Wanting to keep the focus on why they were getting married, rather than how they were getting married, Megan and Zsolt first determined the things they couldn’t live without on their wedding day – a ceremony, dinner, and Zsolt’s parents being there – and cut out everything else. As cost also played a huge part in their planning and decision making process, the couple chose to keep their actual wedding day guest list to immediate family only, and celebrated their nuptials with friends and extended family at an informal beach party the next day.

A big thank you to Annie Hall for generously sharing Megan and Zsolt’s wedding day photos with us.

intimate santa barbara wedding


Megan, 26 & Zsolt, 29

Santa Barbara, CA

Wedding Date: June 6, 2014

Number of Guests: 25

Wedding Cost: Our out-of-pocket cost for the all-things-wedding was around $11,000. We had several family members graciously help us by taking care of the flowers, rental chairs for the ceremony, and our unity tree.

Wedding Ceremony Location: Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens

Wedding Reception Location: Olio e Limone Ristorante – everything about this place is excellent!

santa Barbara wedding venue

engraved wood

bride portrait

bride walking down stairs

aerial view of garden wedding ceremony

bride and groom planting tree

bride and groom walking

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

Cost was really the main factor, and as we got further and further into the planning process, we realized that it was a perfect way to honor our family members who have been with us from the beginning, instead of making a huge, dramatic spectacle out of the whole thing. We were really able to focus on why we were getting married, and much less on how.

wedding dress hanging up

bride getting make-up done

groom getting dressed

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Once we made up our minds, it was relatively easy to keep it to immediate family only. We are still sad that we couldn’t have more close friends there, especially since many of them have seen our relationship develop from the start. As a compromise, though, we had a very informal party at the beach in Carpinteria the next day. I think almost 200 people showed up for that!

bride portrait

groom portrait

bride and groom portrait

wedding portrait

wedding portrait

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

I think sincere disappointment is a better word for this than “issues.” We have wonderful close friends, and it was painful to have to let them down. We’re all in similar positions, though, so when we told them that cost was the driving factor, it was easy for most everyone to understand. Also, our friends and extended family seriously rock, so it would have been surprising to see any of them freak out over this.

groom walking down the aisle

groom waiting at the altar

bride walking down the aisle

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

So many! It meant the world to us that Zsolt’s parents could be there. Zsolt translated the whole ceremony in Hungarian for them. Our roommate, who is my best friend from college, performed the ceremony. That was very special.

Santa Barbara outdoor wedding ceremony

bride reading her vows

garden wedding ceremony

bride and groom first kiss

outdoor wedding ceremony

What were the highlights of the reception?

The toast my dad gave was amazing. I wish we had recorded it – he did it completely off the cuff. The food was also fantastic!

bride and groom walking to restaurant

bride and groom walking to restaurant

restaurant awning

bride walking into restaurant

guests walking into restaurant

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

Staying realistic and true to our priorities.

restaurant reception table setting

antipasto platter

pouring wine

restaurant wedding reception

guests at restaurant wedding reception

restaurant wedding reception

bride wiping away tears at reception

bride giving speech

restaurant wedding reception

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Just think about the things you can’t live without, and cut everything else. For us, we knew we had to have a ceremony, a dinner, and Zsolt’s parents absolutely needed to be there. That was pretty much it, and drove all our decisions.

bride and groom kissing at reception


Dress: J.Crew (it’s actually a bridesmaid dress that I got on sale)

Suit: Indochino

Hair & Make up: Noelle from Chateau Belle

Photography: Annie Hall Photography