I’m finally sharing our Santa Barbara courthouse civil ceremony, and all the amazing pictures. Let’s begin at the top…
‘Twas the year 2020 and all had gone to… well, sh*t.
JK. Kind of.
If you’re new here, my partner Jesse and I were one of the *lucky* couples who got engaged in 2019 to plan a 2020 wedding. It’s actually quite laughable when you know that we’d been together for 11 years before we got engaged. So as luck would have it, when we finally decided to do the marriage thing, the world turned upside down.
To be honest, we weren’t really stressed about it because the whole “wedding” concept was never really something we envisioned for ourselves. We always had a vision of eloping in a faraway country with 10-12 friends. But something about getting engaged and feeling all the love from friends and family really gets you thinking about a wedding so everyone can be there to celebrate. So we compromised and decided to do a wedding in Mexico so more people could attend. (But if you’ve ever planned a wedding there is really no difference between a 50 person wedding and a 200 person wedding, it all takes the same amount of planning and preparation, more on that another time.)
We got some advice from our incredible wedding planners in August to start thinking about postponing. (Side note, I truly don’t know what we would have done without them during this time.) We were not allowed to cancel our venue but were given options to postpone to March 2021 or October 2021. We went with the latter after a bunch of back and forth and blind optimism that maybe things would be better by March (glad we didn’t go that route).
But with all the uncertainty of 2020 and even beyond, and after a lot of talking, we decided we didn’t want to wait yet another year, and then potentially even ANOTHER year. 2020 didn’t give much to look forward to, but we had always held onto November 7th being our day. So we decided to do it our way.
Santa Barbara has become our “staycation” spot. We have celebrated many anniversaries there, we always bring the dogs and it’s such a special city to us. Once we decided to do a courthouse wedding there was absolutely no question in our minds, it had to be the Santa Barbara Courthouse. (Not to mention it is one of the most stunning buildings I have ever seen in my life).
There was just one small problem – the courthouses were all closed for in-person marriages. You could get married by Zoom only. Not exactly what we pictured, but I scheduled a Zoom anyway and figured we could just take pictures at the courthouse after. Then, our planners found Nanette who officiates many Santa Barbara weddings and had all the intel on the current courthouse situation. Turns out, many people were hiring their own officiates, and getting married on the grounds on a first-come, first-serve basis. With Nanette being very familiar with the courthouse and all the rules, we felt so comfortable having her officiate our ceremony. She was incredible. She radiates positive energy, wrote the most beautiful vows for us, and gave them to us in a bound book to take home. I cannot say enough amazing things about her if you are looking for an officiant near Santa Barbara.
We told no one but our parents (and my sweet Grandad) and set them up on a zoom call on my phone on a tripod so they could be there.
The day started out rainy, and we woke up to loud cheering in the hotel we were staying at. Turns out, on November 7th history was made as the United States elected our first ever female Vice President! Chills ran up and down my body and I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. We looked at each other with joy, relief and peace. It was a new beginning in more than one way.
We ordered breakfast from Mesa Verde, played music and got ready together. I did my hair and makeup on the floor, took my time, while we sipped Taittinger champagne. We headed to the courthouse with BOTH our dogs, Archie and Zoey, and were met by one of our planners, Nanette, and our amazing photographer Ria. We walked around to find the perfect spot, and decided underneath “The Marriage Tree” would be it.
Once we realized we had the opportunity to include our dogs in our ceremony, we had to do it. Not the best decision, but also, no regrets. Turns out, other people had the same idea to bring their dogs, so our little nuggets spent the majority of our ceremony trying to tell the golden retriever next to us who’s boss. It honestly brought some humor because I was so emotional. Not only was it super intimate because it was just us, but I couldn’t believe it was actually happening! I truly didn’t know if it would ever happen considering the year we had.
After our ceremony, we were picked up by a vintage Mercedes convertible that was everything and more. Our photographer Ria and I both unknowingly had this idea of a vintage car so when she suggested it, I knew it was meant to happen. We drove it down to the pier for some photos and it was SO MUCH FUN. Talk about being able to share one of the most joyous moments of our lives in such a unique way… total strangers walking down the pier yelling “congrats!” and cheering us on… it was everything and more. Not to mention, the photos are beyond incredible. It was such a fun way to end the night. We got dropped off at our hotel, relaxed before dinner, and went to our favorite spot Oliver’s. It was the most perfect day, just the two of us, totally immersed in the moment, in one another, and our love for each other. I’m SO looking forward to our big wedding in October, but to be able to have this moment was so special, and it really felt meant to be in the end.
If you’re considering an elopement or a courthouse wedding, I can’t recommend it enough. It was such a romantic way to make a lifelong commitment to each other — AND now the pressure is off for the wedding – we get to relax and celebrate with our loved ones, as it should be!