Gorgeous Blush Indoor Montage Laguna Beach Wedding

The wedding ceremony and reception details were gorgeous for this Montage Laguna Beach Wedding.  The bride and groom, (and their families) who are beautiful inside and out, spent countless hours on details that showed their personal style.  Last minute preparations for an inside wedding, including building a runway and chuppah the morning of the wedding (who says it never rains in Southern California?) created such incredible warmth.  When their video was shown, including same-day edits by www.theemotionpicturestudio.com, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The wedding couple had two choreographed dances, and they were amazing.


 Special thanks to my partners:

Venue l Montage Laguna Beach

Photography l Frank Salas

Videography I Ashley Video Productions- Mark Lehman 

Design l Design Visage

Floral Design l Jenny B Floral Design 

Entertainment l Kevin Bachelder Band


Wish Upon A Wedding for Mikela and Aaron

Mikela and Aarons love story as told by Mikela and Aaron and Wish Upon A Wedding

"Mikela’s close friend encouraged her to try out online dating. After receiving several messages, one in particular stood out because it was not like the majority of the messages, which were very generic. It was the politeness of Aaron’s words that caught Mikela’s eyes. They messaged each other, but never made plans to meet in person. It was not until Aaron came to the rescue when Mikela got stood up by another date. This last minute date was filled with sushi, laughs and amazing stories. On March 10th, 2013, Aaron officially asked Mikela to be his girlfriend.

Since last year, Mikela felt a terrible shoulder pain. At first, she ignored it but the pain started to spread to her neck and back, and then was accompanied by headaches, hot flashes and a loss of appetite. She went to the emergency room when her vision got blurry, but got diagnosed with a shoulder inflammation. She knew something was not right, so finally a few months later she made an appointment with her primary care physician. It was the same day Aaron was going to propose when the doctor found a huge mass around her lung. She was sent to the ER immediately for CT scans and was admitted into the ICU. After two biopsies and 9 days in the ICU, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer. Throughout this ordeal, Aaron always remained by her side. Aaron proposed to Mikela a few days later. Even with the cancer and Aaron’s deployment, their relationship grows stronger every day."

Wish Upon a Wedding Southern California was honored to grant this wedding wish for Mikela and Aaron on March 20, 2015 at Lomas Santa Fe Country Club located in Solana Beach, California.

May you live to 120 and be well, Mikela and Aaron.  Check out a Sneak Peek from Mikela and Aaron's Wish upon a Wedding pre-wedding photos. 

Thank you to all who made this dream come true. There is not one way to thank our partners for Mikela and Aaron, and so our team thanks you in twenty different languages! 

Stunning Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Bat Mitzvah

This gorgeous pink, black, and white supperclub inspired Bat Mitzvah in Newport Beach was amazing.  Beautiful family, inside and out, and wonderful, amazing evening for all.

Special thanks to all my partners: 

Venue l Hyatt Regency Newport Beach

Venue Manager l Kate Eaton

Photography/Videography l Ron Levy Photography  Misson Visual

Design l Design VisageGirl Friday Designs

Floral Design l Bloombox Designs

Entertainment l One Up EntertainmentEssence Entertainment - Carl Cedar Trio - Atmosphere Events

DJ l You Should Be Dancing

Catering l Blueberry Hill Catering

Bakery l Two's A Party Events  


Gorgeous Santiago Canyon Mansion Wedding

 Special thanks to my partners:

Venue l Santiago Canyon Mansion

Venue Manager l Katrina Fischer 

Photography/Videography l Lin and Jirsa

Design l Design Visage and 2CreateDesign

Entertainment l Adam Michaelson and What a Blast Photo Booth

Catering l Jason's Catered Events

Bakery l Pacific Patisserie

Rentals l Bridal and Event Lounge and Signature Party Rentals

Rehearsal Dinner Venue l Il bARONE





Ten Top Reasons Why I love being Your Wedding Planner: 

A Note to Past, Present, and Future Clients


1.        Each and every wedding renews my faith that L O V E is the greatest power of all.

2.       I  help people on some of the most important days of their lives.

3.       I get to laugh behind the scenes with dedicated professionals and cool cats who understand the difficulties and stressors of the job.

