When we ask newlyweds to think back on what they wanted most for their big day — and we’ve interviewed hundreds of them over the years — the most common response is: “For it not to feel like a wedding!” But in a monsoon of flower crowns and macaroon towers, how do you see beyond the usual tropes and actually pull off a non-cookie-cutter affair? For the answer, we’ve decided to interrogate the cool couples whose weddings we would actually want to steal — right down to the tiger-shaped cake toppers.
Here, we talked to lingerie designer Dakota Solt and musician Taylor Locke, who got married last June on the bride’s family’s vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley in California. The rainbow-colored dress, white suit, and five different bands — each named after different teams in A League of Their Own — were all the couple’s own creations.
Taylor: Dakota’s dress story should dominate the clothing portion of this piece. I was mesmerized by it.
Dakota: I thought I would go vintage, because I dress in a lot of vintage, but I ended up designing it myself; I wanted it to feel like me. Instead of traditional all white, it was rainbow pastel colors. My dressmaker was Leon Paule, an artistic genius, and I loved collaborating with him. Creating the exact gown I wanted to wear ended up being less expensive than buying a high-end designer gown at Saks or another big bridal boutique. On one side, there were three-dimensional pastel flowers, on the other side were ribbons. And then for the ceremony, which was under an oak tree, we hung rainbow pastel ribbons from the branches. We got married in my parents’ vineyard, which is also where he proposed.
Taylor: Design and style are so important to her — Dakota is a fashion designer, a painter, and also an Emmy-winning music-video editor — so I knew that the engagement ring couldn’t just be anything. I spoke with Dakota’s best friend, and my mom, and my best friend Lucy Michel, who has a jewelry line — it was a crash course. The jeweler was Tony David at Beverly Hills Jewelry Buyers.
Dakota: It’s Art Deco–style, with an emerald-cut diamond and two triangle diamonds that come off the side.
Taylor: We decided on her parents’ vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley as the location pretty early on because it’s about two and a half, three hours from L.A. Not a destination wedding, but people would actually be out of town at the same time.
Dakota: My parents were super involved in the whole process. My mom helped me choose the plates and linens; my dad focused on the wine and land. He worked with a gardener to flatten the terrain and create the best environment to bring in all of the tables and catering on the vineyard side. Since we already had the venue and our wine to serve, most of the budget was allocated to local vendors — Field to Table for food, Bella Vista Design for the lighting — to give it more of the true ranch experience. There were multiple parts to the wedding, but the ceremony was ethereal and romantic. In addition to the rainbow pastel ribbons, there were flowers hanging on fishing line. We had a great florist, Nikki, from a company called Fluid Bloom. We had these standing bouquets with Icelandic poppies, sweet pea, ranunculus, peonies, cottage yarrow, and those flowers sprinkled in that look like feathers, Pampas grass.
Taylor: Our friend Lucy married us. We made some bullet points but really let her write it. She nailed it.
Dakota: Lucy knew us both separately — she’d lived with Taylor for years, and I’d known her since junior high. Which is why it’s so interesting that Taylor and I never met until Taylor’s 30th birthday party, in 2014. It was a lot of missed connections over the years.
Taylor: We also wrote our own vows, which wound up remarkably similar.
Dakota: The Chapin Sisters sang during the ceremony, and our good friend Kyle played the lap steel. Then came the cocktail party; there was charcuterie and cheese, and everyone was drinking aperol spritzes outdoors under these umbrellas. For the cocktail hour, I thought it’d be fun to have actual furniture brought in, because obviously people need to sit and rest, and since we saved on the venue. I worked with a rental furniture company [Archive Vintage Rentals] and created all these vignettes on Photoshop using their pieces, so I could choose how I wanted each section to look. It was pastel linens and umbrellas and more mid-century furniture, bamboo-style tables. There was the charcuterie, cheese, grapes, and a flatbread station with arugula-fig-ricotta, BBQ chicken-gremolata, and lobster-Gruyère-roasted peppers. Delicious! We also served passed mini crab cakes, prosciutto-wrapped prawns, and a Parmesan and chive mushroom soufflé.
