Al Fresco Garden Wedding in Montecito

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.

Vault CTA

Photography: Jose Villa Photography | Cinematography: Portal Films | Floral Design: Poppies & Posies | 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

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here
Romantic Garden-Inspired San Ysidro Ranch Wedding

The first time I saw pictures of a wedding at San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, I instantly knew it’s where I wanted to get married one day. And this wedding from Michael + Anna Costa Photo reminds me why. With a talented team of vendors including Twine EventsFound Vintage Rentals and La Tavola, the ranch becomes a magical setting for any couple to say, “I do.” See all the pretty here.

From The Bride…It was a Friday night in September of 2013. I was helping Paul pack for one of his usual business trips. But for some reason, this was a trip he didn’t want to make. He seemed real down and upset. Mind you, Paul is not one to show too much affection but tonight was different. He kept showering me with hugs and kisses. He just kept saying over and over “I really don’t want to leave.” In my mind, I felt so bad for him but at the same time thinking…”What is wrong with him? He is never like this. He travels all the time for work.” The next morning, he was up at 5 am even though he didn’t have to get up until 6am. But nonetheless, I slept until he was ready for me to take him to the airport. At 630am, we were out the door with luggage in tow. As I was closing the trunk to my car, Paul repeated how he didn’t want to leave me. I turned around and gave him a big hug as I reassured him that he would be home in a few days. At this point, he asked “In the meantime, would you hold on to something for me?” I thought…a pair of keys? But to my surprise, he pulls out a little black box and hands it to me. While choking back tears, he says “I already think of you as my wife but I wanted to make sure you knew how much I love you. Will you marry me?” So at 630 am in the dark, in front of the house, me in sweats (I didn’t even bother to brush my hair or teeth because I was going to crawl back into bed once I dropped him off)…we were engaged! It was one of the happiest moments in my life.

The first thing I did after getting engaged was to go wedding dress shopping. I went to so many different venues and tried on so many dresses and had no luck. Finally, my best friend and maid of honor, Heather, went with me to help me out. Again, I tried on so many dresses and ehhh. Heather asked if I had seen the dress on display at the front window. Of course I hadn’t. They say you will have a moment when you try on the dress that is the “one.” It is no lie. I walked out and looked in the mirror and knew that I found my wedding dress. My veil was handmade by my dear friend and sister, Kim Anh. And to finish off the dress, I made the belt. It was a perfect addition to the dress.

When it came to the wedding venue, we didn’t really look. Paul had a business dinner at The
Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch and was really impressed. We eventually went there for Sunday brunch and I absolutely fell in love with the place. It was tucked away and was so romantic and just lovely. We knew we didn’t have to look any further. And the wedding and events team is exceptional. The next vendor on my list was a photographer. I happen to find Michael and Anna Costa Photography. After much research on them, I was just awestruck by the beauty and yet simplicity of their photography. I wanted someone who could make beautiful pictures out of candid moments. Just from my engagement pictures, I knew I found the perfect photographer in Michael Costa. He also has a very calming demeanor which made a huge difference on our wedding day. Since I found my photographer, I was on to what was next on my list…a wedding planner and florist. Erica Espana from Twine Events was an exceptional planner. She is always on top of things and made sure I was as well. It helps that she is also a stylist so the setup from the ceremony to the vignette to the reception room was so stunning.

Everyone kept telling me how important it was to have a planner on your wedding day. I didn’t realize how much until on our wedding day, I did not have to make a single decision. Erica just followed the timeline we put together and I never stressed about a single thing. Now onto my floral designer, Nina Kincaid from Coco Rose Design. She did an absolutely amazing job. The floral design was exactly what I wanted, simple yet so beautiful and romantic.

