When Hilary Hissong married Warren Pineo on Aug. 22, 2009, it was more than the union of husband and wife – it forged a bond that turned four people into a family. The pair met in 2001 at a store in Palm Springs where Warren was manager and Hilary was a new employee. She remembers being won over by his lighthearted personality. “On our first shift working together he challenged a few of us to a doughnut eating contest,” she recalled. “We were instant friends to say the least.”
Soon after, the friends became platonic roommates. But it wasn’t until 2003 that they took their relationship to the next level. Hilary had moved back to her hometown of Clovis to be with her mother who was fighting her second battle with breast cancer. During a Valentine’s Day visit, Warren presented Hilary with a pair of peep-toe shoes, a gold double-heart toe ring, and an offer to become more than just friends. She was well aware that Warren had two children from a previous relationship -- Kenny who was then four and Kayla who was one. “The kids and I clicked instantly,” said Hilary.
Hilary moved back to Palm Springs and, later that year, moved in with the Pineos. Before long, the foursome had taken on the easy feel of a family. Warren knew it was time to make their bond official. He decided to propose in June 2008 when family was visiting Warren’s father in Arroyo Grande. After taking Hilary to dinner in Pismo Beach, Warren suggested a moonlit walk along the bluffs. As if orchestrated by fate, a wedding had been held earlier and the ground was strewn with rose petals. Warren presented Hilary first with a gift box that contained a pair of peep-toe shoes, reminiscent of his first romantic gesture. “My heart sank because I really thought that this was the time that he was going to propose,” said Hilary. When she tried them on and declared the fit perfect, Warren announced, “Just as you fit perfectly into my life.” When she looked up, he was on one knee, presenting her with a ring that he had selected with the help of his children.
A vintage look
Warren plays professional golf and was traveling on the Canadian Tour before the wedding. So Hilary and her maid of honor, Jessica Wick, made several trips to San Luis Obispo County to finalize plans. Because the couple wanted an outdoor wedding, they initially selected a beach venue. But on the way to sign papers for it, Hilary stopped on a whim at the Dana-Powers Estate in Nipomo, Warren’s hometown. Hilary has long been a fan of the vintage, rustic style of clothing and home décor shop, Anthropologie, and used it as inspiration while planning the wedding. When she stepped inside the Dana-Powers barn with its strings of white lights and mason jar chandelier, she knew she had found the right place.
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As a professional event planner, Hilary knows how to take a theme and infuse it into every detail. “This was my chance to get really creative,” she said. She chose a florist, Laurel White of Adornments, who was in sync with her vision. They started with a color palette that could have been pulled from a vintage quilt: pinks, sun-washed reds, blues, peaches and chocolate browns. Her bouquet included sprigs of cotton from her hometown of Clovis. The wedding arch was draped in vintage-style ribbons, with clusters of roses and apples. Flowers in mason jars, hung on weathered garden shepherd’s hooks, lined the aisle and were later used as table decorations. Reception centerpieces were informal bouquets placed in rusted tin cans, then nestled into vintage wood boxes.
Warren and Hilary made many of the wedding accessories themselves, with the help of family and friends. Place cards were crafted from vellum, cardstock, and scrapbook paper in vintage prints. For one ring bearer, Hilary covered a pillow in vintage handkerchiefs, and for the other, she used a faux bird’s nest. For wedding favors, Hilary’s family helped the couple pick peaches and make them into jam. A side-benefit of having so many handmade and vintage items was the cost savings. For a wedding with over 170 guests, the total cost was about $20,000, covered mostly by Hilary’s mother, Suzanne Hissong, with help from Warren’s family.
A weeklong celebration
Warren and Hilary wanted the wedding to be a weeklong celebration with friends and family. “Most weddings you might spend five or ten minutes with someone who came a long way to see you get married, and then they go home,” Warren noted. They hosted an outing to Pismo Beach, threw an ice cream birthday party for son Kenny at Doc Burnstein’s in Arroyo Grande, and held an evening bonfire in Grover Beach. After the wedding rehearsal lunch, the families got better acquainted over a softball game. Naturally, the groom’s team dressed in black and the bride’s team in white. “It was supposed to be fun and nice, but it was competitive!” said Warren.
The morning of the wedding, Warren took his groomsmen out for some male bonding at a San Luis Obispo shooting range, then to an old-fashioned barbershop for a shave and trim. Preparations for the bridal party also began early, as the couple elected to take most of their wedding photos before the ceremony. “It’s so we wouldn’t miss our own wedding,” Warren explained. The ceremony was set up on the lawn area next to the barn. But as the 4:00 p.m. start time drew near, clouds rolled in and light showers began to rain down. After a tense half-hour, Warren and Hilary decided to relocate the ceremony to the barn, which was set up for the reception. “I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I would be,” said Hilary. “Everyone was in good spirits, and actually it was more intimate and romantic inside.”
The couple chose very traditional vows and a ceremony infused with meaningful tributes to family. At the start of the ceremony, Hilary’s brother and his son walked down the aisle with the flag of her father, who was a fallen police officer. Warren’s uncle, who is a pastor, was the officiate. Kenny was a ring bearer and Kayla was a junior bridesmaid. A poignant moment was the sand ceremony that signified the creation of a new family. Each of the four family members poured a different color of sand into a mason jar which the Pineos now proudly display in their home. “We wanted it to symbolize Warren and I and the kids coming together,” said Hilary. “If Warren and I decide to have more children, we’ll add more sand to the jar.”
The mood in the barn turned festive as the reception began. Testa Catering served a meal of barbecued tri-tip and chicken. Later, D.J. Guy Ryder got the dancing started. After the wedding, the Pineo family returned to their Palm Springs home with warm memories and a new outlook on the future. “When we got engaged, we all turned a corner together,” said Hilary. “We knew that this is for real and that we would all become a family.”