Archive for October 2010

Sunset Terrace/Plaza Room, Ritz Carlton Laguna-different use

Well this was a fun one.  My lovely bride Jennifer wanted to use the space very differently, and all the forces were in alighnment on her day and it worked out, but could have gone a very different way if someone wasn’t looking out for her from above.

We did the ceremony out on the lawn just beyond the Sunset Terrace patio where we normally do the ceremony.  Jenny wore a very regal gown and had the Princess Di bouquet to go with it, so the carpet on the lawn was very appropriate and worked and looked perfect.  The guests then were escorted to the balcony for cocktails, and then invited back to the Sunset Terrace area where we had the dining tables setup for the dinner under the stars.  After dinner everyone was invited to follow the couple into the Plaza Room which was now renamed the Alma Lounge for the ckae cutting/first dance and party time.  We had a black dancefloor, lots of white furniture, purple uplights, a band&dj (Peter Pap of Vive of course!!), and an Eiffel Tower  martini luge all in there, creating a fabulous hip/loungy/cool place to hang or dance.

Enjoy these pics captured by the fab Tony Florez ( as always a joy to work with, and of course our fabulous team at the Ritz that we love so much, Fernanda, Holly, Linda, Al, and the rest of the lovely ladies and gentlemen.







As I mentioned earlier, everything was in alignment for Miss jenny, there was no wind/it was calm calm calm, I was in the same space the next day and it was windy, there was no way we would have been able to do the dinner under the stars!!!

Till next time


Add a comment October 30, 2010

Bahamas weddings

I was lucky enough to be back in the Bahamas in August for a week. 

Back in 1986 it was a dream for a girl from New Zealand (me) when I was in Florida to even think about taking the short flight over and exploring for a few hours, but I made it happen, and since then I have been back about 7 times.  Most of the trips staying in the Paradise Island/Nassau area, one on one of the outer islands, and came in a couple of times on a cruise ship.

This trip we were back on Paradise Island and when you look at that ocean and white sand all you can think about is, what a backdrop for a destination wedding.  There are hotels/locations for both big and small weddings.  You can do both ceremony and reception/dinner/dance at resorts like Atlantis either inside or outside, and Sandals, the Wyndham etc, or you could mix it up a bit.  If you have everyone staying on Atlantis Island (but they can stay where they want, there is everything there from timeshare to Comfort Suites to Best Western, to of course the One and Only, and Atlantis) you can all meet at a certain time  (normally sunset) at a designated spot on the beach (further down towards the golf course area is better, quieter), have pictures done on the beach with everyone after or go to the Cloisters which is fabulous and very european looking for photos,  then go to one of the great restaurants on the island and get a private room or portion of the dining area, and then go party at a nightclub/bar in the area or at Atlantis, or do the large wedding event with a ballroom at the Atlantis.

Enjoy the pics of these weddings I saw right next to where I was staying.

If you are considering a Bahamas wedding, let me help you pull it together.

Till next time


Add a comment October 18, 2010

A good photographer makes the difference

My blog today focuses on how important it is to get the right photographer for the type of event or location you have, so in the photos that are left and become your memories, give you the best memories to hang on to.

I had a lovely couple who had a very small budget and wanted me to help them pull their event together from beginning to end.  They were very flexible with location/time of day, and this is one of those situations I love because I am challenged to spend their money and give them the same experience/feel as if they spent more, not only for them but for the guests also.  I have to get really creative and when the couple is flexible I can get key partners in the industry to be flexible too.  On this particular one, the location/photographer/florist all put their best foot forward and worked with me to give them a great wedding celebration.

We ended up at a hotel in Anaheim that has a great ballroom, nice colors/lighting, as well as lovely food and a package we could tweak a bit to make it work for the budget.  The only glich was they really don’t have  a ceremony site, they have used their driveway area which would have worked and we were planning on using.  Then I got a call from our catering person (who I know and was working with us to make it all work) who offered a field down the road that she just found out they owned and we could use it at no charge if we were willing to be the first and see how it worked.  The couple and I walked it, we had options as to where to place everything, and decided that the ‘no fee’ was worth the gamble.  The hotel provided power for the cere site (remember this is an empty field) and staff to direct guests from the hotel-cere-hotel.

Here are the pictures of that area as it sits and what we  saw:

I knew that as long as the photographer used certain angles, what they ended up with in their album and anyone seeing the photos after would never guess this was the same spot.  See below:

I had my couple met with Bob Ortiz/photographer, who I have known for many years (,  who, because they were a morning wedding and he would be able to do an evening wedding gave them a great great price, so they benefited through their flexibility and got an awesome photographer for a great price, They got the disc that they can go and do with what they want, although I always recommend you come back to your photographer once you have some $$ saved up again after the wedding and have them do your album, that way you don’t lose anything in the story/look/feel along the way. 

Now, did we hear the cars  behind us on Harbor Blvd that was no more than 30′ behind us, in the background and the trash truck that came to do the dumpsters at the hotel in the background (who knew somewhere there is a waste disposal company that works on Sats and chose during the 20 mins of our cere to be at that spot doing their thing), yes we did, did the couple, no they did not, so when they see their finished album they will only have a serene feel of the most important moments of their lives.  And that my friends is what a great photographer can and will do for you.  An ok photographer, doesn’t have the skill to be able to work fast to get the shots and ensure that the backdrop is  also the best it can be.

Till next time


Add a comment October 2, 2010

Plaza Room-intimate special celebration

I am so lucky, I have a couple of weddings a year in the Plaza Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, where the guest count is under 35 guests and we get to play with the room layout.

When I can have everyone at one table,  it’s fabulous.  The guests love it and feel special, and the staff and I just want to sit down and join them because the energy and buzz is so high.

With a smaller group your budget can be used in a variety of ways that a larger group may not be able to stretch to.  we also had two seating areas of white furniture  in the room as well as my favorite photo booth- the epod.  All adding to the experience of the guests.  If you are able to be flexible with nights of the week to do your event (and if everyone is coming in from elsewhere you tend to be able to be or it is a small local group) then your F&B minimums you need to spend on the banquet space is less than a premium night, so all around your budget and experience for all goes further.

Here are some pics taken by Allison Cotton from  Bleu Cotton Photography (  So lovely she is and she really captured this couple and their hopes/vision for their celebration.  The shot thru the door from the balcony looking into the room is one I have seen her do on many occasions and I call that her icon shot.

I will miss my Heather and Stefan, we worked a year on this wedding and it even took a turn of direction a couple of months before the big day, all no panic, and on the day, they definately had a fun celebration going, and the change of direction was the totally right thing to do.

Till next time


Add a comment October 1, 2010






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