Hotel Californian Rooftop Wedding Reception with One Thousand Paper Cranes

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Hotel California WeddingEmily and Julian originally had a large wedding of 150 guests planned at a venue in Santa Ynez. But as the pandemic continued to rage on, they opted to drastically cut down their guest list and select a more fitting wedding venue. To make matters more intimate + precious, Emily’s parents folded one thousand paper cranes in honor of her Japanese heritage, which was the perfect backdrop to their pivoted, rooftop wedding reception!

Here’s a look at their day from our bride, Emily: Julian kicked off the ceremony by walking down the aisle to ‘The Circle of Life; yes, the song from the Lion King. Each of our sisters stood by our side, while my brother in law, led us through a collaborative ceremony. Before exchanging vows, we passed around our love log (an artifact that we took from a fireplace on our 1 year anniversary), and had each person give a single word or advice. The ceremony wrapped with us jumping over a broom, a Black American tradition, giving us passage into our next chapter.

Hotel Californian is a gem of a rooftop wedding spot as it has panoramic ocean and mountain views. Not to mention, impeccable architecture for rad photos! Speaking of rad photos, Geoff & Lyndsi Photography‘s gallery is solid gold. Enjoy this beautiful Covid-19 pivot, with the design assistance from Jane Alexandra Events.

Modern Bride

orange rose bouquet
We’ll start by saying that Emily is a stunning, modern bride. Secondly, that sparkly veil is everything. One final note on this bridal look is Emily’s gorgeous, gradient bouquet. Magic.

groom bow tie fashion

Sweetest Micro Wedding Ceremony

Hotel California Wedding

floral pillar decor
There are many reasons why we love this black and white, geometric setting. Above all, it goes well with juicy, bold flowers like these from Unique Floral Designs!

Hotel California Wedding

Processional: Julian came out to ‘Circle of Life’ (yes, from the Lion King); Emily came out to ‘Why I Love You’ by MAJOR

Recessional: ‘Closer’ by The Chainsmokers, Halsey

First Dance: ‘Beyond’ by Leon Bridges

Hotel California Wedding

Hotel California Wedding
When it comes to micro wedding ceremonies, we love a statement altar. For instance, this asymmetrical floral arch packs a design punch!

Hotel California Wedding

Hotel California Wedding

Hotel California Wedding

green bridesmaid dresses

bride and groom masks
A Covid-19 wedding pivot, resulting in an incredibly meaningful rooftop wedding reception. What’s better?

Hotel California Wedding

Hotel California Wedding

Hotel California Wedding

Hotel California Wedding

Hotel California Wedding

Remember what the day is all about; it’s about you, your partner, and your families coming together. In partnership with Julian’s company, StudioPod, Emily launched a podcast for COVID Brides called Bride to Have Been. On it, she interviews brides, wedding planners, and wedding vendors to let all COVID Brides know they are not alone.

Rooftop Wedding Reception

wedding cranes
These paper cranes are meaningful and aesthetically magical! Emily shares more from their reception: Before the rooftop wedding reception, we cruised with our photographers in our 77 truck to take pictures along the Santa Barbara coast. While we did miss all of the appetizers, we entered the rooftop to see the one thousand cranes that were folded for our day, beautifully draped as both a photo and dinner table backdrop. The cranes represent a Japanese tradition to bestow blessings to our family union. Following our first dance, we had every member of our family give a speech (my dad even sang an original song), followed by the father/daughter and mother/son dances. 

Hotel California Wedding
Neutral runner from La Tavola Fine Linen softens this chic rooftop micro wedding spot.

If you’re loving this vibe + considering this celebration style,here’s how to nail a modern micro wedding!

colored glassware
Fun amber goblets and textural details from Otis and Pearl Partywares.

Hotel California Wedding

Hotel California Wedding

As we reflect back, the most memorable moment was at the end of the evening, where we nestled ourselves in a corner on the rooftop, reflecting on our day, sharing our excitement on starting this new chapter in life together, and blown away with how the day turned out. Other couples warned us that the day would pass by quickly, and we’d likely forget many moments due to the overwhelming number of people sharing the day with us. In that moment, we both shared how we remembered every moment of the day and that our micro-wedding surpassed every and all expectations we had for our wedding.


Because the intimacy of this ceremony and those paper cranes are oh-so special, let’s relive this amazing day through the lens of Jeremy Foster Films. Cant we talk about their Leon Bridges-inspired denim jackets?! Endlessly awesome.

photography: Geoff & Lyndsi Photography // venue name: Hotel Californian, Santa Barbara, California, USA // event design: Jane Alexandra Events // florals: Unique Floral Designs // hair stylist: Wedlock’s Bridal // makeup artist: Yvette Beebe // videography: Jeremy Foster Films // tabletop rentals: Otis and Pearl Partywares // linen rentals: La Tavola Fine Linen // wedding submission services: Published + Pretty


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