Inside Weddings - - Inside - Oc­to­ber 8, 2016 Santa Bar­bara, Cal­i­for­nia | Pho­tographed by Sa­muel Lippke Stu­dios

Oc­to­ber 8, 2016 Santa Bar­bara, Cal­i­for­nia Pho­tographed by Sa­muel Lippke Stu­dios


Hay­ley Steele and Nick Aure­lio were friends in high school, but it wasn’t un­til after col­lege when they were both liv­ing in Los An­ge­les that their ro­mance be­gan to blos­som. “The great part about how we met is that we were strictly friends first, so we had a lot in com­mon and es­tab­lished an amaz­ing friend­ship be­fore we did start dat­ing,” con­firms Nick. For their first out­ing, which he ad­mits Hay­ley prob­a­bly did not re­al­ize was an of­fi­cial date, he took her to an evening event at a lo­cal horse-rac­ing track, as he was work­ing in the busi­ness at the time. “We made a few bets, had some drinks, and to this day, it was prob­a­bly one of the best dates we have ever been on to­gether!” he as­serts.

As their re­la­tion­ship con­tin­ued to grow, an un­cle of Nick’s men­tioned he knew a great jew­eler in Chicago. Once he was ready to pro­pose, the hope­ful groom-to-be ex­plained the de­sign he wanted over the phone to his un­cle and flew to the “Windy City” for a week­end trip. “I def­i­nitely rec­om­mend work­ing with some­one you re­ally trust to help find the right ring,” Nick ad­vises.

Once the ring was in his pos­ses­sion, Nick waited for the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to ask his beloved to marry him – the Steele fam­ily’s an­nual New Year’s Eve party at their win­ter home in Mon­tana. “He took me out­side in nine-de­gree weather at 11:13 p.m. and got down on one knee. It was a mo­ment I will never for­get,” Hay­ley muses.

Find­ing a venue was easy, as the cou­ple se­lected a Santa Bar­bara re­sort where they had fallen in love years prior. As an in­te­rior de­signer, the bride had a strong vi­sion when it came to work­ing with her plan­ner on the de­sign of the big day. Nick, on the other hand, chose to keep his fo­cus pri­mar­ily on the food and bev­er­ages. “I just re­ally wanted her to be happy and have what she wanted,” af­firms the groom.

Elect­ing not to have a “first look,” Nick did not see his bride in her ex­trav­a­gant mer­maid gown with cas­cad­ing pearls along the edge of the open back un­til she walked down the aisle to­wards him. “I will never lose that men­tal im­age and the big smile on her face,” he di­vulges. Yet that still did not match the feel­ing after they were pro­nounced hus­band and wife. “It was al­most like time stood still for a few min­utes,” Nick re­veals. “We looked at each other and couldn’t be­lieve how happy we were to be of­fi­cially mar­ried. It’s an awe­some feel­ing to know that your best friend is now your wife.”

Hay­ley hand­picked ev­ery­thing un­der the re­cep­tion tent, in­clud­ing the crys­tal chan­de­liers, plush chairs, and lush ta­blescapes. “I wanted a clean, fresh, el­e­gant, and con­tem­po­rary look,” she ex­plains. The Hid­den Gar­den helped her to achieve this de­sign with ar­range­ments of snowy white blooms ac­cented with glim­mer­ing vo­tive can­dles that pro­vided a warm, ro­man­tic am­bi­ence. The head ta­ble, show­cas­ing an el­e­gant glass top with pear-shaped crys­tals along the bor­der, fea­tured sim­i­lar cen­ter­pieces. A smaller ver­sion of the head ta­ble held the gor­geous vanilla bean cake adorned with gold de­tail. Al­though the cen­ter­pieces were stun­ning, the mod­ern vi­sion of the bride was par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent through sta­tionery – es­pe­cially the fact that it was not on pa­per. In­vi­ta­tions and place cards were made of Lucite, which also tied into the ghost chairs at the cer­e­mony.

For cou­ples who in­tend to host a des­ti­na­tion wed­ding, the groom ad­vises them to ar­rive early. He and Hay­ley trav­eled from the San Fran­cisco Bay Area to Santa Bar­bara the Tues­day be­fore their Satur­day nup­tials, which al­lowed them to share some alone time be­fore their guests be­gan to ar­rive. “We were able to re­lax and set­tle in in­stead of feel­ing rushed and over­whelmed by ev­ery­thing we had to get done in the days prior to the wed­ding,” notes Nick. The bride rec­om­mends: “En­joy your­self and sa­vor every mo­ment, even the tiny ones. You will re­mem­ber all the lit­tle things lead­ing up to the big day.”

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