East Coast couple Amy and Dan ended up booking me a year after our first conversation.  In fact, I thought perhaps they had chosen another planner or perhaps chosen to get married outside the Santa Barbara area because I hadn’t heard from them for so long.  Turns out, they were just carefully making sure that those closest to them would be able to make the long trip out first before securing my services.

When we first spoke and they described their ideal wedding elopement to me, they said it would be for them and 8 of their closest family and friends.  They wanted something warm, cozy and romantic that would be an incredibly elegant destination Santa Barbara wedding experience and one that provided some of the best cuisine and wine in the country.  For me, the choice was clear:  San Ysidro Guest Ranch.  Not just because of my love affair with the property and staff , nor because my vintagely romantic heart loves that Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh said “I do” at midnight in these very same gardens, but because this gorgeous and sensational Santa Barbara wedding location met every single one of their criteria.  And more than anything: I just saw Amy and Dan there.

San Ysidro Guest Ranch Event and Catering Manager Sarah Zwisler and her team provided perhaps the best service I have ever witnessed on a global scale.   Every communication in the planning phases was prompt, highly polished and the day of the event was executed flawlessly.

We chose to focus on extreme simplicity with quality and create a warm, intimate and memorable experience for Amy, Dan and their guests – as if we were welcoming them to our own private Santa Barbara home on a gorgeous July evening, taking full advantage of the gorgeous weather on the Wine Cellar patio and then adjourning guests into the warm glow and embrace of the San Ysidro Ranch’s Wine Cellar for their wedding dinner.

Pre-Ceremony, guests arrived to the warm sounds of AMS Entertainment‘s guitarist Gilberto setting the relaxed pace while they sipped Lemonade and Passion Fruit Iced Tea and enjoyed the warm Santa Barbara late afternoon, mountain views, wine cellar patio charm and floral decor provided by Sarah Hinton from Rincon Floral.  While guests were arriving, Amy was busy in the Lavender Cottage having final hair and makeup touches put on by beauty professional Casey Robinson and her associate.  When Amy was ready, Photographer Janey of Mary Jane Photography brought her out to the garden where her groom Dan was waiting for her for their “First Look”.  There, they enjoyed some private, quiet and magical moments with each other prior to the walk down the aisle to say “I do.”

amy and dan syr 3Minister Riki Berlin officiated a gorgeous ceremony while guests looked on in the rustic benches that were already a part of the Wine Cellar Terrace, creating pews for an outdoor small “chapel” feel for the exchange of vows.  Upon the recessional, guests received tray-passed flutes of Laurent Perrier, Tours -Sur-Marne Champagne with mini fruit tarts and macaroons while making their way back out to the gardens for post-ceremony photos with the bride and groom and enjoying the grounds of the ranch.

When it was time for dinner, we had returned the Wine Cellar Patio back to its normal state and lit candles as guests arrived to the cozy Wine Cellar for the wedding dinner, which consisted of First Course:  Pan Seared Maine Diver Scallop, Fricasee of Wild Mushrooms, Lobster Sabayon;  Second Course: Little Gem Lettuce Salad with Avocado, Manchego Cheese, Watermelon Radish, Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette;  Main Entree:  Choice of Pan Seared Sea Bass with Mascarpone and Organic Spinach Risotto, Truffle Sauce  or  Roasted Colorado Lamb Loin, Blue Cheese Bread Pudding, Baby Vegetables, Port Wine Sauce.  And what decadent meal would be complete without the perfect wine?  Wines offered throughout dinner and the evening included:  2009 Rusack Reserve Pinot Noir;  2009 Qupe Sawyer-Lindquist Rhone; 2011 Brander Sauvignon Blanc Au Naturel;  2009 Alma Rosa Chardonnay.  San Ysidro Ranch Chef made a perfect wedding cake and guests enjoyed lingering throughout the evening and enjoying dessert and coffee the cellar and later outside on the terrace by the roaring fire in the fireplace under the stars.

My favorite part of the day was the end – in the evening- walking Amy and Dan partway back to their cottage under the starry night and hearing how happy they were with their Santa Barbara destination wedding elopement.  And with the soft glow from lanterns and lights from cottages on the ranch property and utter peace, it is easy to see why “happily ever after” is celebrated here so often.

“Kerry Lee, Dan and I had the wedding of our dreams at San Ysidro Ranch and we couldn’t have done it without you. Your vendor selections were perfect and you made the whole planning process easy and fun. Your enthusiasm and your smile made every step of planning brighter. We cannot thank you enough and you will always be a part of our fond wedding memories!” – Amy & Dan