia.

Despite their commitment to one another, the proposal came as a complete shock. "In the first few days of February, John began talking about what we would do for Valentine’s Day. The over-planning should have tipped me off, but it didn't," smiles Amelia. John had just taken a drive down the California coast collecting an incredible collection of wine and thought it would be fun to bring a cheese and wine picnic to the beach to watch the sunset. "Over the next two weeks, we talked about which beach to go to, where we would have the most privacy, where we would have the best view, etc. I truly should have been suspicious by this point, but I went right along with it," Amelia admits.

"When the day finally came, I arrived at his house, he had a full picnic packed and I noticed that he looked extra nice," remembers Amelia. "We got in the car and he told me that he had decided on a completely different destination: Cabrillo National Monument. As the name states, it is a national park and it happened to close five minutes after we got there. John argued with a park ranger and I laughed and joked that we should have stuck with the original plan. I think the park ranger must have seen something in his eyes because his demeanor changed completely and he let us in, only for the sunset." They began to drink their wine and enjoy the views when Amelia noticed that John was acting rather nervous.

"I kept reassuring him that the date that he had planned was perfect and that there was nowhere else I would rather be," says Amelia, remembering how John kept talking about the most random things in an attempt to pass the time until. "When the sun was starting to set, he suggested that we go and stand on the cliff to watch it." At this point, she surprisingly still had no idea, but John's plans started to unfold: "He started saying all these beautiful things to me about how much he loved me and how he wanted to spend his life with me and I just smiled and said, 'Me too!'" At that moment, John turned Amelia around, said her full name and asked her to marry him! Rebutting with, "Are you for real?" they laughed and cried together until John finally said, "So, do you say yes?" Happily obliging his request, John put a custom-designed ring on Amelia's finger and then they headed to her parents' house in Orange County where both of their parents were waiting to congratulate them. "It was the most beautiful surprise of my life and a night we will never forget," says Amelia.

While Amelia was raised in southern California, her parents are from Mississippi and John is from Texas so it was very important to marry California casual with southern elegance. Additionally, to honor John's Naval background, they chose a color palette of primarily navy blue and opted to incorporate many classic military traditions like the sword arch and cake cutting. With faith being a central component of their relationship, and equally important to both of their families, "it was so important to us to use every aspect of our ceremony to glorify God." During John's eight-month deployment he became very close with his ship’s Naval Chaplain and attributes a lot of his spiritual growth to him, "so it was so meaningful to have him preside over our premarital counseling and wedding ceremony," says John. Other memorable moments include taking communion to symbolize their unity as husband and wife before Christ and a special blessing where both of their parents laid their hands over the new couples.

The reception was a tremendous celebration. Inspired by the natural elegance of the plaza and the shimmering night sky, chandeliers were strung overhead to emulate the stars above. Dancing outside, Amelia remembers it being "magical." Both huge fans of live music, hiring a band was an obvious choice and, after a successful go-round at a local bar with friends, they agreed on Undercover Live Entertainment because they could envision all 220 guests dancing the night away. "They were so fun and engaging that the dance floor seemed too small for the huge group," says Amelia. At 10 p.m. noise ordinances strategically moved everyone indoors to the after-party, which was bathed in electric blue uplighting and featured the talents of Showcase DJ Steve Sievers. Serving as a special California treat for their out-of-town guests, In-n-Out burger's late nite snack truck made an appearance to keep the partygoers sustained. "Our guests had so much fun that they partied hours after our grand exit," shares the couple, who departed for their honeymoon in Belize. "It was an amazing water and jungle adventure!"

Eileen Bess
By Eileen Bess 04/15/2012 16:26:00