Love. Romance. Cambria.
For some people, especially at this time of year, those links are beyond obvious.
As local photographer Deborah Markham said in a recent email interview about an engagement photo shoot she did in mid-January, the couple from Ventura were so “in love with the sweetness of our town,” they came to Cambria for a getaway.
Groom-to-be Matt Lang brought props, surreptitiously hired Markham to take pictures (she also brought a bouquet from Blommor Floral), and together they organized the occasion.
Lang proposed to Leann Olsen along the Moonstone Beach boardwalk (she said yes).
As he said later in a letter to Markham, Cambria is relatively close to Ventura, but “it feels like another world. It doesn’t have the smog, congestion, all-too-fast pace of Los Angeles.”
He said, “It is such a neat town because it has everything you could want for a mini vacation … the downtown, the views and the proximity to so many other locations while still offering a relaxing home base to return to … It let us forget the stress of work, obligations, chores and whatever else. … That’s how I knew it was the perfect location to ask Leanne to marry me.”
These days, Lang said, the couple laughs about how she spent a relaxing Saturday playing tourist, while the anxiety-ridden Lang was frantically texting and emailing Markham about time frames and descriptions, “like I was reporting an assailant to a police investigator.”
Now, he said, “we can now relive our memories every year when we go back.”
That kind of thing happens a lot around here, according to Markham and others in the wedding industry. Out-of-town couples often come to this romantic area to get engaged or married, to celebrate anniversaries or just get away from it all and rekindle their relationships.
Judith Larmore said at least 85 percent of the couples who get married at the Old Santa Rosa Chapel live outside of San Luis Obispo County. She ought to know; Larmore has been the chapel’s coordinator for at least 15 years, and has lived on chapel property for nine years.
Valentines for locals
But for people who live here, there are romance-oriented attractions beyond the obvious scenic ones.
Valentine-minded folks can get into the mood this weekend and on the big day itself, thanks to a couple of special events being sponsored by an appropriately named Cambria shop, The Love Story Project, 734 Main St.
On Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11 and 12, those seeking to make their own unique expressions of love can drop in at Alan and Shari Fraser’s shop anytime between noon and 6 p.m. to participate in free Valentine-creating sessions led by artist/teacher and self-described “painter chick,” Tracy Taylor of San Luis Obispo.
Taylor said she’ll bring “all the supplies to make beautiful valentines … glue guns, doilies, colored papers, envelopes, glitter, watercolors” and more.
The parties also will include an art show called “Hidden Treasures,” featuring 13 original paintings.
Taylor has lots of Valentine-party experience, having done this kind of event 26 times before, from New York to Orange County and from Portland, Oregon, to San Luis Obispo (where she’s lived for 27 years).
When asked how she linked up with The Love Story Project, Taylor’s tinkling laugh sparkled through the cellphone connection.
“I used to baby-sit Alan when he was 2 years old in Newport Beach, almost every day for two years,” she said. Later, “we reconnected and became friends. He asked me to come and show my stuff, and wanted to do something fun for Valentine’s Day. I told him ‘let’s have a party!’”
Fraser said the shop’s photo booth and story booth will be available during the parties. In the latter, people sit down and describe their love stories while the Frasers video. The recitations ultimately wind up on the Love Story Project’s website at www.thelovestoryproject. org.
Romantic comedy movie night
On Valentine’s Day evening, the Frasers are teaming up with the Cambria Center for the Arts to launch an expert-led film series. The premiere showing, with film expert Bob Whiteford, will be the romantic comedy classic “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.” For years, Whiteford did the “Take Two” show on KCBX Radio with Jim Dee, owner of the Palm Theatre in San Luis Obispo.
The Valentine’s Day event will be at CCAT, 1350 Main St. Tickets, $8, will be sold at the door. A reception (refreshments included, wine offered) begins at 6, and the discussion and screening start at 7.
Alan Fraser said, “There are a lot of people in town who love old movies, and there’s no movie theater here. We’re hoping to do a series of romance and romantic-comedy films,” and maybe “create enough buzz about films that, at this time next year, we can have a film festival” specializing in romance and romantic-comedy movies.