"Octavia Zamagias and Matthew Joanou met the old-fashioned way—at a bar on the dance floor. During a night out in Venice, California, the two locked eyes, exchanged numbers, and have been together ever since. "From [that point on], it always felt like he was my person and I was his," shares Zamagias. Joanou is the CEO and co-founder of Stakeholder Labs, and Zamagias is the jewelry designer and founder of Octavia Elizabeth, which makes the story of their proposal quite untraditional. Joanou proposed in Malibu, California, with a ring designed by Zamagias herself. "I stayed true to something I tell all couples or grooms," she explains. "The moment you get engaged should be a surprise—the ring should not!"
After contemplating whether or not to plan their wedding in California where they both live, the two ultimately landed on Bermuda, a place that has sentimental value to the couple. "My family has been going to the island for over four decades, and we've spent our summers there since I was a little girl. Over the last seven years, Matt has also fallen in love with the island, and it became clear that it would be the perfect place for us to have our wedding, as summer is particularly beautiful," shares Zamagias. With that, the planning commenced.
The wedding weekend was filled with an array of events, including a boat day, a welcome party, and, of course, the wedding itself. "I am that person that never wants a party to end. I stay to the end. So a destination wedding was really special, in that it encouraged us to have multiple events and evenings to celebrate and be with our friends," explains Zamagias. "It was all about us, but at the same time, it wasn't. I mean that in a beautiful way. It relaxed us to know we had multiple days and evenings to spend time with each one of our guests and friends." Scroll through to read more about the wedding weekend with words from the bride and to explore the details of this stunning Bermuda celebration."
"We kicked off the wedding celebrations with our bridesmaids and groomsmen on board a 77-foot catamaran."
"The boat sailed around the beautiful island of Bermuda and stopped for lunch, cliff jumping, and snorkeling."
"Before we planned any of the evenings and actually before we even had booked our planner, I knew I wanted to start the wedding weekend off with a sail around the island. The Zara was such a beautiful part of the whole weekend, and I booked it as soon as I could!"
"By the afternoon, the rest of the guests arrived on the island and began to take over the Coral Beach Club, a private members-only club and hotel dating back to 1948. Once we decided on Bermuda, we immediately confirmed the Coral Beach Club for our wedding festivities. My family has been going there for years, and we felt there was no better representation of the island than the CBC with its quant Bermudian traditions coupled with its relaxed island feel.
"The entire club was occupied with our family and friends throughout the wedding weekend. Guests were welcomed to the club with afternoon tea, a long-standing and daily tradition on the island of tea, crumpets, and sandwiches."
"Thursday's dinner was a classic Bermudian seafood feast on the Coral Beach Club's Longtail Terrace. Guests were encouraged to wear Bermuda formal attire, and the men donned their traditional Bermuda shorts and long socks, which were given to guests in their welcome baskets."
"It was surreal to see the lobby and beach chairs filled with our friends and family. We felt so loved. Walking down the beach on the first day was hilarious. It truly took me an hour to cover what is usually a five-minute walk because I got to stop and hug and see everyone."
"After an open day spent by the beach or in Bermuda's charming town of Hamilton, guests gathered on the CBC's south shore beach, where Matthew's family hosted a traditional Bermudian pig roast and fresh-catch dinner on the beach. The evening included live music with guests dressed in 'beachy chic' attire. Bare feet were mandatory!"
"Walking down the stairs of the CBC to the beach was such a memorable moment. The combination of the band playing, our closest friends and family waiting for us, and the noise from the crashing waves made this moment one of our favorites of the weekend."
"I wore a one-of-a-kind bracelet, The Front Street Bracelet. [It] was inspired by Hamilton's Front Street, which features iconic pastel-colored buildings. Casa Mestansa used the bracelet in the design to clip up the train of the dress. It fastened into my train."
