From the Brides Feature:
When it came to wedding planning, they briefly considered a destination wedding. Ultimately, the pair decided to keep it closer to home: at the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara, to be exact. Picking the venue was the easiest part of planning. “I had reached out to a few places prior, but as soon as I came across to Hotel Californian, it was the one I was most drawn to and knew it was where we had to have our wedding,” Eva remembers. “My friends even said it was very me. I say ‘me’ because Bobby was very easygoing in the planning process—meaning whatever I liked, he usually liked too! Bless his soul.”
The venue had other advantages, too. “It was right on the beach and felt like a Mediterranean paradise,” Eva says. “Our families said the architecture of the hotel reminded them of Greece, which is where we had originally planned to host our wedding! We also liked how convenient it was for us to get there from LA.” It was the perfect setting for her vision: “Clean, classic, timeless, and elegant, with all the white flowers,” Eva says. “I remember telling our wedding planner, ‘No gold, and nothing rustic or boho.’ Both are just so overdone, in my opinion. I didn’t want to look back on our wedding day and think of the theme as a trend at the time.” Instead, they opted for a chic black-and-white palette with emerald accents.
Eva and Bobby said “I do” on August 7, 2021, in front of 86 guests. Though she admits planning was “stressful at times,” Eva was grateful for the help of planner Tyler Speier. “Tyler and his team made everything as seamless as possible,” she says. “Always a few steps ahead, and just so knowledgeable about the planning process and weddings in general.”
Read on to peruse all the pretty, as planned by Tyler Speier Events and photographed by Natalie Bray.
When it comes to beauty, “I’m a less-is-more kind of girl,” Eva says, so she didn’t want to make a bold statement with any particular element of her look. “I rarely wear makeupin my day-to-day, so I didn’t want to look like a different person on my wedding day,” she adds. She can’t even quite remember what nail color she opted for. “I either had OPI’s Funny Bunny, or something very similar," says the bride. She finished with a spritz of Glossier You.
“I had tried on so many dresses, to the point where I was ready to give up,” Eva remembers about gown shopping. “The dresses I had tried on prior to finding the one were either a definite no; ones that I liked, but didn’t love; or just had certain details that I liked.” Then, another stylist happened to walk through her appointment at Lovella Bridal with a corset-top Berta sheath dress with floral beading. “The moment I tried it on, I knew it was the one!” Eva says. “It hugged my body perfectly and definitely had the wow factor the others were lacking. We added an Ines Di Santo overskirt to complete the look.”
Her final fitting presented a bit of a surprise, Eva remembers with a laugh. “This may be TMI, but I literally gave birth a month prior to going wedding dress shopping. It was the first thing I did before doing anything else wedding-related; my mom was in town, so I was just eager to start looking. I had been breastfeeding, so I kept a bra on while trying on dresses.” Eva continues, “The great thing was, the bra gave me a little lift, in addition to the natural lift I had from breastfeeding. I was so surprised by how nice my boobs looked in every dress I tried on. By the time our wedding came around, I had stopped breastfeeding and was back to my normal cup size—small. I was so sad when I was doing my fitting and there was so much space between my boobs and the dress that was once so nicely filled out!” But, there was still no question: The dress was perfect.
“I wanted to keep accessories to a minimum since my dress had so much detailing,” Eva explains. “The only jewelry I wore, other than my engagement ring and wedding band, were drop earrings that I had a small business owner on Etsy, My Distinct Designs, custom make. I wanted to incorporate some green that would match Bobby’s look.” The bride loves supporting small business, as she’s a small business owner herself: She runs a sustainable athleisure brand, Eva.
Each bridesmaid wore a black dress of her choosing. “I sent my bridesmaids a few sites for guidance, and let them choose their own,” Eva says. “I didn’t want to choose a dressthat I liked, but knew one of my bridesmaids wouldn’t. I also liked the idea of a little contrast.”
