Posts tagged ‘katie clark photographer ‘

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Elopement

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Vivian and I started to plan her intimate wedding at the Ritz, it was going to be for 35ish people and it was going to be fabulous.  Then things happened and they decided to elope, date changed but we kept the same location as she just loved the Sunset Terrace and wanted to get married there.  Just because it was now just the two of them didn’t mean changing everything, Design Visage/Lauren came and beautified my bride, we kept the harpist for the cere, they both released doves after the ceremony and Katie Clark photographer and I stayed on board.  Believe it or not for the first time in 15 years, I went down to the beach with them for their beach pics after the ceremony (normally my assistant goes, but I did not need an assistant and I had the time) and Katie got great pics down there.  Once they were back at the hotel, Katie took them for romantics, and their room service lunch order came to the room, but instead of leaving it as the room service attendant would have, I called on my friends in banquets and they brought me a small round and 2 chivaris and I had Square Root do a floral for the table for me, they also did her bouquet which was just lovely.  They then got to sit and enjoy lunch, late checkout then head home and get ready for their awesome Italian 3 week honeymoon they were leaving on the next day that one of my travel contacts organized for them, and when they were back Vivian said it was spectacular.  Ahhhhhhh.  This may just be the most peaceful special wedding I have ever done.

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Till next time


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Add a comment January 8, 2016

St Regis/Ritz-Carlton Laguna combo celebration

Well as you can probably guess, I hear a lot of really good stories on how couples met/got engaged etc, and I love hearing them. Mine involved meeting in a bar in a country I was not from and him following me back to NZ, and a ring in a box of my fave chocolates which was in the fridge, and 27 years later we are still married!! Exciting, fabulous, not really, but it’s my story so it is endearing.

Well the wedding you see the pics from below, is what I would call a fabulous story, kept me on the edge of my chair, and our planning process was even exciting, as it involved three way calls with me, the bride at the Pentagon and the groom on base in Afganistan!!!! Can’t reference their names or I would have to kill you (lol), but the bride was flown in to a base in the war zone for a meeting and the groom happened to be their consulting for the US government, a friend of the grooms happened to take a pic on his phone of them from a distance as they were meeting which is really cool, because at that time, no one had any idea what was going to happen in the future. The chemistry in this photo is incredible, she looks like Laura/Tomb Warrior (or whatever that Angelina character was) and he is just a really good looking, debonair English gentleman, that all the vendors and hotel staff feel in love with, believe me if this wedding wasn’t going to work out, there was a line of woman ready!!! So a long distance relationship started, with rendevouz in various parts of the world, India, Morocco, Scotland, I mean this is a fabulous story, and it ended up with the three of us coming together (everything is fate) to help plan two very special events to celebrate them finding each other.

So to find a location was pretty easy, her parents and some family live in the OC, but there were friends and his family flying in from all around the world, so no brainer, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel it must be with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, but we needed to do a pre-event celebration where everyone would get to meet for the first time, well ……….. I do this quite a bit and it is so fabulous, we have two 5 star/5 diamond hotels within a mile of each other, different ambiances/views etc, so of course the pre-event needed to be at the St Regis, but do we do the wine cellar (which is awesome) or a smaller banquet room that has a balcony that looks out across property, well, as luck will have it, and how often does this happen, Club 19 was available on a Sat night in the middle of the season (great for my couple but not for someone else, if you get my jist) and we got it. So the best venues at both locations were ours for a group of our size, check!

The pre-event was the grooms, he wanted a Raffles/Singapore type feel without going over the top in spending as he did not want to take away from the actual wedding event. Having been to Raffles myself, I knew exactly the feel he was looking for (it’s a very English/downunder thing, the whole Raffles/Singapore thing), so I called in Keith Laverty/floral designer who I knew would get it and could pull it off, and then be able to come up with something that would be fabulous for the Sunday day time wedding at the Ritz. As you can see below, he did a great job, and they were soooo happy. Pulling these two events together with the bride and groom and the three of us in three different parts of the country/world was not a problem, I actually do it a lot with the couple in one part of the country or world and me here, and sometimes we are in different parts of the country and the wedding is in a totally different part of the country, so thanks to technology, email, websites, etc, it’s so much easier now than it ever was years ago, which is why years ago intimate/un local weddings had to have so much time for planning.

