A SUNSTONE VILLA REAL WEDDING, PLANNED IN THREE MONTHS
Natalie and Jon were a couple that did something few engaged couples think is even possible: they planned a luxury, destination wedding – with all of the gorgeous details and unforgettable experiences for their guests – in just three little months. It is possible!
The “secret” is in finding a planner who understands how to pin-point the vision, prioritize the decisions and understand that matching couples with the right wedding professionals makes for a seamless and enjoyable planning experience. This is the kind of planning experience that I strive to deliver to all of my couples, but it comes in especially handy when there’s only a handful of weeks to plan an unforgettable wedding with multiple events.
There were many things that made this wedding memorable, including the wedding venue, The Sunstone Villa, in the picturesque tiny town of Santa Ynez, California. The Bride wearing Liz Martinez Bridal, the Groom in Vera Wang, and the musicians we flew in from Paris to sing ‘La Vie en Rose‘ for their first dance.
An flawless vendor team. The most picturesque setting. The loveliest couple. And just when that could have been enough, we received the ultimate stamp of approval when their wedding was featured on Martha Stewart Real Weddings last month. Seriously, it’s all the stuff of dreams.
I could stop right there and call this my favorite wedding, but what etched this one indelibly in my book, was not so much the accelerated planning, or the impeccable vendor team, but rather the thing we didn’t see coming.
Now, cue the pandemic and thunder storm.
A weather forecast popped up for their March wedding weekend, promising to turn the nearly-guaranteed-sunny Santa Barbara skies into a weather event, just about the time we were scheduled to cue the bride Natalie down the aisle.
If ever you’ve planned a wedding in Southern California, then you know that a rain plan is almost always an after thought. The weather-forecaster’s greatest challenge is finding new ways to report that it’s going to be balmy and seventy-five again today. But for this planner with Virginia roots, Plan B is just as important as Plan A, because when you need it in California, you really need it. And that California weekend in March we really, really needed it.
In the days leading up to the wedding, tensions were high during a time that is already notorious for its sleepless nights and jitters. A looming weather forecast that seemed to change every hour and the increasingly dire news around a highly contagious virus called COVID-19, meant we had work to do and fast. There was no time for second-guessing.
If there is anything that sets apart an experienced planner from one still learning the ropes it is the ability to stay calm and keep focused. In doing so, in a matter of a few days – and in many cases a few hours – we implemented the rain plan, re-designing the ceremony florals and guest flow from an outdoor setting to an indoor space. We reconfigured lighting, moved the cocktail hour layout and figured out how to make it all feel 100% like it was the original plan all along.
The key is when conceptualizing Plan B, design it to be just as good as Plan A so that everyone is actually excited about it. Being thorough is what allows the freedom to quickly make changes, even when there is little warning.
It’s that kind of planning that lands you in the chronicles of Martha’s weddings. On a day that we could have had many versions of a disaster – especially when at times the venue was actually flooding with rain water – in the end, the day was pure serenity, organization and beauty. None of it by accident.
When I admire the photos, and read the stories of the planners with whom I share that space on Martha, I know all of those features are hard won. I know that with every image of perfectly aligned chairs, lush florals and glowing couples, there is a planner and team that have given their all for that moment. They have spent countless hours devising the what-if plans and the back-up to back up the back-up. And when the time comes for production, the planner waves her wand (if only!) and brings it all together, down to every last detail.
When you’re thorough on the front-end, this looks effortless on the back-end. There’s only one way to be thorough, though, and that’s relentlessly going after the details and making an air-tight plan. Two of them, to be exact. It’s hard work, but it delivers the best kind of reward for our couples and our team. We wouldn’t have it any other way!
Wedding Planning & Design @amandalandonweddings Location Sunstone Winery & Villa Photography Sposto Photography Florals Anna Le Pley Taylor Catering Mistura Catering Rentals The Tent Merchant DJ DJ Hecktik Calligraphy Owl Post Calligraphy Transportation Santa Barbara Speedster Cake Lele Patisserie Dress Liz Martinez Bridal Linens La Tavola Linen Bar Bottles & Ice Music Paris & Venice Martha Stewart Real Weddings Link to article