March 10, 2020

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Santa Ynez Inn & Knapp’s Castle, Wine Country Elopement and Destination Wedding. Wedding Photographed by, The DeLauras

Rachel and Ryan had an intimate elopement at Knapp’s Castle in Santa Barbara Wine Country. It was such an honor to photograph their private ceremony on top of this castle ruin. Rachel and Ryan intimately exchanged vows and embraced their love to one another. Rachel looked absolutely stunning in her Grace Loves Lace dress and with her customized Renae’s Bouquet. After their elopement, Ryan coordinated the most romantic picnic, for just the two of them, at the boutique hotel, Santa Ynez Inn.

Knapp’s Castle feels as if you are stepping onto a Roman amphitheater with its sandstone platforms, stairways, and wide archways. This setting truly felt like a fairytale. Everything from the golden hour sun shining through the trees and illuminating the remnants of Knapp’s Castle, to the sublime backdrop of the rolling Santa Barbara hills. This will be a place they will remember forever.

The following day after their elopement; Rachel and Ryan hosted their wedding reception with their close family and friends in the beautiful Carriage House at the Santa Ynez Inn. Their wedding was elegant and vintage, yet simplistic all at the same time!

Knapp’s Castle is tucked away in the Los Padres National Forest, high above the Santa Ynez Valley. This ruin, which was once a luxurious home, now serves as a historical landmark and popular hiking destination. It was so magical capturing Rachel and Ryan’s elopement at Knapp’s Castle, and their destination wedding reception at Santa Ynez Inn. These two locations provide an ideal rustic and intimate setting for any wedding elopement, wedding reception, or wedding photoshoot. Find out more from Rachel and Ryan’s wedding day and their love story below. 


We met just a year before our beautiful quasi elopement, just a few weeks after Rachel moved back to California from Hawaii.  We met online and instantly hit it off in person, although our first kiss near the smelly La Jolla seals was a total fail.  Thankfully, we liked each other well enough to keep trying and after a romantic sunset kiss at the edge of a canyon, we could not.stop.kissing.

It was our third date- an open swim at the La Jolla cove on a late summer morning- that Ry began to fall for Rachel, and it was after Rachel picked up Ryan at the San Diego Airport (after he’d been away for a week) that Rachel realized she was super into him too. 

Months later over chilaquiles and berries at a breakfast spot in Downtown Disney, Rachel told Ryan it might be fun to have a “Ry and Rae Party” the following autumn and after a few seconds, he caught my meaning, looked all thoughtful and serious, and then (phew!) grinned.  Together we were aligned and on the same time trajectory.  Ryan proposed in April and it was game on for planning our dream wedding.

Our first adventure together was a trip to Santa Barbara on the train and it was an amazing trip. Rachel loves how California wine country has a European feel to it and thought it would feel like a destination wedding without requiring our guests to have passports.  We both wanted to do something private and special but also wanted our closest people to feel a part of our celebration. 

Consequently, we decided to quasi-elope, with a ceremony followed up the very next day with an intimate reception with our nearest and dearest that reflected our chill yet classy style.  We were googling pics of stunning elopement locations across America online one day and came across… you guys!  I was absolutely blown away by engagement pics you had taken at Knapp’s Castle and thought “where is that place!?”  When we realized it was near Santa Barbara, well, it felt like fate.  We didn’t need to research photographers at all- we knew exactly who we wanted to shoot our ceremony and that the pictures at Knapp’s would look perfect!  

Santa Ynez Inn was the first image that appeared when we researched “boutique hotel weddings Santa Barbara” and just like with you guys, it was love at first site.  Rachel could not believe how perfectly it matched the sort of place we were after.  We are both history buffs (Rachel’s masters dissertation was on the Victorians), and so the Inn was ideal and just so absolutely gorgeous, especially the Carriage House.  After our Carriage House tour with the most amazing John Richardson, we could not stop smiling.

