A Rainy Wedding Day in Santa Barbara

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The bride to be posing on the lawn of the Santa Barbara Courthouse where they planned to get married the following year.
The bride-to-be posing on the lawn of the Santa Barbara Courthouse during the wedding reconnaissance trip. She and her fiance were excited about getting married in front of the Courthouse in April 2024.

Santa Barbara weather is almost always great–we did not expect it was going to rain in Santa Barbara for the wedding weekend in April. Well, it did–but it didn’t stop us from having several great celebrations with our family and friends who traveled from near and far to join us for this wonderful simcha.  As I told my daughter when she was feeling ambivalent about having a wedding: “These people have been waiting your whole life to celebrate with you at your wedding!  And no matter what, at the end of the day, you’ll be married!”

The entrance to the Santa Barbara Courthouse on a rainy day. The pavement is wet looking towards the alcove and seeing the clock tower to the right.
The alcove entrance to the Santa Barbara Courthouse on the day of the wedding – a rainy day!

My daughter and her fiancé met as young college students at UCSB over ten years ago, and always dreamed of getting married in Santa Barbara. They didn’t really think it would rain on their wedding day, so they planned for their ceremony to be on the lawn of the Santa Barbara Courthouse.  The grounds of this iconic and historic landmark are popular for weddings, combining the beauty of the colorful spring horticulture and culturally rich Spanish Mission architecture.  

The cold rainy weather made a brief appearance for two days in the otherwise sunny and balmy beach climate.  Come Saturday morning the rain began, and continued through the beginning of our awesome (but tented) Welcome Party at Brass Bear Brewing. We weren’t surprised to wake up early Sunday morning to rain on the wedding day.

Enjoying the rain as we exited the hotel to make our way to the wedding ceremony venue.

On the morning of the wedding, I reported promptly to my daughter’s room for makeup and hair at 6:15 a.m. We watched the wet, cloudy and cold weather from inside the warm elegance of The Hotel Californian.  Nicole Dyer @samarabeautysb worked her magic on my daughter the Bride (who is already naturally beautiful without any makeup or special hair arrangement!), the groom’s mother, and me.  After dressing, the photographers, Patrick Quezada and Raul, began their magical capture of images, emotions, connections, beauty and love.  As we exited the hotel in the pouring rain, hovering under the protection of the umbrellas, we swiftly entered the cars to make the short drive to the Santa Barbara Courthouse, still not knowing where the ceremony would take place.

Bride and Groom in rain under umbrellas running to the Santa Barbara Courthouse
Rain didn’t damper their excitement on their wedding day!

The ceremony was supposed to be on the lawn of the Courthouse, preceded by the Ketubah signing in the Mural Room. The Mural Room only seats 100 (which would only seat half of our guests), it must be always accessible to the public, and it is closely monitored by the security guard on site. In the few hours preceding the wedding, we discussed the possible need for a small in-door ceremony with just immediate family, followed by the wedding celebration with all of our 200 guests at El Paseo Restaurant. Upon our arrival, the wedding coordinator, Danielle Niemann with Orange Blossom Special Events had the 200 chairs and Huppah with floral decorations set up under the protected alcove entrance to the Court House.  We were thrilled with her brilliant pivoting and graceful communication style, never exhibiting any stress, always smiling, and putting everyone at ease. 

The huppah decorated with brightly colored flowers under the alcove of the Santa Barbara Courthouse looking onto the lawn during the rain.
The Huppah looking out at the lawn during the rain before the start of the ceremony.
The Huppah is decorated in brightly colored flowers by Alexis Ireland Florals.
Bride and Groom with both sets of parents and all their siblings and partners in the Mural Room.
The Bride and Groom with their parents, siblings and partners. The immediate family gathered for the Ketubah signing in the Mural Room.

The weather was actually great for the indoor photographs taken in the Court House, a popular site for wedding photography.

Isn’t her wedding dress gorgeous?
The bride and groom recited their vows to each other in private earlier that morning.  
The bride and grooming posing for photos on the steps of the courhouse, looking at the beautiful lacework on the back of the bridal gown, bride holding colorful bouquet.
Wedding Dress – Grace Loves Lace.

As our guests arrived in the rain, they were all relieved and grateful to see the protected seating arrangement. Everyone settled excitedly and Rabbi Alissa Miller took her place under the Huppah. We began the wedding processional, exiting from the Courthouse and walking down the stone path aisle, not worrying about sinking our shoes into soft, muddy grass. As the beaming bride and groom met under the Huppah, the rain slowed to a stop and the sun magically emerged from the clouds.  To add to the excitement, as the bride and groom circled each other in a egalitarian modern twist on a traditional ritual, a very large palm tree behind the Huppah crashed to the ground, momentarily distracting us all. 

The wedding ceremony was like watching a love story, as Rabbi Miller wove the history of the couple’s romance with the beautiful Jewish text and traditions. Each set of siblings and their partners and both sets of parents took turns reading a blessing of their own design that correlated with each of the seven blessings, Sheva Brachot, recited during the wedding ceremony. 

Oh how the exuberant joy and love explodes from their smiles and laughter! Only a rainbow would have made it more perfect, but just for the photographs. It was already as perfect as it could be – even with the rain. #gogauchos #gauchopride #nachas

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