Cozy Seaside Celebration in Santa Barbara, California

Devanee and David

Photographed by: Elizabeth Messina Location: Santa Barbara, California, United States

During a meeting of their church’s college ministry, Devanee Frazier, David Niednagel, and the rest of the group were asked to introduce themselves to the people seated beside them. When Devanee and he turned to face one another, David remembers, “We were pleasantly surprised. From then on, the conversation just flowed.” Later in their relationship when it came time to ask for her hand, David chose to propose to Devanee in a familiar place: her backyard. “So we would always look out and remember our engagement,” explains the bride.

Preferring both a short engagement and a fall wedding, the couple chose an ambitious date only four months down the road. With the help of a talented design team, Devanee and David were able to pull off planning not one, but two weddings (one in case of rain), at the beachside luxury resort and spa Bacara in Santa Barbara. Utilizing her skills as an interior designer, Devanee provided her vendors with a concept book of inspirational “environments” that she hoped would influence the unique design of the wedding. As beach lovers who wished to celebrate the wedding’s oceanfront location, the bride and groom did not want their event to be themed. Instead they preferred that the décor reflect the relaxed, cozy mood evoked by the surf and sand. Using canopies, candlelight, and an interesting “wedding in the round” arrangement, a tranquil and intimate setting was deftly achieved even with a guest list of almost 400 people.

Taking a cue from the greenish-blue succulent plant that populated the grounds of the hotel, Devanee and her event designers created an earthy color scheme accented by shades of ivory, chocolate brown, and coral. The ceremony structure was fashioned out of driftwood and strewn with a wild array of woven vessels, lanterns, and balls of exotic flora – like fiddle leaf fig and kale. Surrounding the structure were concentric circular rows of chairs where guests were seated to embrace the couple from all 360 degrees. During the processional, the wedding party (consisting, in part, of David’s three brothers, Devanee’s brother, two sisters-in-law, and eight nieces and nephews, some who were transported in vintage baby carriages) spiraled their way through the rows before sitting in the circle closest to the couple. David entered wearing his signature brand of flip-flops and waited for his bride’s grand entrance.

Devanee’s father, a motion picture special effects coordinator (most recently on Poseidon and the upcoming Spiderman III) designed fountains to line the aisle and turn on one by one as Devanee walked past. Her path intersected each row until she reached the center and heart of the gathering where she and David married in a Christian ceremony. After exchanging vows and receiving communion, the couple enjoyed a favorite hymn performed by friends. When the bride and groom kissed, their guests released butterflies into the air, a surprise also orchestrated by the father of the bride.

Just before dinner, the newlyweds slipped away to the beach to take photos together and soak in the experience. “It was great to get away for a moment just the two of us, to kick off our shoes and jump in the air!” says the bride. Afterward, they joined their guests for a dinner served from a variety of gourmet stations, a method chosen for its ability to draw people from their seats to mingle. The long dining tables were dressed in burlap and simply accented with a variety of candles while lanterns and woven vessels were suspended from fabric canopies overhead. Each table became its own sanctuary, creating an elegant but laid-back atmosphere for savoring the evening.

According to Devanee, the best advice she can share with other brides is to expect the unexpected and to therefore remember the real reason for the wedding: saying, “I do.” She should know: The morning of their wedding, Devanee and David received word that the major freeway leading to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles was closed due to an accident. They delayed the ceremony two hours to allow for everyone to arrive, and made the absolute best of the situation by keeping everything in perspective.

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