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.
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.
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!
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!
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."
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!
I just love cool couples, and Lynn and Matthew were exactly that. They allowed themselves to be "in the moment" throughout their wedding day, and they enjoyed every detail... and so did we! Congratulations, Lynn and Matthew! Wishing you a lifetime of happiness. Thanks to to Studio EMP for the wonderful photos.
A Swellegant Secret: Conscious Bean. I love when someone is incredibly passionate about their business, and this experience is just SO over the top fabulous, that I have to take the time to share! As I write this at 5:48 AM, with no coffee in hand, I'm dreaming of Matthew and his crew showing up on my doorstep. If you're considering adding a memorable detail to your event, look no further. Here's what Matthew says about Conscious Bean. His description may be a bit long, but that's what happens when you're truly passionate about your business!
"Its the details that make an event truly special. The attention to the little things that really make you say wow. Recently I had the pleasure of working with a vendor who made me say wow. Simply the coolest, most amazing coffee service ever... Conscious Bean (but the owner refers to it as an organic pop up boutique cafe.) The attention to detail made Conscious Bean truly special. First off, the chrome equipment gleamed against the reclaimed dark hardwood bar. While the fresh ingredients floating in glass bottles brought life and warmth to the rich surface. The barista seemed very at home behind the iron framed bar. Like a craftsman behind his workbench he individually tailoring drinks to each guests desire. Every ingredient chosen with care and intention. The entire 53 drink menu had something for coffee and tea lovers, sweet tooths, those who don’t like coffee and even as a dairy bar for kids! The drinks were not only organic, but all the flavorings were homemade from true, genuine ingredients, free of chemicals and additives. The products were all biodegradable, reusable or renewable and if that wasn’t enough, the entire thing condenses down into a shiny black Toyota Prius! Yes, a Prius. The barista explained to me the special attention they pay to the water they use, but I was slightly mesmerized by his dashing smile, I digress.
One way or another, I was genuinely impressed by definitively the coolest...coffee station, espresso stand, cappuccino cart, brew bar…whatever it is, whatever you choose to call Conscious Bean, it is truly fabulous. A shining testament to what is possible from honestly caring about the details. Their slogan is “The finest the earth has to offer.” the owner, Matthew Evilsizor said "We bring the best to your lips, so those lips will offer the same love to the world.” I found that very fitting. The mocha I had, literally warmed my soul. It was made with an organic whole milk in a glass bottle (how cool is that!) from Straus Creamery (they also offer and organic almond or hemp milk but the Straus milk made maybe the smoothest creamiest froth I’ve ever had), a rich but smooth espresso roasted like it was created specifically to be paired with the organic fair-trade dutched baking chocolate and raw cane sugar. Heaven in a cup, no whip cream need. The drink was well balanced. I could taste each delicious element of my glorious libation. I had to go back for another. Studying the menu I came across a Hug. Lets just say, I thought nothing could be better than the mocha, and I was wrong. If you haven’t yet been privy to Conscious Bean, you better get on it. Worth every penny and good to the last drop. Conscious Bean will make you say wow."
Once Rachel saw the gorgeous view for her wedding at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, she knew it would be perfect for Oren and her! Aaaahhhh... that view truly is one of a kind. They were so much in love, and had such a fun Bridal party, that we wanted to share a few photos to highlight their special day.
Check out Rachel's gorgeous dress! Amazing.
Congratulations, once again, Rachel and Oren! A lifetime of happiness to you.
The latest wedding trends for 2014? Take a look at creative brilliance at work at our latest photo shoot. We hope it provides 2014 Inspiration for Wedding Couples. It truly is all in the details. Our "Art Begets Art" shoot was a collaboration of the Best of the Best of So Cal. We received inspiration from fashion and art, and had an entire showroom to create some really cool work. Take one detail from this shoot, and imagine YOUR possibilities! Behind the scenes? What really happens at a photo shoot? It was a bunch of creative brilliant talents working their magic on a huge deadline. The team created three incredible vignettes. I marveled at the intricate details in what happens when the set takes place. If you're in a creative field, you know the feeling... you want to make everything perfect. If you're an analytical type, you'd really understand the logistics that it takes to put something like this together.