"We wanted Friday evening to feel relaxed and unrushed. Growing up, we would go to dinner once a week in Bermuda at an old inn called Horizons and Cottages. They would have live music, a pig roast, and dancing. It was very casual and felt very Bermudian. Horizons and Cottages has long since closed, but I had told Matt about how memorable those evenings were. I wanted to re-create this for our guests. We had live music playing throughout the night with one long table that seated our 150 guests on the beach. My other favorite design detail from this evening was the copper tiki torches that lined the beach."
"I worked with Indigo by Boutin owner Antonia on the custom 250-foot tablecloth. She is a fabulous textile designer. My planner in Bermuda recommended her, and then by chance after I reached out, I found out she was based in Venice, CA! Antonia got to come to my office in Brentwood, and I just felt the proximity was kismet. I think we will have the tablecloth made into curtains for our baby's room one day because I don't know when I will ever use that length again!"
WWW Weddings tip: "If you do a destination wedding, I highly recommend doing a pre-wedding trip there to iron out the details. I loved meeting all of the vendors on the island and met such talented people."
"I got ready with my mother, sisters, and the designer of my wedding dress and dear friend Carlota. Matt got ready on his own. He felt like that was the best way for him to stay calm and present."
"I opted to keep my beauty look really simple, clean, and natural. The dress was so classic and romantic. I wanted there to be minimal fuss with my hair. I created mood boards for each day, and I reviewed them with Helen Hening before we got to the island. I've worked with Helen for years, and she is also a friend, so I didn't feel the need to do multiple tests or trials, but we did do one before we left for Bermuda. Helen brought along Ardree Merriweather (hairstylist) and Keri Kemper (assistant makeup) to help me, my sisters, mother, and mother-in-law all get ready."
WWW Weddings tip: "For hair and makeup, if you have a great team, let them know ahead of time how important efficiency is to you. Ardree, Helen, and Keri were amazing because they truly got that I wanted to be on the beach and swimming with friends until the very last moment. Come with a mood board and clear reference photos. If you provide that and have the right creatives working with you, they will be able to execute it efficiently. Don't overcomplicate it."
"I am an extrovert, so I loved having my sisters and family all around me for the entire wedding day. One of my favorite moments in the business of getting ready was when my younger sister, Gabrielle, gave me a handwritten letter from Matthew. It was so thoughtful of him and allowed me to take a moment of calm before the ceremony."
"Matt was less specific about his outfit. After trying on a few different suits on his own, we decided to spend a day in Beverly Hills trying on different options. After lunch at South Beverly Grill, we made a few stops nearby and ended up at Ralph Lauren. The team there was great and super accommodating. While we weren't planning on doing green or a tux, we saw a beautiful green tuxedo, and I knew it would perfectly complement the Unfinished Church."
WWW Weddings tip: "Have your partner try on their suit or tuxedo before they take it home with them after their final fitting. Matt and I shopped and went to his fittings together—it became a fun ritual. It was on a final fitting day that we had planned to just swing by and pick up his tux—it was four days before we left for Bermuda. We ran into the shop, and I insisted he try it on one final time. I am so happy he did because the alterations had not been made, and the pins were still in the tuxedo. Ralph Lauren ended up doing the tailoring while we went to lunch, and all was well, but I truly cannot imagine what we would have done if we had not noticed this until we got to Bermuda."
"We personalized the veil with a small heart with our initials. It was so small that unless you really looked, you wouldn't see it. I hope my daughters will wear it one day and add in their own initials."
"The dress transformed from highly formal (worn down the aisle and shown here) to a mid-length (worn while dancing with my dad)."
"The house I got ready in is historic. The property served as the official Bermuda residence of the United States consul general for 30 years."
"With most wedding festivities at the Coral Beach Club and all of our guests staying there, we knew we'd want our ceremony to be slightly removed, and we fell in love with the Unfinished Church the moment we visited the open-air space. We visited the ruins in the UNESCO World Heritage town of St. George on the island. Funny enough, it was not really on our radar. I was in Bermuda a year before with just my parents, and my dad and I went to check it out. He started tearing up, and I knew it was it."
