Love of family is what bonded Katherine Kallinis and Benjamin Berman from the moment they met, so although Katherine happily accepted Ben’s proposal on a private beach in Naples, Florida, the star of TLC’s D.C. Cupcakes still felt a pang that her loved ones weren’t on hand to share her joy. Little did she know what her beloved had in store.

“We planned to meet Ben’s family for lunch and surprise them with our engagement,” the bride explains, “but when I walked through the doors, I was the one who was surprised.” The groom had arranged for Katherine’s family to fly in from D.C. to help celebrate. “Ben knows how close I am with my family and that’s why he arranged for them to be there on that special day,” notes Katherine. “And that is why I love him so much.”

The first order of business: finding a venue. While touring private estates, the pair stopped in for lunch at the storied San Ysidro Ranch, a romantic Santa Barbara hideaway nestled in the foothills of Montecito, California. “We fell in love,” says Katherine of what ultimately became their wedding venue, the same site where John and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon and where Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier exchanged vows. The property’s romantic history wasn’t the only appeal. Notes Ben, “I have always loved outdoor activities and the mountains, so it was really special to be married outside with the hills in the background.”

So as not to compete with the breathtaking natural surroundings, a color palette of creamy vanillas and crème brûlées was utilized. Snowy flower petals sprinkled an alabaster aisle while rows of potted white roses and hydrangeas lined each side. A chuppah crafted of wooden branches, full white roses, and greenery framed the bride and groom against the picturesque mountains for the vow exchange. And though the flower was out of season and nearly impossible to find, Katherine’s floral designer had a surprise for her on the day of the wedding: lilies of the valley for her bridal bouquet. “I had always dreamed of holding valley lilies when I got married,” the bride enthuses of the graceful arrangement. “It was a great surprise!”

Katherine was resplendent in a delicate strapless Vera Wang gown that featured an overlay of lace and acres of tulle belted with jewels on a taupe satin ribbon. She accessorized her ensemble with an embroidered Vera Wang veil, Art Deco-inspired diamond earrings, twinkling silver heels, and one very special token: a heart-shaped locket that contained a photo of her late grandparents (also named Ben and Katherine). “She was very close to them and wanted them to be with her during the ceremony,” confides the groom. He also reveals that seeing his bride glide down the aisle was the most memorable moment of the day. “She looked stunning,” he remarks, “and I had absolutely no doubt that she was my soul mate.”

Seated in wooden chiavari chairs, guests enjoyed the beautiful Jewish ceremony that honored the groom’s heritage. Says Ben of the moment after he kissed his bride: “Looking out into the crowd and seeing so many people for whom we cared and who had traveled so far to be with us was humbling, and I felt so grateful for their love and support.” 

The reception was also filled with unique and heartwarming touches. Gossamer fabric was suspended from various points to create a breathtaking reception space for dinner and dancing. Architectural draping allowed for glimpses up at the starry night sky. Twinkling crystal chandeliers were buoyed overhead and a milky damask pattern was projected onto the dance floor. “Our consultant created something very elegant-yet-cool with the draping of the tent and the décor,” Ben remarks. “I had never seen anything like that done before, and we both loved it.” Hurricane glasses filled with candles formed an illuminated heart on the lawn and the bride changed into a strapless Monique Lhuillier dress with a leg-baring slit for the evening’s festivities.

Rectangular wooden tables were left uncloaked to highlight the natural setting, and low arrangements of frosty calla lilies, orchids, roses, and hydrangea blossoms accented each. Silver candelabras of varying heights housed flickering meringue candles, and gleaming glassware was rimmed in platinum. Menus with elegant lettering and scalloped edges mimicked the design of the pair’s invitation suite and featured the bride and groom’s monogram in addition to the evening’s dining choices. Chiavari chairs topped with powdery cushions surrounded each table, while cushy white sofas and bar stools provided comfortable seating around the dance floor.

While the couple loved that the band got everyone up and dancing, it was the cake that really took the cake. Katherine’s sister baked and decorated a nine-foot-tall confection composed of over 5,000 individual cupcakes made of champagne buttercream. The process was documented on TLC’s DC Cupcakes: My Sweet Wedding and was quite the feat. “She surprised me with it and it was probably one of the biggest wedding cakes ever made,” exclaims Katherine. “It was stunning, matched perfectly with everything, and the room smelled so delicious all night,” she fondly recalls.

As an ode to the couple’s love of Carmel Road Pinot Noir, each guest was given a pair of stemless wine glasses from Tiffany & Co. with a bottle of the wine. Guests were treated to Meyer lemon-blossom cupcakes, also baked by the bride’s sister, which were presented in pink Georgetown Cupcake take-home boxes that read “Sweet Dreams.” “It was a great way to end the night,” says the bride.

Even sweeter was the bride’s most memorable moment of the day: the last dance of the night with her husband to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. “I remember hearing the band sing the line ‘…and the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true’ and just started to cry,” she confesses. “I had just married my best friend in the world and had the wedding I had always dreamed of as a little girl. It was at that moment that I realized that dreams really do come true.”