A Chic Safari-Themed Wedding at the Santa Barbara Zoo

“We wanted a wedding that was more fun than serious,” says Erin Moy, describing how she and her husband, Nicholas Vik, decided to get hitched at the Santa Barbara Zoo, surrounded by squawking, howling creatures great and small. And indeed, this past May when the couple said “I do,” a very good time was had by all—regardless of species. The ceremony, in the zoo’s dramatically verdant palm court, was interrupted by enthusiastic roars from a nearby lion. “It was pretty memorable,” Erin says. During the cocktail hour that followed, guests were able to hand-feed giraffes and socialize with flamingos, or “flamingle,” as the newlyweds called it.

Despite all the wildlife, the event was also seriously elegant. “We thought it would be fun and a little silly to have everyone be in black tie at the zoo,” says Erin, the CEO of her family skin-care brand DNAEGF Renewal, who wore a sophisticated, high-necked Alexander McQueen gown. That formality “helped shape the tongue-in-cheek vintage safari vibe we ended up with.” In fact, the bride looked to photographs from her great- grandparents’ honeymoon for aesthetic inspiration. “They went on safari, and the pictures from that trip were always the coolest thing in the world to me,” she explains. Naturally, she and Nick—the business manager at a tech start-up focused on baby boomer retirement—continued the family tradition by heading to Tanzania for their own post-nuptials adventure.

From all accounts, the wedding was a wild ride itself. Keep reading to see Erin and Nick's supercool celebration, as photographed by Lacie Hansen, designed by Jenn Sanchez, and coordinated by Rincon Events.

Erin grew up visiting Santa Barbara and always knew she wanted to marry there. But the question was where? “We wanted a venue that was a bit different, so I proposed the zoo! Thankfully, Nick loved it,” she says. The zoo is set on 30 acres of gardens, which inspired the day’s floral elements as well as the bride’s dress. She also loved how its high collar reminded her of a Chinese cheongsam.

The couple stuck to white and green color palette to coincide with their outdoor venue. "I didn't want to make it too busy with the different bridesmaids dresses," Erin says. "Jenn Sanchez, our florist and designer, made the bouquets beautiful and elegant while making them look natural and free, which played perfectly with our safari vibe."

The groom wore a Isaia tuxedo featuring a white dinner jacket with peak lapels, which he paired with custom gold-and-jade stud and cuff link set (a wedding gift from Erin). He also added colorful socks and elegant velvet slippers. But the groom's most notable accessory? The personalized sticker on his dress shirt!

The bride let her bridal party choose their own dresses with metallic touches. “My friends have such distinct, amazing styles, and I wanted their looks to reflect their individual personalities, which are so important to me,” she says.

"Our look was classic, fun, and irreverent," describes the bride about their wedding day vibe. They accomplished this look with a natural color palette with unique accents, like palm leaves on the ceremony program.

The ceremony took place in the zoo's palm court, which is framed by two statement trees. The couple used this as a central location for their ceremony arch and decorated the rest of the space with bentwood chairs from Found Rentals and wicker baskets and terra cotta pots filled with flowers. "It looked like they were growing out of every basket and pot there," says the bride.

The couple were married in a ceremony officiated by Pastor Bill Crawford, whom they met with for a year prior. "We couldn’t decide between opting for more traditional vows or writing our own, so we compromised by writing notes to one another which the officiant then read aloud as part of the ceremony," Erin explains. They also personalized the script by having a string quartet play the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" for their recessional.

After the ceremony, everyone had time to explore the zoo, and even had a chance to take photos while feeding a giraffe.

Guests found their seating assignments on a large display (by Underwood LetterPress) that featured illustrations from around the zoo.

Nick wanted to dine under the stars, while Erin was set on a tent. They compromised with a clear covering paired with beautiful draping and plenty of greenery accents.

Inside, the space was filled with a trellis of greenery and hanging chandeliers up above and long dining tables below. Each table was topped with graphic-printed plates, terrariums, and linen napkins.

The bare tabletops were lined with petite floral arrangements (and palms!) in vessels of all shapes and sizes.

Designer Jenn Sanchez brought in wicker and leather rentals to create a safari vibe in the lounge areas in and around the dinner tent. There were even a few vintage suitcases inside to really solidify the theme (in a retro-chic way).

"Nick and I really wanted a family-style dinner at the large communal tables because we wanted all of our friends and family to get the chance to meet and talk since we had guests coming from all over the world," Erin explains. The menu consisted of panzanella salad, cedar plank salmon, mushroom risotto, and short rib (that Erin says guests are still raving about!).

The couple’s cake was made of two frosted tiers with two seminude layers in between. Of course, it was also dressed up with flowers by Jenn Sanchez.

The Lucky Devils Band played tunes that guests of all ages would enjoy. “They did such a good job of mixing it up,” says Erin. “I saw my parents dancing to a cover of ‘No Diggity’!”

The party ended up stretching on until 2 a.m., with an after-party at a wine tasting room on Santa Barbara Pier. The bride, thinking of the next day’s 9 a.m. call time for brunch, admits she was one of the first to turn in. “We had In-N-Out delivered, so I ate two cheeseburgers and fell asleep,” she says with a laugh. “Even my parents outlasted me!”

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