Love Story in Montecito, California


May 31, 2023
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Jacqui Cole

Love stories have a way of transcending boundaries, connecting people, and creating unforgettable moments. For Michael and Lauren, their journey began with a fateful introduction and blossomed into a beautiful relationship. Today, we invite you to join us as we dive into the enchanting tale of their destination wedding in the captivating coastal town of Montecito, California.

“We were introduced by my friend and coworker, who happened to be Michael’s roommate at the time,” Lauren recalls. “We went on a date in San Francisco in 2016, and from that moment on, we never looked back.”

With both Michael and Lauren’s families having moved away from their beloved Bay Area, California, they felt drawn to the idea of a destination wedding. It would be an opportunity for their loved ones to gather in a beautiful location while still capturing the essence of their home state.

“We wanted our wedding to be a getaway for our guests, something that felt like a vacation,” Michael explains. “The central coast of California felt like the perfect destination—it offered breathtaking scenery, a blend of beaches and mountains, and a range of activities for everyone.”

Lauren’s connection to the area, having attended college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, combined with their shared love for the central coast, made Montecito an irresistible choice. As they began their search for the perfect venue, San Ysidro Ranch captured their hearts from the moment they set foot on the property.

“The property’s setting, nestled uphill with mountains as a backdrop and views of the ocean, felt truly magical,” Lauren shares. “Everywhere you looked, there were vibrant flowers blooming, adding to the allure of the place. It was exactly what we had envisioned for our wedding.”

To bring their vision to life, Lauren and Michael relied on a talented team of professionals who understood their unique style and aspirations. “We wanted the wedding to have an old European aesthetic combined with warmth, vibrancy, and happiness,” Lauren explains.

Working with their planner, Erin, and the team at Bustle Events, along with Alex at Aerialist Press and Michelle at Creative Light, the couple incorporated charming elements into their decor. A custom escort board with antique keys and sage ribbons gave guests a sense of checking into a European hotel, while Michelle’s stunning floral arrangements combined pastels and vibrant colors to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

For Michael and Lauren, personalization and an intimate atmosphere were key components of their ceremony. They decided to have a close friend, who had known them since the beginning of their relationship, serve as their officiant.

“We wrote our own vows to make the ceremony more personal,” the bride says. “As neither of us is religious, we wanted to keep the ceremony short and sweet, allowing our guests to maximize their time enjoying themselves during cocktail hour.”

Although organizing a wedding from a distance can present challenges, Michael and Lauren found ways to overcome them. With the venue being within driving distance, they were able to make pre-wedding site visits and make the most of their time in the nearby city of Santa Barbara, California.

Reflecting on the experience, Lauren emphasizes, “Planning a destination wedding allowed us to truly separate ourselves from our busy lives at home and be fully present during the entire wedding week. It felt like a genuine getaway, and we had the chance to enjoy a few days together after the festivities ended.”

With their extraordinary journey serving as inspiration, Michael and Lauren have some valuable advice to share:

  • Enjoy Yourself: “Make your wedding day the best day of your life by prioritizing your own experience and that of your partner.”
  • Trust Your Team: “Build a strong team of planners and vendors who align with your vision, and place trust in their expertise. Lean on them for guidance and support throughout the planning process.”


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Vendors: Photographer: Jacqui Cole; Planning & Design: Bustle Events; Venue: San Ysidro Ranch; Stationery: The Aerialist Press; Linens: BBJ La Tavola; Rentals: Theoni Collection; Floral: Creative Light; Hair and Makeup: Team Hair and Makeup; Entertainment: Dart CollectiveAlanna & These Fine Gentlemen

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