Viewing posts categorised under: Real Weddings

Intimate Destination Santa Barbara Wedding Experience: Mariachis, Margaritas & Merry-Making

Real Weddings / 08.10.20172 comments

If you are looking for a feature on an opulent wedding that included a 5′ tall wedding cake, three gown changes for the bride and a 10-course meal with trapeze artists, this is not that wedding.  But if, however, you want a genuine, grass-roots, heart-centered wedding that celebrates love, family and includes a quintessential Santa Barbara experience, then this wedding story is for you.

Cristina and Mark originally came to me for my mobile wedding planning tour for two.  This initial consultation was a customized tour of Santa Barbara wedding venues that matched their budget and event vision.  Turns out, they found their ideal wedding location on our 2nd site visit that very day.  Cristina and Mark were my favorite type of clients and because of their vision, make my work effortless.  Their sole goal was to keep the wedding small and only include immediate family and some very close friends.  They wanted to invest in an “experience” for their guests that showcased Santa Barbara and its unique Spanish heritage, and in doing this, allow them the opportunity to spend quality time with each guest the whole time. 

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Patriotic Couple and Family Celebrate “I Do” at Beloved Historic American Guest Ranch

Blog, Real Weddings / 07.02.20170 comments

When a historic ranch hosts a family who has made it their annual destination vacation spot for generations, it is only fitting that granddaughter Colleen McMaster and her fiancé Lee would host their wedding at this secluded sentimental American ranch jewel nestled in Santa Barbara’s wine country, the Santa Ynez Valley.

While Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort offers wedding guests several wedding location options and exclusive privacy, Colleen and Lee chose to wed at the Santa Ynez Mission and host their reception under the stars and canopying Sycamore trees with magical dripping twinkle lights at the ranch’s Creekside.

Colleen, a teacher for  a private school completing her Master’s Degree, and Lee, whom you would never know had a high-powered executive career because of his humble and down-to-earth nature before his duty serving our country in Afghanistan had been separated for a long time prior to their wedding.  And when they were together, it was evident it was and is true love. This fun-loving couple deserved every bit of gorgeousness and graciousness that rained on them that day.

Highlights of this incredible evening included

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When A Wedding Planner Weds | The Reception Soirée Story: A “Mobile Dinner Feast”

Blog, Event Industry Businesses & Professionals, Real Weddings, Special Events / 05.05.20170 comments

When we announced to some of our closest friends that we just got married in a secret destination elopement to Santa Fe, New Mexico, one text came back immediately from a long-time friend:  “We want to host a reception for you when you return to celebrate.”  Seeing as this text was from one of the area’s leading event partners and her daughter, a professional wedding and event planner who had been my Associate for so many years, we knew we were in for something special.  But just how special, we did not know until we arrived at the private home of our hosts Heidi and Mike Whitcomb, owners of Ventura Rental Party Center for a grand celebration in style.  Event planners extraordinaire Heidi and Ashley  of Events by Ashley W. produced a night we – and our family and friends- will never forget.  My husband and I did not do one bit of the planning nor were we involved at all.  We provided them with a guest list and literally just showed up and stepped into our reception.  In fact, being on the other side of planning a wedding was almost overwhelming. I remember staring at our wedding cake for cake-cutting not quite sure how to tackle it, despite the fact I’ve counseled hundreds of couples for over 15 years on this exact act.

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Rain or Shine, Alisal Ranch Provided Glow for Newlyweds Megan & Joe

Blog, Real Weddings / 12.29.20160 comments

img_7664Bride Megan’s family have been long time guests of the legendary and historic Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, like so many of the couples who choose to exchange vows at the ranch.  Alisal holds a deeply meaningful place in the family traditions of so many.  Megan and Joe hosted their wedding ceremony in one of the ranch’s main pastures, with cocktails in the Sycamore Room, a gorgeous dinner at Creekside under the canopying Sycamore trees, ending with dancing and more fun back in the Sycamore Room for the rest of the evening.  We decided to put the majority of focus of design where guests would be spending most of their time:  cocktails, dinner and dancing.

Sometimes the best plans are unexpectedly enhanced when a change occurs.  With specialty lighting planned to

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Heart-Centered Destination Elopement Featuring a Santa Barbara Photo Safari Experience

Blog, Real Weddings / 12.20.20160 comments

img_7466Lauren and Boyd’s wedding was not about the fluffy, over-the-top decor that is the stuff national wedding magazines and blogs are made of.  Nor was it anything traditional.  But what it was was the quintessential essence of what love, marriage and family is about, something that no magazine or advertorial could possibly convey with photos alone.  From the two tragic losses this couple endured just weeks prior to the wedding to the style in which they chose to celebrate their vows, this wedding was exceptional and perhaps one of my favorites of all time.

