Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A Blogger's Guide to Visting Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a special little town along the coast of the pacific ocean, nestled between LA and wine country. It's the perfect getaway for anyone suffering from socal traffic, or a landlocked city.

The rugged Sane Ynez mountains literally meet the sea in a spectacular display of untamed beauty. If a scenic getaway is what you're in the mood for, Santa Barbara is the place. 

So naturally I was thrilled when my husband (still getting used to saying that word!) whisked me away for a weekend in this cozy, gem of a town. 

Where to Stay:

I've stayed at 3 different hotels in Santa Barbara, my favorites being:

(old California ambiance, off the beaten path, secluded, romantic AF, and they serve up complimentary warm cookies at the concierge desk). 

I actually toyed around with the idea of renting out the entire place for my wedding. With only 23 rooms, it's insanely intimate and one of the top boutique hotels in all of California.  

The charm of this place is just unreal. 

More recently, I've had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Californian.

I attempted to describe this hotel's absolute delicious design, but their website says it best:

"Featuring Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and modern Moorish themed interior décor from celebrity designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the Hotel Californian is the new center of the Santa Barbara waterfront. Incorporating the façade of the original 1925 Hotel Californian, this 121 room seaside destination features a rooftop pool and event deck providing panoramic views of the coastline and the Santa Ynez Mountains."

It truly is a feast for the eyes and just feels SO luxury, but in the beautiful laid back socal way. Everyone from the bellhop to the bartender is sweeter than pie!

Where to Eat:

Twinkling string light-lit patio, excellent service, delectably petite rolls that make you truly savor each bite (and not overdo it), and allll the Sake you could ever want! 

We ran into another couple at our hotel bar who were also making this a dinner destination during their stay.

Modern Mexican cuisine and mixology that truly satisfied my need for flavor. The crab enchiladas were bomb.com and they give you 3 different salsas along with tortilla chips the moment you sit down.

Where to Drink: 

Only a few weeks old, this small bar is cozied up to the library in the main building of Hotel Californian.

I sort of felt like an old-time starlet sipping martinis next to Chris :) 

With a white marble bar and board games on hand, I was immediately sold. It was pretty mellow when Chris and I sat down for a few cocktails, but I can tell this place will become very popular in the coming months! 

As of our December visit, they haven't even advertised yet!

Chris spotted this little joint while we were strolling State street. They just celebrated their 4 year anniversary! 

It's a wonderful place for drinks and the ambiance is on point.

What to Do:

Take the complimentary beach cruisers most of the local hotels provide for a spin along the waterfront biking path. You can see the mountains, harbor, and city so well!

Stroll State Street. It's an iconic street with shop after shop, movie theaters, bars, and restaurants. Much of the nightlife is situated on and around State Street. 

You can actually take this street all the way from inland Santa Barbara to the pier that stretches out over the water.  

Hike. The vistas in Santa Barbara are breathtaking! 

Eat fresh seafood at the pier. Get there early for the literal fresh-caught bites of the pacific's bounty. 

Catch a movie or live performance at the glorious old-Spanish-style Riviera theater, it's so so beautiful on the inside. 

Santa Barbara truly has a special place in my heart. I hope you enjoyed this little guide! Feel free to pop in questions in the comments below :)


Thursday, January 17, 2019

My Light and Airy Tent Wedding

Ethereal, timeless, light, airy, black tie.

All words carefully selected to describe how I wanted my wedding day to FEEL as I was deep in the throes of planning. 

Planning the aesthetic of my wedding was SO much fun. That's the best way to describe it.

There was variety and brainstorming and selection and revision and I adored the process. 

Take a peek at how it all came together, from tent liners to tablescapes.

The above magic was actually our PLAN B, thanks to mother nature. 

The original ceremony was set to be outside, with a floral archway as our alter focal point and the sky above as a gorgeous backdrop.

Once I saw the fireplace mantel dripping with blush and cream roses, and the glow of 30 candles cascading off the chandelier and ancient hardwood floors, any remorse I felt for my outdoor ceremony was but a cloudy thought in the far corners of my mind.

GONE, to put it simply.

It felt like Beauty and the Beast and the royal wedding all rolled into one glamorous, romantic moment.

Like, I look at these photos and just GUSH. Or maybe it's the coffee coursing through my veins as I type that has me extra enthusiastic about how these photos turned out ;) 

Post vows, happy tears, and "I do", we were READY for our champagne.

