Alessandra & Mark | Military Elopement at City Hall

Alessandra and Mark have such a special wedding story… she is a Navy nurse, and he is a Navy pilot, and after finding out that Alessandra was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan on their wedding date (the same exact day!), they decided to get married sooner rather than later. With their closest family and friends present, they tied the knot at San Francisco’s City Hall on March 28. In their own words:

Mark and I met seven years ago while we were both in the University of Michigan’s Naval ROTC program. It wasn’t in the cards just yet, so we had secret crushes on one another for five years, until Mark returned from deployment in Iraq and we went on our first official date. We fell madly in love with each other despite him being in Guam and me living in San Diego. Once Mark was stationed in California with me, we took the next step – he proposed and I said, “YES YES YES,” a hundred times over! “I am going to marry my best friend, my kindred spirit, my one and only, the love of my life!”

As we began the wedding planning process, Mark and I had to think about our future as a dual active duty married couple in the Navy, and in order to be stationed together we must be legally married. We set a date, but then I found out that I am deploying to Afghanistan for seven months and the date for deployment was the date of our wedding – September 1, 2012. With the love and support of our families and the blessings from our priest, we had an intimate civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall. Mark’s mother surprised us, and his best friend flew in from Michigan at the last minute. Luckily, most of my family was local and could easily attend (aside from my oldest brother who is stationed with the Navy in Washington).

A little about Alessandra’s dress, “I wanted my dress to foreshadow the wedding dress for the bigger wedding ceremony. Lace, lace, lace!” And here is the groom on what he wore (I appreciate his equally sarcastic and practical take on his attire): “I chose my suit because it was a special occasion. I picked the tie because that was what my wife wanted and it matched with my best man. I picked a white shirt because it matched best with the tie. The shoes were the only black dress shoes I own. The gray socks were a mistake because I forgot black socks. I wore my watch to tell time and my grandfather’s ring since I received it six years ago. My hair is short because my barber got carried away with the clippers. And I’m wearing a smile because it was one of the happiest days of my life.”

Says Alessandra: After we said our multiple enthusiastic I do’s all we could think was, “We did it! We actually got MARRIED! FINALLY!” A pinky promise to happily ever after and a high five for being awesomely in love, our life as a married couple began.

From Alessandra:

What was your favorite moment or part of the day?  There were two moments that tie for most favorite. First, prior to the civil ceremony, we met with the priest who is going to perform our full ceremony next year when I return from deployment. He sat us down and read us one of our favorite Gospel readings (which will be the one read at our church ceremony). As he talked about the purpose of the reading, Mark and I held one another’s hands, looking into one another’s eyes and realizing, “This is it. This is us. This is love. This is God’s work.”  It couldn’t have been a more spiritually fulfilling moment for the both of us. Then, the other favorite moment was when the officiant pronounced us husband and wife. The sensation was surreal. We have felt married from the moment we started to date and now we have the papers to prove it! I couldn’t stop kissing Mark! I was so happy!

Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  We are saving most of the traditions for our “more married” wedding next year, but we kept the “something old, new, borrowed blue” tradition. My something old was Mark’s grandmother’s pearl necklace given to her on her wedding day. The box even contained the original letter she received! Something borrowed and blue was a blue floral hair clip from my sister and my dress was the something new. The whole day was a celebration of our lives and love together and the day went perfectly!

What was the best advice you received as a bride?  Give it up to someone else for the day so that your husband and you can enjoy it. As an ICU nurse I like total control of all the chaos around me, but learning to just hand it off to someone and trust them is huge. So I did just that – I handed off the responsibilities to my sister and my mother and they kicked butt! I feel this will be a trend going into the church ceremony. Lord knows I wouldn’t be where I am today without those two!



Photography: Jessica Burke / Venue: San Francisco City Hall / Bride’s Dress: White House Black Market / Flowers: Lovely Little Details / Cake: Tartine


Congratulations Alessandra and Mark! Thank you for sharing your story, and for your service to our country. Wishing you godspeed, and a lifetime of love and happiness together!


  • What a beautiful love story this couple lives! A small and intimate wedding, deployment and then the big bash after the deployment…congratuations to this lovely couple!

  • Christine says:

    They are both total babes! So happy for their love & happiness, and want to send a heartfelt, ‘thank you,’ for their service.

  • Kelly in DC says:

    Gorgeous florals! Lovely little details did the planning and floral for my wedding too, and I was blown away. This is beautiful Alessandra and Mark. Best wishes on your marriage, and a safe deployment!

  • Melinda Ziegler says:

    These two wonderful people are not only beautiful on the outside – they are kind, loving friends – dedicated Naval officers – and absolutely WONDERFUL son and daughter-in-law!

  • Mama Lollini says:

    I couldn’t be happier for their life together! They are a match made in heaven!
    I love my son in law! I’m also lucky to have an extended family whom I love deeply. It is going to be one big wedding in April 2013. I couldn’t be happier! Jessica made this so special and I so appreciate that! Living life well!

  • Kaye Galon says:

    You two look so happy. What a beautiful day you had, love to you both.

  • ERIKA says:

    What a beautiful wedding and GOD BLESS YOU BOTH in marriage and for serving our country!!!!!!!!

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