A Retro-Inspired Party in Santa Barbara

This couple looked to the 1950s for design inspo

Updated 01/16/18
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Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

July 29th is an important day for Ashley Lambert and Ben Kendall—back in 2006, it was the day of their first date. The night before, Ashley had run into a friend on the street in Santa Barbara and was introduced to Ben. “We couldn’t believe our paths had never crossed before, so Ben got my number and we had our first date on July 29, 2006,” says Ashley. Ten years later, in 2016, Ashley came home to find three gifts on the table: A box of mementos and keepsakes from their relationship, a leather-bound journal, and a card with a handwritten proposal inside. “When I turned around, Ben was on one knee with a gorgeous engagement ring,” she remembers. And finally, a year later, Ben and Ashley tied the knot in her parents’ garden on July 29, 2017 .

“Because both of us are from Santa Barbara, it was guaranteed we would get married in our hometown,” says Ashley. “It was especially romantic to get married at my parents’ home, then to have our reception at the estate next door.” The casual, elegant celebration was inspired by 1950s-era Santa Barbara, with its Spanish flair and a timeless setting. “We wanted our guests to sip champagne, wander the gardens, and really forget what decade it was,” Ashley describes. As for the planning, Ashley and Ben both work in creative industries so they took on the task themselves. “We wanted to make our wedding day feel like a representation of us,” says the bride. By the time their wedding day arrived, they’d made sure every detail was special, from hand-drawn place cards to the elevated meal of Mexican cuisine.

Planners Wit and Wiley were on board to help turn the couple's vision into a streamlined design, and Soigne Productions was there on the day-of to put everything into place. Keep reading to see how Clark Brewer captured this July 29th celebration—if these photos are any proof, this must've been the couple's most special date yet!

Wedding invitations

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Ben designed the couple’s invitations, weaving in botanical drawings and a pineapple monogram into one cohesive suite. The lining of the envelopes featured hand-illustrated bougainvillea and peonies, which was a hint of what was to come. On the big day, each table featured a different natural element such as butterflies, birds, shells, and California wildflowers (all drawn by Ben, of course).

Bride getting ready hugging flower girl

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Bride solo shot

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

The bride knew she wanted two different dresses, and chose a simple and classic design for the ceremony. The Tadashi Shoji dress featured a floral lace pattern with a dramatic cutout in the back. “It was lightweight, flattering, and feminine—perfect for an afternoon garden wedding,” Ashley describes.

Groom and ring bearer

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Ring bearer with sunglasses

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Ben wore a blue Hugo Boss suit, paired with a navy tie and a boutonniere of vibrant kumquats (perf for a SoCal celebration!). His groomsmen wore their own suits. “We had them choose their own attire, and the mix of gray tones added really nice variety,” explains the bride.

Bride with bridesmaids

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Bride and bridesmaids with bouquets

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Ashley’s bridesmaids each chose their own navy blue dress. “Navy really looks good on everyone,” says the bride. The women all carried bouquets of garden roses that matched the bride's larger bundle.

Bride in vintage car

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Vintage getaway car

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Ashley’s father picked her up at the hotel to drive her to the ceremony in a vintage Mercedes convertible. “He looked so dapper in his Armani suit, and the car was gorgeous. I felt like an old-timey movie star!” Ashley says. Her father had even dressed up the car with a custom license plate for the occasion!

Guests watching wedding ceremony

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

The aisle was decorated with arrangements of red bougainvillea, smilax, and roses (which were later used around the pool at the reception).

Bride and groom at altar

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

At the ceremony site, the gazebo was draped in white fabric and surrounded with lush smilax, ferns, and bougainvillea plants.

“After greeting our guests, our officiant asked Ben and me to step to the corner of the gazebo to take a moment alone and process what was happening. It was the first time we took a deep breath that day, and it instantly made us present. Having that moment with one another helped us remember all the details that came after,” Ashley says.

Bride and groom kissing at altar

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Ashley and Ben wrote their own vows, and asked family members to perform two readings: "The Marriage"by Rumi and "Married Love" by Kuan Tao-sheng.

Bride and groom recessional black and white

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

“Ben’s uncle is an incredible guitarist, and he honored us by playing for the ceremony,” says Ashley. The music included favorites from the Rolling Stones, Elvis, and the Beatles—including “Here Comes the Sun” as the newlyweds made their way back up the aisle.

Bride and groom holding hands

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

bride and groom holding eachother engagement ring close-up

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

While guests headed to cocktail hour, Ashley changed out of her lace gown and into her reception dress. “I’d almost given up on finding a reception dress, then found a new vintage curator in Los Angeles called Happy Isles," she explains. "The owner pulled some of the most dreamy vintage dresses I’d ever seen, including this one!”

floral escort cards

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Guests finding seating assignments

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Table numbers were attached to his-and-hers pins, including a guitar or cactus coat pin for the men, and flower hair pin for the ladies.

Poolside reception venue

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Bride and groom at reception dinner

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

The reception took place in a beautiful estate, at the neighbors of Ashley’s parents. “We loved the Mediterranean vibe, and that we could pop over to make measurements or confirm details as we were planning,” says Ashley. “By the time our wedding day arrived, everything felt so familiar.”

Dinner table place setting

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Floral arrangement

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Long farm tables were arranged around the pool, with Ashley and Ben seated in red velvet chairs overlooking the festivities. The design was filled with gold accents—from chargers and flatware to candles and vases. “We mixed vintage gold, amber, pink, and green glassware from Otis and Pearl,” says Ashley. The centerpieces paired bougainvillea with dahlias and gold garden roses.

The dinner menu included an heirloom tomato salad with melon and mint, followed by three types of tacos in handmade tortillas: broccoli & wild mushroom, cherrywood smoked chicken, and oak charred BBQ beef.

Bride and groom dancing at reception

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Bride singing at wedding reception

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

For their first dance, Ben and Ashley performed a choreographed salsa routine to “Right Down the Line” by Gerry Rafferty and “Hotel California,” performed by the Gypsy Kings.

As a surprise for their guests, the newlyweds and several talented friends took to the stage to perform a rock ‘n' roll set along with a few originals that the couple had written. “It was magical to share our music with our guests, and to see the delight on their faces when we got in front of the microphones,” says the bride.

Wedding cake cart

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Dessert shelf

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Dessert featured two of the couple’s favorites: fresh churros and cupcakes! The churros were served with chocolate, caramel, and berry sauces, and cupcakes featured horchata, blackberry syrah, and salted chocolate caramel flavors. A petite dulce de leche cake was wheeled out for Ben and Ashley to cut together.

Bride and groom black and white

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Ashley has this advice for brides-to-be: “Trust your instincts and let people help you! Part of the magic of a wedding day comes from all of the amazing people who step up to help you celebrate!”

Wedding Designer: Wit and Wiley || Wedding Coordinator: Soigne Productions || Bride's Ceremony Dress: Tadashi Shoji, from BHLDN || Bride’s Reception Dress: The Happy Isles || Bride's Shoes: Shutz || Hair: Ginger Boyle || Makeup: Shanie Crosbie || Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Digby & Iona || Floral Design: Emma Rose Floral || Paper Products: Ben Kendall, Beacon Lane || Catering: ValleFresh || Dessert: Enjoy Cupcakes, Sweet Baking Company || Reception Music: Queue DJ || Rentals: Spark Creative, Party Pleasers, Otis and Pearl, La Tavola Fine Linen || Videography: Paperbird Weddings || Photography: Clark Brewer Photography

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