Old Hollywood inspired Catalina Island wedding with a ceremony in a 1920s theater
When LA locals Alexis + Chase’s Catalina Island nuptials popped up in our inbox, we knew we had something unique on our hands. First, there’s Avalon Theatre, the island’s iconic 1929 gathering place and Catalina Casino‘s ballroom—a big, open space perched above the harbor with tons of history and room to dance. Then there’s the bride’s vintage wedding dress, which she transformed into an equally spectacular reception look later that night. Oh, and did we mention it’s where they got engaged?! Find their story alongside images by Photography by Ben and Kadin below:
They had two separate guest houses on the island as a weekend HQ for friends and fam.
Alexis explains, We were both inspired by the history of the venue and the island, Old Hollywood, and the 1930s. We were engaged the year prior at the Avalon Ball, which is an annual fundraiser for the preservation society we belong to. We’re passionate about preserving the architecture, music, fashion, films, and stories from that era—it’s so romantic, glamorous, and haunting. That’s how I wanted our day to feel.
We never imagined we’d be married in the same place where we were engaged. It was completely out of our budget. We couldn’t imagine asking our family to take a ferry to our wedding and commit to an overnight stay on an island 27 miles from the city. But the more we thought about it, the more this venue was the only place that made sense! We figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least take a tour. The Catalina Island Company heard our engagement story and were so accommodating. They worked with us and we were able to make compromises that made it affordable, such as booking us in the off-season.
Now… the theater ceremony! Alexis walked down the aisle of this historic theater to meet her groom at the stage.
When it came to finding a wedding venue A + C had three musts: 1) It had to be historic, 2) It had to fit 150, and 3) It had to be in a meaningful place. And since venues in Los Angeles were a little too close to home, Catalina Island ended up being the perfect mini getaway.
When it comes to dress shopping, buy secondhand or vintage! It’s hard work, so give yourself plenty of lead time. But not only is it so much more economical and better for the environment, it guarantees no other bride will have your dress and, the best part, you will rest in the certainty that 50 years from now, you won’t be cringing that you fell victim to a bridal trend. I found my dress (or rather, it found me) on Instagram of all places, but there are so many shops and websites with affordable and stunning gowns. In Los Angeles we also have an incredible sample shop and there are designer sample sales every other weekend. I also found lovely dresses on second-hand apps like Still White and Preowned Wedding Dresses.
After the ceremony, guests were greeted by all-female mariachi band Mariachi Divas, who escorted them all the way up to the ballroom.
Allll the vintage vibes!
And as you already know, champagne towers are a wedding must!
If you can swing it, I highly recommend having a mini destination wedding here. It felt like we had taken over the island for the weekend. Every time I would pop out for a coffee run or a walk into town, I’d undoubtedly run into a few wedding guests zipping around the corner in their golf carts or soaking up the sun at the beach. It was like a big family vacation. It honestly felt like the longest day of my life, and the best one ever.
We left our color palette open since the Catalina Casino’s colors are mostly shell pink and aquamarine, with black and gold leaf accents. We chose ivory linens and towering tropical centerpieces to complement the high ceilings—a nod to my husband’s passion for tiki drinks and the island’s foliage! I ordered boxes of gardenias and calla lilies, a huge risk given that deliveries are pretty unpredictable on the island, and Tracy from Island Blooms arranged them in low vases to scatter around for ambiance and fragrance. She tucked the lilies in the napkins at the place settings which I thought was a gorgeous detail and very on-era!
As mentioned, Alexis had the coolest reception look! Love a dramatic bow, and it was the perfect transition for her vintage gown.
A + C passed on whatever wedding traditions that didn’t 100% work for them, and that almost included the cake. (It starts to feel a little less important when you find out it needs to travel the ocean on a ferry barge to get to you!) But their planners ordered one from the local grocery store for $17 which was the perfect little surprise.
Film by Max Cutrone.
Their biggest hurdle was finding out that the last ferry back is at 7pm, so they needed to secure lodging for vendors, too! But besides that, XOXO Weddings helped them make it happen, and they ended up *saving* money by choosing an already decorated venue with no need for rentals.
Thanks to our bride Alexis for sharing. Congrats, you two!
Photography: Photography by Ben and Kadin / Videography: Max Cutrone / Venue: The Avalon Theatre / Catalina Casino / Planning: XOXO Weddings / Flowers: White Sakuras, Island Blooms, High Camp Gardenias / Hair & Makeup: Styling by Melissa / Invitations: The Gilded Swan Paperie / Paper Goods: Zazzle & Emalias Fancy / Cake: Vons / Catering: Catalina Island Company / Officiant: Kevin Murray / Ceremony Band: Ellenwood Kitchen Club & Merlot Embargo / Music: Vox DJs / Silhouette Artist: Sylhouettes by Sylvia / Mariachi: Mariachi Divas / Photobooth: Paper Moon Shoppe / Bride’s Gown: Vintage / Headpiece: Frollein Von Sofa / Jewelry: Vintage / Shoes: Gucci /Engagement Ring: Lang Antiques / Wedding Band: Antique / Groom’s Attire: Suit Supply / Cufflinks: Vintage / Shoes: Hugo Boss from Vestiaire