"The church itself is iconic, and the ruins are stunning on their own. I didn't want to work against that with something hyper-modern or sleek, so instead, with the help of Helen Sawden, we worked to create a lush and overgrown landscape, something that felt natural. Give me a beautiful space to work with, with amazing bones and historical significance, and I'm a happy bride.
"From day one, I was dead set on not bringing stuff onto the island. I wanted to use what was there. That goes for everything from tableware to florals. I had to get a little more flexible as time went on, but I am so proud that 80% of the plants and flowers from the church were 'living,' meaning the florals and trees were replantable and thus reusable. I wanted to limit waste and use on-island plants and florals whenever possible. Helen Sawden was amazing and coached me on what was possible and what wasn't."
"We didn't have a bridal party or groomsmen, so the walk down the aisle was brief."
"I walked down the aisle to 'Unchained Melody' played by Stephen Crawford, a local Bermudian musician. I will never forget when I saw Matty. We locked eyes, and throughout the entire ceremony, it truly felt like it was just us."
"Upon arrival at the church, guests were welcomed and offered water and icy, cool towels. Straw fans were laid on each seat to combat the August sun."
"Matt keeps a book of poetry—The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran—on his bedside table, and … every once in a while, we read from it together. We knew we wanted traditional vows with readings from that same poetry book. Matty and I had a family friend as our celebrant, followed by two readings of our favorite poems by our childhood friends, Meredith and Taylor—'Love Without Possession' by Charlie Child and 'On Marriage' by Kahlil Gibran."
"I felt like my dress told a story. The foundation of the dress was a luxurious douppioni silk that had a beautiful texture to it. Casa Mestansa shirred the edges of the dress, which I thought mirrored our invitation, which were torn edge, and I felt that played so well with the Unfinished Church."
WWW Weddings tip: "Make a conscious effort to be present. Prior to our wedding weekend, Matt and I had a thoughtful discussion about this. Both he and I knew that throughout the weekend, we were going to be pulling each other aside and saying out loud how special the feeling or moment was. You can actually see this in a lot of our photos where it is just the two of us. Some of the key moments I will never forget are from when we both just whispered to each other to take this in or feel the moment."
"We tried to keep the ceremony short but meaningful. I'd say it was about 25 minutes in total, and guests were then whisked back to the club for the cocktail reception!"
WWW Weddings tip: "Matt and I both have our own companies, so hiring a great planner was a must, but you still have to do a lot of the work and have a clear vision. For Matt and I, working on our wedding after a long day of work was not realistic. We started to block off whole Saturdays once a month, and it worked so well for us."
"Our cocktail reception was hosted on a beautiful lawn overlooking the entire club and ocean."
"My actual wedding dress transformed throughout the night—so much so that guests thought I was changing each time! In reality, I was simply shedding a layer to reveal a new silhouette."
"Our wedding, to me, was all about beautiful 'moments,' bringing two people and two worlds together. Matt and I have many friends that have never met from various chapters of our lives. He has always worked in the tech industry, and many of his friends come from when he lived in San Francisco. Most of my friends are in the creative world, and I met a lot of them through my college community of friends in L.A. It was so fun for us to see everyone meeting and bonding throughout the different events. Not so surprisingly, as they're all wonderful humans, many new friendships were formed. It's been beautiful to see how even after the wedding the two groups have become one."
"The dinner was hosted on the iconic Longtail Terrace. Once our guests were seated for dinner, Matt and I were announced, and we danced through swinging doors onto the veranda and down the stairs to the reception. We wound through all of the tables and ended up on the dance floor."
"For dinner, it was the club's signature tuna tartar to start, followed by Bermuda's fresh catch and fillet. I didn't want anything too heavy that would impair our guests' ability to dance all night. Dancing and music were a priority to me."