4.       I receive free self-analysis on why lawyers hire my team on a regular basis.

5.       I have the best backdrops for any job anywhere in the world.

6.       I get to use my Steve Harvey's  "Think like A Man.  Act like a Woman" skills.  

7.       I understand that moments turn into memories, and some of the best memories of a lifetime are events!

8.       I don't do my job for the money, and yet, I know the value of Wedding Planners.

9.       I get to eat wedding cake.  

10.   I believe in commitment and marriage for the long term, and, long after your wedding, we'll be toasting together at your other happy moments.

Flavors of Newport Beach

What happens in Newport Beach, stays in Newport Beach!  Our Flavors of Newport Beach FAM trip with OC Planners was delicious at every bite.  So many thanks to all for the learning, great laughter, and delicious food and fun. 


Gorgeous Surf and Sand Wedding with the Best Wedding Vendors for Brittany and Mark

Brittany and Mark’s Surf and Sand Wedding was exquisite.   The intricate details were planned months in advance, and everything came together beautifully.

What was more beautiful than the décor and details was the couple!  So in love, and so happy to be together, my team smiled all night. 

the invite.jpg

Special thanks to my partners:

Venue  | Surf and Sand Resort |

Photography  | Chelsea Nicole |

Videography  | The Emotion Picture Studio |

Design  | Bloom Box Designs |

Babysitting Room  | LA Sitters |

Entertainment  | Essence Studios |

Beautiful Summer Island Hotel Wedding

You really can tell everything from a wedding toast. The warmth from the bride's father took everyone's breath away. Specials thanks to Mike McCaleb for his beautiful work on this Island Hotel wedding and to Chris Todd for his awesome photography.


Love The Island Hotel, Newport Beach,  where they have the most incredible staff to create perfection for weddings!  Our team loved working with Marci and John, and both of their families, in creating an incredible day.

Special thanks to our Dream Team:  

Chris | Christopher Todd Studios |  | Fayaz |  Bloom Box Designs |    Mike | Mission Visual |

Advice for an Awesome Unplugged Wedding Ceremony

Wedding ceremonies are more fun when your guests turn off their cell phones.  You get to live in the moment and actually "look around" and enjoy.

Twice, in the last week, I've been asked from couples about etiquette for unplugged weddings. 

Here are my simple three pieces of advice for wedding couples:

1)  If you have a cool invitation that allows for an extra verbiage line, you actually can say, "At our ceremony, we ask you enjoy and be "unplugged".  

2)  Have "PARTY signage.".  This could be a LARGE framed sign at the sign-in book table, or a sign at your greeting beverage station reminding your family and friends to turn off their cells. An example of signage includes, "There's a person here taking pictures, we'd like to only have one. Please set down your cameras until our ceremony is done."

3) Make sure that your wedding planning team knows that you would like an unplugged ceremony, so that they can go and provide a note or a hug to the "lady" who is taking photos.

Having an unplugged wedding definitely makes the moment seem more intimate. 

Photography credit: Larry James, Celebrate Intimate Weddings.

Do you offer "Day of Wedding Coordination?" The real truth behind the phrase "day of wedding coordinator" →

What you, my beautiful couples, will  learn in your wedding planning process is that there is no such thing as a "Day of Wedding Planner".   Let's just take that out of our vocabulary, and "truth it up".  

This morning, after two calls about " Do you do Day of Wedding Coordination?", I wanted to share a couple of thoughts:

 It's your only wedding, and you will hear advice from everyone in your planning process.  RIGHT?  

So...You need someone to show up on your wedding day and magically take care of everything, and that is easy when you understand what you'll need.   

  What you'll need, at any venue, anywhere worldwide, is this:

  • An Awesome Wedding Planner that works with various levels of service.  Wedding planners are hired as your consultant, and you decide what level of service you would like.
  • The essential level of service should have a minimum of two-three meetings with your wedding planner.  Most likely, we'll  be at your venue walk through and tasting, a detailed timeline planning meeting, and a final detailing meeting.
  • Full service planning is like having a wedding "Best Friend".  
  • You should hire someone who is experienced.  Every wedding planner starts somewhere... and it shouldn't be at your wedding.    There are two Associations for Wedding planners that educate professionals.  http://www.wipausa.org/ and http://bridalassn.com/  and I love learning from both associations.
  • Every one of your vendors should have a minimum of Two Million bucks of Liability Insurance.  Most venues require it.
  • It really is all about F U N  and stress relief for you.  When you hire true professionals that work together, it will be an awesome experience for you, all the way around.


