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Multicultural Santa Barbara Welcome Dinner

We’ve had a total girl crush on Jen Huang since the day she first submitted a wedding to SMP. It’s always a treat to feature her beautiful photography, so you can only imagine how insanely excited we were to get our hands on her own welcome dinner and wedding day. She pulled in a few talented industry friends like Jose VillaPoppies And Posies plus Borrowed Blu to be a part of the welcome celebration, but this is only the beginning. We’re got the entire wedding up NEXT.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
At Home
Styles
Al Fresco

From Jen & Elihu…We hosted our welcome dinner at our home in the Lower Riviera of Santa Barbara. We wanted to have our events at private homes because being surrounded by family and friends around us during our wedding week was a big priority and having our event at home gave us the freedom to create our own schedules and host our guests.

In many ways, the welcome dinner was about family – the celebration of the love we have for our family, along with the start of a new family – my and my husbands! We had just purchased our home that year and couldn’t think of a better way to “warm” it than to have all of our family eating a delicious meal together in our back garden. We also had our Chinese tea ceremony in our living room before the dinner. These places are now sacred to us and are filled with the most wonderful memories.

During our welcome dinner, we wanted our details to feel like they came from our home. The bench was an antique we found in Santa Barbara – it was broken but my husband fixed it, and it now resides in our foyer. It was the perfect seat for two, and since it wasn’t a rental, we can sit on it together whenever we want. The antique barware was also collected throughout our trips antiquing across the country and sits on our bar. Our house guests can still use the same bar ware that we had at our welcome dinner – I feel like our details tie our present day to the past and remains meaningful beyond that one time use!

We had a very “western” and “traditional” wedding so I incorporated a little more Chinese culture into our welcome dinner. We also had a selection of Irish whiskeys to bring in Elihu’s background. The lanterns are from China – and a symbol of celebration. We hung these in our living room where we had our tea ceremony. In China, the color of weddings and happiness is red, so we selected reds, pinks and brighter shades to convey that sense of joy.

The dress I wore was a traditional Qi Pao made of silk and custom ordered in China. My mother measured me in the U.S. and sent the measurements to my aunt in China who then had it commissioned. There are lots of different Qi Pao designs now, and many brides who wear a design in white, but I wanted mine to be as traditional as possible – bright red with hand embroidered flowers.

For the food, we love tapas and family style dinners so we went in that direction – charcuterie, bacon wrapped chorizo, jicama chicken etc. Guests were also welcomed with Sangria when they entered. We wanted everyone to feel full so we had Duo create a huge tasting menu in a family style.

I had wanted to hand write all of our invitations and paper goods because I felt even if it wasn’t the most professional calligraphy, it was still heartfelt and special. I think hand written notes are so important (and so rare now-a-days) but they serve such a wonderful purpose – letting your recipient know they are loved and that you spent time on your words. For our menus, I knew that we would need boards for our charcuterie so I wanted to utilize the board as a way to introduce the menu as well. I wrote the menu myself and had it laser engraved into the sides of raw wooden boards. Then, during one of my foraging trips with my husband, when we were looking for old windows for our house renovations, I found knife and fork drawer pulls which we then attached to the boards so that they could have handles.

I also hand wrote the little envelopes which doubled as place cards, I watercolored fruits on them, to match the fruits scattered around our tables, and inside were cards with little fun and funny facts about myself and Elihu. That way, our respective families could open their envelopes, learn a little bit about us and share their cards around the table.

We had a tea ceremony prior to the welcome dinner with just our immediate family. Traditionally at a tea ceremony, you kneel and present your elders with tea and they will give you gifts for your wedding. We knelt in front our parents, served them tea and also thanked them for their sacrifices throughout the years – as you can imagine, it was a very tearful, but happy occasion.

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Photography: Jose Villa | Event Planning, Design + Floral: Poppies And Posies | Location: At Home | Tabletop Rentals: Borrowed Blu

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Elegant Four Seasons Resort Wedding

It isn’t often we hear sentiments from the groom, but today we’ve got just that and his write-up? SO. SWEET. For it was after 7 years of friendship that these two came together in holy matrimony saying their “I Do’s” in a chic colorful celebration. Surrounded by California sunshine and 70 of their nearest and dearest Michael + Anna Costa Photography captured every sweet moment to share in THE VAULT!

