Real Party: State Fair Rehearsal Dinner with Jose Villa

Kelly  |  April 30

Today I’m super excited to share this never before seen rehearsal dinner I designed and Jose Villa photographed. The client wanted a fun rehearsal dinner atmosphere and asked for a state fair theme. I ran with it and had Bella Vista make custom red and white cabanas for our food and drink booths. Custom chalkboard signs with custom decals were made, and I worked with Duo Events to create some upscale carnival food.

My favorite food that night was the duck confit corndogs. They were way, way too good! We also served french fries in newspaper cones and tray passed sweet tea. I even bought red and white striped ties for the caterer waiters to tie the whole look together.

For invitations, I worked closely with a paper designer here in Santa Barbara. We used hand set metal type for these letterpress invitations and Betsy Dunlap did the amazing calligraphy. The reply and transportation card were made of one piece that was perforated so guests could tear off their “admit one” ticket for their RSVP reply card.

For escort cards, I filled wood boxes with peanuts and tucked in the cards. Kerstin from Blue Magnolia accented the display with beautiful flowers in shades of red and white.

For the bar, I used Zephyr Tents farmhouse style bar. Behind it, I used Town & Country‘s candle wall to create a backdrop.

For dinner, I  used the farmhouse tables from Zephyr and overlayed them with custom red and white striped seersucker runners. A collection of vintage medicine, milk and soda bottles (that I collected over many months) were mixed with milk glass and held flowers such as red ranunculuses, dahlias, and straw flowers. Petite crab apples were also scattered about to add additional fall texture.

I scattered loose hay throughout the party to create that authentic state fair feel.  For the table numbers I made little flags and Betsy calligraphed the numbers on. They were then placed them in old soda bottles. Michael from The Flashdance spun country and rockabilly classics and totally completed the party vibe. Thank you to all the vendors that made this event a success!

Inspiration Board #21: French Countryside
Escape to... Lynton, England


  1. who’s ready to put their cowboy hat on & eat duck confit corndogs? I am. w/ @josevilla @theflashdance @duocatering

    Comment by Kelly Oshiro (@KellyOshiro) — April 30, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  2. Love the new blog Kelly, and this rehearsal dinner is brilliant! And amazing photos by Jose as always.

    Comment by Kathryn — April 30, 2012 @ 10:42 am

  3. Thanks, Kathryn! It was so much fun to design and the client was a planner so it was pretty much a dream job :)

    Comment by Kelly — April 30, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  4. New post: Real Party: State Fair Rehearsal Dinner with Jose Villa

    Comment by Kelly Oshiro (@KellyOshiro) — April 30, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  5. You are amazing! Beautiful work! I want to be invited!!!

    Comment by Joy Proctor — April 30, 2012 @ 11:20 am

  6. How did you make the chalkboard signs, did you print that yourself on there, trying to come up with a way for my chalkboards signs I bought.

    Comment by Wendy Meyer — May 4, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  7. I had custom decals made… we then colored between the lines with chalk so it has the chalkboard feel but the typography is perfect. Hope that helps!

    Comment by Kelly — May 4, 2012 @ 10:52 am

  8. [...] this state fair rehearsal dinner on the new Santa Barbara [...]

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  9. [...] There is something so romantic about a state fair (or is it just me?). I adore this state fair inspired rehearsal dinner, how can I make this happen for [...]

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  10. [...] Fair Rehersal Jose Villa strikes again. Check out more photos from this State Fair rehersal [...]

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  11. [...] / silhouette artist from Martha Stewart Weddings  //  Row 4: escort cards nestled in peanuts from Kelly Oshiro, calligraphy by Betsy Dunlap, photo by Jose Villa / centerpiece with dahlias and fruit by Amy [...]

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  12. [...] / silhouette artist from Martha Stewart Weddings //  Row 4: escort cards nestled in peanuts from Kelly Oshiro, calligraphy by Betsy Dunlap, photo by Jose Villa / centerpiece with dahlias and fruit by Amy [...]

    Pingback by Color Boards | Late Summer Sunlight | The Confetti Blog — September 4, 2012 @ 10:49 am

  13. [...] artist from Martha Stewart Weddings  //  Row 4: escort cards nestled in peanuts from Kelly Oshiro, calligraphy by Betsy Dunlap, photo by Jose Villa / centerpiece with dahlias and fruit by Amy [...]

    Pingback by Board #567: Late Summer Sunlight | Snippet & Ink — September 12, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  14. Hi there!

    Where did this event take place? I’m on a hunt for barn-type venues in the greater Ventura/ Santa Barbara area.


    Comment by TILTE — January 3, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

  15. Coquelicot. This location is no longer available for events.

    Comment by Kelly — January 4, 2013 @ 9:59 am

  16. [...] You can hear more about Kelly’s design process for the party here. [...]

    Pingback by State fair themed rehearsal dinner | A Girls Best Day — October 24, 2013 @ 4:35 am

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