Lucy and Mik were married at a scenic ceremony at the Four Seasons Santa Barbara. The couple knew they wanted an oceanfront wedding from the get-go because, as the bride describes “on a spiritual level, the ocean connects us, literally and figuratively, with our loved ones, many of whom still live by the sea.” The details designed by Nicoella Events are the epitome of beach-y elegance, in particular the florals by Twig and Twine. And, we’re smitten, as usual, with the exceptional style of Jillian Mitchell‘s film photographs. She captures the entire event beautifully, especially the first look which was something the couple was initially on the fence about. If you’re debating the first look, read down for Lucy’s explanation of why it’s one of their most cherished memories of their big day.
From Lucy, the Bride: Mik and I knew we wanted an oceanfront wedding from the get-go. Although our home towns are halfway around the world from one another – he grew up in Melbourne, Australia and I on Long Island, New York – we were both born water babies. On a spiritual level, the ocean connects us, literally and figuratively, with our loved ones, many of whom still live by the sea. Exchanging our vows in front of its unrelenting beauty added a level of soul to our marriage that could only be granted by nature. As our officiant and dear friend said in his opening remarks:
“[Mik and Lucy] have chosen this space because we are (quite literally) where the land meets the sea– across the country is Lloyd Harbor, and across the ocean is Melbourne. California is where Michael and Lucy met, it is where they have made their home together, and it marks the midpoint (nearly) between the O’Connell’s and the Robertson’s family homes and their respective places of origin.”
The reasons we chose to get married in Santa Barbara as opposed to San Francisco (where we met and still live) were simple. We didn’t want to get married in a large city; we wanted everyone, ourselves included, to take a beachside mini-break on our wedding weekend; and lastly, I really wanted him to be able to surf on the morning of our wedding. The inspiration for that came a few years earlier when we had gone to a friend’s wedding in Byron Bay, one of Australia’s most picturesque beach towns. After a solid morning’s surf, Mik and I parked ourselves at a shoreline cafe and, much to our surprise, up walked the groom! Surfboard tucked beneath an arm and his wedding ceremony imminently approaching, our broad accented (and rather bald) friend explained, “My wife has been getting her hair done all morning, and, as you can see, there isn’t much to do with mine. These waves are too good to be missed, so what else was I going to do?!” It was a revelation for me! Whenever our own wedding day came about (and, unbeknownst to Mik, I was sure it would), I wanted him to do the thing that brings him the most joy in this world. Surfing that morning would allow him to start the day as his fullest self. Knowing that I’d be confined to an eternity of makeup artistry, I wanted for him to reach his meditative happy space and be fully connected with himself before we shared this absolutely monumental moment in our lives together. Were I not getting all done up for ages with my gaggle of girlfriends, I would have been right in the water as well. Ironically the waves were flat that morning, but he still ran up and down the sand with his oldest friends and our fathers, which was decidedly the next best way to start the day (if not on his board).
On “first look” photos before the ceremony:
Initially I was totally against having our photos taken before the actual wedding. I think many people carry their childhood dreams of weddings with them as they grow older. I know I did. Without registering it, I had envisioned that “first look” moment to essentially parallel the processional scene in every Disney movie ever made – beautiful bride emerges with father figure from ambiguous veiled location; just as father and daughter begin walking down aisle, husband-to-be raises his head, and betrothed couple’s wet eyes meet in an unwavering, joyous gaze that any eight year old girl (or boy) knows for certain to be true, undying love in its most palpable (G-rated) form. As it so happened, our ceremony took place just before sun down, and if we had waited until afterwards to take the photographs of the bridal party, including ourselves, the lighting would have been terrible, everything would have been rushed, and all those intricate details that we put so much time into orchestrating would have gone undocumented. Logistically, it made most sense to do a significant portion of the photography pre-wedding, and in the end we were so glad we did! When Mik and I first saw one another on our wedding day our first look gaze was way more swoon-worthy and infinitely more enchanting than anything I had ever fantasized about. It was as if we were the only two people in the world at that moment, and it was, and is, amazing to revel in creating those memories together. They were some of the only moments of privacy we had throughout the last few weeks of wedding preparation and the following few days of celebrations to come. We were able to savor our first sight of each other, and it was one of the most beautiful experiences of the whole wedding.
On my favorite moments:
Pushing back hair and makeup for as long as possible – the morning of my wedding, one of my best girlfriends came over and the two of us stayed in bed, drinking espresso and eating cake. I think by one’s wedding day all dietary restrictions should go straight out the window. As a bride everyone consistently says to you, “It’s YOUR day, you can do whatever you want!” which I actually found somewhat unnerving. That said, after too many months of being unusually body conscious, I wanted some dang cake!!
One of my hands-down favorite moments was when I put my wedding dress on because it felt like the wedding celebrations had finally, after many hours of prepping and primping, begun! I had a slew of bad ass bridesmaids around me along with my beautiful mom, everyone had champagne in hand, and “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones was blasting on the stereo. It was a killer way to kick off all the excitement, and Jill’s presence with her camera (s) actually made it feel all the more celebratory and glam. It felt like being a celebrity, which is how every bride should feel on their wedding day!
There was this unexpected window of alone time that Mik and I had just before our first dance and we both still get a huge kick out of it. After an extended cocktail reception on the terrace, Mik and I hid in an alcove outside as the guests were being shuffled inside the ballroom. We were supposed to make our entrance as newlyweds only a few minutes after all guests were seated, but everyone was having so much fun that it took ages for them all to settle down! Suddenly it was just the two of us out there and we were able to kiss and cry and laugh together even more than we already had. We took the whole party in from afar and had a chance to admire this amazing coalescence of friends. Just as it was getting a bit too chilly, we also had a chance to shoot back some bourbon with the bartender before making our debut on the dance floor. Those types of private exchanges we had throughout the evening were poignantly touching and powerfully memorable. I would encourage all couples to step back from their wedding every now and then to observe all of the incredible individuals who have come to celebrate their marriage, and to fully absorb and give thanks for all of the love and energy flowing throughout the evening.
Our shared favorite moments:
-First look photographs for sure.
-Singing in front of all of our loved ones. No one knew we were going to do it outside of our parents [and Puna!], and it felt as if we were filling the room with our own hearts with every note that we sang.
-Rocking out with the mics on stage then crowd surfing our way out of the ballroom. Who could’ve expected such a stellar end to the whole fantastic shebang?!
-Closing out the reception by running down with about 20 (or 30?) of our closest friends and diving into the ocean (totally naked…woohoo!)
Photographer: Jillian Mitchell // Wedding Designer: Nicoella Events // Flowers: Twig and Twine // Venue: Four Seasons Santa Barbara (Biltmore) // Band: Gen8 // Hair & Makeup: 10.11. Makeup // Wedding Dress: Anna Meier // Bridesmaids’ Dresses & Men’s Suits: J.Crew