Danielle Dufresne and Brian Litman met casually in New York City when one cocktail soon became hours of seamless conversation and an intense feeling of ease with one another. “It was like we had known each other forever,” Danielle describes. Three months into their relationship, Brian thought to himself, she is The One. Three years later, he asked for her father’s blessing. “His eyes shot open with excitement and he was thrilled,” Brian remembers of the happy moment, working quickly to find his soon-to-be bride the oval diamond of her dreams so that he could propose to his beloved on an upcoming vacation.

“Brian asked me to marry him on the first day of our trip to Cuba,” confides Danielle. “It was really special because we didn’t have Wi-Fi or cell-phone service, so we got to soak it all in for a few days before we came home to share the news with our friends and family.”

The New York-based couple, who are both Los Angeles natives, were certain they wanted a California wedding. They opted for the Santa Barbara area, so it could be a destination weekend where they would enjoy spending quality time with the loved ones they missed so much, as well as introduce other guests traveling from afar to the beautiful coast. “With a May date set, it was also important to find a venue that was outdoors, yet had an indoor option to accommodate for the chill of a spring evening,” Danielle mentions. “Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm was the most unique venue we have seen where we could have our ceremony and cocktail hour on a private bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and then a reception inside a breathtaking former greenhouse.”

Even with the guidance of an incredible event planner, the bride was surprised at how much there was to do. Danielle arranged weekly meetings with her fiancé, so they were able to clearly communicate and align a concept for the celebration while preventing wedding-planning conversations from dominating their time together. “In the end, I feel like this made the day way more special because it was our shared vision that came to life,” says the bride. 

Their love of adventure and nature inspired the rustic design for the fête, which was based on a soft, neutral palette with lots of greenery, seasonal florals, geometric details, potted plants, and rose-gold accents. As guests arrived for the traditional Jewish ceremony, they were able to enjoy the picturesque views from the cliff prior to the start of the service. The groom’s sister-in-law had happily obliged their request for her to serve as their officiant. “Alex has been an important part of our relationship and life together since the first week of dating,” asserts Danielle of why it was so special to have her perform this meaningful role. “She did an incredible job that we will forever cherish.”

Since the setting is so lovely on its own, an abundance of decorations were not needed. Arrangements of minimalist greenery lined the aisle and a wooden-based chuppah was bedecked with garden and spray roses, astilbe, lisianthus blossoms, and ranunculuses in shades of peach, blush, and vanilla. The tallit used for the structure originally belonged to Brian’s grandfather. “The names and dates of all family celebrations have been embroidered on the tallit since his passing,” notes Danielle of the heirloom.

As the bride and her father walked down the aisle, “Waste” by Phish played. “Brian really wanted this because it was at a Phish show where he first said he loved me,” reveals Danielle, who chose a delicate lace dress with a halter bodice for the big day. Guests threw dried flowers to show their excitement as the newlyweds exited the space.

Vintage school buses then transported the guests to the reception, where thousands of flowers, verdant garlands, and plants had been beautifully arranged on tables, suspended from the ceiling, and placed around the bar. “I wanted the room to feel like a live greenhouse,” illustrates the bride. The romantic, rustic vibe that the couple had hoped for was further accentuated with reclaimed wooden tables in various sizes.

Attendees enjoyed the couple’s first dance to “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges, as well as heartfelt speeches from family members, while they savored a sumptuous farm-to-table meal. “Once the sun set, the greenhouse transformed into what felt like a new venue with brilliant lighting and a giant illuminated fig tree which you could see hanging over the transparent ceiling,” remembers the groom. As hundreds of candles twinkled and reflected across the glass overhead, the merriment continued with dancing to a live band and s’more and churro stations for nontraditional wedding desserts.

Though the bride and groom wouldn’t change a single detail, they do encourage other newlyweds to heed some advice that they in fact followed themselves: plan for intimate moments with just the two of you throughout the day because it moves quickly. “It slowed down time for us,” Danielle admits. “I am so grateful for those memories together.”