"Matt and I worked with an amazing dance teacher before our wedding day. We didn't want to have a choreographed first dance, but we wanted to give our guests some sort of show! The dance lessons we took were some of our favorite moments leading up to the wedding. It was scheduled time for Matt and I to be together."
"For the after-party, I did a proper outfit change and a last-minute impulse buy, to be honest. I switched into a Zimmermann dress. I was shopping for my honeymoon when I saw this dress that felt very inspired by the coral reef and the intricacies of marine life. I paired it with sky-high Valentino sandals, which I swear were more comfortable than my Dior kitten heels I wore down the aisle. My hair was taken down and let loose. Helen and Ardree know me well, so I had them stick to a 15-minute turnaround time because I didn't want to miss anything more. And of course, the jewelry changed too!
"The after-party, to me, was a top priority. When Matt and I decided on Bermuda, we met with five of the top planners on the island. We ended up going with Nikki Begg because she just got it and was able to verbalize what I was envisioning for the after-party in particular. The club has these iconic winding stairs that lead to the beach. I wanted the band to play their final song and then for there to be party music playing in the distance. I wanted guests to kind of meander to the DJ and get so excited for more dancing. That's what happened, and guests were greeted by espresso martinis and sliders of all sorts once they made it down the stairs."
"We danced and partied until about 1 a.m., and then without any announcement, everyone just was like, 'It's time to get in the ocean!' We all ended up skinny-dipping and swimming. I can't stress how amazing the club was. As about 70 of us emerged from the ocean, the club had warmed towels for each of us. We were all laughing and just so grateful for that."
WWW Weddings tip: "Give your photographers and videographers a dossier of the 'most beloved' guests. Not in a cringey 'who's who' way, but in the way that you would really hate it if you didn't see these people in your albums after the wedding. Since Matt and I didn't have bridal/groom parties, the dossier saved our photography. It meant for us that we got so many photos of our best friends and family and fewer of our parents' guests etc."
"Even before we designed the dress, I had the design for my earrings. I knew I wanted seafoam emeralds and South Sea pearls. The King Palm Emerald and Pearl Earrings were hand-carved in wax before being cast in 18k yellow gold. Each stone is unique. We continued the design into the wedding dress using 10 of the emeralds as buttons on the back of it."
"The back of my dress had emerald buttons we made especially for this detail. All of the buttons on the entire dress were fully functioning, meaning they all had to be closed by hand. Today, most dresses are zip-up or superficial buttons. To me, the beauty in the dress is in the details."
"So here is how a jewelry designer gets engaged! I was having a coffee with one of my favorite diamond suppliers, Gil Katz. He always has some amazing, unique diamonds. We were looking at stones for my clients, and as he often does, he asked me if I wanted to see a really special stone. As I always answer yes to these questions, he pulled out a stunning five-carat fancy yellow diamond. It was nothing that I thought I wanted. It was an elongated cushion cut. I always wanted an emerald cut. It was a fancy yellow. I always wanted a white diamond. But right when I saw that diamond, I knew it was the one. I had never done this before, but I called Matty and asked him if he could jet down to my office to see a stone. He didn't even question who it was for. He came right away, and he adored it but whispered, 'You know it's yellow, right?' It was such a happy day.
"I designed the ring and used my mother's white diamond side stones to create what is now a classic we call The Octavia. It's an untraditional three-stone engagement ring that could not be more perfect for me. I entrusted Matt and Hayley (VP of marketing and sales of Octavia Elizabeth as well as a friend) to make the ring. It took over six months, but it was well worth the wait."
"My latest collection for Octavia Elizabeth was called Coral Beach. It was inspired by the island that I love so much with many of the pieces influenced by native plants, places, and beaches on the island. All of my family and my nontraditional bridal party all wore pieces from the collection. Hayley, who is VP of marketing and sales at Octavia Elizabeth, was both a guest and stylist that weekend, helping my crew of women find the perfect jewels for their outfits."