Today is our anniversary! I usually write blogs about other people's weddings and today I realized I never wrote a blog about my own wedding so here it is! My husband and I were married on October 10, 2015. As a bride, I can say that my wedding day was everything I wanted it to be. Beautiful, elegant, fun, romantic and memorable. It was all of those things from the location, the decor, the fashion, the food, the entertainment and of course the people who came to celebrate with us.
Our wedding was not without challenges. As the wedding day was getting closer, I remember being so frustrated and tired that at one point I threatened to cancel everything, It was so overwhelming at times that I didn't think I could it it anymore.
I was doing most of the planning and design on my own as my husband was away for work quite a bit during that time. Every day I spent hours online looking at photos on Pinterest, collecting ideas and buying decorations from Amazon and Etsy and making countless trips to the local Michael's store trying to piece everything together down to the very last detail. What started out being fun and exciting ended up feeling more like a heavy burden to carry and I just wanted it to be over already!
As a Wedding Planner, I know a lot of couples go through a stressful time during the planning stages and it is very common to feel overwhelmed with everything there is to do. It can be hard to wrap your head around all the little details that go into planning the "perfect" day. You want to make everyone happy but in doing that you can easily wear yourself out.
There are endless lists of tasks to complete from choosing a venue to the numerous phone calls and emails to vendors, selecting and designing invitations and programs, buying gifts for the wedding party, choosing and printing photos, creating signage, creating a wedding website and registry, putting together a play list for the DJ and a shot list for the photographer, assembling favors.... and on and on and on.
Not only do those things that wear you out, you also have to make sure out of town guests secure their travel arrangements, collect RSVPs, attend food tastings, design a seating chart, and deal with two separate families and groups of friends who always have an opinion about everything! It is exhausting!
I decided early on that I wasn't going to discuss any of the details about the wedding with family or friends for two reasons. 1. I didn't want to hear everyone's opinions and have to explain any of my decisions and 2. I wanted everyone who came to the wedding to be surprised when they walked in not knowing what to expect. I had an image in my mind of our guests walking into the room and saying "wow, this is amazing!" Or "wow, this is so beautiful!"
I think it's important for any bride or groom to be able to plan the wedding they want to have without worrying about what everyone else thinks. It is very hard to plan a the wedding of YOUR dreams when you are trying to make everyone else happy, Just remember it is your day and you are only going to do it once so do it right! Don't have regrets later on and think, "I should have or I wish I had..." If your family loves you and truly wants you to be happy (which I am sure they do) they will understand.
I am not saying to ignore your guests needs and only think about yourself. I am simply saying don't let other people's opinions get in the way of having the wedding you always wanted. I tried very hard to be accommodating to our guests and to make them feel welcome. I tried to make sure they were taken care of while still planning the wedding the way I wanted to from the design, the colors, the attire, the food choices, the hotel accommodations and their overall experience, especially those who came from out of town (or out of the country in our case).
I had a vision for how I wanted our wedding to look and I wasn't going to be deterred from that easily. It is important to have a vision and to imagine all the things you want to have on the wedding day - what does it look like when it's all said and done? What colors do you see? What is everyone doing? What music is playing? Are you outside or inside? What does your dress look like? What kind of flowers do you have? Who is in your wedding? Creating a vision board is a good way to start collecting all your ideas and help you make decisions about what you want and what you don't want.
Ok, back to our wedding! We chose the beautiful and historic Santa Barbara Club located in downtown Santa Barbara. My husband and I both knew this was the right venue for us after we went to see it. It had the look and feel we wanted, it was just the right size for our guest count which was around 100 people, it had both indoor and outdoor space, it was private and exclusive just to our wedding guests.
The Santa Barbara Club is also an inclusive space that provides tables, chairs, linens and all the basics we needed for our formal dinner service and they even have their own chef! This was something that was important to us. It meant we didn't need to worry about spending too much money or time on rentals or hire an outside caterer. Having so much available in one space just made things a bit easier for us. We also loved the central location to State Street close to many hotels, shops, restaurants and nightlife for guests to enjoy before and after the wedding.
We chose to have our wedding ceremony outside on the lawn with a reception inside the main dining room. We chose classic and timeless colors which included navy blue, white, gold, silver and a hint of blush pink. The bridesmaids wore a navy blue dresses with lace detail and the groomsmen wore light grey suits with matching bow ties. The same colors were represented throughout the wedding in our decor and wedding details from the color of our table linens, napkins, flowers, and even the smallest details of our wedding favors.