For the Sat night pre-event, we had my fave band/Full Spectrum playing, and they danced and danced (Teri oversaw that event as I was doing a wedding elsewhere), for the wedding day we had my fave dj/Peter of Vive Ent, Katie Clark did the photography for both events, Fusion Decor supplied the linens/chairs/furniture etc for both events. We had Naples Chamber Ensemble for the cere/cocktails on the wedding day, we had a Catholic style ceremony with Father Brian, Design Visage had my bride looking fabulous for both events. My teams/family at each hotel from the office to the staff on the day helping us orchestrate both events, as always did a top-notch job, as you would expect, never have to worry about the food or service with both of those hotels.

For the Sat night event, we had everyone at the one table on the outdoor feeling dining patio at Club 19, and on the Sunday lunch wedding, we were inside the more formal/yet not stuffy Plaza room with a chandelier and fireplace and had everyone at rounds and the B&G at a sweetheart table. So between the music, room layouts, floral look/feel, we were able to create two very different events, and everyone loved both of them. Great, great compliments from everyone, including two beautiful letters, one from the bride and one from the groom, afterwards.









Till next time
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Add a comment April 12, 2014

Plaza Room Ritz Carlton Dana Point

I love this location and room, and am fortunate to be chosen to assist many couples each year to celebrate here.  They are never the same as this layout in the Plaza Room shows.  When you are 36 or less guests you can get a little creative, normally it is one royal dining table or a U’shape with guests all around, pics you will see as the season progresses, but for this one the style was two long tables in an L-shape and an ocean theme (which meant the hotels banquet chairs could also be used).  It turned out great and I always love how the look changes from when we start earlier in the day prior to sunset and then during the dinner when the candles/night light create the romantic ambiance you don’t get in daylight.

Thanks to Katie Clark ( for these pics:

I love the L-shape idea and look forward to doing it again but this time joining the tables and seeing how that looks, anyone willing to try/let me do it with you??!!

Till next time


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Add a comment October 2, 2012

Many looks to the Plaza Room, 2011

Well, this spot at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel/Dana Point is still hard to beat if you are looking for ocean/5 stars/intimacy – here are just some of the many looks my lovely brides chose for this wonderful location:

Thanks for the photo above, florals were by the fabulous Square Root, both vendors always fab to work with & have on the team.


The above pics were courtesy of the dj/Steve Shanahan using his Iphone. I can’t say I have ever seen a photographer do a pano of this room like this, so dark, but love it.  The brides inspiration for this look was a photo on my office wall from a previous wedding, she loved the airy feel of the tall calla lillies.  We used the hotels black linens and brought in black chivaris which looked so elegant and then gave a pop by doing the fabulous black & white pattern napkin, lots of candles together with the fireplace being on, voila, a fabulous look.  Then look below, same room but earlier in the day, so you can really see the detail, these photos courtesy of my lovely bride, and guess what, she never got any photos by her photographer inside the room with the fireplace on/that atmosphere before people came in, so I was able to forward her over the djs pics so she had those to enjoy/remember how fab it looked.

What a soft fresh feel/look, the photo above, courtesy of, was a daytime wedding, and when you walked in it just looked pretty, soft, fresh, and made you smile.  Exactly a reflection of how this bride was and how she made everyone feel around her.

For the above wedding (pic courtesy of wonderful the bride went with a really nice rich red linen with black runners and napkins, some tall centerpieces and some low.  Very dramatic when you walked in.  A great reflection of them, comfortable and warm.  We used a red uplight in each corner, when you have a strong color in the room you can do that to add a pop/further enhance, but in a smaller room you want to be careful it’s not too much.  We use amber a lot to continue the warmth/feel from the fireplace and candles, otherwise the bride’s ‘color’ if she wants that to be enforced.  During dinner just outside the room in the foyer, we setup the EPOD photo booth (it talks to the guests and it’s words match the guests, when they are sober it’s nice and normal, the more tipsy they get and funny/amorous, the more the words comment on what they are doing, it’s hilarious.

My bride for the above wedding wanted her color/theme to be Tiffany Blue  but she was a lovely elegant woman and I knew we had to watch how much we used the color and where.  It’s a hard color for flowers so we stuck with champagnes/ivory/blushes which is a very romantic palette,  Instead of chivaris we covered the hotels chairs which gave a rich/romantic feel along with crystals and candles.  It was a warm/loving feel in the Plaza which was a total reflection of the couple and not only how they felt about each other, but also the intimate group that had been invited/had come from afar to celebrate with them.  Thanks to for the pics and always being just a pleasure to work with, we love him, plus of course, Nisies Enchanted Florist for the beautiful signature look of her florals/style (I knew from the moment my bride and I started talking and working on budget, we must have Nisie). Cere/cocktail music by my fave string group Naples, and dinner/dancing by fab Jeff Holmes/Moondance.  Hair/makeup by Design Visage, and a dove release by wonderful Pam with White Flite, always a successful timely release that has everyone wowed.  For the favors we went to Luisa Chocolatiere based in Laguna Hills, she got the boxes from Italy and inside had made 2 swans (the brides favorite icon for the wedding, because swans mate for life!!), one was dark chocolate with raspberry filling-the brides fave, and for the groom – got to  love it – milk chocolate with tequila inside and sea salt on the outside, yum. I had to do the final taste test due to B&G being in Texas, and it was a chore, but I okayed the end result!!! LOL. Inside the box was a note saying whose chocolate was whose fave and the description.  Nicely done as always Luisa.

