Elegant Black Tie Affair at The Biltmore

Don’t champagne towers make you want to celebrate? We just know when the champagne’s a flowin, a gorgeous black tie affair is on the horizon. And the Biltmore in Santa Barbara knows how to host just such an affair along with beautiful rich details by Jill La Fleur, blush flowers with pops of orange by Blue Magnolia and an elegant candlelit reception captured by Michael & Anna Costa. See it all here.

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From The Bride…We were attracted to the effortless and understated sophistication that inspires the relaxed Santa Barbara lifestyle. It’s impossible not to feel more alive and healthy here, and it’s no surprise why this part of the country is called the American Riviera. Plus, anyone who knows me well knows I am obsessed with Spain and the Mediterranean. As soon as Santa Barbara was on our wedding venue radar, I thought it was the perfect backdrop:  Spanish Colonial architecture, wine country, lavender fields, olive trees, ideal climate, and the ocean and mountains. We both also loved the classic, timeless feel of the Four Seasons Biltmore. The hotel is nestled in the Montecito foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains, overlooks the Pacific ocean, has lush gardens, and is a place any girl would feel incredibly lucky to plan her wedding (which is exactly how I felt).  We kicked off the weekend festivities with a wine country trip, including a pit stop to pick up Enjoy Cupcakes in Los Olivos to celebrate my husband’s birthday (who doesn’t love wine and cupcakes??), followed by an outdoor welcome cocktail reception in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara.
We wanted to amplify the celebratory mood and play up on the California Spanish style, so we invited guests for a ceremony prelude, where they were greeted with Spanish guitar, white sangria and sparkling wine, fresh fruit, and rosemary and raspberry-infused lemonade. We wanted to create a space that was not stuffy, but tastefully relaxed and joyful. Our wedding was intimate, in a private garden near the ocean, and it felt like our own hidden space. I personally think the whole idea of an ostentatious wedding has been overdone. As a couple, we gravitate toward the idea that simplicity is more sophisticated.  We let its natural beauty shine, and kept décor minimal; we brought in custom chairs, hung garlands of bay leaves and flowers alongside the aisle, and added larger arrangements where we exchanged our vows.

Immediately following the ceremony, we all toasted with a champagne tower—I was very excited about that!  The cocktail hour was al fresco (which I love)–we had an open bar and also offered an elderflower champagne cocktail and a grapefruit margarita, which complemented the color palette. In addition to passed hors d’oeuvres with crowd-pleasers like mini gourmet cheeseburgers with parmesan fries and black bean empanadas, we also were really pleased with how the Four Seasons did such an excellent job of incorporating local ingredients, such as fresh lobster, avocado, Point Reyes blue cheese, and California olive oil into other appetizers. We also included a cheese station and charcuterie, sushi and a raw bar for our guests. We kept the escort table unfussy, so as not to compete with the hotel décor, and instead chose classic ivory paper goods and fragrant gardenias as an accent. Cocktail tables were topped with single gardenias and petite terrariums.

Walking into our reception space exceeded our expectations, and our entire vision was executed so flawlessly. We had added weathered oak cross-back chairs and long feasting tables lined with natural linens and touches of citrus and succulents, as well beautiful bud vases and larger blooming arrangements done in a palette of corals, melons, ivories and greens. Kerstin of Blue Magnolia incorporated hydrangea, garden roses, dahlias, poppies and ranunculus, along with pops of color, texture, and clementines. Soft votive candles flickered to create a beautiful glow, which is super flattering for dinner conversations. I felt so involved in the wedding details that I really enjoyed being surprised with the final result. There were so many thoughtful touches, down to the olive sprigs on each napkin and local Santa Barbara wines. We really wanted our guests to feel like they were at a dinner party, and give them something beyond what they might expect.  
Now for the praise: we were so incredibly lucky to work with such a talented team. Their professionalism gave us confidence while we were planning from the opposite side of the country, and allowed us to truly enjoy a stress-free day. Jill LaFleur has such a graceful and relaxed presence, which immediately put us at ease. I sometimes have a hard time relinquishing control, but it was easy to put my trust in her and she worked her magic to tie everything together beautifully. We could not have asked for a better husband and wife team than Michael and Anna Costa, who captured our day so beautifully and made us feel so comfortable. Kerstin Horneman of Blue Magnolia is so warm and personable, and practically read my mind when it came to what I wanted. Maria Axiotis of the Four Seasons is so poised and I felt like I’d known her for years. My advice when selecting a supportive team is to listen to one’s gut because our first impressions did not fail us and it all felt like a natural fit.
Our wedding was personal, honest and full of so many tender moments. It was a day full of love, and truly better than we could have ever imagined. Our family and friends helped make it an unforgettable day, and we are looking forward to an excuse to return for anniversaries!  

Photography: Michael & Anna Costa Photography ~ Michael Costa | Event Planning: Jill La Fleur | Floral Design: Blue Magnolia | Invitations: Umi By Elum | Ceremony Venue: Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara | Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaids Dresses: Amsale | Catering: Maria Axiotis @ Four Seasons SB | Band: Free Radicals Band | Grooms Attire: Tom Ford | Grooms Attire: Burberry | Officiant: Judge Thomas Adams | Assistant Coordinator: Jenn Curti | Bridesmaids Robes: Pretty Plum Sugar | Dress & Veil: Monique Lhuillier | Hair & Make-Up: The Studio Agency | Lighting Design: Ambient Event Design | Linens: La Tavola | Music: Sam Adams | Music: JSH Music Productions | Rentals: Town And Country | Transportation: D&D Party Bus

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