Designing my wedding was the most fun and creative project of my life. It became such a community project with so many of our friends bringing their expertise and aesthetics to our vision. My husband works on the bottom of the ocean floor as a diver and fisherman, and I have lived on the beach since I was born. I wanted The Ocean's essence sprinkled everywhere. I also knew that it would have to be as eco-friendly as possible in order to keep our morals in tact. Here is a run down of how we designed our Santa Barbara wedding. All of our photos were captured by my good friend Shannon Jayne Miller.
Let's Party the Whole Week!
In other cultures, people celebrate a wedding for weeks. So, I wanted to plan at least a week to play with all of our family and friends and to celebrate. I thought it would be cool for our closest family and friends to stay together in one big place. Not only did we find an epic estate to house us all, it was a wedding venue with 3 tiers of outdoor spaces for a wedding and reception. We were able to have my bridal shower, my bridal henna blessing, rehearsal dinner, and the wedding there. The universe delivered this exact option called the Villa Verano in the foothills of Santa Barbara. We could see our whole city all the way to the Ocean. It was perfect.
We loooove the Ocean. So, it was natural for us to bring her into our wedding and lay her out everywhere. Our colors were white and all shades of blue from caribbean teal to deep royal ocean blue. I designed our wedding invites myself and used an iconic image of an old school diver in his helmet with a bikini babe kissing his helmet. I used this artwork also on our menus that we put on each setting on the tables. Our theme quickly evolved into an array of urchin, abalone, shells, the sun and moon symbols (we wanted Soleil and Mothersun symbology everywhere!), blue and white tie-dyed dreamcatchers, shell chandelier, crystals, and succulents.
Our DIY PROJECTS
We had lots of fun DIY projects happening throughout wedding prep time. It was important to me that our wedding really be the essence of John and I both, so putting our own projects together made it that much more meaningful.
Urchin & Shells from the Ocean Floor
My husband John collected sea urchin shells at the bottom of the ocean during the 6 months prior to our wedding date. We put those urchin shells on all of the tables at the reception. He also collected hundreds of abalone shells and we placed those on every setting as a gift for our guests to take home. We also decorated our cake in the abalone shells and it was absolutely beautiful.
Dream Catchers Galore
My friend Anna Vargas who is a master dream catcher maker made us giant dream catchers out of blue and white tie-dyed fabrics. When our amazing wedding coordinator Erika from Wild Heart Events saw them, she decided to make a blue and white dream catcher installation to match that acted as our escort display. Everything flowed so beautifully.
Displaying My Own Art
I decided I would design and paint the welcome sign myself. I got an antique sandwich board from my friend's wedding and spray painted it. Then, to bring in the moon and sun theme, I designed our own wedding emblem and painted it on the signage.
We went to the Gem Faire when it came to town and bought a ton of crystals for a super discounted rate. We had crystals on all the cocktail tables and the bar. We bought larger crystals for our ceremony backdrop and later gifted them to our parents and our wedding coordinator. We chose not to have a wedding party, so for my closest girlfriends who would have been my bridesmaids, I gave them all crystals as well. My besties were the last ones to be seated before I walked down the aisle and they each placed their crystal in a circle around the altar so John and I could stand in the middle of them.
The Ceremony Backdrop
We wanted a round ceremony backdrop to continue the sun and moon theme. My friend Hanna and I designed the backdrop together and created a concept involving a large round golden hoop that John and I made with plumbing tubes and spray paint. Then we gave it to Hanna and she created a macrame design in the shape of a crescent moon to continue with our moon and sun theme.
Our Flower Arrangements
My best friend Mary and I brainstormed on flowers throughout the year. She works on Wallstreet but is a former landscape designer and she knows flowers like the back of her hand. We made a list of flowers and I went to a local wholesaler here in Santa Barbara and got most of our flowers that way. We also went to the farmers' market the day before and got some last minute pieces as well as a ton of wholesale succulents. On the morning of the wedding, Mary and our team of friends made every arrangement themselves. We borrowed vases from my girlfriend Emma Rose of Emma Rose Floral who made my wedding bouquet.
LOCAL SUSTAINABLE FOOD and SEXY FISHERMEN
My husband and his fishermen friends provided a beautiful spread of hand caught seafood from our waters here in Santa Barbara and our appetizer and dinner menu featured their sea urchin, scallops, lobster, sea bass, and blue fin tuna. Using our natural resources around us was extremely important, so all of our proteins and vegetables were locally grown and sourced in Santa Barbara County. We had one signature cocktail that we called His AND Her Cocktail and it was our favorite freshly squeezed margarita. We had tequila shots in little individual glass viles for our toast.
