Truth be told, putting together this post was a nearly impossible task. Because when Every. Single. Image. can stand alone as it’s own work of art (thanks Jose Villa!) it just feels wrong to exclude any moment. It’s the wedding day of one of our most beloved photographers, Jen Huang, and it’s chock-full of inspiration and Frenchie love galore. Make sure you start with the cozy, cultural welcome dinner, and end with a trip to the full wedding gallery inside The Vault.
From The Bride…I met Elihu at Pomona College in Claremont Los Angeles where Elihu studied economics and I studied fine art. Currently we are both entrepreneurs living in Santa Barbara, I am a wedding photographer and Elihu owns Heirloom Bindery.
Our wedding was definitely one of my favorite days in my entire life. There’s nothing like the feeling of family and friends around for the week, to help celebrate and solemnize your marriage. It was truly a magical time and wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work that my family and friends put into it. Being a wedding photographer, some things come easy – like being friends with some of the best wedding artists in the community. I have to say the event wouldn’t have happened without their guidance and intuition.
Elihu and I were married at a Friday wedding in Montecito at a private 20’s estate under a path of old olive trees. Although the home isn’t a traditional wedding venue, we fell in love with it’s gardens, antique details and beautiful stone courtyard and were able to have our wedding completely outdoors in beautiful Santa Barbara weather and light.
We wanted to echo the 20’s details of the home in our decor, design and style and focused on muted blushes, golds and sage greens. Much of the design included the idea of heirlooms, antique old-world treasures and crafting – like my 1920’s mine-cut engagement ring (which I have to be honest, started it all!). A few months prior to the wedding our guests received our save the dates, which were beautiful gold rimmed porcelain jewelry dishes hand-made by Paloma’s nest, inscribed with our wedding date and a dogwood branch and enclosed in a printed linen satchel which had more hand written information. Later, invitations were mailed in pale dusty blush hand-made spanish envelopes, with hand calligraphed addresses and invitations on cream paper in gold and black ink and closed with a wax seal. I chose to calligraph my own invitations because I love the idea of hand-written letters, and notes coming from the heart. I thought, if it’s going to be an invitation to my own wedding, why not write it myself?
When guests arrived at the wedding under a gorgeous wrought iron door trimmed with peonies and garlands, ladies were welcomed with perfumed and carved wooden fans and gentlemen all received a Poppies and Posies boutonniere made of herbs and succulents and tied with silk ribbons. We wanted everyone to feel like a special part of the wedding, which they all were. Guests also enjoyed fresh citrus water and mint-lemonade pool-side before our ceremony.
We wanted our ceremony to be intimate so we went without chairs and without microphones and definitely without cellphones. All our guests stood beneath olive trees in a loving group. I walked down the aisle with a gigantic bouquet of sally holmes roses, ferns, more garden roses, dahlias and peonies – basically every beautiful flower the girls from Poppies and Posies could find at the market. I wore a custom gown designed by Sarah Janks in a light blush, with a silk tulle veil simply draped over my low up-do and the antique diamond earrings Elihu had gifted me for my wedding. My father walked me down the aisle and to this day I can remember exactly how it felt – like heaven. Our ceremony was short and sweet and utterly perfect, and we ran back down the aisle together to “here comes the sun” by the beatles. Our friends and family tossed (some threw) scented lavender as we walked off as a married couple for the first time.
During our cocktail hour, guests sampled delicious bites by Duo catering on vintage silver platters I had sourced over the year. We also asked Duo to create a few signature cocktails that we loved and our wonderful band led by Brian Stodardt played so perfectly that guests thought it was a recording.
One of my favorite wedding moments was our entrance – earlier in the day I had presented Elihu with his wedding gift – a vintage Triumph bonneville motorcycle. Poppies and Posies created a mini garland on the back and I had provided them a carved wooden sign that said “just married” with trailing ribbons. Elihu and I rode into our reception on the motorcycle and went into our first dance surrounded by family and friends and plenty of sparklers. Brian Stodart sang our entry and first dance song while playing on his signature grand piano and accompanied by his guitarist.
The reception courtyard was absolutely magical thanks to the efforts of Borrowed Blu, Duo Catering, Enjoy Cupcakes and Poppies and Posies. Gorgeous floral centerpieces in antique silver vessels and brass candlesticks with golden candles dotted the tables. Little fruits and flowers were scatted about in between seven magnificent cakes on stands with their own antique silver cake knives (for guests to do their own cake cutting). Various styles of white plates with gold rims were layered with hand made linen napkins, runners and gold knives and forks. Carved crystal glassware accompanied each place setting along with a hand painted menu. String lights, that Elihu’s step-father and step-brothers had hung, twinkled overhead throughout the night.
To the side of the courtyard, a mini table was set up with a tea bar and a pipe-tobacco bar, both completely demolished by the end of the night! For dinner, guests enjoyed a full bar, our favorite red and white wines as well as a five course tasting menu by Duo catering that included Shishito peppers, pork belly, Santa Barbara carbonara, cod and steak. After our speeches, I changed into another custom made qipao (this time white with hand painted pink peonies on silk) and we cut our cake with sparklers on top. Our guests were invited to cut their own cakes so that they could join in on the fun. One of my dear friends, who is a great singer, started off the dancing by a surprise rendition of Justin Beiber (of course!) and we danced the night away and ended the evening on Santa Barbara’s state street for post-wedding shenanigans.
Our day was captured wonderfully by Jose Villa Photography and Andy Jackson Films – who were both laid back, gentle, accommodating and immensely talented. Mimi & Taylor also created my look for the wedding – dewy and bright, with a voluminous low up-do that made me feel so beautiful throughout the whole day.
I think what made our wedding the most special was all the hand-made touches – the details that my family and friends created with us – linen napkins, runners, garlands, drapery etc. etc. And of course all the customized details from our wedding vendors – my dress, my hand made shoe detailing, the wooden signs and porcelain save-the-dates. Everything had a story, nothing came from a catalogue or a store, everything had love infused into it. However, I would never recommend doing this alone, it was only with the help of my incredibly talented friends and family that we were able to pull this off. Things came together so seamlessly and so beautifully, it just meant so much to us. And to me it foretells a collaborative and balanced marriage, which is what is most important after all.
Photography: Jose Villa Photography | Cinematography: Portal Films | Floral Design: The Trove | Wedding Dress: Sarah Janks | Cake: Enjoy Cupcakes | Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Catering: Duos Catering | Hair + Makeup: Mimi & Taylor Salon | Venue: Montecito, CA | Bride's Second Wedding Dress: Custom Made In China | Custom Shoe Beading: Hushed Commotion | Hand Made Laser Cut Wooden Cocktail Menu: Jen Huang Art | Invitations + Stationery: Jen Huang Art | Menus: Jen Huang Art | Rentals: The Tent Merchant | Ring Box: Antique, Sourced By The Bride | Ring Dish: Paloma's Nest | Save The Dates: Paloma's Nest | Tabletop Rentals: borrowed BLU | Veil: Erica Elizabeth Design