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Seasons
Spring
Styles
Al Fresco

From The Groom…My then girlfriend and I were anxious about our summer trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, as we had a busy winter and spring and were looking to get away and unwind for a week somewhere warm where we could unplug and relax. Shortly after we arrived, I slipped away from the pool and Michelle to set up the proposal day with the hotel concierge at Secrets Vallarta Bay. I knew exactly what I wanted, and it was just about piecing it together.

On the big day, it started as typical as most vacation mornings. A wonderful breakfast while overlooking the beach, and some time by the pool to soak in some rays, relax, read and splash around in the water. After lunch, in the afternoon is where the plans kicked in. I had set up a couples massage at the on site spa, which was incredible. An hour long Swedish massage for both of us definitely set the tone. Afterwards, I recommended that Michelle get her nails done, as well as a facial, which gave me additional time for last minute plans and to get ready. After we showered, we walked downstairs and were greeted by the concierge, who whisked us upstairs to the top level of the hotel, escorting us into the Presidential Suite, which began a trail of rose petals on the floor, leading out to a balcony the size of our apartment, with a view of the bay and beach.

As we stepped out onto the balcony, the tiki torches were lit, and a single white linen cloth covered table was set up with a picturesque view, with champagne waiting to be popped. We had our own server, who greeted us, popped the champagne, and began to tell us about our dinner ahead – butternut squash soup, a fresh salad, a surf n’ turf dinner made of filet mignon and lobster tail, and desserts to follow. We took in the view, admiring the uniqueness of the moment and where we were.

As we ate, and the sun was quickly setting, I knew it was my moment to ask a question that would determine our fate together. I was confident but nervous. I mean, you never know, right? But, it was the time. As the sun was beginning to kiss the ocean from afar, I pulled the ring box out of my pocket, opened it up, dropped to one knee, and asked, “Michelle, I love you, will you marry me?”

“Oh my god! Put it on me! Yes, yes, yes!” she exclaimed! We were both thrilled. We kissed, hugged, and enjoyed the remainder of our dinner and dessert, smiling, laughing and glowing. It was certainly one for the ages. And, 11 months later, we made it official in Santa Barbara, CA.

Sunday morning snuck up on us. After 7 years of friendship, three as co-workers, and two years of dating, we were coming together in matrimony. It was our big day and we lucked out with pristine weather. Sunshine, high 70’s, blue skies, and no humidity. We were thrilled that so many friends and family had traveled from far away to beautiful Santa Barbara, CA for our celebration. Most had come from the east coast, where we both grew up, with one friend venturing all the way from Dubai. Yes, Dubai.

The ceremony and reception was all centered at The Biltmore – Four Seasons, an elegant, picturesque hotel nestled on the beach, with the mountains and wine country among its nearby footprint. We loved it because Southern California was home. We loved it because it encapsulated everything we loved about the west coast – the beach, the mountains, frequent sunshine, fresh local agriculture and wine country.

At 3pm sharp, all 70 of our guests were seated outside within the Mariposa Garden, facing the ocean, surrounded by incredible flowers and plants from all corners of the tropical Earth. The wedding party entered, consisting of Michelle’s sister, and my brother – Chelsea and Andrew. Then, I walked down the aisle with my parents (Andrew, Maureen), and then my beautiful bride walked down the aisle flanked by her parents (Michael/Sharon) to “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

The ceremony was led by pastor Dr. Jon Ireland. He was warm, personal and touched on several important lessons for a successful marriage. Then, each of our fathers did a brief reading, and then we exchanged vows. Next we heard from Dr. Ireland, “You may now kiss the bride.”

The cocktail hour followed on the front El Mar Terrace, overlooking the great lawn and Butterfly Beach. Music was playing, cocktails were flowing, appetizers were being passed around and stories and smiles were being shared. Many were admiring the incredible view, and soaking in the location and picturesque, warm afternoon. Soon after, we moved inside to the El Mar room, which was beautifully decorated by Tenley Young, our floral and interior decorator. The room was set up with a large, family-style table, flanked by several round tables, covered with pristine white linens and other flowers and decorations to match.

