Spanish-Style Outdoor Wedding in Santa Barbara, California

Natalia Petrosian and Brad Luff

Photographed by: Nino Rakichevich PhotographyLocation: Santa Barbara, California, United States

Their evening with friends had already ended without a word passing between them, but while waiting for their cars at a hotel valet stand, Natalia Petrosian and Brad Luff struck up a conversation. A casual exchange led to a late night bite to eat and a couple of turkey sandwiches later, Natalia and Brad both knew they were sitting across from that certain someone that would change their lives forever.

Two years later, while Brad was abroad producing a film, Natalia visited him on location in Italy. They spent Thanksgiving weekend exploring Florence together, and on one rainy, romantic night straight out of a foreign film, Brad got down on bended knee at the edge of a piazza overlooking the city and asked Natalia to be his wife. “It was a fairytale proposal,” beams Natalia, “and I will never forget it!”

Natalia and Brad’s definite ideas about the feel they wanted to create for their wedding made the planning process run smoothly for them. They both envisioned an elegant, Spanish-styled affair and felt that the Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara was the perfect home for their wedding. Natalia relied on her wonderful relationship with her mother to help finalize decisions, and with Brad’s complimentary taste, their romantic, Latin-inspired wedding took shape.

Roses, hydrangea and peonies in deep reds and oranges and a plethora of ambient candles were the luxuriant backdrop for their ceremony. Natalia wanted the aisle covered in rose petals and she found herself walking to meet Brad atop a veritable carpet of lavender flowers.

As a Spanish quartet played in the background, Brad fought back tears as his bride approached him amidst such splendor. As they recited their vows it was Natalia who became choked up, but Brad comforted her by stroking her arm. It was a touching moment that was beautifully captured by their videographer and will be cherished forever.

The couple kept their wedding intimate, with their 150 guests seated for the reception at tables named for the Greek Islands that Natalia and Brad would visit on their honeymoon. As a tribute to Natalia’s Armenian background, the DJ played several Russian Armenian songs while her brother performed a traditional dance. “It was very special and kept all of our guests entertained,” says Natalia.

The favors the couple gave to their guests were also very special. Artist Erin Lareau, whose work has been featured at several museums, awards shows and on such television shows as “Sex in the City,” covered little gold and silver chairs in her signature style by using brilliant, multi-colored Swarovski crystals. Their guests loved leaving with a piece of Natalia and Brad’s wedding that was also a stunning work of art.

Natalia and Brad also infused their Spanish theme into their gourmet menu as in the oxtail sauce and coconut red pepper sauce served with filet mignon and Pacific halibut, respectively. Their cake was half chocolate genoise with raspberries and half vanilla genoise with strawberries and at the end of the night, Natalia asked the waiter for a cold glass of milk and enjoyed two pieces of it herself. A rare treat, since brides and grooms notoriously find themselves without a single taste of their meticulously planned food after their wedding is over.

But Natalia and Brad would not have spent their wedding any other way. “We ate our cake and danced all night,” recalls the couple. They even spent the cocktail hour alone together, as husband and wife, to reflect on how beautiful their ceremony was and to share some precious time together before the festivities. “Everyone told me that the night would fly by, but I have to say, that was not the case for us,” states Natalia. “We took in every detail of the night. We had a lot of fun!”