The ‘Guests’ Swam Alongside the Couple

The ‘Guests’ Swam Alongside the Couple

September 11, 2021

“Laminate vows” was included on the prewedding checklist for Catarina Salvador Espírito Santo Cristovão Neto.

After all, when you’re getting married in the Pacific Ocean, just beyond the wave breaks, that’s probably a good thing to do.

Ms. Neto also proved herself to be rather resourceful when she found hers and his wedding attire online using key words like “tuxedo wetsuit” and “white wetsuit.” Both were available.

Ms. Neto, who goes by Cat, 31, is a graduate of Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J. The daughter of immigrants from Portugal, she grew up in Bridgewater, N.J. She works as a freelance television production assistant and nanny, and is applying to become a national park ranger.

She first met Zeal Levin through her roommate, a Portuguese-speaking musician whom she met shortly after she moved to Los Angeles in May 2018.

When she asked her roommate “who’s that?” of Levin the first time they met in 2018 at a neighbor’s party, the answer was “He’s trouble.” But they continued to run into each other at parties and music venues.

Mr. Levin, 30, is originally from Oakland, Calif. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, he is a singer/songwriter and guitar player. He also teaches guitar; manages the Hermosa Music Company, a creative space for musicians; and performs in several bands, including his own, Triple Bueno.

As it turns out, Mr. Levin wasn’t exactly trouble — he just didn’t have time for a relationship. He was working for a moving company during the day while playing frequent gigs at night. Once he was so tired that he nearly fell asleep onstage while performing.

But something shifted in Mr. Levin’s mind, and situation, by Ms. Neto’s 29th birthday in March 2019, when he showed up to her party. They’ve been together ever since.

“I love everything about this guy,” Ms. Neto said. “He’s so talented and is the kindest person. I love how he takes care of me, and as weird and quirky as I am, I can be totally myself. Plus, since he’s always practicing at home, I get free shows.”

They moved in together in Hermosa Beach, Calif., in January 2020.

“We could become best friends so quickly and be able to hang out with other people and not be awkward, and be our own people, have our own dreams and passions,” Mr. Levin said. “Sometimes she wants to go hiking at 5 a.m. and I want to sleep, and that’s cool.”

In September 2020, he told her they were doing a photo shoot, and had his bandmate and friend, Kevin Sousa, play Dave Matthews songs in their music space at the Hermosa Music Company, where Mr. Levin proposed.

They decided the ocean would make the ultimate wedding venue. Mr. Levin is a surfer, and Ms. Neto has attempted it with his encouragement. But also, “it connected us to something greater,” said Ms. Neto, who is taking Mr. Levin’s name. And it was free, they said.

The week of the wedding they drove to get a marriage license at the courthouse in Santa Barbara.

They were married by Mr. Sousa on Aug. 22 in the Pacific Ocean at Hermosa Beach. Mr. Sousa is ordained by the Church of the Latter-Day Dude.

The bride wore a white wetsuit, while the groom donned a “tux” wetsuit. Embroidered on Ms. Neto’s veil were the words “forever flowing.” The couple and Mr. Sousa bobbed on surfboards as they exchanged vows and silicon rings.

Numerous fish and a dolphin jumped out of the water near them before they paddled back to shore.

Said Mr. Levin: “The fish were jumping, the dolphin popped up; it was like they were our guests celebrating with us.”

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