Bride: Hollis Caroline Guerra
Groom: Matthew Connor Bateson
Wedding gown style: Josephine
Wedding date: July 20, 2013
Boutique purchased: Vera Wang Bride Melrose
Location: Santa Barbara
Photographer: Kristen Grinnell, Hammonds Photography
First things first, where did you meet your husband? How did you know he was the one?
Matt and I met at University – North Carolina State University – and from the start I always knew he’d be the most important person in my life. We met 10 years ago and have grown up together through college, through traveling the world. There were times we were in different countries, I was studying in Manchester, England and he was living in Australia or working in London. No matter what, he was always a force in my life.
How did he propose? Tell us the story!
Matt and I were engaged July 20, 2011, in in Serralunga di Crea, a small mountain town of Northern Italy, where my grandmother is from. We had just seen his sister get married in Spain and I had caught the bouquet.
We were visiting Vercelli after a glorious week in Spain and a stop on the Tour de France in the Alpine village of Sestriere, Italy. It was turning into the most amazing trip. One evening near the very end of the adventures, we were walking about in the city center of Vercelli. Matt insisted I go shopping (which should have been a tip-off) while he went to the library under the guise of using the Internet and coordinating with his brother-in-law in London. We were set to stop there one night before heading back to the States.
While I happily went shopping for a brand new outfit to wear that night, Matt found a jewelry store and bought a ring! Later that evening he managed to sneak outside, call the States, wake my father up in the middle of the night, and ask for my hand. He hadn’t planned any of this and didn’t know he was going to propose on our vacation until that exact moment.
Once the ring and the approval were settled, we set out the next day with my Grandmother to Crea. My grandmother urged us to walk up the “mountain” while she stayed at the church. She told us this is where she used to pray that I’d find a wonderful man (this time, her dream was really about to be fulfilled)! Up and up we walked, Matt was insistent we find a great view. We made it to the top, and still he wasn’t satisfied. He dragged me through bushes to make our own path… I resisted as I had just purchased brand new white pants! We finally found a spot and were enjoying the view. Matt was standing behind me and asked, “So what will our next adventure be?” … “Oh, I’m not sure,” I replied, as he spun in front of me and got down on one knee and said, “Well I have one you can start planning. Will you marry me?”
That might have been the best part of the vacation!
Once the wedding plans started, what made you decide on a Vera Wang gown?
I think I always knew I wanted a Vera. After trying on several styles in my parents’ town of Raleigh, NC, I came across the Josephine. Once I put it on, I knew it was special. It had everything I wanted – halter, lace, and glamour. I wanted a neckline, I wanted drama, and I wanted to be able to move. I wanted to feel like myself, but the most special version of myself. It had to be a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime gown.
My father, who came to the initial dress shopping, said to me as we narrowed down choices to four dress styles, “Hollis, you can be the traditional Bride, the Greek Goddess, Audrey Hepburn, or the Swan. Which is it?” I said I wanted to be the Swan. So the Josephine it was! My mother-in-law is named Josephine and I felt it was fitting. The dress is described as being, for the Romanticist bride, who wants to embody that allure and seduction, while drifting in a very ethereal, romantic world. That would be me to a T.
How did you accessorize to make your wedding day unique?
I’m an urban legend come to life! In Altea, Spain, almost two years to the day we got married, I caught the bouquet at my (now) sister-in-law’s wedding. I saved the lace from the bouquet to wrap around my own roses and calla lilies.
What was the inspiration or theme for your wedding?
We wanted to day to be a reflection of us. We moved to Santa Barbara two years ago, so for many of our friends and family, it would be a destination wedding on the American Riviera. We had guests from all over the world: London, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Canada, New York, and North and South Carolina! With so many special people making such a trip to celebrate with us, we want to have FUN. We wanted it to be casual enough for guests to feel welcome, intimate enough to spend time with our friends and family, and we wanted a touch of European flair. I love the concept of processionals in small European towns, where the wedding party walks from the Ceremony to the Reception. I wanted to keep things simple for the guests like we were in a small town in Italy.
Santa Barbara provided the perfect backdrop for the outside ceremony at the stunning Courthouse, and our reception, at a Lebanese restaurant, provided the intimate feel plus a fun environment, complete with twinkling lights, fire pits, and olive trees… a lush garden oasis in the middle of the city.
Most of all – I wanted everyone to be smiling. I think it’s evident in all the pictures that everyone had a great time! If the couple is having fun, the guests will as well! There’s no need to worry or stress about the little things. Enjoy!
Did you incorporate any other Vera Wang products into your wedding? If so how?
A true Vera Wang Bride, my cathedral veil was also Vera as was my perfume- Vera Wang Bouquet.
Did you stay true to the Old English wedding rhyme: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. If so, what were yours?
I did! My brother actually gifted me for my birthday my blue BHLDN heels! My something old was the lace around my bouquet. My something borrowed were pearls from my Grandmother, and my something new was my Vera Wang gown and veil!
What tips do you have for new brides picking out their wedding dress?
Try styles you might not think you’d like or are not exactly what you envisioned! At the very beginning of the process, I thought I wanted a super fitted lace gown – only to realize I had tried on the same dress my sister-in-law wore! I went from very fitted to flouncy to different necklines (though I always knew I wanted a halter). I ended up with the perfect combination of everything by trying on the Josephine, which was not at all what I originally thought I’d wear on my wedding day. Full skirt, lace, halter, and a lightness that made me feel like I was floating on a cloud all day! I’m so glad I tried on different styles and fabrics. Have an open mind, have fun, bring just a small entourage with you (it was important my dad was there, too!) and when you know, you will know!
What was your favorite part of the day? And, are there any other anecdotes you would like to share?
There are so many amazing parts to that day! I received a lot of advice to “take in every moment” and I did just that! The little moments I’ll always remember – starting the day with a beach run while Matt surfed. We planned not to see each other – until he came back to our house thinking I had left to get ready at the Family’s rental estate, and there I was, brushing my teeth. No one actually knows about that incident!
Out of it all, the dancing and laughter and moments shared with friends and family. I think the most special moment was when Matt and I, just the two of us, sent everyone to the reception and we took that processional walk from the Courthouse to the Restaurant. It was a time just for us, for the first time, as husband and wife. We were both so elated and excited, giddy and even a bit nervous – like little butterflies. I don’t think I stopped smiling once!