Since my husband is from England I wanted to incorporate some British inspired details into the wedding without it feeling like a "British" theme wedding. We decided to have the groomsmen and father of the groom who are also from England wear British flag suspenders and socks which was a simple and fun detail that complemented the grey suits very well.
I also added a few other British details into the decor sprinkled throughout the venue which was just the right amount without going overboard! My husband and his English family and friends who attended the wedding appreciated the blending of both cultures and loved having their country represented in our day. My husband along with his groomsmen proudly posed with their home flag which is a white rose, the inspiration behind the white flowers we chose for our wedding.
A small red telephone booth and a few personal photos were placed on the bar to complement our ongoing British theme. I also found some really cute toothpicks with the British flag on them which we used for our assortment of mini desserts. The British flag custom cocktail napkins from Zazzle were perfect for the wait staff to pass out during cocktail hour and to display on the bar.
My husband and I both wanted to have a classic and timeless look at our wedding which we accomplished using mostly white flowers in small arrangements as to not overpower or crowd the reception space. We chose not to have matching centerpieces on every table and instead the tables were a mixture of flowers and candles in a variety of arrangements.
An elegant paper flower display over the sweetheart table was the perfect backdrop for the bride and groom and tied the look together, beautifully crafted by Fanciful Designs. The venue is so beautiful on its own that we didn't want to take away from the richness of the architecture and felt simple and clean was the way to go.
Aside from the decor and beautiful design of the wedding details, what people are still talking about years later is the food and how much fun the wedding was. That was something that was very important to both my husband and I. We really wanted our guests to have a great time and be well fed and we accomplished both! The chef did an amazing job from our appetizers to our entrees to the dessert station. It was beyond what we expected and surpassed our expectations by far!
These cute meal choice stickers from Etsy were placed on each guests's escort card and worked great. They let the wait staff know what entree to serve them as we had choices of beef, chicken or a vegetarian dish.
For entertainment, local DJ Danny Vasquez of Elite Disc Jockeys got everyone dancing and helped us keep everything on schedule as our Emcee. He did an amazing job playing music and kept the party going late into the night.
Our photo booth was a huge hit and was busy all night long. There was never a dull moment and always something fun to do! What I loved most about the wedding was all the people who came together to celebrate with us from places near and far.
The question many people have asked me is, "did you have a wedding Coordinator?" The answer: YES! Of course I did! There is no way I was going to do everything myself on my wedding day or have my friends or family do anything except come to the wedding and have fun. I hired Alegria By Design for Wedding Day Coordination only. Armando is amazing and I have known him for many years. I trusted him to take care of all the wedding day details and he did help me with questions during the planning stages along the way. It was great having his support and guidance throughout the process and to lean on when things started to get overwhelming.
Even someone like me who plans weddings for a living needed help and I wasn't afraid to ask for it. I knew it was going to be a lot for me to tackle on my own. I am lucky to have a great network of people in the industry here in Santa Barbara to utilize which I am very grateful for! All of the wedding vendors I hired did an outstanding job and I think that is one of the reasons everything went so well. Good, reliable, experienced wedding professionals are a must! I cannot tell you enough what a difference it makes.
Was our wedding perfect? No. But I wasn't planning for perfection. We set out to have a fun day full of love and laughter and we ended up having the time of our lives! Yes there are things I would change if I could do it again (a future blog post). But overall I couldn't have asked for a better wedding or a better group of people to share it with. We loved every moment!
Marriages are not perfect and you shouldn't expect your wedding to be either. Plan for the unexpected. Accept the challenges and face them head on. Enjoy every moment, even the hard ones. The wedding day goes by so fast and if you aren't careful, you will miss it.
THANK YOU to all the OUTSTANDING wedding professionals I had the pleasure of working with and who made our day absolutely beautiful!
Wedding Day Coordination: Alegria By Design
Wedding Venue: Santa Barbara Club
Rentals: Party Pleasers
Ceremony Music: Monica Cremona
DJ: Elite Disc Jockeys
Photo Booth: 805 Party Pix
Flowers: Ella and Louie
Photography: James & Jess
Cake: Your Cake Baker
Transportation: SB Trolley
Vintage Car: Santa Barbara Tours a la Carte
Bride's Hair: MiSalon
Bride's Makeup: Spa Escape
Men's Attire: Mission Tuxedos
Accommodations: Fess Parker Double Tree Hotel
Image: Danielle Honea Phototography
Brenda Cali is a professionally trained Wedding Consultant and plans a variety of social and corporate events.