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Belmond El Encanto

Belmond El Encanto Wedding Photographer

Tucked into the hillsides of Santa Barbara is one of the best wedding venues along the central coast. A favorite vacation spot for celebrities in the 1920s, the Belmond El has been lovingly restored to become one of the most celebrated resorts on the West Coast. The Spanish-colonial and Californian craftsman styles provide a relaxed but elegant venue for weddings and events. As a photographer, it is truly a treat to photograph events here, as the combination of the two styles of architecture and the stunning florals provides innumerable backdrops to use for photos.

I could spend days taking photos in the seven acres of landscaped gardens which offer sweeping views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. The flowers and rare plants offer exquisite backdrops for photos of my clients. Original architectural features have been lovingly restored, including the historic, trellis-lined Arbor and Lily Pond which is the most magical spot for a wedding ceremony. The pathways around the pond provide stunning light and background for photos of brides and grooms and their families. The infinity pool is also a fabulous location for photos of the couple with the ocean in the background and blue sky above. The wedding party can also be photographed at lily pond, and the trellis is the perfect frame for large group photos.

El Encanto is also known for its Craftsmen style bungalows, which are incredibly fun spots for pictures. The clean, white lines of the cottages give the photos that true Santa Barbara feel of understated elegance. Inside, the lighting is always soft and flattering so there is ample opportunity to capture the getting ready part of the day with some great candid photos. Taking the bridesmaids or groomsmen outside on the porch for a few more candid shots is always a fun way to kick off the day. The wicker couches and pale blue steps are also lovely spots for more candid and intimate photos of the couple.

Between the bungalows, winding brick pathways curve through the property from one stunning spot to another so I never seem to use the same spot twice. And the more Spanish style architecture is quintessential Santa Barbara, so those spots are fantastic for everything – from the family portraits to candids of the flower girl to romantics of the couple. The combination of the white adobe walls, terracotta rooves and tiles and palm trees above is truly magical.

I love photographing brides with their veils, and the late afternoon light at this venue is just magical for bridal portraits. In the gallery you can see several photos of the bride with her incredible veil – I always encourage my clients to make time for a few minutes of sunset photos to take advantage of the luminous quality of that time of day.

I have also photographed smaller events and luncheons at the lily pond. The arbor surrounding the lawn area provides a feeling of privacy while still having an outdoor event. El Encanto is a truly special venue for weddings and events in Santa Barbara – for me it is truly a photographer’s paradise!