A Mauve-and-Gold Autumn Wedding in Santa Ynez's Iconic Kestrel Park
Samantha Goudis and Kyler Holway developed their friendship for more than two years before they started dating—and it took nearly three more years for Kyler to propose. But when he did, he created a uniquely personal moment: He sent Samantha on a scavenger hunt around their home to find one-of-a-kind puzzle pieces. Once the puzzle pieces came together, they had a map to "Tikki's House," which is Samantha's family's mini dachshund who lives at her parents' house down the street. "Once there, Kyler proposed with a gaudy, bejeweled (frankly, very ugly) ring with a dachshund head on it," laughs Samantha, adding that she pretended to love it—but loved it even more when he pulled out the real deal. She immediately burst into tears without ever giving an answer, but obviously, it was yes.
The couple began planning their 250-guest wedding for October 12, 2019, at Kestrel Park in Santa Ynez, California. "We both knew we wanted to highlight the beauty of California by getting married outdoors," the duo explain. "We chose Kestrel because we loved how the British garden aesthetic honored Samantha's late grandma, who was from England. The vision was to have a wedding that showcased California autumn, with fall foliage and colors." Instead of choosing traditional shades of the season—like red, orange, and brown—Samantha and Kyler opted for mauve, gold, and dark pink with accents of cream and pale green, mimicking the tones of end-of-season flowers. They also prioritized their faith throughout the celebration, displaying favorite Bible verses prominently on ceremony and reception signage and using wooden pews and church windows to create a religious atmosphere for their outdoor ceremony. "We wanted the ceremony to feel like a church in the outdoors," says the couple, "and the reception to feel intimate and romantic despite the large guest count."
Coming Up Roses
Samantha and Kyler's invitation suite from Fete and Quill combined handmade rose-colored paper with white letterpress text and an antique gold wax seal. The couple personalized the copy by pointing guests toward a favorite Bible verse, Genesis 2:24, which reads, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
Mother and Daughter
While shopping for her big-day look, Samantha was drawn to wedding dresses from Mira Zwillinger—particularly one of the designer's silk organza, tulle, and sequined lace A-lines with cap sleeves, a cathedral-length train, and a deep V-back. "It was so light and comfortable, but was absolutely the 'star of the show' with all its shimmering details," says Samantha. After trying it on, she says, "I would stare at the pictures of myself in it almost every night, and just loved the way it made me look and feel." Once she committed to it, she never even considered changing for the reception. "I loved my dress way too much to ever want to take it off for a new one," she says.
Before the ceremony, Samantha's mother assisted her in the bridal suite. "Having my mom help me get into my dress, just the two of us, and then praying together before my bridesmaids came back was one of the most special moments of the day," says the bride.
Pretty in Pinks
Samantha showed off the varied pinks and purples of her color palette by having her bridesmaids wear coordinating gowns from Jenny Yoo. "I didn't want them all in the same color or dress," she says. "I chose the colors and assigned two girls per color, and let them choose any dress. My matron of honor was the only one wearing a velvet dress, so she could stand out."
Boys in Blue
Kyler opted for a navy tuxedo from Indochino, and put his groomsmen in suits from the same company. "Kyler wanted to make sure it would be something they could wear for other occasions, versus renting an expensive tux that didn't fit well," says Samantha. "The ring bearer, Kyler's nephew, wore a navy camo tux to make him feel like he got to dress like Kyler. He carried our ring box with 'Holway' engraved on the top, and I've never seen any child more serious about a job to do."
So Happy Together
The couple met for their first look by a stone horse stable tower on the venue's property. "I was anxious to finally see him, like the day hadn't started until I could give him a hug," says Samantha. "During the look, we each read a letter we had written to each other, so naturally I cried, and tried to be present with all the feelings."
Bold and Beautiful Blooms
Noonan's Designs created a bouquet for Samantha that looked "lush, full, and overgrown, but in a tasteful, traditional way." The deep mustard shades contrasted with lighter mauve-and-cream roses and ranunculus. The bridesmaids carried similar bunches with "more saturated" colors.
Samantha and Kyler wanted their religious ceremony to feel spiritual and sacred—even though it took place outside—so they used dark wooden chairs and pews to mimic a church setting. They lined the edges of the space with custom wooden frames in the shape of traditional arched windows, and used a vintage church doorway to create an altar space.
Arrangements of branches, hydrangeas, and other fall flowers were placed at the ends of the aisle in mismatched woven baskets.
The reclaimed wooden church doorway that the couple used as a backdrop was decorated with baskets of branches, foliage, and flowers in glowing autumn colors.
