Santa Barbara Wedding Photography | John & Melissa

I am so excited to share John and Melissa’s gorgeous Santa Barbara wedding photos with you! When I met them for the first time, I discovered John is originally from Ocean City, New Jersey. In my true spastic New Jersey/Philly form, I freaked out and slammed my hands down on the table in excitement. I guess I’m lucky they didn’t run away that instant. 😉 I can’t begin to say what an adorable couple they make and I was even more floored when Melissa told me their engagement story. Future grooms, take note!

It was Christmas Eve and it was our first holiday spent without our families. We planned to have dinner and then go to a friends house for drinks after. I had NO idea what was coming. We had been together for 4 years and talked about getting married but John always told me “we’re not going to be one of those couples that shops for rings together, I know you’re style and I want you to be surprised.” He took me to our favorite Italian place in Hillcrest called Arrivederci. It’s very authentic and all the servers speak Italian. He brought a bottle of Turley Uberroth Zin (an amazing bottle we saved in our wine cooler for 3 years) I just thought “oh its Christmas, how nice!” He was sweating throughout dinner and I kept asking him if he was ok. After we finished dinner we were waiting for dessert and he said, “you know Christmas Eve is a really special night in my family because this is the night my Dad proposed to my Mom.” Before I could say anything he was on his knee asking me to marry him with the most beautiful ring I’d ever seen. Time stood still and I couldn’t really comprehend what was happening. He waited for me to respond but I was literally in shock! Of course I said yes but it took a minute or two!! The entire restaurant saw what was going on and cheered for us while all of the Italian waiters ran to our table waving their hands in the air yelling “Salute!” It was a big surprise and very sweet. 🙂 

Whew, have you collected yourself after that adorable story??? Ok, let’s follow that up with seeing their loving and adorable wedding! Currently living in San Diego, they decided to return to Melissa’s hometown of Santa Barbara for their big day. Melissa and her gorgeous bridal party spent the morning prepping and sipping champaign at the quaint Spanish Garden Inn in downtown Santa Barbara.

Melissa’s gorgeous (and heavenly scented) bouquet was designed by Rachel Frantzich at Riley’s Flowers.

We then headed to Dos Pueblos Ranch for all kinds of portrait fun before their beach front ceremony. I just loved their parasols Melissa’s mom picked up from the Oriental Trading Company.

Instead of boutonnières, John and his groomsmen wore vine leis from The Hawaiian Lei Company.



During the beach front ceremony, guests were treated to parasols on an absolutely stunning sunny California day.

We snuck away after the ceremony to capture a few quick portraits of the newly weds on the beach.

Their reception was held at a private home in the hills of Santa Barbara with sweeping views of town, the ocean and the islands. Just magical!

I just love their flowers from Riley’s Flowers that mixed traditional fall colors with accents of succulents, so classic in southern California!

Following heartfelt speeches from the best man and maid of honor, guests were treated to a solo of “Over the Rainbow” by Melissa’s talented bridesmaid. Such a gorgeous sentiment.

How could we not stop one last time for a few quick sunset portraits?? 😉

Favoring an alternative to traditional wedding cake, they choose cheesecake with fresh fruit topping from Cakes by Donna for their dessert. Such a fresh and tasty change of pace!

Congratulations John and Melissa! Your wedding was so fun and full of love, and I wish you all the best! An amazing team of vendors made this day possible, and I would like to give special thanks to Kelsey Crews Photo for your always amazing assistance!

Vendor Details

Head Photographer | Leah Valentine Photography

Assistant Photographer | Kelsey Crews Photo

Dress | Adorae by Sottero & Midgley

Shoes | Steve Madden

Bridesmaid Dresses | David’s bridal

Hair Salon | George & Lucy Salgado with Salon U

Makeup Artist | Leah Herzberg with Dream Catcher Artistry

Grooms Tuxe | Mission Tuxedo

Gromsmen Tuxes | Mission Tuxedo

Invitations | Wedding Paper Divas // click here for WPD coupons!

Florist | Rachel Frantzich at Riley’s Flowers

Leis | The Hawaiian Lei Company

Ceremony Location | Dos Pueblos Ranch

Reception Location | Private Estate

Cater | Danny Douglas Catering

Cheesecake | Cakes by Donna

Wedding Planner | Alison Hansen with Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club

DJ | Danny Vasquez with Elite Disc Jockeys

Wedding Bands | Passion Fine Jewelry

Parasols | Oriental Trading Co


Santa Barbara wedding photography

Enjoy this Santa Barbara wedding photography provided by Leah Valentine Photography offering Santa Barbara wedding photography in the Santa Barbara  area.

Leah Valentine Photography is anything but your average Santa Barbara wedding photographer. Each wedding is treated with care and creativity not found with other Santa Barbara wedding photography studios. Your wedding day is carefully crafted to offer one of a kind unique photography in the Santa Barbara area.

This is Santa Barbara wedding photography at its best. Offering wedding coverage in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and destinations worldwide.

Service Information

Leah Valentine Photography offers Santa Barbara wedding photography coverage in the Santa Barbara area, including but not limited Santa Barbara, Montecito, Goleta, Ventura and Thousand Oaks. In addition, we also offer wedding photography coverage in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Call for more information.

Not looking for a Santa Barbara wedding photographer? Please be sure to consider us for your newborn portraits, high school senior portraits and all your family photography needs in the Santa Barbara area.

L~ F~:

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