Taylor: And then for dinner — I can’t remember when we hit on the idea of a long table for dinner. We were walking out there one day with her parents between two lanes of the olive groves, and this idea of just one long table seemed to fit the physical space. You could then have the caterers and all the food preparation in the next lane over where you wouldn’t have to be staring at the equipment. [All About Events]
Dakota: I just thought it would be gorgeous, with big strung lights up above us. When it actually came to life, seeing everyone sitting at one long table, it was incredible. Field to Table was all about using really organic, delicious vegetables and meats from around the area as well. We had steak with chimichurri, chicken with a soy-honey glaze, and salmon with fennel, then risotto with sweet pea and Asiago, roasted purple cauliflower and broccolini, all served family-style. We provided our own wine, which cut beverage costs. Our best friends and our brothers gave their speeches there. Then we all got on these buses we rented from Jump on the School Bus, which added #DakoTaylor on the side in a sweet customization. They took us on the five-minute drive to the other side of the property, for the dance party. Which was a whole ‘nother experience.
Taylor: The reception was in the big barn, and we had draped fabrics from Bella Vista so it looked like a bar or a nightclub.
Dakota: It was a speakeasy aesthetic, the dark velvets and leather chairs and brass tables.
Taylor: I’m a music producer and a guitar player and I’ve been in bands since junior high. Most of our friends are in music. If we had hired a wedding band, literally half of the guests would have been standing there going, “This band’s not very good. I can play this shit.” Not to disparage wedding bands, because there are great ones out there! But it just didn’t make sense. So we made a spreadsheet of songs, then a column of all the drummers we know, every bass player we know, all the singers, and we created five bands to play five songs each. We named them after the teams from A League of Their Own.
Dakota: The musicians performed as a gift, and Taylor set up the sound, so we saved on all of these items. And it was so generous for our friends to contribute their musical talents to create the perfect party concert, including putting in all the time to come to rehearsals!
Taylor: I’ll tell you that this was as much work as any of the professional stuff I’ve done. We rehearsed the bands and that’s when we’d realize, oh, she’s not right for that song, we’d have to lower the key. It was an email chain from hell.
Dakota: The entire barn is actually metal, tin walls; we draped them in velvet so the music would sound good, but it also helped it feel like a nightclub. Lighting people hung chandeliers, and there was a checkered floor. I changed into a vintage Mary McFadden dress and heart earrings that I got at Happy Isles, a vintage bride shop, with a feather boa and Loeffler Randall gold crimped mules.
Taylor: Dakota said the reception should be a whole other aesthetic so I also changed for the reception. For the ceremony and dinner I wore a white suit that I designed with a custom tailor — I wanted these vintage-inspired lapels, and to make sure that you couldn’t see through the white pockets. And the second suit was something I normally wouldn’t have bought for myself — I had played a gig for Gucci and they hooked up the musicians with suits, spring 2017. [Gucci G Frame suit]. It was kind of loud, but cool.
Dakota: For the first set of the first band, Taylor sang the first verse of the Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” to me, then jumped off the stage and another singer took over while we had our first dance to it. Like, swoon!
Taylor: I was so nervous about lag time of, someone’s in the bathroom or someone’s having a cigarette or someone got too drunk and left — having dead air. But it didn’t happen. It just kept rolling.
Dakota: At the barn, we served burger sliders with fries, and smoked Gouda mac and cheese. Decadence in Buellton made our cake. There were two flavors on the tiers: The white tier was buttercream with apricot and almond, and the brown tier was dark chocolate and raspberry. Taylor and I both got our favorites (mine is always the chocolate).
Taylor: After, we rode the buses back into the town of Solvang and we found a Chinese restaurant. It was very closed, but the owner was in the back and Dakota went into the kitchen and was like, “I just got married. All my friends are drunk, we want Chinese food, we’ll pay you. Turn the lights back on?”
Dakota: We had spring rolls and wine. It was lovely.