Petra and Marc's Chic Picnic Wedding in Santa Barbara
These California artists wanted their alfresco celebration to feel elegant yet utterly relaxed. Their vision of the ideal wedding day: A French-style picnic, complete with comfortable blankets and big pillows to kick back on, and wine and cheese aplenty.
"Technically, we met in a hot tub," says Petra Cortright of her first encounter with Marc Horowitz. The two Los Angeles–based artists started chatting over whiskey and steak tips in a Jacuzzi while at a friend's 2013 barbecue in Venice Beach. Though that might sound like a standard SoCal meet cute, for them it was totally unexpected—and completely magical. After spending just a few hours together, Petra accepted Marc's invitation to hang out back at his house in Highland Park and basically never left. "A month later, I realized I should probably go back to my apartment and pick up my things," Petra says, laughing. "In my wildest dreams, I had never imagined something this sudden, but when you meet someone you really connect with, the rules just don't seem to apply." Marc was equally smitten. "It was like everyone had always told me: 'You'll know she's the one the second you meet her,'" he says. "It was exactly that." About nine months into dating, Marc proposed in L.A.'s Little Tokyo, choosing a restaurant Petra had loved to go to with her father, who passed away when she was little. Marc's ring presentation reflected the pair's shared creativity and sense of humor—it was artfully arranged on a bed of sushi rice—and set the tone for the intimate and memorable wedding they would have one year later at a friend's family estate in Santa Barbara, Petra's hometown.
Once they settled on the venue, the couple focused on planning a relaxed afternoon affair with comfort as the top priority. "We didn't want the formality of a buffet or seated meal," Petra says. "When I was thinking of my ideal situation, I was like, 'Well, there's nothing better than lying down and eating a sandwich.'" With that in mind, she put her artistic talents to work combining the home's Spanish influences with a French-picnic feel, and getting some help from their nearest and dearest on the details. The best man, a furniture designer, crafted the low dining tables; Petra's mother and bridesmaids assisted in sewing blankets and pillows; and what to wear was handled by her "just amazing" friend, designer Stella McCartney, who Petra has collaborated with on videos featuring McCartney's designs.
On November 8, 2014, everything came together. Revelers gathered to watch Petra walk down an aisle lined with olive trees before the two exchanged self-penned vows (Marc's included the lines "I love putting the toothpaste on your toothbrush, I'm yours for eternity") in a nondenominational ceremony. Then the newlyweds and their 135 guests moved to the upper lawn for lunch, music, and mingling. "When we were hanging out, dancing, laughing, and eating, I looked at my friends, family, and beautiful wife, and everything seemed like a dream," Marc says. "It was ethereal."
Invitations were screenprinted onto Battenburg lace handkerchiefs and posted in kraft-paper envelopes. Calligraphed escort cards guided attendees to their seats. "My mom has a master's degree in painting and is an artist as well, so she helped me figure out the color scheme," Petra says. "We took our cues from the landscaping: grays, sages, lavenders, browns, and earth tones with red accents. We wanted these colors to almost 'melt' into the ground."
A Gourmet Welcome
Crimson and Clover
Petra, in a custom Stella McCartney top and skirt, and Marc, in a custom suit, showcased painterly flowers for their day. As for the dress: "When you have Stella McCartney designing you a custom outfit, there's no need to consider anything else. It was like being in love: I only had eyes for my Stella," Petra recalls.
"There is light all around Petra, and I wanted what she wore to have that element—along with the floral botanical print for femininity and edge at the same time," Stella counters. "Petra and I see things in a similar way, so the ensemble was a perfect marriage of her and me."
In Her Shoes
Petra wore a pair of star-studded Stella McCartney platforms for the ceremony. "The terrain was quite tricky, so the platforms were perfect for that," she says. "They also are just really fun, powerful shoes," so much so that she continues to wear them to events and openings around L.A. "They're too incredible!"
Black and White and Chic All Over
Bridesmaids chose among black and cream outfits. "I didn't want them to look the same at all!" Petra says.
Getting the Bout
Bundles of ranunculus, speckled garden roses, and sweet peas spruced up lapels thanks to Moon Canyon.