Samantha and Kyler asked Mariposa String Quartet to play a selection of carefully-chosen songs for their processionals. An original arrangement of "Snowman" from the video game Earthbound served as the processional song for the majority of the wedding party; the bridesmaids then walked down the aisle to "Concerning Hobbits" from Lord of the Rings; and the bride's father escorted her to the altar to the Jurassic Park theme song—a moment Samantha had planned since childhood.
Two Become One
Pastor Joel Moses of Westside Vineyard Church officiated the couple's non-denominational Christian ceremony, which included a sand ceremony and personalized promises from the bride and groom. "We did not write our own vows, but chose a mixture of traditional and more modern ones," says Samantha.
Glowing with Happiness
After the ceremony, the couple chose to spend a few minutes alone in the bridal suite; they then took full advantage of the golden light for sunset portraits.
Meanwhile, at the cocktail hour, staff passed trays of french fries, chicken and mozzarella paninis, and cheese and pineapple flatbreads, while appetizer stations featured soft pretzels and popcorn.
Raise a Glass
A printed fabric sign near the entrance to the reception included lines from Psalm 23, highlighting the line "My cup runneth over," and invited guests to find their seats using escort cards attached to glasses of Champagne.
Large-scale draping trimmed with fresh flowers created a striking focal point for the entrance to the reception—and a dazzling background for the couple's sweetheart table.
Three of a Kind
The couple chose three different seating setups, including long wooden tables with and without tablecloths and bare wooden rounds. Low centerpieces sat in the center of the round tables, while the longer tables were dressed with garlands of foliage and fruit. Gold calligraphed table numbers on rose-colored cards stood in flower-shaped holders.
Samantha and Kyler "didn't love the idea of a tent," so planner Vanessa Noel created an outdoor room by framing the longer tables with wooden beams holding garlands of foliage, and suspending vintage chandeliers overhead. Draping around the outside of the space defined the area without taking away from the al fresco atmosphere.
At the Table
Contemporary copper flatware and mauve linen napkins added a modern contrast to the "Old-World formality" of ivory Italian china and delicate etched glassware. After a family-style first course that included chopped, Southwest, and Italian salads, the couple and their guests filled up at three different buffet stations from Farm to Table Events: an Italian station that included chicken Parmesan, tortellini, and havarti and sharp cheddar macaroni and cheese—"No way I was having a wedding that didn't serve mac and cheese!" says Samantha; a Greek station serving grilled steak kebabs and lamb or zucchini gyros; and a breakfast-for-dinner station—a nod to the newlyweds' favorite weeknight meal—that offered fried chicken and rosemary waffles, chilaques, avocado toast, and mini quiches. They also served three cakes from Lelé Patisserie—banana cake with peanut butter buttercream or cinnamon cream cheese frosting; carrot cake with citrus cream cheese or vanilla cream cheese frosting; and red velvet cake with vanilla boysenberry frosting—and three kinds of ice cream sandwiches from Negranti Creamery.
Table for Two
For Samantha and Kyler, seeing the final party space was one of the most memorable parts of the day. "When we walked into the reception and saw it in its full glory for the first time, we were both just absolutely blown away," says Samantha. "We hadn't seen it yet and definitely didn't know Vanessa had designed such a beautiful sweetheart table for the two of us. Standing there, dancing to Chaka Khan and looking out on the sea of people we love most on the world…there's just no feeling quite like it."
A Perfect Pair
The duo chose Coldplay's "Green Eyes" for their first dance. "We loved the lyrics about one person's life changing once the other person entered it, and being a rock upon which the other stands," says Samantha. But they had another personal connection to the tune, too: "Only two percent of the population has green eyes," says Samantha. "We both do!"
Photography, Tenth and Grace
Venuee, Kestrel Park
Event Planning, Vanessa Noel Events
Catering, Field to Table Events
Flowers, Noonan's Wine Country Designs
Videography, Andrew James Abajian
Officiant, Pastor Joel Moses, Westside Vineyard Church
Stationery, Fete and Quill
Cake, Lelé Patisserie
Music, Mariposa String Quartet (ceremony); The Shrines (reception)
Rentals, Avenue 12; Bella Vista Designs; Bright Event Rentals; Found Rentals; Theoni Collection
Bride's Gown and Veil, Mira Zwillinger
Bride's Accessories, Sophia Webster shoes; Jennifer Behr hairpins; Ring Concierge earrings; Tiffany earrings and ring
Hair and Makeup, Blushing Beauty
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's Tuxedo, Indochino
Menswear, Indochino suits; The Tie Bar ties and pocket squares
Groom's Accessories, Ted Baker shoes; The Tie Bar tie and pocket square
Lighting, Spark Creative
Transportation, Santa Barbara Airbus
Engagement Ring, James Allen
Guest Book, Bark and Berry
Wedding Rings, Brilliant Earth