An Intimate Outdoor Wedding for Just 18 Guests in Montecito, California
After meeting online in 2017, Celeste Chandler and Gabriel Fox jumped right to "in sickness and in health." "Gabriel had the flu when we started messaging," says Celeste. "I sent him a handful of holistic remedies and acupressure points from my previous experience as a message therapist. A day later I received a photo of all the ingredients and herbal remedies I had shared." When Gabriel felt better, he invited Celeste for a sunset picnic at a beach in Santa Barbara, where they drank wine and discussed theology. "We had a lovely evening together and couldn't wait to see one another again," Celeste tells us.
About two years later, Gabriel organized a surprise trip to Iceland—one of Celeste's dream travel spots. "He was somehow able to keep our destination a secret until we reached the gate. I was in tears," says Celeste. The couple spent more than a week exploring the country—including a trip to a secluded, tourist-free waterfall Gabriel heard about from the locals, where he got down on one knee to propose.
Celeste and Gabriel began planning their wedding for January 25, 2020, in Montecito, California, but about a month before, they realized they needed professional assistance and hired Tyler Speier. "Invitations to a different venue had already been sent out," says Celeste, "but Tyler came to our rescue and made the day a million times better than it would've been." The couple invited 18 guests to San Ysidro Ranch, where they held an open-air ceremony backed by sweeping views of the mountains and an intimate indoor dinner. "It was an opportunity to have the small, outdoor wedding I always dreamed of," says Celeste.
Custom invitations from Paper and Cloth included accents of hand-painted olive branches in a nod to the trees at San Ysidro Ranch. The understated formality of the invitation set the tone for the atmosphere the couple wanted at their wedding: "We wanted it to emphasize the natural world and we wanted to keep things simple, intimate, and warm," says Celeste.
One and Done
Celeste's lace Oscar de la Renta wedding dress, with its low back and illusion neckline, showed off a design of flowers and leaves in another reference to the couple's love of nature. "It was one of two dresses in the entire Saks Bridal Suite that fell into the category of the type of dress I wanted, and it was the first dress I tried on," she says. "My best friend began to cry immediately upon seeing it on me and said, 'That's it.' It was perfect."
Celeste's vision for her wedding included "soft, muted colors, and tons of flowers," a request Tyler Speier, who created the floral arrangements, fulfilled with a bloom-heavy bouquet of garden roses, delphinium, ranunculus, and dusty miller.
Their First Look
One of the happiest parts of the day for Celeste and Gabriel was the moment they met for their first look on a hedge-lined path. "I was filled with joy and excitement throughout," says Celeste. "I could just see how happy and excited Gabriel was. He was beaming."
The couple held their intimate ceremony outside, letting the Santa Ynez mountains serve as a majestic backdrop to the property's lawn and gardens.
Classic round, cane-back chairs in a light wood tone and soaring floral arrangements lined the aisle. A lush floral arch included taupe, ivory, mustard, and blush-colored roses.
Down the Aisle
During the ceremony, a string trio provided live music, playing Schubert's "Serenade" during Celeste's solo processional. "My father passed away when I was 17 and I didn't feel like anyone could ever take his place," she says, "so I decided to walk down the aisle by myself, with his spirit beside me."
At the Altar
A close friend of Gabriel's, John Jones, officiated the couple's ceremony, working with the bride and groom to create a personalized text. "No vows," says Celeste. "But we talked to our officiant multiple times prior to the wedding day about what our marriage signifies to us and worked out what we wanted to be communicated."
Husband and Wife
Though the ceremony went smoothly, the couple recalls one minor issue that popped up after their recessional. "[Our officiant] forgot to say the last part of his legal officiant requirements," says Celeste. "We had already walked off the ceremony lawn and he ran to us saying 'Wait, wait, wait: By the power vested in me!' We all died laughing."
Celeste added a cozy jacket to her look post-ceremony.
Up in the Air
The couple's guests sat at one long table inside the exposed-beam dining room, where trailing vines on the chandeliers and ceiling mirrored a delicate vine pattern on the natural linen tablecloth.
Place settings included glass chargers, hand-wrapped boxes of truffles, and individually calligraphed place cards. Custom illustrations from the invitation reappeared on the menu, while pillar candles in assorted vessels lined the table between abundant centerpieces.
Dinner by Candlelight
A trailing floral installation on the fireplace continued the floral motifs, while displays of pillar candles on the hearth and mantle added to the hundreds of glimmering lights throughout the space.
On the Menu
The newlyweds opted for a menu from the venue's chefs that they describe in one word: "decadent." The meal included butternut squash soup; a salad with apples, pear tomatoes, and candied pecans; and a choice of parmesan-crusted halibut or herb gnocchi.
The couple displayed their two-tier cake on a silver stand in front of an ornate mirror; the ceremony floral arrangements added color underneath. The Valrhona chocolate cake included milk chocolate mousse, feuilletine crunch filling, and vanilla buttercream frosting.
Nearest and Dearest
In lieu of dancing, the couple focused on sharing an intimate meal with their nearest and dearest. "We really enjoyed the dinner," says Celeste. "It was such a lovely space, and it was so beautifully decorated. The food was incredible, and it was so nice to be able to sit down and relax with our close friends and family."
Photography, Jose Villa
Venue and Catering, San Ysidro Ranch
Event Planning, Design, and Flowers, Tyler Speier
Officiant, John Jones
Stationery, Paper and Cloth
Music, Simone Vitucci
Rentals, Town and Country; La Tavola Fine Linen Rentals
Bride's Gown, Oscar de la Renta
Bride's Accessories, Badgley Mischka shoes; Tiffany and Co. jewelry; Anthropologie Wedding hairpins
Hair and Makeup, Team Hair and Makeup
Groom's Suit, SuitSupply
Groom's Sccessories, Tiffany and Co. tie clip; IWC watch
Favors, Jessica Foster Confections