The eclectic beauty of this Santa Barbara soiree stuns, with pin-worthy details sprinkled throughout the day’s events. Set at Villa Verano, a Mission style estate, the ceremony and reception were both ridiculously ravishing. The only thing brighter than the vibrant decor was the bride’s smile – one look at the gallery shot by Mirelle Carmichael Photography, and it’s not too hard to see why.
From The Bride…Ammar and I met quite suddenly and randomly on a hot, New York City summer night. I was in New York City to cater a wedding and Ammar was passing through after being stationed overseas. We met at a mutual friend’s party and were instantly drawn to one another; since Ammar had to leave in few days we decided to meet the following day for brunch. Like all great romances, our courtship started with violent food poisoning: while on our first official date, strolling through Chelsea Market, I started uncontrollably vomiting. Ammar is a humanitarian aid worker, so he immediately knew I needed urgent care. Our first date turned into a 12 hour stint in the ER where he read me recipes from cooking magazines, spoke to the doctors on my behalf, and even changed my bedpan. I spent 5 days in the hospital and Ammar was there, the entire time, by my side.
After that, I knew he was the one. However our respective geographies poised a problem: I lived in California and Ammar lived literally wherever his job took him. After a month of long distance, Ammar joined me in California where we took a blissful 6 month vacation from life: we traveled up and down Highway 101, starting in Carmel and working our way down to San Diego and all the way back up to my hometown of Portland, Oregon. When it came time to choose a place for our wedding, we knew it had to be somewhere along the California coastline as an homage to our epic road trip.
After our sabbatical, I traveled to Pakistan to meet Ammar’s family where we got engaged. It was bittersweet: while we knew we were going to get married at some point, we didn’t exactly know when that would be. A few months after we were engaged, Ammar was finally assigned his next posting in…Abuja, Nigeria.
Let’s just say, we became very skilled at Skype. With my life on hold and my fiancé living in Africa, I had some free time on my hands to start planning our wedding. To keep myself awake long enough to talk to Ammar every night, I wound up spending countless hours reading wedding blogs and perusing Pinterest. I eventually moved to be with Ammar in Nigeria where my master planning continued. We live on a compound run by Ammar’s humanitarian organization; while the internet and power were a bit spotty and the idea of a Santa Barbara wedding seemed worlds away, planning our wedding became a daydream-esque hobby. Needless to say, I had every detail planned and ready by April 12th, 2014!
Because Ammar and I live so far away from our loved ones, we wanted an experience where everyone could be together at one place for an extended weekend celebration. I shied away from the traditional wedding venues as I wanted to dance the night away without having to worry about time limits. Enter Villa Verano. It’s a stunning private property located in the hills of Santa Barbara with built-in décor and old mission style ambiance. The space has multiple guest rooms, so our entire bridal party was able to stay on the premises.
It was important to me that every detail of our wedding was homemade and touched by a loved one. From the throw pillows my mother sewed, to the chalkboard my father built in our garage, to the wedding menus my sister designed, to the jam and pickle favors I made with my grandmother, everything had a story behind it. I wanted my wedding to have an organic, small, homemade, intimate feel—similar in essence to the dinner parties I love to throw for friends and family. I choose my vendors with this sentiment in mind as well.
All the hard work and attention to detail paid off. It was a truly magical night. I remember walk around stunned thinking to myself, it’s exactly how I thought it would look.
Photography: Mirelle Carmichael Photography | Wedding Dress: San Patrick Collection | Stationery: Val Marie Paper | Ceremony: Villa Verano | Reception Venue: Villa Verano | Bridesmaids Dresses: J Crew | Caterer: Duo Events | Hair And Makeup: LunaBella | DJ: Bouquet Sound | Photography - Assistance: Cheryl Tivar | Transportation: Santa Barbara Airbus