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A Summer Wedding in Malibu Inspired by The Southwest and the Grooms’ Love for Travel

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Anya Kernes

|Planning by 

Weddings by Susan Dunne

After first connecting on Tinder, Dan Mahoney proposed to Nick Tarantino in Santa Barbara, as they were celebrating their first anniversary. Dan was in the middle of proposing when his phone rang. The front desk of their hotel called to say that they needed to return to their hotel room immediately—their dog was barking and disturbing other guests. In the midst of all this, Nick said yes. As for their dog’s impeccably timed barking, the couple laughs it off. Nicks says, “We like to say he was just upset he wasn’t part of the proposal.”

The couple immediately decided on hosting their wedding at the Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Property. “The flexibility it offered to have both a beach welcome event and then the wedding up in the Malibu mountains was so different than anything we thought we’d be able to have for our wedding,” Dan explains. The couple enlisted Susan Dunne to assist with all of the wedding planning.

“Dan and Nick came to us envisioning a formal and classic wedding with a mid-century, Southwest, California vibe,” Susan Dunne says. “Our goal was to incorporate their visions, with careful consideration of some of the things they enjoy, and blend it all together.” Together, they curated a color palette of navy, white, ivory, caramel, and sage. 

Susan continues, “Because Dan and Nick enjoy hiking and traveling, we thought it only natural to incorporate greens you’d find at many hiking trails they have traveled throughout the world.” Royal Bee Flower Co. thus decorated the space with lush plumosa, forest ferns, salal, areca palm, myrtle, split-leaf philodendron, and Chinese evergreen. White florals of gerbera daisies, tulips, sugar snap peas, and ranunculus were interspersed to simultaneously soften and romanticize the ceremony milieu, along with free-standing posts and potted plants at the base arch and aisle entryway.

To pay homage to the Southwest, the reception tables featured mono-blooms in brown, tan, and blue ceramic vases with amber glass taper candleholders. Flanked by navy and gold flatware, every place setting had a smoke-colored charger with a navy napkin and soft taupe menu card. Guests’ names were branded into leather strip place cards.

On the day of their nuptials, Dan and Nick got ready together. They kept their grooms’ look formal and dapper with navy blue tuxedos. Bliss Bridal Beauty seamlessly applied all of the finishing touches. Their wedding party’s tan suits complemented the grooms with similarly-colored navy ties.

On August 27, 2021, a longtime family friend married Dan and Nick. She knew them both from the very start of their relationship and made the ceremony both happy and heartfelt. Each groomsman shared remarks during the ceremony instead of the reception. When they think back to this day, the grooms remember how deeply loved they felt. They were surrounded by friends and family—both in person and over Zoom—who cherish them.

Dart DJ of Dart Collective set the tone for the entire reception. Dan and Nick’s mothers were the only ones to deliver toasts. “We wanted to over-index for dancing and socializing time as it was the first big gathering many had since the pandemic,” Nick explains. “The ambiance just felt so incredible with the florals, candles, and lighting, and having the ability for guests to sit out under the stars the chandeliers hanging from the trees around the venue really created such a magical setting.” Dan and Nick sliced into their SusieCakes cake before biting into the other confections in the dessert bar from Artelice.

The newlyweds shared their first dance to a remix of Sting’s Fields of Gold. They then had a joint mother-son dance, and after, their mothers ditched them to dance with each other. Overall, the party was a blended mix of casual and fun. “There were so many moments when we both looked around and just felt so fortunate we were able to have a wedding with family and friends joining us,” Dan recalls. As soon as the dancing was over, it was time for bed. But the day after was spent at the Calamigos Beach Club with plenty of tequila shots, drinks, and time with the wedding party. The grooms then journeyed onto Greece for an island getaway honeymoon.