The Swellegant Seven: Real Wedding Advice from Studio EMP

Cool to sit with Joel, my trusted partner,  from www.studioemp.com for a visit.   He reminded me why our business and  | He | is so great.  

Why do you love what you do?

I love what I do because I am allowed to be a part of human emotion and am able to document these feelings for my clients, and I also challenge myself to get the perfect natural moment with the right light and the beautiful emotion all happening in one instant- timing is everything.

What do you believe sets you apart from other photographers?

Anyone can make a pretty picture.  A pretty picture with emotion and feeling is of the greatest value to my clients and with that being my goal for the last 15 years I have gotten pretty dang good at it.

What would be your advice to a newly engaged couple?

“What?  About Photography?”  “Marriage?”  “Weddings?”    |Laugh|

Further, Joel, what advice do you have for newly engaged couples about the process of planning a wedding?

Use your heart to choose vendors.  Be honest about who you connect with.  You really have to connect with the person and the product.   I don’t sell something that is not “Me.”  Don’t choose vendors to “Impress people”.  This will all lead to the most enjoyable night of your life rather than the most stressed night- we don't like stress:)

When are you most inspired?

At dusk in nature.  Nature is my happy place and the light at dusk is soft, creamy, milky, relaxing and calm and fits best with my style of shooting- relaxed and comfortable.

What does it look like for a couple to have true professionals working on their wedding day?

They are able to enjoy every moment.  This goes back to choosing vendors from your heart… it’s like when we do weddings together, there is no stress and it is all fun and wonderful.  Pros take challenges in stride and fix problems so that our couples don’t have to worry about a thing and may never even know about bumps in the day. 

What is it like having Jeni, your wife, work in the same industry?

It’s been a gradual shift from when she first started until now, and it continues to evolve and change as our businesses do and as the industry does.  It’s generally a good thing as we can relate better to each others obstacles and achievements as compared to couples in different fields. 

What do you think about testimonials and online reviews?

All our reviews are real.  We started getting a lot of great reviews as the web has grown as a planning tool and have since started gently asking clients to rate us online. We get many inquiries from review sites and these people already have a pretty good feeling as to how we act and interact and they already have a bit of trust in us. 

Do you remember when we first met?

Sorry, I don’t.  You’ve always been around!  What I do remember is that from very early in our relationship I have held you up on a pedestal as a true professional and as a leader of ethical vendors in this industry. 

What do you do to keep balance?

Ride my bike and spend time with my family. 

What is your favorite wedding moment ever?

My favorite moment?  OK.  Fall, right before the ceremony, the Bride and Mom had a moment where they were talking about the Dad who passed away just a few months earlier and the bride was sad he wasn't there.  I was the only other person in the room and I was using a silent camera to not interrupt. I was crying and my heart was pounding knowing how much they would love the images I was making. THIS is why I document weddings. 

The Swellegant Seven: Real Wedding Advice from The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel


Chatting with another expert!  Michele Knutzson, Director of Weddings at The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel, is a true pro. The the first thing that I notice about you every time I come to your property is that you truly love what you do.  You love weddings!     Thanks for sharing that you recently won an incredible award Chairman’s Circle for 2013 from The Ritz-Carlton.

Would you mind answering a few questions about your expertise in the industry?

What would be some of your personal tips for a newly engaged couple?

Keep an open mind and do your research and determine the top priorities for your wedding day.   I wish I would have had the internet when I planned my own wedding. Hiring professionals in the industry will make your wedding planning process more enjoyable.   Being flexible to have a wedding on a Friday or Sunday, Mid-Week or Short Term, especially for Destination Weddings, makes sense!

How did you start the business?

After I graduated I took a year off before continuing with my Masters’ Degree to plan my own wedding in 1995, and then decided that I wanted to continue in the Wedding World rather than pursuing a career in Marriage and Family Counseling! After all, it is somewhat related. I have been in the wedding industry for almost 18 years. I was able to land a Wedding Event Manager Position at Newport Beach Marriott and then moved to Wedding Sales in 1999 and have many fond memories within my 14 years there. I transitioned over to my dream venue The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in October 2010.

