Hawaiian-Inspired Alfresco Wedding with Moroccan Lounge

Amy and Josh

Photographed by: Elizabeth MessinaLocation: Santa Barbara, California, United States

Four months into their friendship, Amy Lacerte and Josh Phillips shared their first kiss. Some time later, on a surfing trip in Indonesia, Josh proposed to Amy on a pristine stretch of beach with only their shadows as witnesses. They spent the next two weeks vacationing alone together and enjoying their engagement in an idyllic way: by themselves and removed from any pressures that might interrupt their bliss.

Such relaxation left them ready, when they returned, to start planning the wedding of their dreams. Both Amy and Josh knew they wanted to get married in an intimate ceremony on the beach in Maui, and they did so in March of 2005. Several months later, they threw a “celebration party” just outside Santa Barbara and invited 180 friends and family members to an elaborate, unique reception that was every bit the fanciful experience they hoped it would be.

The evening began by introducing the members of the bridal party and family who attended the wedding in Maui and was followed by a marriage blessing performed by Amy’s priest. Amy wore her wedding dress again, and the couple and its honored guests entered to the tropical sounds of a calypso band. The audience literally stood up and cheered.

Using the expansive property of the venue to their advantage, Amy, Josh and their design team created several outdoor areas to accommodate the progressive reception, tailoring the flowers and complex décor to each location and activity. After the blessing, the group moved on to the cocktail hour, its style inspired by the couple’s chic reception in Hawaii. Elegant white linens topped with large and small arrangements of white peonies set the perfect mood for sipping Dom Pérignon. Its understated look was intended to mislead guests about what was in store for dinner: a tropical outdoor nightclub dressed in exotic style. Instead of conventional dining tables, the couple chose to “seat” guests at daybeds with teal, lime green and electric blue cushions intermingling on the lawn with bistro tables and chairs in matching shades. Colorful arrangements of orchids were placed everywhere, even along the 75-foot sushi bar, which was also lined with chairs so guests could sidle up and place their orders. Among the other inventive stations was a “Carb Bar” boasting lobster mashed potatoes in martini glasses, macaroni and cheese and rigatoni.

And with those guests who weren’t interested in dancing off the calories beneath huge hanging disco balls, the custom-made blue suede pool tables were a huge hit. A video montage of Amy and Josh’s relationship was also projected onto three white panels that billowed in the evening breeze. The colorful pashminas gifted to the female guests (the men received hand-painted tile coasters courtesy of Josh’s company) came in handy, especially since the after-party in the cool, foggy Santa Barbara morning was about to be revealed. A romantic hideaway, nestled in another area of the property, was accessible by walking along a little trail or by hitching a ride in a Cadillac Escalade golf cart. Once arrived, guests were drawn into a Moroccan lounge done up in seductive shades of raspberry, chocolate brown and vanilla for late-night snacks and desserts. Among the offerings, mini White Castle cheeseburgers, fries and breakfast burritos and huge bricks of white chocolate from which guests chiseled off pieces to eat. Everything was washed down with freshly brewed espresso and glasses of port. “Can you tell we love food?” jokes Amy.

Satiated and relaxed, the bride and groom congregated with loved ones on daybeds around a long fountain, while mellow partiers curled up on sofas inside tented nooks to take in the soothing sounds of a Spanish guitarist. Without a single speaker to be found, it was a wonderfully intimate setting with which to end the night.

It wasn’t Amy and Josh’s last opportunity to let it all soak in, however. They were able to spend another two weeks alone together on another stretch of beach, reliving the excitement of their unique celebrations while on their honeymoon in Barbados.

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