We both felt that we were incredibly fortunate with all of our vendors.  The Inn was perfect.  The photographers were perfect.  The Minted suite we selected was perfect.  And the flowers were perfect.  Those were the 4 most important aspects when we were planning and we were over the moon about all of them. 

We were both very busy with creative projects this year and wanted a wedding that was elegant yet simplistic.  The space (honestly, we have never seen a more beautiful room than the carriage house with it’s long center table, mirrors, and chandeliers) and the flowers were so stunning on their own that apart from selecting candles, vases, and a simple white cake, the rest took care of itself!  

We were surprised a private ceremony followed by a reception the following day isn’t more popular. It was amazing! The ceremony day was insanely special. Rachel loves classic Cary Grant movies and Ryan rented a sports car so we could channel that classic feeling, driving through beautiful wine country and winding up the top of the hill to Knapp’s Castle, listening to a curated playlist of our favorite tunes.  Being outdoors with an epic wide view filled my soul with joyful wedding feelings; the same others might feel in a large cathedral. 

Nearly as special as saying our vows was sitting on a wall together afterwards as we watched the sun go down, holding hands and laughing as a newly minted husband and wife. Having a random group of exchange students there ended up being a magical element as well; a round of applause and cheers as we kissed on the top of the bridge was surprisingly wonderful as was chatting to them as we left.  To top off the evening, Ryan prepared a beautiful picnic outside of the Inn and we cozied up by the fire pits to pick on cheese and olives and chocolate.  It was PERFECT.


  • The drive to and from Knapp’s Castle with our music blasting and holding hands looking out the window.
  • Saying our vows
  • Lingering after the ceremony to watch the sun go down
  • Ryan’s amazing picnic
  • Breakfast the next morning with my favorite girls
  • Getting ready before the reception with my mom and sis-in-law
  • Seeing all of our friends arrive at the Carriage House looking their best and seeing everyone so happy
  • The toasts
  • Watching my parents look so happy
  • Dancing with my dad
  • Meeting up with Ry and realizing we both needed to go to the toilet but didn’t want to take a break from our party lol
  • Going to the country bar afterwards and having the band play us a slow dance song


  • First look. I wanted you to be happy with yourself and when I saw how beautiful you were, I knew you had to be happy. You looked amazing.
  • Lingering after the ceremony with you. We were officially married and the pressure was totally off for the next day. I was relieved and so excited to spend my life with you.
  • My family turning around their dress on a dime after their train was more than 2 hours later. It was stressful knowing they were running late for family pictures and they totally made it happen.
  • Picnic dinner with Rae after the ceremony. The evening weather was perfect. my bride was beautiful. I was 100% confident in my decision. It was so amazing to breathe in my hot wife with no one else around.


Rachel’s favorite parts of the wedding planning process was trying on her dress with her best friend in Venice Beach, and spending a weekend in Santa Barbara with Ryan to check out the Inn and taste cake!  Our advice would be to keep it very simple— most people won’t notice every single detail.  Make sure you have time for what matters- moments with your person and the people you care about the most.

Working with The DeLauras was absolutely fantastic.  You both instantly felt easy and like friends- we didn’t feel like we needed to make sure you were okay.  You gave us just the right amount of space, but were also involved, which was wonderful 🙂  Really, amazing experience.  I was focused on having bomb pictures but you actually did so much more than that. You make our ceremony day even more special, like a fun double-date.  Wonderful experience.

Please note: One must get a photography permit in order to publish any documentation of Knapp’s Castle. For more information, please find the link here.


dress & jewelry GRACE LOVE LACE | bride’s shoes VINCE | hair & makeup SPA ÉLAN | groom’s suit TED BAKER FROM BLOOMINGDALES | groom’s shoes ALDO | cake LILAC PATISSERIE | florals RENAES BOUQUET | reception SANTA YNEZ INN | paper goods MINTED




the experience