After introductions and some dancing, dinner was served. The four course meal included: Butter Chardonnay Poached Lobster, Spiced Beef Short Rib, Butternut Squash Ginger Puree, Brocollini and a vanilla buttercream chiffon cake! Post dinner, we continued dancing into the evening, having a ton of fun, courtesy of DJ Sammy from City Connection Entertainment & Productions.

At 10pm, the reception wrapped up, and then we surprised our guests with a trolley (Santa Barbara Trolley), which offered a ride to all party-goers looking to continue the evening at an Irish pub in downtown Santa Barbara, called Dargans Irish Pub. The party continued well into the night and all had a night that they, or we, won’t soon forget.

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Photography: Michael + Anna Costa Photography | Cinematography: Riviera Productions | Coordination: Wedding Kate Events | Floral + Event Design: Tenley Erin Young | Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero | Hair + Makeup: LunaBella | Lighting: Bella Vista Designs | DJ: City Connection Entertainment | Officiant: Dr. Jon Ireland | Venue: The Biltmore, Santa Barbara | Bridal Boutique: Panache Bridal In Beverly Hills | Event Management: Maria Svensson At The Four Seasons Resort | Linens: La Tavola | Paper Goods: Sophia Loves Letters | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Trolly: Santa Barbara Trolly

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These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
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Chic Santa Barbara Wedding with a Flamenco Flair

What exactly is California cool? It’s this Santa Barbara wedding captured to perfection by Carmen Santorelli. Complete with a stunning Bride in a backless Katie May wedding dress, loose, vibrant flowers and colonial-era Spanish touches (how much do you love that chapel and the flamenco?!), this wedding is the very definition of effortless elegance. See each and every detail in THE VAULT!

Colors
Seasons
Fall
Settings
ChurchEatery
Styles
Classic

From The Bride…When Jason and I walked into the chapel of El Presidio de Santa Barbara, we knew that this was the perfect place for us to be married. With Jason’s deep Santa Barbara roots and my Basque heritage we both felt incredibly connected to this beautiful historic Spanish chapel. The interior exudes old world charm and makes you feel as if you are being transported into another time, back to the days of fiestas and flower-bedecked carriages.

Our dear friend, Patrice Handley of Santa Barbara Classic Weddings, wrote the ceremony for us. She happens to be one of Santa Barbara’s top wedding officiants, and we were honored to have her share our love story with our beloved friends and family. Patrice recommended the very talented local Spanish guitarist, Chris Fossek. He created a magnificent piece for me to walk down the aisle to, as well as arranging for an entertaining flamenco show at our reception.

Our photographer, Carmen Santorelli, was like a wispy sprite, taking amazingly artistic photos without us even noticing her. She totally captured how enraptured we both were during the ceremony, as well as the joyfulness of everyone during the whole wedding. Carmen’s photos of my wedding gown by the incomparable designer, Katie May, are radiant; her skill is clearly in creating ethereal wedding photos!

We decided to have the reception at Arnoldi’s Café. Jason’s wonderful Godfather owns the restaurant and there is a local, Italian family vibe that we knew all our friends and family would love. The mood of the starlit night in the courtyard with exquisite Spanish guitar was so romantic, and the fiery flamenco dancing had everyone jump out of their seats in applause!

So many things made our wedding special and unique, particularly the love and support we had from our incredibly loving community of friends and family. We were totally embraced by their warmth and happiness for us, which made every single thing a memory we will treasure forever!

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Photography: Carmen Santorelli | Floral Design: Terra Malia Designs | Wedding Dress: Katie May Bridal | Cake: Christine Dahl Pastries | Invitations: Maddie Gordon | Ceremony Venue: El Presidio Chapel | Reception Venue: Arnoldi's | Rings: Ben Bridge | Bridesmaids' Dresses: BHLDN | Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss | Officiant: Patrice Handley | Getting Ready Venue: Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara | Guitarist: Chris Fossek | Programs: Leanna Wolf

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