Classic Ballroom Wedding in Santa Barbara, California

Sheri and James

Photographed by: Thomas J. Styczynski PhotographyLocation: Santa Barbara, California, United States

It’s hard to say who may have been happier about the union of Sheri Harako and Jim Copus…the couple or their parents. After years of their parents being best friends, Sheri and Jim finally met on a joint family vacation where they connected almost instantly. Some time later, while they were both working at the hotel that is owned by Jim’s family, Jim arranged for Sheri to deliver a bottle of wine to a “guest” staying in one of the suites. The bottle of wine happened to be Sheri’s favorite and the guest set to receive it was none other than Jim, waiting to propose to her in a room brimming with rose petals and soft candlelight. “It was the most romantic and beautiful moment of my life,” recalls Sheri, and one that the couple is able relive forever, thanks to the video camera Jim had cleverly hidden.

When it came time to pick their wedding date and location, Sheri and Jim narrowed down their criteria rather quickly. They wanted to get married in Santa Barbara where they would be living as newlyweds; they also wanted to take advantage of the glorious fall weather and they hoped to avoid having their future anniversary fall on Sheri’s birthday, September 3rd. Armed with this wish list, they fell in love with a charming church for their ceremony and planned a dream reception within the Loggia ballroom at the Four Seasons Biltmore for September 18th, 2004. With the support of both of their mothers and the talented event coordinator at the hotel, Sheri and Jim created an affair that integrated the most prominent aspects of their relationship: a love of fine food and dining out and the role their families played in shaping their future.

Once their 180 guests arrived at the Biltmore, they were seated for dinner at tables awash in flickering candlelight and decorated with groupings of cream-colored roses. They were treated to a feast rich in fall flavor that featured butternut squash soup with cinnamon cream, baby spinach salad tossed with herbs, goat cheese and passion fruit dressing and a choice of three entrees: medallions of beef, Chilean sea bass or stuffed chicken breast. In addition to their three-flavored, opalescent wedding cake, Sheri and Jim also offered a cascading chocolate fountain with a selection of fruit and baked goods for dipping. The warm effect of the meal’s attention to detail “was like going out to eat with all our friends and family at the same time.”

Aside from their talented DJ who read the crowd and kept the dance floor hopping, the highlight of the night was when Sheri and Jim gathered their parents together to honor them for their love and support. Surrounded by their guests, Sheri and Jim embraced each parent with a beautiful lei and presented them all with a six-day trip to the Bahamas, an emotional nod to the family vacation that had brought them together in the first place.

While their wedding day was as joyous as they imagined it would be, Sheri recommends that other brides check in with their vendors the day before the big event to make sure everything is up to par and to avoid any last minute surprises when it comes to the details.

Looking back on their dream day, Sheri and Jim say that it was topped only by their Tahitian honeymoon. It was the first family vacation they enjoyed as husband and wife.

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