These coup glasses were such a classy touch and we toasted and sipped our first drinks as husband and wife right in front of where we had just promised each other forever. 

Then it was party time. 

The reception was held under a tent that basically looked like it might take off and float away to a cloud kingdom fairy land. JUST the vibe I wanted, light and airy, and a touch whimsical. 

Our cake sported elegant gold script that read our first dance lyrics. Escort cards were embellished with monogrammed blush wax seals for a little touch of unique as guests found their seats.

Details really make the day special. 

I wish I could have just sat and lingered under the tent the morning of my wedding, soaking in the beauty and light before all the smiling faces, dancing, and whirlwind of an evening began.

Colors, textures, and ideas brought to life truly materialized into my dream wedding. I have to thank so many wonderful vendors who's hard work made it all happen.

These pictures will forever take me back to my special day!

Stellar vendors:

Florals: Southern Posies
Wedding Planner: Becky's Brides
Hair and Makeup: Raww Beauty 
Photographer: Danielle McBrayer
Videographer: The Film Poets

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Morning of My Wedding Day

I'm writing this fresh off the wedding train! I wanted all of my feelings and recollections to be as close to the wedding day as possible. While I waited several months for the photos to post this, the writing is very much real and raw in my newlywed voice. I hope you enjoy!

 Pale morning light slips through the shutters of the bedroom. My sister is fast asleep next to me. I check the clock. 

Damn, it's 6AM.

There's no way I'm going back to sleep. It's my wedding day. 

A culmination of emotions stir beneath the surface, but outwardly I'm calm and placid.

OK, I coach myself in an encouraging inner monologue, drink some water. Throughout the morning I stumble through a shortened morning routine. I slip some eye pads on to help with the puffiness that set in over night. The bridesmaids, wedding planner, her darling assistant, and the hair and makeup team will all be here within minutes.

Deep breaths. It's only the most important day of your life, no big deal. 

Everyone arrives at what feels like all at once. The makeup artist is asking where she can set up and my bridesmaids are ooing and awing over my morning attire like the sweethearts that they are. They've even brought me a steaming cup of Starbucks matcha!

I've donned a satin blush slip for the morning. But it's the gauzy, blush, feather adorned dressing gown gliding OVER the slip that's the real star of this morning's attire. I found it online when searching for a more typical white and lace getting ready robe for my wedding day. 

The sheer size of it and Scarlett O'Hare vibes had me in a trance. I had to have it. 

It's like something an old Hollywood movie star would wear. When else can one wear something so ostentatious and wildly extreme? 

To be honest, I could hardly breathe until my hair and makeup was done. I wasn't present. I was stressed, even clutching a strawberry gilded mimosa. There was rain in the forecast and while it would most likely end before the ceremony, there were like a gazillion gorgeous cream and pale blush roses that had to be meticulously arranged into our wedding alter focal point by the flower genius Southern Posies.

The rain would surely knock the blooms down from the original wedding arch we had selected. And the delicate draping would be soaked. 

Ceremony Plan B it was. 

Oh, but it wasn't that simple. My mastermind team of Bridesmaids offered amazing solutions to setting up in the rain, but it was ultimately my wizened wedding planner Becky who gave me the most impactful advice. 

With certainty and love in her piercing blue eyes, she told me she recommended Plan B for our wedding ceremony. That meant inside. 

The wedding arch and sunlit exchange of vows all evaporated in an instant and I felt tears prick my freshly mascara applied eyes. 

But somehow, I managed to roll with it. And I'm so glad I did. Getting married inside turned out to be the best decision ever. You'll see why soon...

I think in moments as big as a wedding we humans feel the magnitude of the day and rally to move forward in any way possible. With the help of Becky's guidance, and the reassurance and encouragement of my bridesmaids I was able to pivot on plans that had been set in stone for almost a year. And I was able to do it with grace.

Err...mostly grace.

I think that's one of my favorite lessons from being a bride. Life brings storms, but it's the ability to put your chin up, smile, and stride through them that makes the challenges not so challenging, and maybe even blessings in disguise.

Cheers to 5 days as Mrs. Toro! More to come with our FIRST LOOK, CEREMONY, AND RECEPTION PHOTOS! I can't wait to show you! 


Hair and Makeup: Raww Beauty
Florals: Southern Posies
Dress: The White Room
Wedding Panner: Becky's Brides
Photography: Danielle McBrayer
Videography: The Film Poets
Stationary: Four Things Paper