This Tropical Wedding at the Santa Barbara Zoo in California Included Portraits With a Giraffe
Hali and Jon met while working the night shift as nurses at the same hospital. While working in healthcare is always taxing, the couple was feeling the strain significantly in March of 2020 with all of the unknowns related to COVID-19. The uncertainties of the future solidified for Jon that the certainty of his love for Hali, and their son Caleb, was what he needed to hold onto. "The future isn't promised," Jon shared as he proposed to Hali, "and if there's one thing I want you to know, it's that I want to spend the rest of my life with you as my wife." Although Hali and Jon weren't able to celebrate their wedding until April 2022 because of the ongoing pandemic, the shifts the world's seen over the past few years made them, like many other, recognize that there's no time like the present to proclaim your love and honor that with a meaningful wedding.
When it finally came time to be able to celebrate their love with a wedding, Hali and Jon opted for a tropical vibe for their Santa Barbara Zoo wedding. "The inspiration came from our multiple vacations to Hawaii," says Hali. "No matter how many times we go to Hawaii, it leaves us awestruck by its beauty. It’s paradise every time. Initially, we planned to do the wedding in Hawaii, but due to the pandemic, we thought it would be logistically tricky all around. We found Santa Barbara Zoo after visiting one time and loved the vision of tweaking the setting to resemble Hawaii. The zoo has various themes of plants and the ocean in the background. Also, Hali loves boho themes and the addition of that style made the wedding that much more elegant. We thought some of the unforgettable moments of Hawaii are the sunsets, so we opted for a sunset color palette."
In addition to selecting a sunset-inspired color palette, the couple utilized tropical flowers, like orchids, monstera leaves, anthurium and birds of paradise to further enhance their Hawaii-inspired aesthetic. Hali adds that the couple "didn’t want too much of our florals going to waste, so we added fruits that guests could bring home as favors."
Since Hali and Jon's wedding was kid-friendly, they created a special kid's area at the reception to keep their younger guests entertained. "We placed coloring books, goodie bags, and other activities at each designated spot for the kids," explains Hali.
In addition to having a fun kids' table, the couple also personalized their wedding with a shaved ice station and a Hawaiian-inspired Spam musubi food truck. Hali and Jon even asked their guests to wear Hawaiian luau-inspired attire to the wedding in keeping with the theme. "We’re both very casual, easy-going people, and the guests really enjoyed and appreciated that part. We think it really set us apart from the other formal, suit and tie weddings that they usually attend. It was also SO fun to see our guests’ outfits," says Hali.