My couple from above came with all their guests from Sacramento to celebrate.  A nice change to see a bold color in this room this year.  Thanks to Katie Clark for the above pics, and always being fun to work with. Alicia booked me for Month of service, but used my preferred vendor list in her planning and my advise during her planning months (two) and ended up with a great team and didn’t spend a fortune, but made it look/feel like she did.

The above wedding (thanks for the pics Nancy/bride) was so soft and pretty, no wonder it was published on Style me Pretty.  The end result was well worth the pain we went through to get the florals right on the day.  6 tables, 3 different style of centerpieces and the ceremony was angled giving a straight aisle, rather than the flat to the ocean positioning most couples choose for this site.  All these tweaks made this wedding theirs.  The wonderful Peter Papadopolous/Vive Ent, was our dj and mcee and as always a pleasure.

These weren’t all the weddings we did in the Plaza, but gives you a good feel for how that room works no matter what your colors/feel/theme, as this is a nice variation of looks/styles/florals/colors for you to see.

Till next time


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Add a comment December 30, 2011

Hyatt Huntington Beach, Vista Ballroom – 2011

My ladies and I love this ballroom at the Hyatt HB.  Just the right size, and the team at the Hyatt is so great to work with.  We are fortunate to have been on the preferred vendor list from the day the hotel opened.  Again this year we found ourselves in the Vista Ballroom quite often, sometimes with the CA Courtyard Cere site and sometimes with the Lighthouse Courtyard site.  See below for some of the different looks we saw/created this year, as you can see, our brides are so different in their colors and style, our job is never boring and no two weddings are the same, we love it:

Thank to for the above pics.  When Ramona and Doug and I started planning their wedding they lived here, then Doug got a promotion to Boston, he went first and Ramona followed and all the while we were getting things done.  Then he got transferred back about a month before the wedding.  It was a great, loving celebration with a lot of family celebrating with them.  For this one I matched Victor from Invisible Touch djs to them for their event, and he was perfect, he had to keep up with the different requests and styles of music being asked for, he was a trooper.

Please look below.  Isn’t this a beautiful look.  This was a Persian/Iranian cere I did at the CA Courtyard.  Picture courtesy of Elegant Sofrehs by Taraneh.  We have done a few weddings together in the past few months.  

The wedding below, photos courtesy of Katie Clark photographer (love her), was just a labor of love for me.  ‘My double A s’ I called the bride & groom, Alexander/groom meet Alexandra/bride!!   Too fun.  Something happened on this one when we were interviewing photographers that made me stop and really live in that moment, we had met with Katie re photography, she was the first we met with and we had 2 more appts following hers, Alex the groom normally has quite a bit to say (but not in an obnoxious way) but he was quite quiet during the meeting.  When we left he said to me ‘she is it, she is our photographer we don’t need to meet with anyone else’.  I said to him wow, what makes you so sure and his response to me was ‘I can’t explain it, but her work spoke to me’.  I think that is the greatest compliment any photographer would like to hear someone say about their work/passion, this person ‘got’ them and their style or what their eye saw.  Fabulous.  Well I did make the three of us go to the next meeting, who happened to be a fabulous photographer and I just needed to be sure Alex knew what he wanted, and after that meeting he was still adament Katie was for them, so I cancelled the third meeting.  The pics below are what I need for my blog/portfolio, but I know from the xmas card I just got, that they got the artsy look/feel from katie in their photos of them they were looking for, it was a beautiful xmas card.

This was also a wedding where I was already booked for another wedding on their date, so they met with Peni and me at the initial meeting/interview and were aok moving forward,  with me from budget through every aspect/detail of their event, vision to reality, moments, food/beverage choices, and then had Peni orchestrate the actual event on the day itself (per the detailed timeline/order of events we had all created together).  The neat thing was, my wedding was at the Hyatt also, so I was able to pop over a couple of times and say hi and get/give hugs.

