The thing Sara Barton first loved about fellow co-worker Sam Hamedani was his ability to make her laugh—which was good, because Sara’s beautiful smile was what initially melted Sam’s heart. Soon after becoming engaged one special evening over dinner at the home of Sara’s parents, the couple began thinking about the specifics of the wedding and wisely prepared for the planning process ahead. As Sara states, “You come to realize very quickly that it requires a lot of attention to detail, and you just have to take it day by day and tackle one project at a time.”

And even with this pragmatic mindset, Sara and Sam allowed their hearts to weigh in on their decisions, too. They fell in love with the picturesque Santa Barbara Rockwood Woman’s Club, and it became the dream setting for their Victorian- and Persian-inspired event. From the intricate design of Sara’s gown to the eclectic array of dishes on the dinner buffet, the bride and groom wove their personalities and vision into each aspect of their one-of-a-kind celebration.

Drawing from a collection of vintage-themed bridal photos, Sara faithfully designed her antique-looking wedding dress, which was in turn handmade by a family member. She also gained inspiration from these images for her stunning hairstyle and Victorian chandelier earrings. Her romantic bouquet was an arrangement of tea and spray roses, hydrangea, peonies, ranunculus and hypernicum berries in the soft colors of the day—dusty pink, coral, sage green and rustic cream—accented with a delicate brooch. The same combination of flowers was repeated on each reception table in centerpiece vessels made from wrought iron, which complemented the Old World Mediterranean architecture of the venue.

It was important to both Sara and Sam that the wedding celebration reflect the merging of their American and Persian backgrounds, and they chose to exert such creativity via the menu and the music. In addition to Greek salad and pasta puttanesca, the buffet featured such traditional Persian dishes as salad shirazi and beef kabobs with yogurt sauce served alongside American favorites like sautéed chicken breast with a Chardonnay and lemon-caper pan jus and red potatoes roasted with herbes de Provence. The couple’s wedding cake, iced with a lattice and pearl pattern loyal to the Victorian theme, was its own fusion of flavors with layers of chocolate mousse, raspberries, fudge and lemon custard as delicious as they were beautiful.

The same could be said for the favors given to their guests. Each received a lovely pink box fastened with a vintage paper tag on sage green ribbon and topped with a single silk flower. Inside, they were filled with cream, pink and white M&M’s personalized with the bride’s and groom’s names.

While exchanging their vows, Sara and Sam alternated between moments of earnestness and levity, infectiously smiling at one another the entire time. Such joyfulness permeated the reception, which the bride described as “My Big Fat Persian Wedding” thanks to the affectionate and exuberant atmosphere both families produced. The DJ played a variety of greatest hits from all types of music, including Persian, and those inexperienced guests could not have been more thrilled to try out some Persian moves. “Everyone danced throughout the night—even the self-professed ‘nondancers’. It was just the type of fun and energetic reception we had hoped for,” recalls Sara, quickly adding, “and yes, we have the incriminating evidence on video to prove it.”