Lauren and Boyd loved all of Santa Barbara’s picture -perfect wedding locations.  They also knew they could only choose one location to say their vows.  So what does one do when you want the best of all Santa Barbara has to offer?  Enjoy it all!  They wanted a personal wedding experience and wanted to focus on the number one most important thing to them:  family, friends and…good food and wine.  When one has their priorities straight, it is easy on the planning, especially for their destination wedding elopement, which included just them and about 35 of their closest family and friends.   They decided on a simple ceremony at

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When A Wedding Planner Weds: Part II | Our Secret Destination Elopement Story: A “RoadMoon”

Blog, Real Weddings / 11.13.20162 comments

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Downtown Santa Fe Historic Plaza by Palace of Governors and Indian Market. Photo by Melanie West.

Part Two of Two of “When a Wedding Planner Weds” (see Part One ) : I got married and changed my last name to “Doehr” in a destination, secret elopement to Santa Fe, New Mexico with 5 family members present.  Why?  The focus for us was on the sacred intimacy of our vows, each other … and wanting to leave room for serendipity and magic.  We did not want just one day of back-to-back neck-breaking schedules and many years of paying back the funds it took for one day’s event to take place. Honestly, we also wanted to stretch it out. To enjoy some travel and then come home and celebrate with family and friends- perhaps even multiple celebrations.

You see, there is this myth that if you don’t do a wedding a certain way, or include all the “required” traditions, that you will regret it or that somehow psychologically, it does not count.  I’m here to say that even if you believe that, with an elopement, you can still do your wedding “traditions” and “non-negotiables” later – any way you want – and as many times as you want when you get home or over the years.  Knowing you have the luxury of time is a gift I cannot describe, and makes looking forward to the future even more fun.

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Rustic Ranch Romance at the Historic Old Adobe at Alisal Ranch | Cassity & Matt

Blog, Real Weddings / 11.08.20160 comments

img_6513There are plenty of private ranches on which to celebrate nuptials on the Central Coast.  But when one requires elite privacy as well as an extraordinary experience for all their guests in a historical setting with world-class service from a seasoned hospitality venue, there is no other choice than Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort.

Nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country, the Santa Ynez Valley, Alisal Ranch has been excelling in hospitality and making memories for guests since the 1940s, when the first generations of today’s loyal clientele first started arriving.  Most likely many did not know at that time that their descendants would continue to make Alisal a family tradition for many generations to come. 

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When A Wedding Planner Weds | Part I : The Single Most Important Event Partner For Our Wedding

Blog, Event Planning Advice, Real Weddings / 09.04.20162 comments

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Kiss in front of St. Francis Cathedral | Photo: Melanie West

I recently got married.  Everything that my wedding planning clients go through, I got to experience first-hand myself.

After producing over 600 weddings in my career, I decided I wanted to do something different for my own wedding. I’m a bit of a rebel at heart and knew that I wanted to make everything fresh, different, perhaps a bit unorthodox, and above all – it had to represent an aspect of my soul, and that of my husband-to-be, Darrel.  I’m a vintage girl at heart and I’ve always been fascinated by the courthouse-style weddings that took place in the 1940’s and 1950’s and think they are incredibly romantic.  This is Part One of two blogs I have coming up under When A Wedding Planner Weds on planning my own secret destination wedding elopement.

We planned a secret destination wedding to one of my favorite locations on earth: Santa Fe, New Mexico. I will share more about the decision behind this in Part Two of this series. But for now, I want to share the single most important event partner for our wedding and how I went about choosing her.

Since our wedding was a top secret and in an incredibly beautiful destination, I knew I wanted memories to look back on that would last a lifetime. I also knew that we would want to share these images with those back home when we returned.

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Elegant Montecito Country Club Celebration for Jennie and Kris

Real Weddings / 05.22.20160 comments

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One of my favorite images: Mother of the Bride Hannah-Beth glowing as her daughter makes her approach to the altar with her father.

When Jennie approached me about being her Wedding Coordinator and I discovered that she considered herself like the character Charlotte from the popular series “Sex and The City” and that she was every bit a charming as the lovely Charlotte and had smarts to go with it,  I knew this would be a wonderful working relationship.  I later found out that the Father of the Bride is a beloved Judge in our community and that the Mother of the Bride, Hannah Beth Jackson (now a California State Senator) has been a respected prosecutor and actively involved in our local and state-wide community for years.  This was a very loving, involved and connected family and it was an honor to have been chosen as their Wedding Coordinator.

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Country Ranch Wedding At The Historic Old Adobe at Alisal Guest Ranch

Real Weddings / 04.30.20160 comments

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Photo Credit: Lover of Weddings

Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort boasts some incredible backdrops for weddings and receptions.  From the popular Alisal River Terrace (no overnight accommodations are needed to book this beautiful space) to the main ranch property Creekside, Oval Lawn, Sycamore Room, lakeside, or the incredible Historic Adobe.

The Historic Adobe is another 20 minute ride via hay truck from the main ranch and the scenery on the drive is spectacular.  While there are many more complications involved with events at the Historic Old Adobe, it can be one of the most distinct wedding experiences ever, in a truly unique setting.

While many of my couples choose to have their wedding ceremonies

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