Well I loved my time with the bride and groom from the wedding below, my bride was Italian and just sweet and pretty and kept me laughing.  I had trouble pronouncing her name and at one of our first meetings told her I was renaming her and called her a new name and low and behold she liked it!!  I was kidding.  From that time on, each vendor we met and I would say her real name she would correct me and want them to call her the name I gave her.  Cracked me up.  One night we sat in the office while on her IPAD she showed me where they were going on their honeymoon and by using the google earth or whatever it was we were able to actually see the sand/clearness of the water and feel like we were there.  So then we got suckered in and I took her via IPAD to my home in New Zealand, the street I grew up on, my parents houses, and then we ‘drove’ around my neighbourhood where I was suprised to see how many of my neighbours have pools in their yards!!!  That was when it became scary and I decided maybe the internet/computer age has gone a bit far and privacy really is a thing of the past.  Good for honest/usefeul/normal research, but that is where it should stay, right!!  Anyway, she loved butterflies, so we incorporated them into everything but to where it was just right/not too much (no butterfly release tho, have yet to see a ‘good’ one, doves no problem), we had so much fun taking the words (I have all couples I am starting from the beginning with use words to describe what they want their guests to feel or what they want to feel when they see their event in pictures) and making them a reality.  Thought we were done, and suddenly a week before the event the groom said to me, Lisa she really hates those drapes in that room what can we do, the only thing we can do is drape the room I said, so drape it we did.  It looked fabulous, first time I have since the hotel opened seen anyone drape here, we do it further south a lot, just don’t seem to get the op here, so I was thrilled with the end result and so were they.  Also this cake exceeded the amount alloted in the package, so they did have to pay more to get more tiers and the look she wanted, but it was worth it, it was a stunner.    Thanks to for the photos, great working with Jeff Holmes/Moondance dj as always and linens/dancefloor/draping, chairs were all thru my good friends at Fusion Linens, never any suprise charges to get things done when they need to be done, and you will notice we also added some seating areas on each side of the cake table which were well utilized once the dancing began and people started moving around and chatting.

You will be noticing that I set this ballroom up a lot where the couples table and the cake are centered and most of the time my couples table is against the service wall looking towards the window – I really don’t see why you should be facing a wall but some of my couples want the windows behind them.  By setting the room this way, all guests are as close to you as each other, nothing is off to the side missed by some or seemingly not important.  Also I had started doing it towards the end of last season for some weddings, but it seemed this year all the brides loved the flat hang fold napkin, very clean/elegant looking,  so you will notice that is the fold used in the majority of the photos I am posting of some of my 2011 weddings.  It’s these little things that each year can be different/make a difference.

Above are just a sampling of the weddings we did in the Vista ballroom, there were quite a few more.  It seems a lot of the lunch time weddings tend to use the hotels standard linens/chairs and are a little lighter with florals/color, whereas all the weddings above were evening, so those weddings tend to want to create a complete environment.  What you think the couples above spent and what they actually did spend, will suprise you.  It’s all about us using the right vendors to match the couples style and budget and that is where I really get to have fun working out who that team should be and then guiding you along the way.

Again, thanks to the wonderful team at the Hyatt HB who we love working with, from the team in the office, Cheryl, Jessica, Sarah, Mark and the wonderful assistants Jamie and Cathleen, all headed by Nancy, to the banquet team we work side by side with on the wedding day, headed by Glenn (who I have known for around 20 years,  he is the banquet manager and very seasoned from a variety of properties in S CA and really leads the team by example),  the great banquet captains as well as the banquet staff/servers and bartenders (headed by Javier who is excellent) some of who we have worked there with from day one when the hotel opened.  Really really nice team, all there to ensure the success of your event, and of course Hyatt style, service and amenities, not to mention, the wonderful location of the hotel for visitors to S Ca but also locals that go to the beach but never wander across the street to the hotel that looks so nice!!

Till next time


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Add a comment December 26, 2011

Pavilion Ballroom/Ritz-Carlton-Laguna, two days, two different looks

I had the fun recently to have two weddings in two days in the same room and also got to work both weddings with the easy to work with photographer, Katie Clark.  Love her.

So here are some pics to show how one room can look so different, all based on what you bring in/do with rentals, colors,  or what a location provides:

The tabletops:

The ballroom, two top are one wedding, two bottom are the other:

So no rights, no wrongs, just what is right for you, it all looks beautiful.

As always, thanks to my lovely ladies Teri and Peni that are my left and right hands and my bride’s love them!! And to the ladies and gentlemen of the fabulous Ritz Carlton Laguna who we love.  Eryin Choi as always did a fabulous job and what a fun tasting we had with Scott and Gloria!!!

Till next time


Add a comment November 8, 2010






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