A Bold Color Palette Set the Tone for This Playful Wedding in Santa Barbara – Martha Stewart

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Rachel and Alex met at work when they were both hired as analysts—and were seated right next to each other—by the same firm in 2013. Two years later, their work friendship developed into a relationship, and six years after that, Alex proposed. “We got engaged on Jan. 4, 2021, at the Thompson Cape in Cabo San Lucas,” Rachel says. “It was actually Alex’s birthday, so I had made the plans. I had no idea he had different plans instead.”

Their destination event in September 2022 was the wedding version of a staycation: The San Francisco couple traveled just a few hours down the coast to Santa Barbara. “We loved Santa Barabara because the events could be close to one another and be outside—and it’s relatively easy to get to from all over the United States,” Rachel says. The vibe? “A really fun party that felt like us,” she adds. “We wanted the ceremony to feel special, but the reception to feel like the best party you had been to.”

The aesthetic incorporated natural textures and colors inspired by the landscape of Baja California but with fun, edgy twists. “We hired Erika Bellitt from Array Creative Design to bring our vision to life and really highlight all the moments we wanted our guests to experience,” the couple shares. “From the custom Santa Barbara map on our invitations to the mega custom dance floor that resembled the tile work of Baja, no detail was an afterthought.”

Rachel, Alex, and their vendor team selected venues all within close proximity and booked trolleys to shuttle the 180 guests between the hotel and ceremony, reception, and afterparty. Sept. 3, 2022, turned out to be a lovely day—and everything came together beautifully. Read on to see the pretty details. 

The Vibe

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From the tan striped pajamas that Rachel’s ‘maids wore getting ready, to the palette of deep green, black, red, and violet, every detail was thought out to reflect the couple’s wedding aesthetic and theme.  

The Paper Suite

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Their invitations began with the customizable Vivanne suite by Carta Plena. “We brought in some illustrations to showcase the event spaces that were sprinkled throughout Santa Barbara and leaned into our untraditional color palette with black accents and funky elements,” Rachel describes. “Our stationer created a beautiful R&A logo illustration that we used on everything.” The leafy green envelope liner was an homage to the ceremony venue and carried through to the menus and drink list at the reception. 

A Sparkly Dress

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Rachel wore the Muse dress by Chosen by KYHA, a fully beaded ensemble with a corseted bodice and fit and flare skirt. “It felt very cool-girl glam,” she says about trying it on for the first time. “I kept looking in the mirror and thought how good I looked; I felt like an Oscar statuette. I also knew [my wedding] would be the only appropriate time to wear such a stunner of a dress.”

The First Look

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She met Alex in the Hotel Californian’s courtyard for a first look. “I felt excited about his reaction,” she remembers. “It was so nice to see him after so much prep and buildup in the morning.”

A Black-Tie Groom

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Alex’s look perfectly complemented his bride’s shimmering gown. He wore a custom black tuxedo from Suitsupply and black velvet loafers. 

Sage Bridesmaids

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Rachel pulled from the green in the color palette to select a handful of sage bridesmaids’ dresses her bridal party could choose from. “I wanted them to look cohesive but not too uniform,” she says. “I also wanted everyone to be comfortable in a style of their choosing.” 

Unique Bouquets

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The groomsmen’s boutonnieres were all-white with greenery. The bouquets were too, but with a twist: Each bridesmaid carried a mono-botanical bouquet of a different white flower—orchids, baby’s breath, ranunculus, and so on. “My bouquet had all of those flowers combined, which was special,” the bride says.  

The Ceremony Venue

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The couple said “I do” in the garden outside the Santa Barbara Courthouse. “We chose the courthouse because it was quintessential Santa Barbara, with the grand Spanish-style architecture,” Rachel says. “The gardens with the palms and the building made for a grand backdrop. We loved how it felt equal parts casual and elegant.”

Bold Decor

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“Rachel and Alex wanted to lean into the beauty of the venue but bring their own flair to the design,” says wedding planner and designer Erika Bellitt. “We had a sexy undertone to the aesthetic, so we brought in black chairs with funky floral aisle pieces that grew up the stairs and wrapped around our couple on the infamous fiesta stage of the Santa Barbara Courthouse.”

Saying “I Do”

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The bride walked down the long green aisle with her dad to “Tenerife Sea” by Ed Sheeran and met her groom at the altar. They exchanged personal vows they’d written themselves. 

Cocktail Hour

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After the ceremony, guests were shuttled to the Santa Barbara Historical Museum for the cocktail hour and reception. “We liked that it was big, but still felt intimate, and that there were multiple areas for the party so we could have cocktail hour in one place and progress onto the main courtyard for dinner and dancing,” Rachel says. During the first part, guests noshed on bacon-wrapped shrimp, pulled pork tacos, and watermelon and goat cheese skewers. The newlyweds curated a Spotify playlist that they still cue up and listen to to this day. 

An Intentional Drink List

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“We cared about the beverage menu, and it was important to have mezcal,” Rachel says. “We had a spicy pineapple mezcalito as a signature drink and chose each bottle of wine offered. Our cat, Noe, wasn’t present, but we named a drink after her: The Noe was a shot of ouzo over ice as a nod to Alex’s Greek heritage—and was such a hit, we ran out of it!”

A Mod Escort Board

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Printed boards in geometric shapes hung together as a deconstructed escort board for guests to find their seats. 

Bold Reception Decor

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“We brought in paneled wood accents, black rattan pendants, and lots of bold color with the florals,” planner Erika says. “Leaning into a sexy color palette of dark green, black, dusty red, peach, and violet, the layering of textures and color made this reception shine. Combined with the natural vines and Spanish architecture of the historical museum, the entire design came together so beautifully.”

Cohesive Menus

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Customized menus matched the invitation suite with a leafy pattern that mirrored the envelope liners. They were placed at each setting atop matte black plates.

An Inspired Dance Floor

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Disco balls were mixed in with the black rattan lanterns over the dance floor to throw light around and add a punch of sparkle that mimicked Rachel’s dress. “My sister designed the dance floor pattern to resemble beautiful Spanish tiles,” Rachel says. “That dance floor, combined with a ceiling of pendants and disco balls, made for the best party!”

An Artistic Cake

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Before things got too wild, the bride and groom cut into their cake, a sculptural two-tier creation that resembled a work of modern art. 

The Music

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“We wanted a dance party vibe but still wanted a DJ,” Rachel says. “So we had DART Collective deejay the event and brought out two horn players to get everyone on the dance floor. With cold sparklers to kick-start the open dancing, it was the party we have always dreamed of.”

A Packed Dance Floor

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A big, fun dance floor was the wedding checklist item the couple cared most about. The bar offered espresso martinis to fuel the party, and guests gathered on the floor for a round of Greek dancing. The energy and excitement were at an all-time high—and continued for the newlyweds as they honeymooned in Greece and Istanbul. 


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