How does an ordinary day become extraordinary?
Over a handful of hours, tiny details crystallize into a precious stone of memory that is carried in one’s heart for the rest of life. Wedding days are without a doubt such moments in time, surrounded, perhaps only once, with family and friends made over a lifetime, gathered together to celebrate, honor, and raise glasses to a loved one’s current and future happiness.
But there are other strange and wonderful moments that come at us unexpectedly with such force of beauty that we stand before them in awe. Years pass and we still rummage through the memory which is now perfectly weathered. For my five year old daughter, meeting an elephant named Tai on the raw, wild Santa Barbara shoreline at midday was one such day.
A Day on Santa Barbara's Shore
The inspiration for Santa Barbara Life & Style Magazine’s dreamy wedding shoot began to take shape when Noel Solomon, owner of Fanciful Design Co. met Tai, a rescued Asiatic elephant and learned about the work being done by the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) to preserve habitat and protect elephants.
Noel's vision became a reality when she merged her passion for helping animals, artistry and experience in the wedding and event industry. Noel’s hope was that the shoot would inspire and encourage others to include giving back on their wedding days and would demonstrate how it can be done elegantly and seamlessly.
Noel’s exquisite floral paper designs are highly sought by wedding professionals, event planners and engaged couples whose wedding and event vision comes to life through the addition of her luxurious paper creations. Noel not only brought this event to life but made a garland of flowers for Tai to wear which glowed against the gentle elephant’s warm, gray-brown skin in the late afternoon sun.
Tai, like most Asiatic elephants, is friendly, sociable and the star of any event he attends. He serves as a celebrity ambassador for his dwindling species and his presence at events raises awareness of the dangers faced by elephants including loss of habitat and poaching. Tai generates proceeds at weddings and other events which go to the IEF which is the international leader in raising awareness of the struggles faced by elephants in the wild.
Many engaged couples are choosing to integrate charitable giving into their wedding celebrations. There are so many interesting and unique ways to use stationery and decor to seamlessly and elegantly bring attention to an under-met need. Couples are incorporating new traditions and putting unique spins on time honored ones by figuring out ways to respectfully replace gifts with charitable giving opportunities.
Many feel that opting out of gifts and channelling generosity toward a social purpose or non-profit truly reflects the spirit of the love at the core of marriage vows. Donating to an organization in each guest’s honor in lieu of favors is a way to inspire and memorably bridge generosity with need. Choosing to share the spotlight by raising awareness for a cause adds layer of meaning and interest to the celebration both visually and symbolically. Sharing your story and passion with friends and family can enhance the beauty and meaning of your milestone event.
Custom Stationery with Watercolor Illustrations
The wedding stationery created for this wedding was sophisticated, contemporary and conveyed the beauty of the Asiatic elephant. The original watercolor elephant was the central motif and the color palette was minimal - black, white and gray. Black envelopes were used for both the main invitation and the response enclosure with the main envelope lined in a bold black painterly design on white background.
The main invitation and gratitude enclosure, which let guests know a donation had been made in their honor to the IEF, were square with gold twine wrapped vertically and finished with a gold wax compass seal. The text appears vertically in a thin san serif font which pulls the eye upward and hints at the wide open skies of the Santa Barbara beaches.
The entire experience of creating the stationery to both celebrate a marriage and draw attention to the plight of elephants was inspiring and an absolute honor. Seeing all the details come together in this dreamy shoot with the intention to encourage others to give back is something I will never forget.
Whether your wedding, anniversary or birthday celebration style is traditional or non-traditional, integrates long held cultural or religious beliefs or strikes a sweet spot somewhere in between it’s sure to be a day of heart swelling extraordinariness.
Venue: Dos Pueblos Ranch Private Beach | Wedding Dress: Allure Bridals | Photography (SBLS cover and Tai on beach): Full Frame Fotos | Photography (stationery): Michelle Castle of Honey Paper | Florals: Margaret Joan Florals