This Colorful Mod Wedding in Santa Barbara Included Mood Rings, Goldfish, Sand Castles and a Marching Band

There’s creative and then there’s absolutely and utterly visionary—and the Southern California beach wedding of Mychaela Miller (32 and a nurse practi

There’s creative and then there’s absolutely and utterly visionary—and the Southern California beach wedding of Mychaela Miller (32 and a nurse practitioner) and Giancarlo Silva (35 and a media executive) was undeniably the latter. The couple wanted “something very memorable, out of the box, interactive and fun,” and that’s exactly what they got with their colorful retro-meets-mod wedding.

Although they now live in New York City, the couple returned to the sandy beaches of SoCal for their big day. “I grew up in Emerald Bay and have many memories from the times I spent at the beach and park,” shares Mychaela. She grew up playing volleyball with Giancarlo’s sister, but didn’t get close to Giancarlo until they were in college at the University of Southern California. “Our first date was at a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles,” recalls Giancarlo. “What was proposed as a group dinner quickly turned into a date with just the two of us. It became clear there was more spice going on than just the salsa.” Mychaela adds: “Throughout the time Giancarlo and I dated, we spent a lot of summer days at the beach, so it has special meaning for both of us. Also, my grandparents met on the same beach in the 1950s, so Emerald Bay is truly a special place for my extended family.”

The beach wedding (which followed two pandemic postponements) was totally fun and funky in the very best way, and guests knew what they were in for beforehand, thanks to View-Master invitations. The custom invites included pictures from the couple’s relationship along with brightly colored circular stationery outlining the details of the nuptials.

When the big day arrived, the creative celebration exceeded guests’ expectations. Mychaela and Giancarlo exchanged vows at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach, California, before heading to Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach for cocktails, dinner and dancing. After the ceremony, Mychaela says, “the wedding party made a grand entrance at the beach in a vintage black-and-white school bus with ‘Mychaela and Giancarlo Just Got Married’ printed on the side. Giancarlo and I entered the park on my family’s surf- sticker-covered vintage golf cart, complete with brightly painted tin cans trailing from the bumper.”

There were unique details everywhere you looked. For example, a retro color-changing mood-ring table assignment installation replaced traditional escort cards, seating people based on the color of their ring. Upon arrival at the reception, guests found a wall reading “In the Mood,” where the gloved hands of entertainers extended through holes in the wall and dispensed mood rings. Attendees sat at tables that matched the color or “mood” of the ring they received.

Guests found their seats thanks to custom vinyl letters on the back of every mid-century modern chair. They also discovered goldfish as part of the table decor, as a nod to Mychaela’s parents’ wedding, which also included goldfish throughout the decor. “Along the center of the three long tables were small bowls containing live goldfish, plus custom porcelain vases decorated with black geometric patterns contain- ing small arrangements,” says Michaela. Additionally, the couple commissioned custom bars that contained goldfish-filled fish tanks and were decked out with the phrases “glass half full” and “glass half empty.” At the end of the wedding, loved ones and vendors took all of the goldfish home. That wasn’t the only gift. “For wedding favors, we had porcelain vases made by a family friend, who is a master potter. As our guests left, they took a vase of their choosing. It has been fun to visit family and friends since then and see the vases in their homes,” notes Mychaela.

The activities and the unique guest experience didn’t stop there. The party also had a vintage foosball table and an art-inspired guest-book prompt. “We have a family tradition of doing ‘squiggles’ at holiday gatherings,” Mychaela explains. “A squiggle is a simple line design that is copied and distributed to the guests, who then incorporate that design into a drawing of their own. This served as our guest book, as everyone created a wed- ding-themed squiggle.”

The surprise and delight continued with a strolling magician, a custom sandcastle and even an airplane that flew over the event with a congratulatory sign. But there was one last moment of fun the couple didn’t see coming. “My parents surprised everyone (even me and Giancarlo!) with USC’s Trojan Marching Band, who played fight songs,” says Mychaela.

The food was just as notable as the interactive elements. During cocktail hour, guests enjoyed mini popsicles, crab sliders and coconut grilled cheese sandwiches. Later in the evening, in addition to two bars, the couple hired a draft beer truck with IPAs, Mexican lagers and Guinness on tap. Even the soup course got a creative treatment. Mychaela and Giancarlo served tomato soup out of mini cans with a custom label of their last name that resembled the Campbell’s logo. New York steak (a must for the city dwellers) and lobster came next on the menu. For dessert, the couple took a trip down memory lane. “I surprised Giancarlo by giving the baker the special German chocolate cake recipe that his mom made for his birthday every year,” says Mychaela. “We had several round cakes of various sizes, some with rainbow sprinkles, like Giancarlo’s birthday cakes, and some with colored shag frosting.” Tacos and ice cream sandwiches rounded out the offerings as late-night treats.

Beyond the day’s festive details and activities, Mychaela and Giancarlo look back most fondly on a quiet moment they shared together. “One of our favorite moments was between the cocktail hour and the reception,” says Mychaela. “We had a few minutes to ourselves for the first time as husband and wife, and it was special to reflect and take in the sunset before we continued the celebration. If you’re engaged right now, trust your gut and try not to overthink each decision. People likely won’t remember every little detail, but they will remember the love you shared throughout the day.”

ViewFinder Photo Save the Date
Round Colorful Wedding Invitations
Craspedia/ Billie Ball Yellow Wedding Bouquet
Protea Wedding Bouquet With Embroidered Black-and-White Ribbon
Couple Lighting Prayer Candle at Catholic Wedding Ceremony
Bride and Groom on Golf Cart
Smiling Groomsman on Bus at Beach Wedding
Colorful Lounge Seating on Beach in Santa Barbara
University of Southern California Marching Band on Beach
Shoe Shelf for Sandy Beach Wedding in Santa Barbara
Colorful Orange Lounge Seating at Wedding Cocktail Hour
Mood Ring Unique Escort Card Activation
Escort Card Activity With Entertainers Handing Out Mood Rings
Mod Retro Escort Card Display
Colorful Wall With Entertainer Hands Giving Mood Rings
Mod Retro Custom Orange Bar
Custom Bar With Goldfish Tank
Reception Structure With Colorful Chandelier at Retro Wedding
Colorful Retro Wedding Reception Decor
Mid-Century Modern Shell Chairs Customized With Guest Names
Sketch Book Art-Inspired Wedding Guest Book
Eclectic Wedding Centerpiece With Goldfish Bowls
Round Black Menu Card and Campbell's Soup Can Decor
Wave Getting Bride and Groom Wet on Sandy Beach
Collection of Colorful Single-Tier Wedding Cakes With Polka Dot Backdrop
Colorful Single-Tier Wedding Cakes With Shag Carpet-Inspired Frosting
Round White Dance Floor at Outdoor Wedding
Bride and Groom First Dance at Retro Outdoor Wedding