After a romantic marriage proposal at her family’s lake house, Samantha Starkey and Mitchell Milner decided to plan a destination wedding in Northern California. The couple, who met during a documentary filmmaking course in India, scoured home-rental sites, hoping to find a private property that would accommodate a wedding. As chance would have it, a listing for Villa Montara—an architectural, rustic-modern home located 20 miles south of San Francisco—popped up and the couple jumped on the opportunity. And on a breezy, blue-sky afternoon in October, the couple exchanged vows in front of their 90 guests on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific.
Bride and groom: Samantha Starkey and Mitchell Milner
Occupations: Wedding videographer (Samantha) and account manager (Mitchell)
Based in: Carlsbad, Calif.
Wedding date: October 7, 2017
Venue: Villa Montara, Montara, Calif.
Number of guests: 90
Minted wedding invitation: “Oceans” (foil-pressed) by Wildfield Paper Co.
Wedding details card: “Elegant Angles” by Peony Papeterie
Wedding response card: “Mountain Sky” by Summer Winkelman (hand-cut by the bride)
Wedding planner: Katie Linter at First Comes Loves Events & Design
Florist: Meg Catherine Flowers
Caterer & cake: Salt & Honey Catering
Cinematographer: Canvas & Light; edited by SJ Videography
Photographer: Betsy Blue Photography
How did you and Mitchell meet?
Mitch and I met during a documentary filmmaking course traveling through India.
Tell us about the proposal!
My family has a lake house I grew up going to in Indiana and that we still visit every summer. This particular summer Mitch was unable to go (or so I thought). I arrived at the lake house, and was immediately sent on a scavenger hunt around town. At the time, I was thinking Mitch was just sorry that he couldn’t make it and set up this fun gift for me. At the end of the scavenger hunt I found him in the middle of the lake on a floating platform decorated in lights and flowers!
Since you’re in the wedding industry yourself (Samantha is a wedding videographer), what were your main priorities in planning your own nuptials?
I didn’t want to get caught up in the details, or to overdo it. I know how easy it can be to be upsold on so many things during the wedding planning process, and then suddenly realize you’ve lost the original vision. With that said, my priorities were keeping it beautiful and as simple as possible!
Did you encounter any hiccups along the way?
My only advice is to not wait to the last minute for the smaller details. For example, I did my programs about a month before the wedding and the blue I picked wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I didn’t give myself time to customize it further.
How did you find your wedding venue?
I originally found it on VRBO. It’s a rental house, unfortunately the owners just sold it though!
Who made your wedding dress?
It was by Flora and was the second dress I tried on.
What did Mitch wear?
A navy suit from Nordstrom.
Click through for more from Samantha and Mitchell’s wedding…
How did you choose your wedding invitation?
This actually took me a long time, because I liked so many of the designs Minted offers. It was hard to choose! I narrowed it down to my top three picks, and then compared them to my style board to see which ones worked best. The nicest part is how customizable everything is—I loved that I could mix and match to make my own unique invitation suite.
Were your invitations letterpressed, flat-printed, or foil-pressed?
They were foil-pressed. I love the special touch the gold adds.
Did you add any special touches to your invitations to make them your own?
I had a lot of geometric shapes already going on with my wedding design, so I specifically looked for something on Minted that I could easily cut into a geometric shape. And that RSVP design (“Mountain Sky” by Summer Winkelman) was perfect to cut! (Although I might have regretted it a bit when I realized how much time it was taking to cut them all!!)
How did the invitation tie in to the wedding’s overall look and feel?
I wanted our wedding style to incorporate organic movement, contrasted with simple, geometric lines. The invite I chose had watercolor at the bottom that spoke to the “movement” aspect of my wedding style, and then I chose “Details” and “Rsvp” cards with clean lines to bring in the geometric aesthetic.
Did you incorporate any other Minted elements into your wedding?
Yes! I used Minted for our wedding website, program cards, and thank-you cards.
What was the process like working with Minted to make your stationery vision come to life?
It always felt very easy. I just had to describe my vision and suddenly there’s a proof of it in my email box a few days later!
Who officiated the ceremony?
What were some of your favorite wedding-day decorations and/or details?
My favorite was our tripod-shaped altar, because my mom and aunt helped me build it!
Did you exchange traditional vows or did you write them yourselves?
We wrote our vows. I’ve been to so many weddings, and I’ve always felt that it’s more special and touching that way.
Please share some memorable moments from the wedding ceremony.
One of my favorite moments from the day was standing with my dad right before I walked down the aisle. We were in the house looking out this big window that overlooked the ceremony. It was set up in a way that I had a perfect bird’s-eye view of ceremony and everyone else walking down the aisle without them seeing me. We just looked at each other and started to cry.
Did you incorporate any meaningful family or cultural traditions into the wedding day?
We both come from families where faith is very important, and it’s a big part of who we are as well. I’m not very traditional, but I knew I wanted the ceremony to reflect our love for God. So, we took a moment and asked our parents to come up and pray for us privately during the ceremony while music played in the background. It was a really special moment to look back on for all of us!
Did you serve signature cocktails?
Yes! We did a Scottish Ale (his) and a Garden Cooler (hers).
What was on the dinner menu?
We did a family-style dinner—I honestly can’t even tell you what was served, I just remember that it was all insanely good.
Tell us more about your escort-card display.
I made the escort cards out of hexagon-shaped tiles. I needed something small that wouldn’t blow in the wind easily, so it was the perfect solution.
What were some of your fondest memories from the day?
All our family and friends from all different parts of life coming together and having fun. It’s truly something that will never happen again, so I cherished every moment!
Did you have a first dance?
Yes, our first dance was to “Northern Wind” by City and Colour.
Did you have any after-party?
Montara is a very small coastal town and there is only one bar! So we had a bus at the end of the night that took people there for the after-party. It was honestly so fun to be all dressed up in wedding attire and all show up at this little dive bar!
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We went to Phuket and the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. It was SO beautiful!
Any advice for couples who are starting to plan their wedding?
You’ve spent a year plus planning your dream wedding, and so much work and time goes into it. However, being in the industry I know how easy it is for the little things to not go as planned. On the wedding day, my advice is to just relax and go with the flow. All the little stuff that didn’t go as planned is nothing in comparison to the declaration of a lifetime you are making to your love.
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