Archive for December 21st, 2011

Ritz-Carlton Laguna wedding

Each year I have a couple who are looking for something different than a hotel wedding celebration, yet when I am walking/talking them through what they believe they want/are looking for for their guests to experience, I always come back to the same thing, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel has what they are looking for, they just don’t realise it.

This couple and all the guest came from NY.  I did not realise before we got going that they had actually come over and looked at every hotel/location (including the Ritz) they could think of but not found what they wanted, so thus when they got home the mother of the groom decided they needed help as they knew they wanted the wedding here on the West Coast.

Mom called me (found me on line), we chatted, they wanted exclusive, maybe an estate (I then explained to her the possible pitfalls of going that route), all outdoors (we have a 10pm outside noise ordinance in most places so that can mean relocating the rest of the party/more expense etc) and their group size could be 120ish.  After chatting, she had the groom  call me, we chatted, and then the process began.  I started sourcing ideas/websites for them to look at for estates (a lot they had found on their own, others they had not, some I had more info on which they were not aware of), but always in my mind, this couple was looking for a 5 star celebration with the reason why they had everyone coming across the country to celebrate obvious, and that is the Pacific Ocean right below the Ritz-Carlton, Dana Point.  They came out on a site visit and we visited 4 estates in the SD area, all very unique and fabulous, and one on the top of the hills of Laguna Beach – this one was perfect – a home lived in by a family that I did not feel could be in need of helping to pay the mortgage, it was italian/grand and the view was unbelievable.  Very special is the best way to describe it.  The owner was a very gracious lady who did not do weddings or allow just anyone to come and look at her home, she does a few fundraising benefits with celebrities per year (I had a contact who suggested I contact her, tell her a bit about myself and  my client and maybe she would make an exception).  She had, and we were now there looking and loving it.  The site fee was huge but could still work with our budget and for exclusivity there is a price.    At the end of the day at Sunset time (planned or not, what do you think!!!??) we stopped by the Ritz.  I took them to the Sunset Terrace where the ceremony would be with the ocean glimmering beyond, and then had them open their minds to using this space differently to how it normally is sold.  Ceremony on the cliff, cocktails on the balcony of the Plaza Room (all normal so far), but as their guest count was too high for all to be sat for dining inside the Plaza Room and that feel was not for them, we walked into the courtyard and talked about this being the dining area – it’s sheltered, feels like being in the courtyard/open area of a mansion, use lots of candles along with the greenery in place to give the feeling of romance/elegance, and then lead everyone to the party room where it’s all about the dancing/partying/socialising.

They decided there were pros and cons with the Laguna mansion – we had to shuttle everyone up to it and then to a second location for the dancing/party portion of the night, so there was extra expense there for the shuttles as well as F&B minimums at the restaurant we selected to party on at, and with the Ritz they really wanted that feeling of exclusivity and how were we going to do that at a hotel.  Well fate always steps in, we could not get a contract together with the mansion and had to say goodbye, and due to my B&G being flexible with dates, we chose a Sunday night for their event which did a couple of things.  It gave us lower F&B minimum and site fees for the areas we wanted to use, and we ended up being the only event at the hotel that night, which meant – the feeling of being at a mansion and it being your own. 

As I mentioned, each year I have a couple that like this setup and are willing to pay the additional fees incurred to the hotel for using the space accordingly, and are willing to be flexible with their day of the week/date to fit in with when the hotel is able to offer the space this way.  I already have my couple for next year and can’t wait to see that celebration come together.  But below you will see the courtyard/dining area, and then the Plaza Room  which is normally for dining/dancing for groups of 74 max and very popular due to it’s non ballroom and intimate feel.  We also rented some  curved sofas to go on the balcony and did smores on an open firepit around midnight. So for these guests who had travelled so far, it was one fun element/wow moment after another.

Thanks to Tony Florez for providing the pics below and again  being such a pleasure to work with.

After cocktails the guests were lead into this area to pick up their placecards and then make their way to the dining tables beyond:

Then after dinner we had the mom invite the guests to follow the B&G to the party room:

If you are loving this look/feel, or can tell I am the person to help you pull your celebration together whether here at the Ritz-Carlton or another location, give me a call or email.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Oh, and thanks to Fernanda Jaime as always at the Ritz, for being so patient and working with us to make this all happen as they hoped for.


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