What inspires you? You are truly considered an expert, and clients and industry professionals turn to you for event advice.

I love Weddings, they are the ultimate expression of one’s life, and the personal stories that my clients share with me make each and every day unique.    When we receive the honor of being their location for their wedding ceremony and reception, it is a wonderful feeling.  I love working with wedding couples and their families.  I love the dynamics of this position there is a great balance of site visits and meeting with couples and vendors, computer and emails, phone calls and conversations and creative projects that make my days go faster than light!

Tell me more about your resort.  What do you love about The Ritz- Carlton, Laguna Niguel?

I love coming to work every day.  I am very proud to be a part of this wonderful company. We were the first luxury resort in Orange County and are celebrating our 30 year Pearl Anniversary.  The setting and incredible views still take my breath away.   The creativity in the Food and Beverage experience we provide is amazing.  Our ladies and gentlemen are like family and extremely dedicated and share the same goal and culture of The Ritz-Carlton. We have many team members who have been here since the opening of the resort in 1984.


What would be your advice to someone new in the wedding industry?

If you’re a new Wedding Coordinator, for example, try to coordinate as many weddings as possible and creating a partnership with a resort and vendors is important.  Networking at Wedding Industry events would be beneficial as well. Professionalism and being as efficient as possible, and being a great team player is essential.  Having the ultimate goal in mind of creating a dream wedding for the couple should be your main priority rather than just your personal contribution and will be beneficial in the long term.

You have an incredible preferred vendor list at your resort.  Could you please give me a couple of anecdotes of what it's like to work with experienced professionals?

The experience of having someone who has worked at our resort makes it a more seamless experience for our couples.    New vendor partners can also offer fresh and new perspectives, and we’re always open to meet new vendors who can bring fresh eyes to our weddings celebrations at our resort.

What do you like to do for fun?

I really enjoy coming to work as I feel like I am on vacation when I am here!  In my free time, I like dedicate every minute to spending time with my family and three kids, whether it’s volunteering at their schools and doing school projects, going to an amusement park, skiing,  going to the beach, soccer and softball games, traveling and enjoying a great meal and dessert, shopping and gardening.

If you could do any job in the wedding industry, what would it be?

I am very fortunate, I am doing my dream job at my dream venue. I couldn’t be happier.


A big thank you to Michael & Anna Costa for their photography, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel for the venue, Square Root Designs for the floral arrangements, and Nisie's Enchanted Florist for their floral arrangements.

The Swellegant Seven: Real Wedding Advice from JJ | Visions Entertainment |

Jason Jass, Visions Entertainment, shared DJ advice about what it takes to create an amazing party.     I've known Jason for many years, and he always is a true professional.   His advice to engaged couples is spot on! How did you start in this industry and how did you know you could be great at what you do?

I learned from the best and started my own company in 2003. I knew I could be great at what I do when I would consistently receive "the look" from a bride and groom that said "You nailed it".

You're not a 9 to 5 guy  .. How do you keep things cool and fresh?

I'm one of the regular DJ's at Disney's Mad T Party...During the week I meet with potential clients, and on the weekends,   I get to party with amazing couples. My company typically DJ's for three to six other events per weekend including weddings, corporate events, and non-profit events.

What is the best piece of advice for a newly engaged couple when finding talent?

Make sure to sit down and enjoy the process.  Your DJ should take inspiration from YOU and what I love is creating a unique event through music who represents who they are.

What advice would you give to someone starting new in this business?

 Know your craft, understand your business well, and make friends with high integrity people in this business.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I receive my inspiration from my clients, the latest and greatest in music, and other event professionals.

How do you keep a balance in the business?

 You have to keep in top physical shape to handle the long hours and amount of physical work it takes.  Taking one day off per week is essential.

Why do you believe you are on the preferred vendor list at many venues?

 I consistently delver high quality service and represent and take care of all of the venues where I work.

What do you do for fun?

I go dancing with my wife and I actually consider work to be fun. Think about it- I am at a great party every night I work.

