Destination Elopement in Santa Ynez, CA

I’d venture to say elopements were the original destination wedding: running off somewhere to say “I do” without the months of planning and lengthy guest list, with nobody in on the plans. For those of you thinking of an elopement, even if you do want just a few of those closest to you by your side, we have a beautiful one from Jeremy Gilliam today that may just make you say take the plunge! Amy and Chris met unexpectedly and four years, and two adorable children, later they decided it was time to tie the knot. They fell in love with Santa Ynez and knew it would be perfect for their intimate nuptials of just a few family members.santa-ynez-inn-destination-elopementdestination-elopement-santa-ynez-californiadestination-elopement-santa-ynezdestination-elopement-ceremony-santa-ynezDestination Elopement in Santa YnezDestination Elopement Santa Ynez CaliforniaFrom Amy, the bride: “We stumbled upon Santa Ynez during a work trip and fell in love with the charming area nestled in Santa Barbara County, and promised we would be back. The wineries and countryside were so picturesque. When we were deciding on a wedding venue for our small wedding of family only we wanted something elegant, simple,and romantic and immediately knew that Santa Ynez was the perfect place for us. Santa Ynez was intimate, small, and charming and exactly what we were looking for our wedding.”santa-ynez-california-destination-elopementSanta Ynez Destination Elopement The small party spent the weekend at Santa Ynez Inn, amongst the beauty of wine country, and celebrated post-nuptials with a delicious Italian meal for nine at nearby Trattoria Grappolo.santa-ynez-destination-elopementsanta-ynez-destination-elopement-receptionDestination Elopementsanta-ynez-destination-elopement-cake-cutting“We spent the entire weekend with our families and cherished those few days celebrating our wedding. For us, the tiny wedding really allowed us to spend time with those that matter the most,” says Amy. Santa Ynez Destination ElopementCongratulations Amy and Chris!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Jeremy Gilliam Photography

Wedding Vendors: Wedding Venue: Santa Ynez Inn, Reception: Trattoria Grappolo,  Bouquet: Renae’s Bouquet, Cake: Solvang Bakery, Hair and makeup artist: Tracy LeBard at Spa Élan, Dress: BCBG Max Azria, Shoes: Manolo Blahnik


Weddings at San Ysidro Ranch

celebrity wedding san ysidro ranch{Photos Courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch}

Nestled in the hills of the beautifully sleepy California town of Montecito, overlooking the Santa Ynez Mountains, just outside of Santa Barbara, sits a ranch style hotel known for its quiet privacy, celebrity sightings, and oh-so romantic weddings.  A perfect location for a destination wedding in California, the San Ysidro Ranch is within close proximity to Los Angeles and thus has become a landmark for celebrity weddings and honeymoon hideaways.

A 500-acre property that feels as comfortable as your own home, San Ysidro Ranch was originally put on the map as the spot where John F. Kennedy and wife Jackie O. honeymooned and now modern-day newlyweds can do the same – and stay in the very same suite, renamed the Kennedy Cottage.

San Ysidro Ranch wedding{Photos: Jose Villa}

But more recently the boutique property is known for celebrity weddings like that of Victoria’s Secret model Lily Aldridge and Kings of Leon band member Caleb Followill.  It’s also the rumored spot of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s nuptials.  Celebrity wedding planner Mindy Weiss has seen her share of high profile weddings at San Ysidro Ranch as well.  Mindy planned Hilary Duff and Mike Comrie’s destination wedding there back in 2010.

A hotel best suited for intimate weddings, it’s no wonder celebs love San Ysidro Ranch, with plenty of options on which to wed.  My personal favorite – the garden setting is spectacular, complete with year-round ivy arches and lush floral hedges trimming the lawn.  The picturesque backdrop cannot be beat.

san ysidro ranch weddings{Photos: Top: Jose Villa, Inset & Bottom Courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch}

The local lavender fields and organic local product make this property a standout both visually and for your palette.  Wedding and Events Coordinator Usha Atterbury tells us about the fine cuisine on property.  “Our Executive Chef uses the finest seasonal ingredients to create innovative California Cuisine, relying greatly upon the Ranch’s organic herb and vegetable garden for the freshest flavors to accompany his creations.  The Ranch’s exceptional blend of delicious food, stunning setting, and comfortable, understated elegance makes it a truly unique choice of venues.”

celebrity wedding photo san ysidro ranch{Photos: Jose Villa}

If your event is very small in size, say an elopement of eight or less, say “I do” to the historic Old Adobe or the vintage wine cellar which you can fill with one long feasting table for twenty.  For slightly larger events, the Hydrangea Cottage is a popular spot to wed with its private patio, beautiful views, and six adjacent suites for your bridal party and getting ready time.

weddings san ysidro ranchA destination wedding weekend at San Ysidro Ranch means good old-fashioned fun.  Think lawn games, snuggling by the fireplace in your cottage, and perhaps taking a stroll through the town peppered with boutiques and local fare.  When a loved one of mine wed here, what I remember most was the wonderful quiet time and the serene feeling on property that makes for a very calming wedding day with the smell of fresh wood fires burning in chimneys above.  You feel transported back to the golden era of California, as if Will Rodgers might be sleeping in the cottage next door.

san ysidro ranch cottagesan ysidro ranch suites Frequently named one of the World’s Best Hotels by Travel + Leisure, San Ysidro Ranch is known for its four-poster beds that have become perhaps iconic for this property and make for a perfectly romantic wedding night and honeymoon.

jessica simpson wedding locationsanta barbara ranch wedding venues{Property Photos: San Ysidro Ranch}

When to Go: California has great year-round weather but summer months are the most popular for weddings.  Given that the property has less than 50 rooms and suites, book well in advance during peak season.

Travel Tip: Take your four-legged ring bearer with you!  This property is pet-friendly and will take extra special care of your furry friends with amenities and plenty of running around room.


Ojai Valley Inn & Spa Weddings

ojai resortFor those of you looking for a luxury stateside destination with a hint of rustic charm, we have the perfect California hideaway for you today! The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa is a mere hour and a half north of Los Angeles, east of Santa Barbara and offers a remote getaway that is still highly accessible for your guests.

Tucked along the mountainside just outside of the town of Ojai, the resort boasts a world-class spa that travel writers the world over gush about.  Personally, I’ve had one of the best facials ever in their spa.  While the space isn’t overly done up or formal, the service offerings are among the best of the best.  Whether you’re planning a wedding at the property or a girl’s getaway for your bachelorette party, I highly recommend a break for a treatment or two!weddings at ojai valley inn

A bachelorette party themed to the spa and some outdoor activities (think beach cruisers through the woods) with ample pool time of course, might pair nicely with a bachelor party on the golf course, and when night falls the two groups can gather at the on-property pub.  The Inn is large enough to host separate parties and never mingle, but if and when you choose to, there’s enough to do onsite as a coed party for the more ‘grown up’ guys and gals.

This resort’s lush grounds also include an array of ceremony and reception options and styles, should you say “I do” to getting married in Ojai. You can host your ceremony in the Hacienda Courtyard with mountain views, or the herb garden with scents of rosemary and lavender. For your receptions, they offer everything from grand ballrooms to their rustic Big Red Barn.   We suggest taking advantage of the outdoor spaces, they  don’t get much better than this.weddings in Ojai

All Photographs by Isabel Lawrence Photographers.

No matter the event you host, your guests will be in foodie heaven at the Maravilla Restaurant that prides itself on serving dishes with fresh, local ingredients, and is frequented by A-list celebrities (Reese Witherspoon’s wedding guests stayed and dined here).

In between meals and an itinerary of hiking along the resort’s trails, don’t forget a day-trip to nearby Santa Barbara – a must do!  This not-so-far-away gem of a destination offers it all (and a travel time for Californians that can’t be beat).

When to Go:  Avoid late summer if you can, the weather can get very hot, so aim for early summer or even December or January when you have the chance to catch a glimpse of the pink moment – a sunset phenomenon lighting the sky up with the color pink as the sun reflects on the rocks.

Travel Tip:  Pack for a variety of weather.  Ojai can get very hot by day and chilly by night (but the in room fireplaces will keep you cozy when you retire at the end of the day).