An Elegant Backyard Wedding in Santa Barbara

California, Local, Real Weddings

Following a Colorado ski trip in 2011, Matt Besserman serendipitously found himself on the same flight as Debra Lee after snowstorms delayed his departure for two days. The pair hit it off and on June 15, 2013, Matt popped the question as he and Debra took in the sunset while vacationing in Florence, Italy.

The couple spent over a year planning their intimate wedding at Matt's family home in Santa Barbara. "We explored a number of different venues but part of us preferred a more personal, intimate setting," Debra says. "The property itself is absolutely breathtaking. It felt unique and very authentic to us." With the help of Frankly Weddings, Debra and Matt planned a hometown wedding inspired by trips to Italy and the South of France with plenty of rustic yet elegant appeal. Angie Silvy Photography was there to capture every special detail of their September 20, 2014 nuptials.

Debra and Matt chose simple black-and-white invitations from Minted. The bride custom-designed their logo and had stamps made that she used to further personalize their stationery.

The bride chose a custom-made wedding dress from designer Robert Bullock. She wanted something that felt lightweight and she could dance in all night long, so the perfect design turned out to be a re-embroidered lace sheath with a deep v-neckline, stunning open back, and satin bow detail.

Debra complemented her dress with a simple beauty look and accessories. She kept her long hair entirely down and softly waved, added simple diamond stud earrings and comfortable wedge heels, and went with a natural makeup look that boasted a rosy lip. Her bouquet was comprised of white and off-white blooms, including dahlias, spray roses, Juliette roses, and eucalyptus.

Her four bridesmaids wore peach-hued silk chiffon dresses from J.Crew. "I picked the color but let my bridesmaids choose their favorite style," Debra recalls. "They all chose different silhouettes." Their bouquets consisted of peach roses, spray roses, dahlias, and eucalyptus.

Matt chose a soft gray suit from Ted Baker and a champagne-colored tie. His groomsmen wore matching slacks and ties without a jacket for a more casual look.

The couple kept their ceremony décor simple and natural. Aisle chairs were decorated with arrangements of roses, dahlias, and eucalyptus while a chiffon fabric was draped over a mature oak tree for a romantic take on a chuppah. The bride's mother and father walked her down the aisle where she and Matt exchanged vows. "We wrote our own vows, but we chose to say them quietly to each other," Debra explains.

During cocktail hour, guests sipped the couple's two signature drinks and enjoyed passed appetizers — Moscow Mules and Passion Fruit Margaritas were served along sided warm artichoke crostini, Mediterranean beef Satay, and goat cheese-stuffed figs.

Because the couple wanted to highlight their lush outdoor setting, they chose to keep their reception décor minimal. Debra and Matt loved the look of square tables dressed in white linens near long, ranchero tables with deep colored wood. Place settings included gold chargers topped with mini baguettes and a custom-made menu card created by the bride.

Centerpieces of dahlias, roses, and assorted greenery were held in wooden planter boxes created by the groom's father.

At their head table, the bride and groom decorated their chairs with greenery and peach-and-white roses. Debra hand-sewed a lace runner to drape the length of the wooden table and topped it with a stunning six-foot long floral garland comprised of white, cream, and champagne roses and plenty of greenery. Their family and friends enjoyed a decadent meal of chicken Marbella, butternut squash tortelacci, and Moroccan-spiced quinoa pilaf.

For dessert, Debra and Matt served slices of their who-tiered white wedding cake, filed with white cake with fresh strawberry Bavarian cream filling.

But their beautiful backyard bash didn't quite go off without a hitch! Their DJ kept guests dancing all evening long, but a quick hiccup made them all the more appreciative that the music swelled throughout the night. "The power from all the lighting, DJ, and photo booth would occasionally overload the circuit break and would trip for a few moment, come back on, and then trip again," Debra remembers. "All our guests would let our a giant sigh followed by cheers when the power returned. It was quite fun!"

Debra and Matt honeymooned in Turks and Caicos before returning to their home in Los Angeles. For couples currently planning their own wedding, Debra has one piece of advice: "You can't please everyone. It's just a waste of energy. Trust yourself and follow your heart."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Private Residence || Wedding Planner: Frankly Weddings || Bride's Wedding Dress: Robert Bullock || Veil: The Dress || Jewelry, Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Truong & Co. || Bride's Hair & Makeup: La Rouge Artistry || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew || Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: Ted Baker || Florist: Grass Roots || Invitations: || Photographer: Angie Silvy Photography

For more local wedding vendor listings, go here!

Want to see more California weddings? Then watch another couple tie the knot in a chic, black-and-white bash in Santa Barbara in the video below!

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