My lifelong friend Cailtin made our simple yet stunning cake. She made my favorite, her Carrot Cake. John and I collected abalone shells for my design idea and Caitlin executed the concept perfectly. You can see the cake in a photo below.
MY HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BIG DAY
My highlights of the day were walking down the aisle with my 4 year old daughter Soleil, my grandma officiating the ceremony that John and I wrote ourselves on our boat at the Channel Islands, my Grace Loves Lace dress with a beautiful fringe train, my bridal henna tattoos on both of my hands and forearms, the fresh local seafood spread, and the immense love oozing from the two of us and all of our guests. It was a romantic night for everyone, that is for sure!
MY favorite photos from the day
How We Designed Our Wedding To Be Eco-Friendly
This was really easy for us to do because we are super passionate about keeping waste low and living as sustainable as we can here in Santa Barbara. Here are our tips:
1. Electronic Invitations
We had no paper save the dates or invites. We kept everything organized on TheKnot.com and sent out e-invites. All of our guests could rsvp directly from their email. Plus our registry and our cutesy wedding website I made was directly linked to the invite. AND, it was free. For our Save the Dates, we literally just texted our friends to put the date in their calendars. No frills, super easy and zero waste.
2. NO SINGLE USE PLASTICS
No plastic was allowed! We had three parties that week: My bridal shower, the rehearsal dinner, and the wedding, and I did not allow there to be any plastic or balloons. We used glasses and bamboo plates and utensils for the first two parties. We said no to plastic straws, cups, water bottles, and utensils. HOWEVER, the caterer forgot and put plastic water bottles out during the pre-ceremony drinks even though we bought glass sparkling waters instead. So, I would highly advise to re-iterate this point and how serious you are about it to your vendors.
3. Use Seasonal Local Organic Produce and Meats
My husband and his friends caught all the seafood themselves here in Santa Barbara. Our caterer used local pig and all local produce for our dinner because we reiterated how important that was for us. The meat industry is a huge contributor to climate change and so not only did we keep meat minimum, the meat we did use was locally grown. As for our wedding cake, my friend made us a small one with frosting and shells on it only. There were no artificial decor on the cake like tiers or plastic signage.
4. Use Locally Grown Flowers and Plants
We bought all of our succulents and flowers from a local grower here in town and we were able to drive down the street and get a few buckets full of flowers and boxes of succulents (and zero plastic wrap on any of them). We also went to our local farmers' market the day before the wedding to get last minute pieces for the tables. We also foraged eucalyptus branches because they grow like weeds around Santa Barbara.
5. Use Upcycled and Rented Decor
We used my girlfriend's vases for the flowers, we re-used tie-dye cloth napkins and table numbers from our coordinators, we collected shells from the beach, I repainted my friends' old wedding signage, and our dreamcatchers were made from foraged driftwood and up cycled linens. We rented our tablecloths and all glass, plates, and utensils. We used natural alive plants and flowers for the rest of the decor. We had no balloons, or candles, or sparklers, or artificial anything on our tables.
6. Favors that Aren't Wasteful
We asked a local restaurant that throws away abalone shells daily if we could have them for our wedding favors. They collected the shells for us instead of throwing them away at the end of the day. We ended up with hundreds of abalone shells from them which we used as the gifts for each of our guests. We put them on top of each plate too, so they doubled as decor as well. Those shells can be kept forever and utilized by our guests in their own homes. We chose not to create more trash that our guests would take home and probably throw away at some point.
7. Choose A Venue Close to the Majority of Your Guests
This was easy for John and I because we have lived in Santa Barbara for almost 20 years and the majority of our friends are here. Our venue was right in town, yet far enough away from other properties. The venue was so picturesque that it did not require a huge amount of decor either. And it had all the amenities we needed like bathrooms and a kitchen.
8. Be Thoughtful of What You Ask Your Wedding Party to Wear
We did not have a wedding party because John and I wanted to stand at the altar with just the two of us, but I asked my girlfriends who would have been in my bridal party to wear any shade of blue. If we did have an official bridal party, I think it is a cool idea to give them a color and have them pick out their own dresses. Being able to reuse and rewear clothing is more conscious then making everyone buy an expensive dress that they can only wear one time.
Event Planning: Wild Heart Events
Event Design: Wild Heart Events
Photographer: Shannon Jayne Photography
Hair and Makeup: Tawni Yoko Jones
Caterer: Craft Catering
Music: Party Proper Productions
Floral: Emma Rose Floral
Linens: La Tavola Fine Linen
Cake: Bride’s best friend
Ceremony Venue: Villa Verano
Reception Venue: Villa Verano
Rentals: Party Pleasers
Bridal Henna: Henna Me Beautiful