Ranunculus, speckled garden roses, and sweet peas were also woven into a crown for Petra's niece, who was the flower girl.
Loved ones showered the couple with red rose petals after their I do's. "Marc and Petra are two incredible, creative, quirky, and artistic individuals," says wedding planner Brandy Curry of Duet Weddings. "Their wedding could never have been a run-of-the-mill event. It needed to be a total experience for them and their guests."
"Seeing Petra walk through the grove of olive trees, I felt like I was on a far-off distant planet living an alternate reality—but it was still me. Oh my God, it was so weird. It felt magical. I've never been so filled with happiness and joy in my entire life," Marc says of his most memorable moment.
Arrangements were inspired by the fountain off to the side of the pond where the ceremony was held—lilies and tulips spilled out of large urns and were accented with branches and passionflower vines.
"I wanted to feel more laid back during the reception," Petra says of the cream Stella McCartney flats she wore postvows. "I could easily slip them on and off, go from blanket to blanket talking with guests, or dance, or walk through the grass."
Topping It Off
After the ceremony, Petra swapped out her cathedral mantilla veil for an antique French wax flower crown—the wax is made to look like orange blossoms—that she had flown in from Paris and adorned with mini red carnations.
Rhubarb cocktails welcomed guests to the ceremony.
The bride's sister made tiny bow ties for the couple's two Chihuahuas out of the leftover linen fabrics from the blankets.
Petra found the picnic-blanket fabrics, like this floral linen, in Los Angeles's garment district. There were 23 blankets in total, all hand-sewed by the bride, her mother, and some friends. "Everything we did for the wedding was handmade because I'm insane," Petra jokes about sewing blankets and pillows. "It was about five times as much work as a normal wedding. At many points I was like, 'What did I get myself into?' But I wanted to craft a certain feeling for the day and for our loved ones. Marc and I are homey, relaxed people, and we like to create that feeling of comfort around us. It was wonderful to see all of our guests lounging and enjoying themselves."
Splendor in the Grass
Celebrants lounged and listened to toasts. Postmeal, everyone took home a handmade pillow.
The pillows were embroidered with the same emoticons (smiley faces and hearts) that adorn Petra's website; the same emoticons were also on the invitations. "We wanted to personalize, and normally people would do monograms, but I didn't like the idea of our monograms being décor in other peoples' homes," Petra said. "I wanted something more universal and fun and lighthearted."
Laid Back and in Love
The newlyweds and their guests dined on fruit, cheese, sandwiches, and pasta salad, presented in oversize woven picnic baskets and placed at each table.
Sun and Games
Partygoers stayed cool under vintage parasols.
"The house feels like home to me," the bride said of the venue, the Hoffman House, a historic Santa Barbara estate that's the childhood home of one of Petra's best friends. "We have so many great memories at this house, especially as young artists—doing midnight photo shoots, videos, screening old movies atop the roof under the stars—and this was another incredible moment to add to the story."
A Slice of Heaven
Pie, anyone? Petra's family made 30 of them, including blueberry-cream and pecan.
The string trio that played during the picnic lunch performed a rendition of Enya's "Caribbean Blue," (one of the bride's favorite songs from childhood) for the couple's first dance.
All Together Now
A drone captured the festivities from above.
Event Planning and Design: Brandy Curry of Duet Weddings
Catering: Heirloom LA
Flowers: Moon Canyon
Photography: Corbin Gurkin
Stationery Screenprinting: Grow Your Own Media
Calligraphy: Anne Robin Calligraphy
Rentals and Lighting: Town & Country Event Rentals
Bride's Ensemble and Shoes: Stella McCartney
Bride's Veil: Ben's Bridal
Bride's Hair: Danny Moon
Makeup: Unveiled Makeup
Bridesmaids' Hair: Melinda Miller-Rider
Flower Girl Dress: Stella McCartney Kids
Groom's Suit: Armando's Custom Made Pants, 213-624-0907
Drone Footage: Jeff Clark
Babysitting: The Little Guest
Serving Staff: Top Shelf Event Staffing and Beverage Services
Valet: Signature Parking
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