Santa Barbara is about as glorious a wedding town as you can find—Pacific bluffs, brilliant sunshine, the scent of flowers in every breeze. So when Jessica, a Chicago native who attended college in the area, and Chris, from nearby Orange County, got engaged, it made perfect sense for them to marry at the beachside hot spot where they met and fell in love.
This low-key couple set up camp at the Bacara Resort & Spa, a luxurious property fronting the ocean. With a relaxed itinerary—just the rehearsal dinner and wedding itself—the 100 guests had plenty of time to tour wineries and get massages on their own. "We wanted everyone to feel like they were on vacation, without a schedule to keep," Jessica says.
At the reception, floor-to-ceiling windows framed a backdrop of crashing waves and soaring seagulls. The toasts were many, heartfelt and humorous, and the dancing took place on an adjacent terrace under the stars. "We wanted our wedding to be a relaxing and fun time with the people we love most," says the bride. Well done! —Nancy Mattia
Our Favorite Things
From the Heart: Guests wrote personal messages to the couple on the tiles that were used as place cards. Later, they were assembled in a large mosaic and framed—guest book as wall art.
Game on: On the wedding eve, Jessica's dad challenged Chris to a round of golf, joking that he'd have to win in order to marry. Chris, who'd never out-played the older man before, actually won!
Family Moves: Instead of separate father-daughter and mother-son songs, Jessica and Chris danced with their parents at the same time, to Sam Cooke's "Nothing Can Change This Love."
A Little Bit Country: The reception high point came when everyone—including the bride's 87-year-old grandmother—clapped and stomped to "Calling Baton Rouge." Says Jessica, "And we didn't even have that 'country' a crowd!"
Monique Lhuillier, moniquelhuillier.com
Ceremony and Reception Site
Bacara Resort & Spa, bacararesort.com
Corridan & Co., corridanandco.com
Jose Villa, josevillaphoto.com