And, that, is what, at Swellegant, we do for fun.
A special thanks to: Formdecor Furniture Rental, Shawna Yamamoto, Jim Kennedy Photographers, La Tavola Fine Linen Rental, Blush Bridal Couture, Design Visage, Friar Tux Shop, and Town and Country Rentals.
June is the month of weddings, but Natalie and her team at Swellegant took a break last weekend to celebrate clients (and their kids) from past weddings.
Why? Just to have a little fun. The Love Reunion had everything from a Milk Bar (for the kids) to a Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar (for the adults). Music, games, photography, gorgeous décor, fabulous food, and love notes were part of the brunch. There were a lot of little guys running around and a couple of little gals. The ratio of kids: 5 guys to 1 gal! Matchmaking in the works in the future. So super fun!
The best part of the Love Reunion was connecting clients with one another, and sharing the love of the couples’ wedding days. The other best part? The hugs and thank-yous from past clients.
Natalie and her team are humbled to say that we have the very best clients in the world. When clients become friends, they're part of the Swellegant family.
A special thank you to: (This feels like an Oscar Speech with no time limit)
Lovey (Natalie's husband) Max, Joey, and Hanna, for everything, every day, behind the scenes.
Jason's Catered Events for the fabulous appetizers.
Jo Distaso for the fantastic photos.
Atmosphere DJ for the groovy music.
Dolce Gelato for the yummy dessert.
Ion Vodka for the delicious drinks.
Sweet Roli for the tasty treats.
Bloom Box Designs for the beautiful flowers and decor.
Girl Friday Designs for the adorable invitations.
Signature Party Rentals for the beautiful linens, tables and chairs.
BTB Events for the carnival games.
Welcome to the world, baby Addison. We had so much fun organizing this baby shower for Brandi McNaughton of Girl Friday Designs. She has been the #1 Graphic Designer for us for years.
Sometimes, a simple, beautiful party, welcoming a beautiful baby girl, is just perfection!
Special thanks to:
Bloompia for Design
Il Fornaio for the incredible food
Mayra Fiori https://www.facebook.com/MayraE.Fiori
Looking for an awesome location for a rehearsal dinner or wedding or a really cool event for your family visiting for your wedding? SJC rocks it and The Flavors of San Juan Capistrano Tour is the way to go. I have the inside scoop... I hopped on the Amtrak on a Wednesday morning, paid the $10 first class fare (13 minute ride from Irvine) and hugged it out with a group of totally cool Event Professionals, and explored the hidden (and not so hidden) sites in San Juan Capistrano. I loved organizing this trip and would love to share my secrets with you.
Special thanks to :
Our Incredible Tour Guide: Laura Castel De Oro www.flavorsofsanjuancapistrano.com
Our Wonderful Photographer and Friend: Joel Maus www.studioemp.com
Coffee and Insane Cupcakes: www.hiddenhousecoffee.com
Great Ambiance, Food, Wine, and Ghost: www.thevintagesteakhouse.com
Rick’s Café where everyone must eat and see a movie: www.regencymovies.com
A Familiar Face, Great wine, Tasting, and Shopping: www.fivevineswinebar.com
Franciscan Gardens 24 Carrots Catering and Venue Awesome Food and Martinis: www.franciscangardens.com
hadn't been at the reception. When I edited my own film, I saw things that I NEVER EVEN KNEW ABOUT. Film has the ability to record things from a permanent, different perspective.
10 Reasons Why Parties Matter
For the past ten years, The Swellegant Team has been invited to create incredible events in gorgeous ballrooms, beautiful homes, and unique venues all across North America with www.swellegant.com We have helped clients turn important moments into forever memories. Today, while watching a video montage created for a repeat client, full of photos from all of the parties that we have thrown over the past 10 years for this family, that we realized, YES. Parties DO matter.
Why? Parties allow you to:
- CELEBRATE. Parties create moments to celebrate something great with those you love.
- HONOR SOME ONE. How awesome is it to take an evening to celebrate a couple, a friend, a colleague?
- GET FRIENDS AND FAMILY TOGETHER. A wedding? Absolutely. No better way to gather everyone to celebrate love.