There were so many special moments on our wedding day that it is difficult to pick out one thing that stands out so I will share a few. When my photographer told me about the “first look” moment, I was a little hesitant about it because I didn’t want Paul to see me before the ceremony. But once we realized how romantic it was going to be, we decided to do it. Truly, I was so happy we did the first look. The first moment we see each other as bride and groom with no one there to distract us from the emotions we were feeling. It was truly special. When Paul asked me to marry him, he proposed with his late mother’s ring. I took the original setting and melted it down to make his wedding band. When we exchanged rings, we knew that each of us would have a part of her as a symbol of our vows. That was truly special. Once we got engaged, we decided to try to conceive asap. After much heartache and tears…we were finally blessed with wonderful news. We decided to keep it a secret until the wedding. My maid of honor had this great idea to make the announcement by putting a picture of infant shoes on a card facing inward on pink glitter baby champagne bottles that would be used as wedding favors. We would make the announcement at the reception by asking everyone to turn the card around. Well….before we made our grand entrance into the reception room, a friend came to us and told us that the cat was out of the bag. So when we finally made our grand entrance, everyone was screaming and shouting with joy for the wonderful news. That was truly special. Having all of our close family and friends be a part of our wedding day…truly special beyond words.

Photography: Michael + Anna Costa Photography | Event Planning + Design: Twine Events | Floral Design: Coco Rose Design | Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero | Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas | Calligraphy: A Fabulous Fete | Groomsmen Attire: Brooks Brothers | Harpist: Laurie Rasmussen | Venue: San Ysidro Ranch | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Laundry By Shelli Segal | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Flower Girl Dress: Zulily | Groomsmen’s Ties: Armani | Groom’s Attire: Z by Zegna | Groom’s Shirt And Bowtie: Lanvin | Linen Rentals: La Tavola Fine Linen Rental | Rentals: Found Vintage Rentals | Ring Bearers’ Outfit: Vans | Veil: Kim Anh Nguyen | Wedding Singer: April Walsh

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here
Dreamy + Romantic Garden-Inspired Montecito Wedding

A garden-inspired wedding is all about the flowers, and the floral details fromSweet Marie Designs at this Santa Barbara garden wedding definitely do not disappoint. The pretty continues throughout this dazzling fête thanks to a dream team of vendors like La TavolaAmbient Event Design and Diana McGregor—head to the gallery to see it all.



From Soleil EventsFrom my first meeting with Alix and her Mom in a little coffee shop just north of Santa Barbara, I knew our partnership in planning an unforgettable event, would be equally unforgettable. The vision, at first, was more along the lines of bohemian summer romance, but as the design board and pins started to come together, a classic, elegant and romantic style began to emerge that was simply undeniable. Part of what informed the timeless look and feel of the day was the setting. The Valley Club of Montecito is nestled in one of California’s most exclusive neighborhoods where your Saturday morning cup of Joe at the local coffee shop means bumping into the likes of Oprah, Carol Burnett, or Ellen DeGeneres. The Club itself is among the most exclusive, boasting sprawling acres of green that extends from the Montecito foothills all the way to the shores of the blue Pacific. It’s breath-taking! What struck me about the location is its timeless, old world feel. One gets the feeling that every detail of its interior – from the equine themed oils on canvas, to the French antique furniture – has been preserved to perfection under the careful eye of the management and staff. Steve’s Aunt and Uncle were the member connection that secured the spot, and we were off and running!

What I loved about working with Alix is that she led first with her heart, and the priority was always to plan a beautiful but fun and inclusive celebration. She has traveled extensively around the world so her good taste met with a natural elegance, sprinkled with whimsy and humor. Since Alix and Steve already have the most ADORABLE child on the planet, Charlie, family was a theme that ran throughout our conversations.

The romantic and soft color palette of creams and peaches and greens worked well with the Club’s interior. One of the most unique rooms I’ve seen is the main dining room, which is beautifully painted with a garden motif from base-board to ceiling. Alise from Sweet Marie Designs was an incredible team member and brought in refined yet naturally striking floral design to accentuate the Club, rather than compete with its charms. Alise even went so far as to design and construct the wedding arch to our exact specifications – talk about the extra mile!

