A Havana Nights Themed Welcome Dinner
Tiffany and David
At David Dunning's 24th birthday party, one of his friends brought a surprise—a friend of hers she thought he might like. It seems his pal had great instincts, as five years later, that unexpected plus-one, Tiffany Marsolek, became his wife during a weekend of festivities at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. The couple, then based in Los Angeles, chose the location, in part, because of the property's distinct event spaces (they hosted all wedding-related activities on the grounds). Saturday's vows would take place at All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, with a black-tie reception to follow in the resort’s grand Loggia Ballroom. For the prewedding bash the night before, pictured on these pages, "We wanted something completely different," says Tiffany. "Something with a laid-back, vintage feel to stand out from our more formal wedding."
They found just the place at Four Seasons's Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, with its unparalleled views of the sparkling Pacific. Inside the club, retro peach-and-silver wallpaper suited the Havana-themed welcome party, complete with watermelon mojitos, seafood and carved meat stations, and cigars rolled on-site.
The celebration began outside on the patio with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, plus a variety of special Scotches, the groom's favorite spirit. While a Latin band played, 165 attendees noshed on papaya crab salad, hot-pressed Cuban-style sandwiches, and fried plantains. Tiffany and David—who have since relocated to Houston, where she works in film marketing and he's a strategist for the oil industry—then led guests inside for a dinner of guava-glazed pork tenderloin, jalapeño snapper, black bean soup, and ceviche.
Toasts from siblings and friends were followed by a slideshow, courtesy of David's dad, of the couple through the years, set to a soundtrack of Frank Sinatra and Jay Z (a nod to David's New York roots), and The Beach Boys and Katy Perry (an homage to Tiffany's California upbringing). After that touching blast from the past, David and Tiffany were ready for the next day's festivities, which would officially start their future.
The venue, built in 1937, is a historic landmark. More Miami than SoCal, "it fit the Havana Nights theme," says David of the welcome party.
A Beachy Display
A towering manzanita branch, decorated with orchids and peonies, anchored the escort-card table.
The Escort Cards
"We were going for a beachy vibe," says Tiffany of the night's décor, like this sand- and shell-lined tray holding the escort cards.
David's brother, James, kicked back during the predinner cocktail hour on the club's patio.
Green papaya crab salad garnished with crispy yucca was passed during cocktail hour.
All in the Family
The groom's stepmom, Susan (left), and her sister paused for a pic on the patio.
Conch shells and candlesticks surrounded tall centerpieces overflowing with Hawaiian dendrobium orchids.
The Table Numbers
Table numbers, printed on maps of Santa Barbara, and groupings of peonies, mums, hydrangeas, orchids, and shells graced the tables.
The softly shaded centerpieces included hydrangeas, orchids, peonies, plus a few on-theme seashells tucked in here and there.
Cigars for Celebrating
Hand-rolled cigars were sealed with the pair's initials, which also graced matchboxes.
Monogrammed matchboxes were the perfect complement to the hand-rolled cigars on offer throughout the night.
"The scenery was just so beautiful," says Tiffany of the venue's ocean views, here being appreciated by two of the pair's guests. The couple's wedding weekend happened to fall over the summer solstice—a prime opportunity to don some cool shades as the sun stayed high in the sky.
Location and Catering: Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club
Event Planning: Maren Parsons Events
Flowers and Design: Santa Barbara Style
Photography: Aaron Delesie, aarondelesie.com.
Stationery: Lazaro Press + Design
Music: Ybarra Music
Bride's Dress: Zac Posen
Hair and Makeup: Symmetry Beauty
Groom's Attire: Scott Hill
Lighting, Sound, and Screens: PSAV
Cigars: Mursuli Cigars