It was a hot, August evening at Texas Christian University (TCU) in 2013 when Monica Dziak and Austin Wallis first met at Austin’s luau-themed fraternity party. Monica can’t recall if it was Austin’s Hawaiian shirt, his persistence in talking to her that night, or the “trashcan punch” being served – but she knew there was a special connection between them.
“We even have a photo of that very night,” says Monica, “me in an islander crop top, jean shorts and a floral headpiece, him in an awesome Hawaiian shirt. We’ll cherish that photo forever – not every couple is lucky enough to have a photo of the exact moment they met!”
The two freshmen, who were barely a month into their college experience, exchanged numbers and Austin invited Monica to a sushi date at Sushi Axiom in Fort Worth. Being from Los Angeles, Austin didn’t have a car on campus; so Monica, who grew up in Houston, drove on their first date. Austin remembers being “scared for his life” due to Monica’s driving, but she remembers how easy their dinner conversation flowed.
“I’ll never forget the way he made me feel – alive and totally, 100%, myself.”
“I felt like I could be completely myself,” she adds. “Austin was extremely lively, energetic, in tune with the conversation, and shared awesome stories of his time growing up in Los Angeles. He made me feel really special and like the only girl in the restaurant. I don’t remember the exact specifics of our conversations, but I’ll never forget the way he made me feel – alive and totally, 100%, myself.”
Austin and Monica remained close but didn’t make things official until their sophomore year at TCU. While watching college football and sharing some beers one afternoon, Austin recalls that nonchalant hangout as the moment he knew Monica was “the one.” He even called his mom to say he’d found the girl he was going to marry.
Seven years later, the couple found themselves vacationing in Kauai with Austin’s parents and his brother Riley. It was June 15, 2021, and the two headed to Hanalei for dinner. Austin hadn’t made reservations anywhere, because he had specific plans to be on the beach during sunset.
“Due to the timing and a packed Hanalei,” Monica explains, “with families visiting from all over post-COVID, we opted for a special, special place called... Chicken in a Barrel BBQ. It was a quick, casual bite at a table under an umbrella before we darted back to our rented Jeep to catch the sunset. We stopped by the house his parents rented on the way back to freshen up, and so Austin could take a shot of tequila to calm his nerves. We then went for a sunset walk along the beach holding hands. I distinctly remember asking his brother Riley if he wanted to join us for the walk, to which of course he said no. I later saw Riley hiding with his iPhone in a nearby bush on the beach, so I knew IT was happening. Plus, Austin could hardly hold a conversation with me, no matter how hard he tried. He was certainly up to something! At one point, he pointed at ‘dolphins’ in the ocean (there were absolutely zero dolphins that evening) to get me to turn my head. When I turned back around, he was on one knee in the sand. He told me how the last six and a half years had been the best of his life, how much he loved me, and asked if I’d make him the happiest guy in the world and marry him. I of course said ‘Yes.’”
Shortly after their return from Hawaii, Austin surprised his new fiancé with a party at one of their favorite local restaurants. Family and friends were there, including loved ones who had flown in from all over the country.
Ever since she was a little girl, Monica knew she wanted to have a beach wedding. When the wedding planning process began, Florida was tossed around as a potential location; but ultimately, California made the most sense, as Austin’s family lives there and it’s where he grew up. Soon, a destination wedding at Shutters On the Beach in Santa Monica was in the works.
“The wedding planning was over a period of 13 months,” says Monica. “We hired Veronique from Veronique Events out of LA, who helped us immensely. We could not have done it without her and her team. My mom also helped me plan a lot of the details, especially the florals. I knew I wanted a romantic, dreamy vibe to everything, focused on the details and super personalized.”
The Santa Monica Pier provided the perfect setting for the bride and her bridesmaids, as they all enjoyed getting ready together at Shutters On the Beach. That morning, the bride and groom wrote letters to each other, which were delivered to their rooms, which helped calm any pre-ceremony nerves.
“Being by the beach, I think, calms us both,” says Monica. “So being able to wake up and get ready by the sea helped ground us and feel relaxed. The day goes so fast that you wish it could just slow down a little to take it all in. We made sure to do that, especially during the dinner portion of the reception, when Austin and I looked around at everyone at the tables and just soaked it all in. We recommend every couple do this on their wedding night. Take a mental image of all who was there.”
The couple’s dreamy Santa Monica wedding unfolded just as they’d hoped, culminating in a beachy, romantic, light, bright, and airy wedding celebration. Veronique referred to the day as having a “European yacht style” type of vibe, which was fitting since the couple loves being out on the water. The ambiance at Shutters On the Beach was made even more perfect by a few passing sailboats in the background, and seagulls flying overhead.
The color palette consisted of soft pastels, along with gold accents for a timeless touch of glamour. For the flowers, the couple wanted their wedding florals to resemble a “beautifully wild, yet tamed garden” – an aesthetic that Monica fell in love with from the show “Bridgerton.” There were countless personal touches that were put into this bespoke celebration, but the most important factor for the couple was how everyone they loved was going to be in the same room.
“It doesn’t get to happen often,” Monica states. “Austin and I always told each other,
‘Everyone we love will be there.’ That thought alone excited us and made us feel eternally grateful for their love and support.”
For their honeymoon, the newlyweds set off on a romantic tour of Greece – Mykonos, Santorini, and Athens.
Location: Shutters On the Beach, Santa Monica, CA; Floral Design: Buds & Blooms; Rentals: Hollywood Rentals; Linens: Luxe Linen; Runners: The Original Runner Co.; Lighting: Romance Lighting; DJ: DJ Let’s Party LA; Stationery: Invitations by Azy; Makeup: Lisa G Artistry; Photography: Dmitri Shumanev Production