Meet the Expert: Matthew Robbins + Win his Book

November 19

Today I’m super excited to welcome Matthew Robbins to the blog! A contributor to Martha Stewart Weddings for over 10 years and is a seriously talented floral and event designer who’s worked all over the world. Matthew’s work has been an inspiration to me for a long time and it’s an honor to have him visit us here at Santa Barbara Chic (and it my 30th birthday today, not a bad birthday present by any means). Best of all, I’m giving away a copy of Matthew’s beautiful book, Inspired Weddings, simply leave a comment below to enter. Contest closes, Monday, November 26th at 5pm PST. And now, onto the interview:

What was the inspiration or thesis that inspired your book?

“The inspiration for my book came from my own frustration with the lack of great design books or material for anyone planning a wedding. Almost everything out there was geared to someone looking for an over the top Barbie fantasy wedding or generally just completely lacking in good design. I wanted to provide a book that empowered the reader to think like a stylist, designer or artist by providing a look into my own way of thinking and creating. My book focuses on my process which is all about understanding how to locate and recognize your inspiration. After finding a point of inspiration the fun work starts. That step is all about understanding how to access and apply the information you pull from that inspiration to create a cohesive design story for your event or interior.”

How did you start designing flowers? Did you take classes, have a mentor, or are you self taught?

“Flowers provided the perfect introduction to the world of special events. I worked with many amazing designers throughout my college years in Northern California and really just learned everything I know about flowers from these amazing people. Maria Giovanna Vella, who lives in San Francisco is the one person I consider my floral mentor and essentially an entertaining and life mentor. Kelly Kornegay and Devorah Nussenbaum (both from Northern Cali) were very influential as well. They all provided that initial inspiration and triggered my passion for not only floral design but event design in general. They brought an effortless, natural and unfussy aesthetic to floral and event design which was new territory for the East Coast until many years later. These amazing talents were already doing all of the exquisite garden inspired work that is so prevalent and trendy today.”

You mention in your biography, art and design as being the key to your creativity, who are your favorite artists/designers?

“I have so many favorites it can be difficult to make a short list. I love Kelly Wearstler’s approach to interior design. I’m obsessed with Marije Vogelzang’s work with food. Some of my favorite “fine” artists include Goya, Vermeer, Monique Prieto, Nathan Oliveira, Louise Bourgeois and Anselm Kiefer. The list could really be pages but that’s a snapshot of a few points of inspiration. I find so much inspiration in landscape design as well.”

How did your relationship with Martha Stewart Weddings come about?

“I was introduced to Martha’s team by my friends at Tinsel Trading Company in NY. The Martha team already had their eye on my work when I first started my business but the push from my Tinsel Trading pals really made the connection work. After receiving the nudge from my friends the editorial team at Martha Stewart Weddings gave me my first assignment which was a challenging one: create a huge bouquet story all about bringing a fresh perspective to the cascading bouquet. Fast forward many months after that first meeting and I had my work on the cover of the magazine, a huge story and Martha wanted to have me on the show after seeing the work I created. That first story led to over a decade of work as a contributing editor and I’m so proud of that relationship and the body of work created for the magazine over the years. Martha and her team will forever hold a special place in my career.”

You’ve recently started designing interiors, what made you decide to take the leap to this aspect of design?

“I decided to make the leap into interior design after many of my long term event design clients made the suggestion. This nudge turned into an actual request and project to tackle a client’s home in California. That was so much fun and it was a very easy transition from even design to interior design. I used that first project to really dive into the interior design industry by getting to know vendors, resources and important contacts. That project led to another and word started to travel slowly through my event clients. I love how organically and effortlessly it all evolved. That made it feel even more rewarding.”

What is your favorite wedding/design you’ve ever created?

“One of my all time favorites will probably be a wedding in Orvieto, Italy. The ceremony was outdoors in an open air garden space with crumbling walls and trailing rosemary. The Umbrian countryside was a dreamy backdrop for the event. The spirit of the place conjured up so many great ideas for the decor. That’s just one favorite…I have many other. I can’t say I have an absolute favorite as there are many that stand alone as major highlights. They each hold special memories and incredible design details inspired by a unique place, a wonderful client or a great journey.”

What’s your favorite type of wedding to design?

“Destination weddings are probably my favorite as I love the inspiration I find in travel. New surroundings, different traditions, new vendors and resources are just a few of the reasons I find destination weddings exciting. I love being tossed into an unfamiliar environment and working from the ground up to create a special, custom and totally unique experience for my clients.”

You recently got married, was it hard to design for yourself?

“Planning and designing my own wedding was quite the experience. It was almost impossible to detach myself from the process and actually appreciate that the wedding was not a work project. I didn’t fully appreciate the emotional intensity and the beauty of the day until I walked into the chapel and down the aisle. It was an invaluable experience to know what it feels like to be on the client side of the process.”

Thank you Matthew for stopping by Santa Barbara Chic today!