We chose ivory colored Dupionique silk linens from La Tavola, and footed mercury pedestal vases for the flowers. The element that tied the table together was the hand painted menu card from Lovely Paper Things. Carolyn created a little work of art to adorn the place setting, and it added depth, dimension, and beauty to the tables that perfectly tied into the flowers and the surroundings.

The weather on the wedding day was a Santa Barbara postcard in spades. Guest gathered for the ceremony on the driving range and enjoyed pre-ceremony beverages and a view to end all views. Vows were exchanged under the arch adorned with green vines, loose garden roses and blooming dogwood. Charlie was there clapping and breaking hearts as his parents sealed their vows. As a Grand Finale to the ceremony, Steve surprised his Bride with a flash mob of singers as they recessed up the aisle to a live chorus of The Beatles, “All You Need is Love”. Talk about romance!

Guests were invited to the Club Terrace for tray-passed champagne and cocktails, and as a nod to Alix and Steve’s good humor, a magician mingled among the crowd with some slight-of-hand that had everyone laughing. My absolute favorite detail of the event was the vintage family photo escort cards. Die-cut name tags from Honey Paper were attached to old Polaroid and Kodak photos that Alix found in a vintage shop. The photos were affixed to an over-sized picture frame with little gold pins and pale pink silk ribbon. The pictures were hilarious! Several guests wondered aloud if the photos were of long lost family members, and it was the perfect ice-breaker during the cocktail hour.

We moved inside the Club for an intimate, three course dinner, champagne toasts and speeches. During dinner, the team transformed the Terrace from cocktail hour to an after-party dance lounge with couches, overhead festival lights and fun photo ops with Outrageous Booth. To end the night on a sweet note, Amber at Enjoy Cupcakes helped translate Steve and Alix’s favorite desserts into not one, but 5 wedding cakes, each more decadent and gorgeous than the last. The cakes were displayed on a wooden in-laid table, atop sparkling
vintage cake pedestals. So sweet!

When I think back on Alix and Steve’s wedding, the words ‘love affair’ come to mind. They are two people completely in love with life, each other, their son, and their family and friends. Theirs is a wedding story that is as classic and naturally beautiful as they come. To them I lift a glass -cheers to a life of romance and moments like these! xoxo

From The Bride…My vision for the wedding was a combo of country club traditional, due to the location and relaxed California vibe since we are not as formal. Outdoors, as much as possible, romantic, warm, a lot of candle light, good food and drinks and of course music – we wanted people to have fun, most of all.

Our ceremony was incredibly special since our son was there! My brother pushed him down the aisle in a radio flyer tricycle and he clapped after we said our vows and Steve carried him back down the aisle with us as people planted in the audience sang All You Need is Love, a surprise arranged by Steve! The weather was perfect, sun was setting, blue sky. Steve’s cousin, an opera singer sang Some Enchanted Evening. Our reception had great speeches, good food, music and photo booth. A lot of dancing under the stars.

Photography: Diana McGregor Photography | Event Coordination: Soleil Events | Floral Design: Olive Willow Designs | Wedding Dress: Romona Keveza | Invitations: Stationery Collection | Bride's Shoes: Gucci | Jewelry: XIV Karats Ltd | Makeup: Tomiko Taft | Hair: Brianna Stewart | Lighting: Ambient Event Design | DJ: Daisy O'Dell | Groom's Attire: Bonobos | Ceremony Music: Aurora Ensemble | Venue: The Valley Club Of Montecito | Cakes And Dessert: Enjoy Cupcakes | Childcare: The Little Guest | Escort Cards: Honey Paper | Get Away Car: Classic Motoring Car Rentals | Groom's Shoes: Cole Haan | Groom's Tie: Thomas Pink | Linens: La Tavola Fine Linen Rental | Magician: Mark Collier | Photo Booth: Outrageous Booths | Photobooth: Outrageous Booths | Photography - Assistance: Michelle Boyd Photography | Rentals: Ventura Rental Party Center | Wedding Day Paper: Lovely Paper Things

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here