Katie Holford & Alberto Lopez

August 2, 2003 /// Santa Barbara, CA /// Photographed by Thomas J. Styczynski

Love, In Full Bloom

Katie Holford met Alberto Lopez while they were attending Occidental College. Though he was attracted to her smile and friendliness, and she to his sparkly eyes and kindness, the two were friends for some time before they actually started dating. Once their romance was underway, Albert took Katie to the beach in Santa Monica and asked her to officially be his “girlfriend.” Years later, Albert blindfolded his unsuspecting girlfriend, and took her back to the same exact spot (Lifeguard Station #10), and proposed to her as the sun began to set.

Katie and Albert enjoyed a twenty-month engagement, and were very glad that they had allowed enough time to tackle all of the details involved in planning their wedding. Even with a long engagement, she and Albert could not have done it all without the valuable advice and guidance of their outstanding coordinator. The couple had envisioned a summer estate wedding, marked by rich colors. They chose Montjoie, a private estate in Santa Barbara, based on its elegant atmosphere, privacy and its spectacular view of the ocean, the mountains, and the city of Santa Barbara.

Though Katie did not have an official wedding theme, she directed all of her vendors to envision an “Evening of Elegance” with regard to her style and taste. The estate has a very French look, with lots of silks in deep red and gold, and the couple wished to stay true to the setting and décor of the house by creating a similar look in the garden. An abundance of rich color was Katie’s utmost priority, with white and pink being the only banned hues. Her wedding gown was a warm ivory, the bridesmaids were dressed in a deep, regal red, and the florist elaborated on these rich tones with a myriad of vibrant hues.

Though the bride describes herself as “florally challenged”, her wedding was anything but. The event’s overall style was tailored, but the florals added an overtly feminine, bountiful look to the event. Bouquets, centerpieces and standing arrangements overflowed with color, and even the house’s interior was adorned with matching floral arrangements to seamlessly tie together the look of the outdoor celebration with the home itself. Among the florist’s palette of blooms were roses in merlot, sienna and antique yellow, deep blue delphinium, vibrant yellow and red lilies, brilliant chartreuse cymbidium orchids, muted green and merlot hydrangeas, and emerald green camellia leaves, ivy and honeysuckle.

The whole event was reminiscent of a French country manor, alive with color. The focal point of the glorious garden was a large ceremonial structure, crafted by the florist out of deep mahogany and wrought iron. The creation was ornate yet charming, resplendent with the same vivid bloom’s used throughout the wedding, such as roses, hydrangeas, honeysuckle and camellia, cascading over the top and down the sides. Sheer taupe-colored organza was draped from the crown, and a crystal chandelier was suspended from the center. Katie and Albert exchanged vows beneath the breathtaking creation, and it later served as a pavilion for the wedding cake during the reception.

Katie and Albert credit their insightful officiant, Saral Burdette, with several special moments during their ceremony. Just before the processional began, Saral coached the wedding guests to say “We do!” when asked who gives their blessing for Katie and Albert’s union. It was a wonderful moment when, just before she pronounced the two as husband and wife, Saral asked the question and the whole crowd chimed in with “We do!” Saral also had the bride and groom face their loved ones while she stood with her back to the audience, knowing that this was a great wedding gift to the couple. Additionally, prior to the wedding, Saral had separately interviewed the couple, asking them to describe their funny quirks and explain what they each loved about the other. She read these answers during the ceremony, with both bride and groom blinking back tears at the touching words.

The elegant dinner reception was preceded by a Spanish-themed cocktail hour, in honor of Albert’s El Salvadoran heritage. Well-suited for a wedding being held over Santa Barbara’s “Fiesta” weekend, the party included a margarita bar, a Spanish guitar duo, and tray-passed hors d’oeuvres such as coconut shrimp, caramelized red onion tartin and miniature brie, pasilla and mango quesadillas. A plated salad course followed, and then an entrée duo of petite filet mignon with Jack Daniel’s wild mushroom sauce, pistachio and lavender crusted halibut with champagne sauce, asparagus, and potato and onion gratin with Gruyere cheese and herbs. The wedding cake was simple and understated looking but rich in flavor. It was decorated with fresh flowers and scroll designs, and featured two layers of carrot cake (Albert’s favorite!) and two layers of vanilla bean sponge cake with fresh lemon curd and raspberries.

Katie’s father was responsible for the evening’s most unique moment, when he introduced a bit of nostalgia from Katie’s childhood along with an important message. Katie grew up in England and fondly remembers a famous commercial there, for Nestle Rolos candy. Because the candy claimed to be just too good to share, its slogan was “Would you share your last Rolo?” This became a popular saying in England, and if you wanted to test someone’s generosity, you would simply ask if they would, in fact, share their last Rolo. Katie’s father, who happens to work for the company that manufactures Rolos, had some shipped from England and used them for a prop in his speech to the couple. He spoke of Katie and Albert’s generosity, told the story of the Rolos commercial, and then presented the couple with the candy. His message was that the single most important thing in a marriage is to share, and so they must share their Rolos!

Aimee Manis