The Little Market + Swellegant Events = A Perfect Partnership for our Wedding Couples


I'm a gift-giving gal.  Learned it from my Mom.   If you're a client of ours this year,  a fair treat is coming your way... One of my former brides, Hannah, is a partner in  The Little Market, a company that empowers women around the world.    This company connects  artisans with the world marketplace.    She and her partner, Lauren, help to employ women, providing  fair trade, fair wages, and a safe workplace.      Cheers!

Check out what The Little Market is doing around the world here!


The Swellegant Seven: Real Advice From Mike Steffans, Essence Entertainment Event Expert

Whenever Swellegant has a need for expert entertainment, one of the first people we turn to is Mike Steffans from Essence Entertainment.  He has been in the industry long enough to understand everything.  At the same time he stays fresh and on top of trends.  I always love learning from the best. Why is Essence Entertainment is so well respected in the industry?

"Essence Entertainment is a Talent Agency.  Some of the respect comes from the fact that we have been around since 1983.  We are on every major hotel vendor list.    I take personal pride in the performers and the service that we provide.  I let the talent know, that even though our client is important, our venues are also important.  One of the things that differentiates us from other companies is that our talent are all true professionals.  We do 60 events per month.  I represent Owner/ Operators who are very talented."

What would be your best piece of advice for someone new in the industry?

"Develop one on one relationships with people at venues who refer you.  You must develop a referral base."

What is the best piece of advice for a newly engaged couple when finding talent?

"Ask their Wedding Planner for their Preferred Vendor List.  Referrals matter."

What is the best piece of advice for a hotel when referring you?

"I love to deal directly with the client, and they all know that I will take care of them."

What keeps it fresh and inspirational?

"I love what I do.  I truly do enjoy finding entertainment for people’s events."

How do you keep a balance in the business?

"I constantly remind myself that, even though this may be my '1,000th'wedding, it is my clients’ first and only wedding!"

Why are you on the preferred vendor list?

"My clients and venues know that when they call me, they will be well taken care of."

What do you do for fun?

"I spend time with my daughter and wife."


Thank you so much to Mike Steffans at Essence Entertainment!

The Swellegant Seven: Real Advice From Event Expert, Frank Salas

I had the pleasure... and, it is always a pleasure... to spend some time with the one and only Frank Salas, Master of Photography.  He's a true gentleman in every sense of the word. Here's the Swellegant Seven, from Frank's perspective:

The best piece of advice to give to newly engaged couples:

"Do your research.  Not just online, but take the time the time to visit vendors face to face.  Building relationships is super important.  Nothing replaces face to face meetings.  I prefer to call someone vs. email, and get to know you."

How we first met:

Frank: "No I really don’t remember, sadly.  I’m sure it was at a wedding… maybe at The Nixon Library? (Laugh) "

Me: "Thanks, Frank.  (Laugh)  I remember when we met, and it was because you, at the time, were wearing a really cool tie."

Some of Frank's strengths:

"I believe that I really build a relationship with my clients, and that is important.  We already know that we’ll get great photos… create a beautiful album.  It’s beyond photography.  I do multiple sessions… new baby sessions, family sessions, and continued follow up with couples long after their wedding."

What it looks like to work with a really great planner:

"Comfort and confidence.    Less stress, not only for the couples, but for all of the vendors as well.  Sometimes, couples will think that a planner is “for the rich and famous”, but in fact, it isn’t.  A planner instantly puts a couple of ease."

The best piece of advice to someone new in the industry:

"Continue your education.  I always suggest that you continually put efforts into your own business.  Don’t copy everyone else.  If your work doesn’t shine, you’ll continue to be limited."

How do you keep things fresh and inspirational:

"Inspiration can go a couple of ways for me.  My photography is inspired by trends and art forms.  I’m also inspired daily by my couples and their excitement.  That takes me to a whole new level.  As we all say, 'We love our clients, don’t we?'"


Thank you so much to Frank Salas at Master of Photography!

Ten Trendsetting Ideas for 2014 Weddings

Art begets art and I have recently been inspired by the Oscars,  museums, fashion, and my latest clients.    Events tend to follow the latest trends in fashion and this is what I am seeing in 2014.  Be inspired! 1. The pantone color of the year is Radiant Orchid and I am seeing it everywhere.

