Sometimes we are just in awe of the fact that we get to be a part of documenting the most important day for two people! Ryan and Mandi are best friends and madly in love, which obviously made their wedding the sweetest of celebrations. They met through a mutual friend while Mandi was at Westmont, and Ryan lived in IV. According to her best friend, Mandi had a few options of guys her first few years of college, but she held out for Ryan because she knew he was by far the best of them. He is kind and caring, treats her like a princess, and can always make her laugh and smile. Mandi is beautiful inside and out, and as classy as can be. They are perfect together and it is SO easy to see how special and connected their relationship is.
Mandi said, “Ryan I love your generosity towards me, your family, and your friends. You’re always willing to do whatever you can for people and I love your peacefulness. I know that I can always count on you to calm me down when I inevitably stress out about something. And I love your openness, you’re the one person I know I can tell you whatever I want to and you’re not going to judge me or anything like that. I love you.”
There was so much love and support all around on the wedding day. Specifically, Mandi is an only child and has such a sweet, sweet relationship with her parents! We loved watching her Mom have happy tears while she helped Mandi into her dress, and we loved watching Dad glow with happiness all day long as he celebrated his daughter’s marriage to such a wonderful man.
The entire wedding day took place at the El Encanto, which we always LOVE. The grounds are gorgeous, and the view of Santa Barbara is unbeatable. Funny enough, one of our favorite things about the El Encanto is the turtles in the pond by the ceremony! They love to lay out in the sunshine on the rocks, and on Ryan and Mandi’s wedding day, they acted like they were guests at the ceremony! They climbed up on the rocks and watched the whole thing, which added such a fun aspect to the day.
Ryan and Mandi both got ready at the El Encanto. Something we both adored, was that they both have a close friend of the opposite sex, so Mandi had a bridesman and Ryan had a groomswoman. There’s nothing better than when our clients make decisions for their day based on who they are as a couple, and we love how they made their wedding unique in this way. The girls (plus bridesman) got ready in a suite that overlooked the lily pond, so they got to watch the ceremony be set up as they got ready. The guys and groomswoman got ready in a room overlooking the pool, which has a patio that was perfect for playing games and drinking whiskey while waiting for the first look.
We actually had the honor of doing Mandi’s bridal portraits a few months prior to the wedding, and the second we saw her in her dress we both gasped. She is an absolute vision, and we definitely could not wait for Ryan to see her on the wedding day! We did their first look under gorgeous brick arches covered in ivy, which was such a special moment for our couple. Time stopped when Ryan saw his bride. His reaction was absolutely perfect, and to capture the magic of this was such an honor.
Their ceremony was joyful and raw, and was performed by Jon Ireland, who is one of our favorite officiants in Santa Barbara. His real, introspective approach to marriage is so refreshing, and we always seem to take something away from every wedding we work on together. One thing that was so beautiful, was how much he focused on acceptance, instead of focusing on a perfect idea of marriage. “Our job is to accept each other, embrace each other. The two of you are different – men and women are different. And you have different opinions, different likes and dislikes. I’m going to guess your personalities are a little different. There are differences between the two of you. And rather than looking at those in a negative way, couples that are thriving in marriage, they see those as what makes them a great team. So don’t try and change those differences. Accept those differences and embrace those differences.” Afterwards, Ryan and Mandi exchanged what they love most about the other person, which you read above, and at that point, it was hard for US to hold back tears!
After they were announced Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Arnold, guests headed to cocktail hour on the patio overlooking all of Santa Barbara, while an acoustic trio played all of the couple’s favorite Disney songs. The bartenders poured champagne while the guests enjoyed every ounce of sunshine! It was a picturesque, stunning day, so you could see all the way to the Channel Islands. The reception decor was absolutely beautiful! We love how Lindsey from Magnolia Event Design designed the space to be so elegant and inviting. It is definitely the best we’ve ever seen in that space, and so fun to photograph. We especially loved their circular white monogrammed dance floor!
Their friends and family gave beautiful speeches – Rebecca, Mandi’s maid of honor, articulated how Mandi and Ryan’s love reaches so much farther than just between the two of them. “It was great because you could tell that Mandi and Ryan really made each other happy – they were always smiling, always laughing whenever they were around. I really feel like their relationship is more than just making each other happy, but also making all the people around them happy.”
Ryan’s brother, John, expressed how caring Mandi is for Ryan. “I always wanted to make sure that I was taking care of Ryan. My joke was always “I can be mean to Ryan, but if anyone else it, they better watch out.” Over the years, getting to know Mandi, getting to see how Ryan gets when he talks about her, when he’s with her – I honestly can’t think of a better person to pass that responsibility off to, and I thank you for taking care of him because he means the world to me.”
After the speeches were over, everyone turned into full celebration mode and danced the night away, ourselves included! We felt so privileged being able to witness such a perfect day full of love, and were so happy to photograph Ryan and Mandi’s beautiful wedding. We are so excited to share the day with you!
Officient: Dr Ireland
Dress: Winnie Couture
Lighting & Draping: @bellavistadesigns
Venue: Belmond el Encanto: @belmondelencanto