Classic Catholic Ceremony + Elegant Reception in Santa Barbara

Margot and Brian

Photographed by: Samuel Lippke StudiosLocation: Santa Barbara, California, United States

It’s a good thing that Margot Kollerer and Brian Dudley are both country music fans, or it is unlikely that they would have ever met. Margot grew up in Bozeman, Montana and attended UCLA, while Brian was born and raised nearly 10,000 miles away in Johannesburg, South Africa. He went to UC Berkeley for college, and in 2014 he traveled to Southern California for the Stagecoach music festival with his former water polo teammates. Margot was there with her sorority sisters, and despite nearly 200,000 attendees, the two groups contained mutual friends and she found herself face-to-face with Brian. “We got to talking and I was immediately hooked by his enticing accent, handsome looks, and outgoing nature,” reveals Margot. Brian adds, “I always think back on this moment and it’s certainly the reason I am most thankful I played water polo.” The duo were inseparable the rest of the night and spent the next portion of their lives maintaining a long-distance relationship between Los Angeles and San Francisco, eventually settling together in the Northern California city. 

Just over three years after they met, Brian drove his beloved to Carmel-by-the-Sea and took her to dinner at a restaurant she had pointed out when they visited the Central Coast the year before. Following the delicious meal, they drove along the coast while the sun was setting. Pulling over to stop at a vista point, he led Margot down a path overlooking the ocean. A woman – later revealed to be a hired photographer – handed Margot an envelope instructing her to keep walking. “I started down the rose-strewn path to find three more letters Brian had written me. Each one held a meaningful date from our relationship; with the final one saying that day’s date as the day Brian ‘made the best decision of his life,’” illustrates Margot. At the end of the path, stood Brian with a large bouquet of flowers in front of a table for two with Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. “I was in tears as he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was the easiest question I have ever answered!” exclaims the bride. 

The couple decided on Santa Barbara for their wedding day in order to split the difference between the cities they resided in when they met. “Although Santa Barbara is more southern, it felt like the perfect balance between the two,” explains Margot. “We have always felt that Santa Barbara has the laid-back, relaxed feeling of Northern California with the beautiful weather and beaches of Southern California.” Both descendants of Irish Catholic families, having a full mass for their wedding was important to both the bride and groom. They found a beautiful church in Montecito with an aesthetic like the California missions, and the priest was a lifelong friend of the father of the bride. 

“Seeing Margot all dressed up for the first time walking towards me – it truly was the most bone-chilling moment and one I will never, ever forget,” gushes the groom. The excitement and emotion was clear on her face as she walked down the aisle on the arm of her father. In honor of the bride’s late mother, the couple lit a candle while a friend sang “Ave Maria.” “It was truly such an incredibly moving and special part of the day,” Margot confides. They embraced tradition and used classical music for the ceremony, even playing Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” for the recessional. It was the perfect way to set the tone for the timeless event. 

The black-tie celebration was elegant and warm. “I wanted the reception to look like it glowed while also being devoid of any bold colors,” notes the bride. This was accomplished by bringing in white carpet, selecting shimmering ivory linens, and adding details, such as gold accents and neutral tones and textures with the chairs and charger plates. Lush florals in shades of cream filled the space. “White Lilac did such a good job that I heard there was a running joke amongst our guests asking which flower farm we bought out in order to put our wedding on!” laughs Margot. 

After a day of touching moments, beautiful décor, and fun with family and friends, it’s no surprise that the newlyweds wouldn’t change anything about their wedding. “This might sound so cliché, but there literally isn’t a single thing I would do differently,” Brian affirms. His new wife adds, “Nothing can beat that feeling of being surrounded by your loved ones as you marry your other half!”

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