“It seems like the boys had pretty chill day,” Eva says with a laugh. “They started getting ready an hour before they needed to be ready—whereas the girls started getting ready at what seemed like the crack of dawn! They hit the pool in the morning, had beers, and basically chilled until it was time to get ready. Just another Saturday for the boys.”
“Bobby was pretty adamant on not wearing the traditional black,” Eva remembers. “I liked the idea of green to match the greenery in our florals.” He opted for an emerald tux by Suitsupply and added a couple of meaningful accessories. “He had on Alexander McQueen cufflinks that I had gifted him, and an IceLink watch that he had gifted himself.” The final touch? A splash of Creed Aventus cologne.
“We went back and forth,” Eva remembers about doing a first look. “Although we wanted that special moment of him seeing me for the first time while walking down the aisle, it felt more special being just the two of us. We also wanted to be able to join our guests for cocktail hour."
Ultimately, they were happy they did it. “It was just the two of us. We were both emotional, and even though I had been pretty stressed with planning and being a new mom leading up to the wedding, all those anxious thoughts went away in that moment,” Eva says. “Even with the photographers and videographers around, it truly felt like it was just the two of us in that moment. We were also able to bring in our daughter and dog for photos immediately after, which was the only opportunity for us to capture this moment as a family.”
In fact, their baby daughter, Mila, had an important role in the wedding. “The flower girl’s attire was special to me as it was my daughter!” Eva says. “I tried really hard to find a dress for her similar to mine, but ended up putting her in a little lacy dress with a matching headband and slipper-like shoes.” She found the look at Jolanta Diciu Dress Design on Etsy.
As for the ring bearer’s attire, “I let his mom take the reins; I was surprisingly not too worried about this detail,” Eva says. “I guess because a baby can really make anything look cute.”
“I wanted the groomsmen to look super classic—all black and white,” the bride says. “Luckily, Bobby let me take charge on this one. Otherwise, I’m afraid he would’ve wanted them in a color too, which I would not have wanted.”
“Deciding on the small details that no one thinks about” was the toughest part of planning for Eva. “I’m a people-pleaser, so I overthought the guest experience from time to time. Sometimes, I had to remind myself that this was our day, and no one else’s.” Looking back, she’d advise other couples not to worry like she did. “Don’t think too much into the small details—because if you didn’t think of it before, most people probably won’t notice either!”
“The ceremony took place in a black-and-white-tiled courtyard, so the florals were clean, lush, and bright white,” Eva describes. “The aisle was lined with a lush white florals including hydrangeas, roses, ranunculus, carnations, and tulips. The deconstructed arch was created with vines, textured greenery, and white roses, tulips, hydrangeas, carnations, and ranunculus.”
The groom’s parents and grandmother entered first, to the tune of Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me”; next came the bridal party to “Your Song” by Elton John. But, when it was time for Mila to make her grand entrance as flower girl, things didn’t go quite as planned.
“We had Mila and the ring bearer come down the aisle in remote-controlled G-wagons, which were controlled by two of the groomsmen,” Eva says. “When it was Mila’s turn, the groomsman accidentally steered her in the wrong direction so she ended up crashing into the flowers along the aisle! In the videos and photos we have from this moment, you just see our guests in the background with their jaws dropped, and Mila completely unfazed. Tyler, our planner, swiftly steered the car back onto the aisle. Our groomsman felt bad, but it was honestly the cutest and funniest moment of the night.”
After the laughter died down and things got back on course—literally—Eva entered with her father as Ellie Goulding’s “How Long Will I Love You” played. She carried a bouquetof white playa blanca roses, white orchids, ranunculus, astilbe, and dusty miller.
Santa Barbara-based officiant Patrice Handley performed the ceremony, which included poems dubbed “The Soulmate” and “Love is Friendship Caught on Fire.”
“We went with traditional vows,” Eva says. "We did write personal statements for each other that were read during our ceremony," she adds.
