More than 400 guests donned their finest formalwear to attend Mission San Juan Capistrano’s annual gala, Romance of the Mission, which took place Sept. 20 at the historic Sala building and raised $220,000 for the preservation of the landmark. This year, for the first time, guests were able to arrive via red carpet through the newly renovated, century-old gatehouse entry, which underwent a preservation project earlier this year. The exclusive benefit began with cocktails and appetizers in the lush garden, followed by a new tradition of the ringing of the bells at 7 p.m. to signal the start of the evening’s festivities. Attendees then were led into the historic ruins of the Great Stone Church, where Tony Award nominee and Orange County native Susan Egan gave an energetic performance under the stars featuring Broadway hits. Afterward, guests stepped into the main courtyard for a gourmet four-course candlelight dinner masterfully prepared by The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. —A.T.