Posts for Aisledash

July 27


I’m super excited to announce I’m contributing this week to Aisledash! For these posts I thought it would be fun to take inspiration for Alina Pizzano‘s recent wedding dress collection and turn them into inspiration boards for a wedding design. You can check out the first post here. Enjoy!

Featured on The City Sage

February 09


Today I’m so excited to be featured on The City Sage! I did a Valentine’s themed table for the chic DIY girl. You can go check it out here and here.


Special thanks to Tim Halberg for photographing the table!

Guest Post: Frolic! on Styling

September 30

I’m so happy to present the lovely Chelsea from Frolic! with her tips for photo styling. Enjoy!!!

I am Chelsea from Frolic! and am excited to be on Kelly’s lovely blog today! She asked me to share a little about my thought process when I style weddings or party tables. I love everything to look pretty and just right but it also has to be simple, quick and inexpensive. Here are a few tips for those styling their own wedding or party tables.


1. Think about Location. I like my tablescapes to grow from their environments. I spend a lot of time at the locations and if I have a style in mind to begin with, I search out the perfect spot. This green and white table was inspired by the blooming pear trees it was sitting under. I didn’t want to outdo all the gorgeous natural beauty but simply play off of it.


2. Stick to one or two colors. It makes the shopping and planning process so much easier ( and cheaper!). I based this entire table around a swatch of Liberty fabric and a bucket of apples.


3. Pretty chairs are important. Chairs can make or break the entire atmosphere. Go with cheaper centerpieces and spend your dollars on chairs. It will be worth it! They don’t have to match either. One of my favorite tricks is to mix and match Chivari chairs with chairs I already own. Just make sure they are the same colors and around the same heights.


4. Anything can be a centerpiece. It doesn’t alway have to be flowers. Don’t rule out anything. I am a big fan of using seasonal fruit for centerpieces and doubling them up for favors. Helps with the budget too!


5. Make your table look homemade. Rental cloths are usually the most practical and realistic for the budget, but it doesn’t mean your tables have to be sterile. The first thing I usually start with is a plain white rental cloth and from there I add homemade runners and napkins.


6. Use pretty packaging. Not the crafty type? Don’t fiddle with cellophane and ribbons. Find favors and drinks with pretty labels that match your color scheme. Often you can buy in bulk online or through a local store. I based this entire table around Bon Maman strawberry jam and it made my life so much easier!


7. Hang flags! Bunting is so simple and inexpensive to make. Anyone can do it and it really creates a fun atmosphere. I made this one out of tape!


8. Use handwriting. It adds a personal, warm flair to your day. If you don’t like your handwriting or don’t have time, source it out to a friend with pretty writing or calligraphy skills.


9. Have fun! Only decorate with things you like and don’t feel pressure from other people to include colors or elements that don’t reflect your style. It should be an enjoyable process!

Photos: 1,4,5,7,8,9 Chelsea Fuss for Project Wedding. 2 + 3, Chelsea Fuss for Once Wed. 6, Chelsea Fuss.

Thanks for the post Chelsea!!!

Guest Blogger: Alison Events

August 26


Today I’m super excited to welcome Alison of Alison Events. I love her work, creativity, and now her new book! “Destination Wedding Planner: The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Wedding from Afar” has tons of useful worksheets and pretty pictures to boot. You can buy it here.

Destination Wedding Planner High Res

Take it away Alison:

I have always been excited to try to come up with different ways to display escort cards.  I get inspired often by the things that are in the space or at the venue already.  Here are some of my favorites….


We pinned the escort cards to a tree that was big and grand and just so happen to be in a convenient place, in the middle of the cocktail hour!


For a wine country wedding, we created a wine cork board and then placed all the cards on top in a beautiful calligraphy!


For a Tahoe wedding we used the river stones that were from the lake at the clients home and wrote the guests names on them with sharpies and then had the table number on the back.


For a Mexico wedding we calligraphied the guests names on a piece of paper, tied them to local shells and stuck them in sand boxes. It was a great souvenir.


For a wedding that took place in a barn we hung the escort cards from the barn doors by clothing lines and twine.  Rather then calligraphy, we hand wrote them so they would blend with the casualness of the display.


For an Asian wedding that wanted to emphasize their heritage, we hung tea bags off an old ladder that had the guests names written on the front.


For a country wedding we placed the escort cards in wooden fruit boxes and filled them with seeds and then had fruits cascading down the side of the table.


For a mid century modern wedding in Palm Springs we placed calligraphied escort cards on a bed of white mums.  The cards were calligraphied then screen printed.

Top image: Jose Villa

All images courtesy of Alison Events.

Guest post on Bridetide!

August 24


We were so happy to contribute to Bridetide our “Top Ten” list for every online resource a bride should know. You can check out the full list here.

Guest Post on coco +kelley

August 18


My guest post about my ideal vacation is up on coco + kelley, one of my all time favorite blogs. You can check it out right here.