Before they co-founded Stone Bridal, a sustainably focused bridal showroom in Laguna Beach, Anna Michelle and Chase Dustako first met in New York City. Anna was serving as the fine jewelry coordinator at Vogue, and Chase was modeling and working in the hospitality industry. While at brunch with a friend, Anna spotted Chase, and they immediately started chatting. Once they realized they were from the same area in California, they planed a first date at the ultra-cool spot Flower Shop in the Lower East Side. While reminiscing over the Golden State’s beaches and confessing their shared appreciation for New York’s culture, Anna and Chase swiftly fell in love.
After one year of dating, the couple quit their day jobs and absconded to Europe for three months. They began their journey in Dublin, renting a car for their cross-country trip to Ballyshannon. The couple checked into a quaint stone cottage retreat and opened a bottle of wine by the fireplace. After a few glasses and a round of Monopoly, Chase proposed. “It was sweet, romantic, and just the two of us,” Anna recalls. “From there, we drove down to the ocean and watched the sunset.”
Plans for an Amalfi Coast wedding at the Hotel Santa Caterina in May 2020 were soon underway. Just shy of two months of the event, however, the global COVID-19 pandemic worsened. “After much debate, we decided to cancel the Italian destination, rather than postpone it, due to the uncertainty of the times,” Anna says. “We lost countless vendor deposits in the process but valued the health and safety of our family and friends far more. It was tough to let go of the vision we had in mind, but our wedding felt far less important than the tragedies that struck around the world.”
Instead, they chose to be married in an intimate micro-wedding near their hometown in Montecito. “The planning process was far more hands-on in comparison to our canceled wedding in Italy,” Anna admits. “We were able to work closely with Kelly and Cassidy from Event of the Season, our amazing wedding planners, to craft a safe and socially distanced wedding. Every aspect was hand-selected by us as a couple, and we tried our best to be as sustainable as possible. From renting vintage cutlery to reusing ceremony flowers for the reception, it was important for us to have a small footprint.”
While Anna and Chase easily found sustainable options for their wedding details, Anna struggled to find a bridal dress that bolstered the couple’s environmentally cognizant vision. She visited popular Los Angeles ateliers but was underwhelmed by the quality and overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of gowns. “It felt like a blur of messy samples rather than a mindfully curated collection,” she explains.
At Saks Fifth Avenue, Anna finally found the one—a classic Vera Wang gown that perfectly matched the white tone of her great-grandmother’s vintage gloves. She figured that if she couldn’t have the sustainable wedding dress she originally hoped for, she should instead wear an heirloom piece that could be worn for generations to follow.
The former fine jewelry coordinator for Vogue, of course, bejeweled herself accordingly for her wedding day, adding vintage pearl drop earrings to her ensemble. Anna attached a vintage Givenchy brooch that depicted a gilded angel to her Lily of the Valley bouquet as an homage to Chase’s mother, who had passed away the month before Anna and Chase met in New York. She completed the look with gold Manolo Blahniks. Andrea Villa Hair kept her hair in loose and laidback glamorous curls. Adhering to her own natural beauty, Anna asked her 805 Make-up artist to use her own Kjaer Weis kits, so she could feel like a more dressed-up version of herself.
On the first day of October 2020, Anna and Chase were married in front of a rose garden at San Ysidro Ranch. Their guests were seated as couples, each practicing social distancing. Camellia Floral Design set the stunning florals for the event. “We wanted an organic and natural approach to the florals, so we had wild, seasonal flowers appear to be growing out of the ground,” Anna says. “[At the] last minute, we decided to add a touch of burnt orange to the florals to represent October, our favorite month. The arches at San Ysidro Ranch were pre-existing, so we were able to add florals with less waste or plastic.”
Chase’s older brother served as the officiant. Neither Anna nor Chase particularly enjoy speaking in front of a crowd, but they were at ease through the entire ceremony—even during their vows. Anna admits that everything felt “intimate, charming, and meaningful . . . exactly what [they] had wanted.”
The newlyweds were “high on love” and had a photoshoot in a lavender field, while their guests began dining at the Stonehouse Restaurant. “As we entered the reception for the first time as husband and wife, we were stunned to see Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi having dinner and clapping along with the rest of the restaurant. They both smiled and said congratulations before we hopped straight into our first dance,” Anna remembers. “It was surreal!”
The rest of the night was filled with drinks, dinner, and dancing underneath the harvest moon. The cocktail menu showcased concoctions that served as an ode to the special moments in Anna and Chase’s love story. One drink, fittingly dubbed “Met in Manhattan,” was a classic Manhattan that paid homage to New York City; another drink, called “Married in the Garden,” was a refreshing gin cocktail to represent new beginnings and their wedding at San Ysidro Ranch. The white chocolate floral cake was baked by Crush Catering Co. They gifted each guest with a personalized reusable basket of hand-selected pre-made drinks by BTL SVC, local chocolate truffles, and salted caramels from Santa Barbara.
As they reflect on their wedding day, Anna and Chase cannot help but be grateful. “Looking back, we feel thankful to have had the opportunity to plan our wedding during a very troubling year,” Anna says. “2020 was bittersweet but represented an important year of love and perseverance for us all.”