Samantha and Jonathan envisioned an intimate and sacred elopement. They were inspired by the romance portrayed in literature—Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, when Darcy confesses his love for Lizzie in the rain, and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, forsaking all external pressures as they devoted their lives to each other. They wanted their vows to take on a similar adventurous romanticism that matched their unconventional spirits. They decided to elope to Santa Barbara, California, which was where Jonathan practiced as a professional chef while he attended university. With a location in mind, they began to search for an officiant to lead their vows and a photographer to document it.
After speaking to a few officiants that they didn’t really connect with, Samantha and Jonathan began talking about just saying vows in county hall and then escaping the city and exchanging spiritual vows in nature. For a last-ditch effort, Samantha looked online and found a listing for someone with a blog describing bohemian weddings and she called up the officiant, Patrice. It was immediately apparent that their souls were of the same cloth. Patrice was enthusiastic to help Samantha and Jonathan with their vows. She asked Samantha if they had chosen a setting for their vows and Samantha said no. She said that they were looking for something different. She described something similar to the Kwai Yi Ting Chinese Gazebo at the Kauai Community College -- bohemian, off the beaten path, and with a romantic Asian style. “Well, I know of this yurt …” And by some serendipitous intervention, Patrice introduced the couple to a yurt on a private estate, hidden in the hills above Santa Barbara.
From the beginning, the couple knew that they wanted to find a photographer to document the day so that they could share their special moments with friends and family. They wanted something artistic, something that captured the truly bohemian adventure style that their trip evoked. They found Ryan Caliendo of Burgundy Blue on Instagram, immediately inspired by his eye for capturing epic weddings filled with individuality amongst beautiful natural scenery. Samantha and Ryan talked about the elopement. She was struck by his enthusiasm and commitment to their vows. On top of it all, Ryan not only knew Patrice but was extremely close to her. This strong relationship stimulated a collaboration for Samantha and Jonathan’s vows in addition to an environment brimming in love and support for the couple as they began their journey as husband and wife.
Burgundy Blue photographer, Ryan, shared that from their first meeting, he knew Samantha and Jonathan were unique and that this would be a very special ceremony. They exuded genuine kindness and were extremely grateful as their vision began to come to life. They enthusiastically talked about their constant companion and adorable King Charles Spaniel pup, Lady, or their “DD, designated dog.” They described their home in northeast Phoenix as having the perfect lazy pace for the two who enjoy wine and beer tastings, cooking, the outdoors, and the farmer’s markets. Jonathan’s main hobby is woodworking, and Samantha actively practices yoga. Ryan personally loved how the couple acted with one another. Ryan described the couple’s natural desire to be around each other by saying they “made it clear that their souls were naturally entwined.” They told Ryan that all they wanted post-ceremony was a yummy Stout beer along with dark chocolate, their favorite.
Having a clear vision, Ryan happened to mention the special couple to local wedding planner, Brooke Baker of White Sage Wedding & Events, also based in Ojai, California. To say the least, the spark ignited. Ryan and Brooke collaborated to take Samantha and Jonathan’s elopement to the stars. A stunning bouquet, floral crown, and other flower arrangements were provided by Ojai Blooms. Samantha shared that the floral crown was very intentional, in order to signify how her recently passed godfather would refer to her as a “flower child.” She said, “I wanted to be his flower child—for him to be there in spirit.”
Otis & Pearl Vintage Rentals helped create a classic and bohemian inspired lounge and table for the two to enjoy during their post ceremony treats. Ojai Valley Brewery provided a beautiful growler gift to the couple, along with glasses and their New Moon Wild Oat Stout. Chocolats du CaliBressan contributed a lovely selection of fine dark chocolates for pairing. Samantha and Jonathan shared they felt like they "won the lottery" having all of us help bring their dreams to life. On their wedding day, Samantha got ready with Lacey Maxwell of 805 Makeup, while Jonathan made his bride’s favorite: chocolate covered strawberries.
Photographer Ryan’s favorite memory from the day was when the couple “exchanged their handwritten vows as they both shed tears of commitment. [He] also enjoyed that they had Patrice as their officiant who got to know them well and delivered some beautifully spiritual insight about them.”
Reflecting back now, Samantha and Jonathan share they wouldn't change a thing about eloping, and they feel that every magical moment was beyond what they could have imagined. They planned and enjoyed a reception with loved ones and friends in their hometown—the icing on the cake. They left us this last message: “Thank you for making the start of our wedding epic; it’s truly a memory we will cherish forever.”
Photography: Burgundy Blue - @burgundybluephoto
Venue: Private Estate
Officiant: Santa Barbara Classic Weddings - Patrice Handley - @santabarbaraclassicweddings
Flowers: Ojai Blooms - @ojaiblooms
Vintage Rentals: Otis & Pearl - @otisandpearl
Bride’s Hair & Makeup: 805 Makeup - @805makeup
Groom’s Hair: Locks by Lani - Lani Assante - Mint Salon - Az - @locksbylani
Beer: Ojai Valley Brewery - @ojai_valley_brewery
Chocolate: Chocolats du CaliBressan - @jeanmichelcarre
Bride’s Dress: Lillian West 6422 - @bylillianwest
Bride’s Hat: Lack of Color Ivory Rancher - @lackofcoloraus