When you embody the coastal California lifestyle, it likely will guide the vision for your wedding. That’s the story for Helen Anda, a director at Skylight Studios, and James Eichner, a co-founder of a sustainable packaging company for cannabis called Sana Packaging.
The couple, who met in college in Colorado and reside in Venice, California, naturally wanted a mix of beach and mountains for their nuptials. The destination of choice: Santa Barbara, a seaside town about 90 minutes north of Los Angeles.
“What’s not to love? Mountain backdrop, lush farm landscape, jagged coastline—it fit our vision perfectly,” Helen says of landing on the Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm in Goleta, California. “The greenhouse offers a blank canvas to transform.”
Helen and James hired the team at Wild Heart Events to take on the planning. The couple spent many a weekend driving up to Santa Barbara for “work,” but also as an excuse to eat and drink around town. Helen calls the planning experience a “pleasure” and enjoyed the fact that her mother, sister, and James all took part in organizing details and picking decor. That, and Wild Heart Events were “sublime.”
“Enjoy the process and keep it fun,” Helen recommends to anyone planning a wedding. “We would often go to our favorite local restaurants to plan over cocktails. All of the details that reflect who you are will make it more authentic and meaningful.”
Swell Press designed the couple’s stationery suite, which features strong retro California vibes.
“Some brides might find their dress right away, but I’m glad I held out for the perfect dress for me,” she adds. She paired the look with a pearl crown from Jennifer Behr, chunky Prada heels, and a lush bouquet of white flowers designed by Idlewild Florals.
James hails from the Italian part of Switzerland, so he went all Italian for his look. He purchased his bold blue suit and shoes from designer Boggi, on a trip to Florence with his father. The couple also snagged Boggi ties to give to each groomsman, too.
“James proposed in our apartment in Venice on a Saturday morning with flowers, mimosas, and breakfast burritos,” Helen says. “It was the best.”
When looking for a venue, Helen and James loved that the orchid farm’s greenhouse could be transformed into anything. They let Wild Heart Events run with their vision, which resulted in magical lighting, lush floral arrangements, rattan lanterns, and even disco balls for a touch of glam. “I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the place settings, but I’m still obsessed with them,” the bride says.
The couple’s 130 guests—the wedding took place in December of 2019—arrived at the ceremony by a branded school bus.
We placed flowers at ground level to look wild and overgrown.
“Jaime [of Wild Heart Events] had the vision of a sisal runner for the aisle which was fabulous. We placed flowers at ground level to look wild and overgrown,” Helen says of the ceremony decor overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The couple sweetly included each guest’s name on their chair for the ceremony. It wasn’t the easiest process—Helen found herself sneaking away for 10 minutes here and there while working on set in the entertainment business just to discuss options with her mother!
Helen and James’s dog, Piper, walked down the aisle with the wedding party, complete with a white leash and occasion-worthy bandana.
It wouldn’t be a coastal California wedding without a bridal arrival by vintage van! Helen was dropped off at the ceremony location in a classic VW bus.
Helen walked down the aisle with both her parents, who happen to be divorced. “We made it work!” she says. “I wanted to have them both by my side.”
The couple personalized the entire ceremony. Their dear friend served as an officiant, and they included readings from some of their favorite writers and playwrights. Speaking of retro vibes, small jazz band, Django Foxtrot, played covers of Neil Young, Paul Simon, and Cat Power as they exchanged their own vows.
Helen says that she is so glad that they spent the time to write their own vows to make the day more meaningful.
It’s hard to understate how much our wedding day meant to us,” Helen says. “It was truly magical.
“In addition to all our beloved friends and family, we really loved all of our vendors, who brought so much support, creativity, and heart to their work on our big day,” Helen says. “I wish we could go back in time and do it all again.”
Helen and James pose with their dog, Piper, after the ceremony.
The table assignments were displayed on a boxwood wall covered with lattice work and surrounded by lanterns.
“We wanted to embrace the natural setting and coastal California location while throwing a raging and memorable gathering for our family and friends,” Helen says of the reception in the farm’s greenhouse. A mix of rattan lanterns and disco balls hung from the rafters, while linens in neutral hues topped the tables. Idlewild Florals used both hanging greenery and low arrangements of local blooms to fill the space.
In order to throw a rager, the bar was of utmost importance. The couple hired Simply Cocktails to design their signature drink: blood-orange margaritas. They also worked with the go-to local wine guy, Drew Cuddy of Satellite SB, for the wine program.
Helen describes the color scheme as “wintery coastal” with a mix of icy blue, grey, and creme. The florals added richness with pops of burgundy and orange.
The couple collaborated with Jake Francis of Village Piggery to curate an elevated European pig roast and accompanying menu, which included Swiss favorites like speck and raclette alongside local fare, like raw oysters. Then, of course, there was the roasted pork. “We still dream of the pork cracklings from cocktail hour,” Helen says.
Helen’s favorite cake flavor is très leches, so they tracked down a local baker who makes a stellar version.
The newlyweds opted for “Kind Woman” by Buffalo Springfield for their first dance, and invited their guests to join toward the end. From there, their DJ (and friend) Ian from Dart Collective got the party started.
“Especially now with the pandemic, we feel so lucky we were able to boogie with all our favorite people,” Helen says. “For most of our guests and vendors, this was the last big shebang before Covid, so the dance party is now all the more legendary.”
The celebration continued with an afterparty at The Goodland, a Kimpton hotel inspired by 1970s California. Fitting, of course, for a coastal California affair.