Abby Lauren McGrew and Elisha “Eli” Nelson Manning exchanged vows on April 19, 2008, at the One & Only Palmilla resort along the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula in Los Cabos, Mexico.
The couple met in the spring of 2002 at the University of Mississippi while he was a junior and she was a freshman. The two dated through the spring semester and became an official couple the following fall as Eli began the 2002-’03 football season as quarterback for the Ole Miss Rebels.
In 2007, Eli knew he wanted Abby to be his wife. During a trip home to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, he designed an engagement ring at Adler’s. A few weeks later, they were slated to take a trip to see her family in Nashville. Abby thought he might propose to her then but Eli just couldn’t wait that long. On a simple Tuesday evening they were spending together, Eli turned toward Abby and got down on his knee. Abby was taken aback at first but breathlessly said “Yes!” He presented her with a gorgeous Adler’s emerald-cut center stone ring, flanked by two emerald-cut diamonds on either side.
The couple knew they wanted a destination wedding that was fun, yet
intimate. After flying with close friend Sara Fay Egan, a wedding planner with Todd Events in Dallas, to the resort in Los Cabos, Abby instantly knew it was the perfect fit.
Luckily, they planned their wedding for mid-April, right after Eli and the New York Giants took the Super Bowl title! After 13 months of planning and one of the biggest years of their lives, Eli and Abby were ready to tie the knot.
On the Thursday before the wedding, the couple welcomed their guests with a Mexican fiesta dinner, followed the next day by an elegant rehearsal dinner, held in front of an old Mexican chapel near the resort. A mariachi band performed while cigar rollers were on hand, passing out cigars to the gentleman.
On Saturday evening, Abby walked down the aisle in a Monique Lhullier creation. The dress was made of intricate lace, with a simple sweetheart neckline and satin sash at the waist, dangling down the subtle lace train. She carried a mixed white bouquet of roses, orchids, tulips and lilies of the valley. Her bridesmaids carried mixed green bouquets of orchids and roses and wore champagne-colored satin tea-length gowns by Badgley Mischka. The groomsmen, including the groom’s brothers, Peyton and Cooper Manning, opted for a more casual look, with white linen shirts under crisp tan suits.
Abby and Eli wouldn’t let anything ruin their special day, even the several paparazzi floating by on boats or overhead in hand gliders. Following the ceremony, the couple and their guests retreated for a cocktail hour, followed by a lavish sit-down dinner near the water’s edge. One long table fit all their guests, with one family on either side. Candlelight twinkled in the early evening dusk and the table was covered with delicate flowers. After a delicious dinner, the couple invited their guests to a grand ballroom for drinks and dancing.
The band Party on the Moon kept the party going with music all night long. The bride and groom danced to “Your Song” by Elton John. The couple sliced into their gorgeous cake, created by the Palmilla Resort pastry chefs. It was five tiers, alternating layers of chocolate and white cake, in place of a separate groom’s cake.
As a special treat just for Eli, the resort’s pastry chefs also created a replica of his Super Bowl ring made out of chocolate. They also passed out individual chocolate rings to all the guests, served on a silver platter by the groomsmen, the same way the real Super Bowl rings are presented.
The couple honeymooned for a week in Las Ventanas, Mexico. Eli’s parents, Olivia and Archie Manning, hosted an additional reception at Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter with a traditional Antoine’s menu, serving oysters, crabmeat, shrimp remoulade, soufflé potatoes and baked Alaska. The band E.L.S. performed as guests dined and indulged in a special tequila bar, reminiscent of the Mexican nuptials. All of the family’s dear friends from New Orleans were in attendance, as were several of Eli’s coaches from the Giants and the New York Giants owners.
The newlyweds currently reside in Hoboken, N.J., as Eli starts his fifth season as quarterback for the New York Giants.
From left to right: Justin Wade, Amzie Williams, Cassie McConnell, Mary Walker Goza, Peyton Manning, Lacey McGrew, the bride and groom, Molly McGrew, Cooper Manning, Susannah Johnson, Paige Wilson, Merrick Egan, David Morris and James Montgomery.
An intimate, candlelight dinner by the water was held following the ceremony.
The ceremony was held on the beach at the One & Only Palmilla Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico.