On a recent Sunday afternoon, I set off amid a picturesque drizzle from my home in beautiful Ojai to beautiful Santa Barbara. The occasion? A Day Celebrating Weddings, a boutique bridal fair put on by our stylish friends at Your Wedding Day Magazine. What better place to track down the latest event trends and cool wedding ideas?
The setting was the recently renovated Santa Barbara Historical Museum, a fetching downtown venue with a quaint elegance all its own. The museum’s adjoining courtyards were made into lavish outdoor rooms by The Tent Merchant—which are as far a cry from camping gear as you can get! Instead, imagine the luxurious digs of pashas and Moroccan princesses. With the addition of lounge furniture, oriental rugs and other decorative flourishes, it was easy to see how outdoor spaces can be uniquely transformed into luxe party spots.
Some other clever innovations on display: Bella Umbrella showed off their collection of colorful vintage umbrellas—one-of-a-kind originals from the 1900s thru the 1950s. What a fun way to offer personal shade to your guests during a sunny party, or to coordinate the fashions of your bridal attendants. I also liked Santa Barbara Polo Club’s Groom’s Chocolate Bar—smartly arrayed sweets on tiered dessert trays in masculine shades of dark brown and black (a tasty way to pay homage to the guys!). Strictly girly, however, were the sparkly treasures offered by Perfect Details —beaded handbags, shoes, pillows and wedding jewelry pretty enough to make you weak-in-the-knees. Perfect Details’ new beach wedding collection boasts jewelry adorned with tiny shells and starfish, and would make darling gifts for bridesmaids.
There were so many standout stylists among the event planners and florists, but one trend was clear: Strong colors are hot, pastels are passé. If you like pink or light blue, choose a rich tone—sherbet and Tiffany, rather than a dated pale shade. And contrast them with chocolate brown or black for maximum impact. The hautest color combo of the season is inspired by a gourmet farmer’s market—artichoke and aubergine (never say green and purple!), with hints of gold for extra glam.
I came away from this bridal fair bursting with creative ideas—and I’m not even planning a wedding. Just think what these festive expos can do for you! (For GUIDElines on making the most of bridal fairs, click here.)
After working hard all year, Here Comes The Guide rewarded its staff with a company retreat. When Chief Operating Officer Meredith Schwartz asked me to put this trip together, The Carneros Inn was the first place I thought of for our day of relaxation and fun. We are a really tight-knit group of women, but half of us work off site, so we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. This trip was such a treat! We got to have spa treatments, lounge by the pool and enjoy an amazing dinner at their restaurant, Farm.
At the start of our retreat, we were told that this was a day of fun and absolutely no work. But, the event coordinator in me just wouldn’t allow for this. As I lay by the infinity pool I couldn’t help but think what a fabulous location this place is for a wedding. I could just picture a ceremony taking place in their Apple Orchard as a bride says “I Do” with the beautiful vineyards in the background. Another area I loved was the Carneros Courtyard, where guests enjoy cocktails and appetizers while mingling on the lawn. And at night, when the sun goes down, they can cozy up to the outdoor fireplace while they are taking a breather from dancing. After the reception has wound down, you and your husband can escape to your honeymoon cottage which was designed as a modern farmers cottage, decorated in what The Carneros calls “farm-shui”.
Honestly, I could go on and on about this place. Because I arranged our company trip, I got to work with The Carneros staff closely and it was such a pleasure. The level of service they gave us was out of this world. Whether you choose it for a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, wedding or honeymoon, The Carneros Inn is a truly luxurious experience. I can definitely see why Travel + Leisure Magazine calls it “One of the top 25 Romantic Getaways in the World”.
And, did you see? Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon agree!
Could you do Turkey Brownies for Thanksgiving? (Turkey-shaped, that is. That never would have occurred to me, but now that I’m thinking about it….yes, yes I could.) That might be too off-beat for your crew, but if you’re still hunting for some new Thanksgiving recipes to enliven the usual mix, check out master chef Joachim Splichal’s ideas in this past weekend’s Los Angeles Times Magazine. (Registration required—but don’t worry, it’s free.) Maybe the Pumpkin Brandy Crème Brûlèe or Grilled Turkey marinated in olive oil, oranges and spices would work?
Joachim Splichal and his wife Christine founded the Patina Restaurant Group. A number of their restaurants are great places for weddings or parties, including Patina Restaurant at the dazzling Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, Cafe Pinot, and the restaurants at the Orange County Performing Arts Center and the Bowers Museum.
Don’t feel like cooking? A number of Patina’s restaurants are serving this Thanksgiving.