2. Big BOLD prints are in.

3. The Oscars highlighted video mapping and we are seeing it at all types of events now.

4. When you create a beautiful environment, your guests will love, "what we call bringing your living room into your event space". Comfortable and chic furniture IS being used in place of typical round tables. Your guests won't want to leave.

5. Bringing food into your decor is happening everywhere. 

6. Floral design this year is bigger and better then ever. Peonies, Patience Roses from France, and of course, Radiant orchids are huge this year.

7. Bold hair embellishments are the hot new commodity for brides and your bridal party.

8. Bringing a cool and intriguing restaurant experience to your wedding dinner is what the best caterers are creating in 2014.

9. Interactive Bars: think tequila and bourbon tasting, make your own margaritas, bloody marys, or espresso bars.

10. Sweet Endings: The ideas truly Are endless. Farewell stations(instead of favors at every place setting), bride and groom send offs and everything from a helicopter to fireworks.

Photography and blog content credits: The Youngrens, Joy Marie Photography , Wildflower linen, Latavola Linen , LUVROX Photography,  Rowell Photography, Jim Kennedy Photographers , Room Forty Catering, Sweets Indeed, One and Only Paris Photography, Robin Lin Photography , Candice Cornelius Photography, Conscious Bean, Christopher Todd Photography

The Swellegant Seven: Real Advice From Event Expert, Larrissa Rehder, of Inviting Occasion

I am always honored to work with the very best partners in the Event Industry.     This spring, I'll be highlighting some of my favorite event people!  I had a cup of tea with the incredible Larrissa and Johnny from Inviting Occasion, and talked about what it looks like behind the scenes... The Drive to Be Successful with a Business:

Larrissa: "I am a people pleaser and I love making my clients happy.  Seeing the entire project come through to fruition is amazing."

Johnny: "When I see what we've created together, and always doing something new is what drives me."

A Little Bit About the First Time Larrissa and I Met:

"We met at The Dock in Newport Beach several years ago, at an event, when you said, 'Wow. What you did here is so cool.  How much would something like this cost?' " (Laugh.)

How is it Working with Real Professionals:

“It makes our job so much easier, and the client gains a more cohesive experience.  There is a mutual understanding.    For Johnny, behind the scenes, 'Experience shows your knowledge and there are far fewer mistakes.   There are no loose ends.  When I work with you and your Swellegant Team, I know we're going to take great care of our clients."

A Few Pieces of Advice For Someone New in the Industry:

Johnny: "New planners want to micromanage.  You, as an experienced planner, let's us, as professionals, shine in what we do best."

Larrissa: "Persevere."

A Few Pieces of Advice for Newly Engaged Couples:

"Enjoy the process.  Keep it simple.  Stay in the moment.  Be realistic about what you can spend, and understand a 'Pinterest' photo may cost 10 times over your budget."

The Most Important Thing that a Planner/ Producer can do for you:

"'Let us work as a team."

When are you guys getting married?

"OK. Enough already, Natalie.  Stop asking us.  You'll be the first to know."


Thank you to Inviting Occasion for making sure everything is perfect with fine detail.  Can't wait until our next event together!


Pantone Color of the Year: Radiant-Orchid

Pantone Color of the Year
Pantone Color of the Year

For over a decade the Pantone Color Institute has been announcing a color of the year to inspire trends in fashion, homes, and of course weddings. Say hello to the 2014 Pantone color of the year...Radiant-Orchid! With undertones of purple, pink, and fuchsia; Radiant-Orchid  exhibits warmth and royalty all while remaining modern and fresh. According to Pantone, this color "inspires confidence, great joy, love, and health." We can expect to see this color used in many trend setting and innovative ways in the wedding industry this year, as well as subtle splashes used to brighten up any ones ceremony or reception. This elegant and warm color is already hitting the market fast and we don't want your wedding to be left out. So, we have gathered up some ideas of various ways to use the Pantone color of the year in your wedding!

Special thanks for images: Pantone Color of the YearThe YoungrensStephanie Yonce PhotographyAllure Atlantic klk photographyAaron DelesieBelle The MagazineAt Home in Love