“You’ve Got the Love” by Florence + the Machine set a celebratory tone as the newlyweds kissed and recessed down the aisle.
The newlyweds took a few moments to capture photos with each other and their wedding party before heading to the reception.
Guests enjoyed an outdoor cocktail hour with sips of the duo’s two signature cocktails. The EvaMelon featured Belvedere, fresh watermelon and lime juice, simple syrup, and mint; the Bobby Smash was a bourbon smash with Maker’s Mark and mint.
Waiters passed hors d’oeuvres like goat cheese hummus with blackberry on brioche, oyster shooters, crab cakes with charred pepper coulis, and fried chicken sliders.
Afterward, everyone headed upstairs to the rooftop reception, overlooking downtown Santa Barbara and the beautiful Santa Barbara Harbor. The newlyweds held court at a mirrored sweetheart table in front of the outdoor fireplace, surrounded by a seas of white roses and candles.
“Guests dined under a canopy of bistro lights,” Eva says. “The tables were all covered in crisp white linens, set with white chairs, and white and silver china. The chargers were mirrors, white candles adorned the table, acrylic table numbers told guests where to sit, and the florals were lush and white.”
Vellum escort cards were affixed to a white wall; and, for favors, a white shelf was lined with mini personalized bottles of Moët Chandon Champagne.
The duo was all smiles as they entered the reception, and their smiles got even bigger as speeches were made. “Our families’ toasts were given in Chinese and Bulgarian, which were translated by my sister—the maid of honor—and Bobby,” Eva says. “It was special because some of our guests’ first language is not English, so everyone in the room was able to understand what was being said and get a good laugh.”
DJ Gavin Roy spun Daniel Caesar’s “Best Part” as Eva and Bobby danced their first dance as newlyweds. Later, Eva danced with her dad to “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, and Bobby selected a Bulgarian song—“I Was for You” by Lili Ivanova—for his mother-son dance.
Dinner began with a kale salad with poached pear and candied pepitas, and tomato and burrata with pine nut relish. For their main course, guests choose California lamb with cauliflower, halibut with squash and potato latkes, or mushroom risotto.
The three-tier wedding cake was adorned with white blooms to complement the reception florals. Inside was lemon butter cake with sweet raspberry preserves and lemon mousseline. But dessert didn’t end with cake. Waiters served tray-passed cake pops, milkshake shots, and mini mint chocolate ice cream bars dipped in chocolate.
The dance floor was an international affair. “Since Bobby is from Bulgaria, both American and Bulgarian music was played at the reception,” Eva says. Another highlight? “Our photo booth was a hit! It was a nice activity to have aside from dinner and dancing. Shoutout to the iconic MirMir for making everyone look flawless in their photos.”
When it was all over, the newlyweds—and new parents—got a well-deserved break on a romantic honeymoon in Bora Bora.
VENUE Hotel Californian
PLANNER Tyler Speier Events
OFFICIANT Patrice Handley
BRIDAL GOWN DESIGNER Berta; Ines Di Santo
BRIDAL SALON Lovella Bridal
BRIDE’S JEWELRY My Distinct Designs
BRIDE’S SHOES Badgley Mischka
BRIDE’S HAIR & MAKEUP Sharon Y Park
GROOM’S ATTIRE Suitsupply
GROOMSMEN’S ATTIRE Men’s Wearhouse
FLOWER GIRL’S ATTIRE Jolanta Diciu Dress Design
RINGS Kristofs Jewelers
FLORAL DESIGN Tyler Speier Events
SIGNAGE K Designs
GUEST BOOK The Knot
MUSIC Gavin Roy Presents
RENTALS Town & Country Distinctive Event Rentals & Services
CATERING Hotel Californian
PHOTO BOOTH MirMir
FAVORS Personal Wine
PHOTOGRAPHY Natalie Bray
VIDEOGRAPHY Natalie Bray