- APPRECIATE ART
AND DESIGN. Professionals in the industry LOVE to create environments for you. Sit back and enjoy our work.
- CREATE A MEMORY. Small moments turn into memories.
- MEET SOMEONE GREAT. Parties allow you to connect and meet people. When two people meet, a third should benefit.
- MARK A MILESTONE. A company’s success? A Big Birthday? Don’t let them go by unnoticed.
- EAT AND DRINK. Yes, please. Pay for the best food and drink that you can afford.
- LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Love the cell phone free zone for a few hours .
- HAVE A LITTLE FUN. Yes. You deserve it. Let loose and throw caution to the wind. Monday will come soon enough.
Hiring a professional to make life easy for you will be the best investment you can make when you’re celebrating!
We are so honored to be featured on The Knot this week! Ashley and Anthony were a joy to work with, and I had so much fun planning their event with them--talk about a genuine and sweet couple with wonderful families.
Here's a sneak peak of their beautiful purple inspired wedding at the
Richard Nixon Library. Enjoy!
WOW--What an experience! Working with the talents
and the experts at The Island Hotel in Newport Beach, California, to stage three distinct events was an exciting project. It was a great way for all of us to show our creative abilities and to be able to produce three glorious events, where WE got to make all of the aesthetic decisions!
On the first day of shooting, we decided to produce a wedding with a very romantic feel. Everything was white and taupe, and there were flowers and greens everywhere. The tables were stacked high with candles and flowers, and even the dessert favors had sprigs of lavender on them. We wanted this event to be very natural and elegant. For the ceremony, we had beautiful wooden chairs and vintage benches, adorned with greens and draped with fabric. The bride and groom were framed with pale pink cherry blossoms, and each bridesmaid held bouquets with pale pink and white blooms.
It was a joy working with the team who helped put on this photo shoot. A special thanks to Hope Stanley of Marry Me Bridal for the styling of the bridal parties, Diego Ortega and Tricia Kim from Joshua Christopher Salon for hair styling, Lauren Breedon for makeup, Christopher Griffiths of Christopher TODD Studios for photography, Orange Clementine for the delicious desserts, The Event Company OC for their wonderful set designs, Found Vintage Rentals for their furniture, and Larissa from Inviting Occasions for floral design.
A wedding requires meticulous planning, and you want to leave as little to chance as possible. For years, I have been hearing from my Brides that their friends were SURPRISED that they were so relaxed on their wedding day. Here are some of my insider secrets for YOU if you are a Bride who has trouble giving up control.
- Hire Experienced Professionals and make sure to have a Great Wedding Planner. This will
- comprare viagra be your one and only wedding, but for professionals in the industry, we’ve had experience in dealing with many difficult situations. We can help you greatly calm your nerves.
Banquet food is sometimes. Boring. It’s necessary, but not always memorable. Forget Chipper Chicken, Mediocre Filet, and bland mashed potatoes. As an Event Planner for 10 years, and a “foodie” (how do we ever get away from that word?) I love creating incredible customized menus for my clients. I got inspired to share some of my favorites when reading the recent Huffington Post article.
Here are five wedding food items that my clients still talk about, and why they call me to give them my “foodie finds” when they’re planning their next event. Think FUN and INTERACTION. That’s what your guests will remember.
Start with Dragon’s Breath Popcorn from www.24carrots.com This popcorn is frozen using liquid nitrogen, and when popped into the mouth, it releases a cloud of vapor that exits the diner’s nose and mouth, giving the effect of a dragon blowing smoke. So fun!
Add in the Caribbean Rumaki from www.jasonscatering.com Bacon wrapped plantains in a secret rum brown sugar glaze. Beyond delicious. This is one of the very best tray- passed appetizers known to wedding couples across Southern California.
Give your guests the Fromager Service from www.roomforty.com when they are seated, and they’ll feel immediately like family. Steve’s assorted Spanish and French Cheeses, Farm to table veggies, poached fruit, and local honeycomb are all so simple (You’d think) but so refined. Add in the candied nuts and the artisan breads and you’re in heaven.
So, you’re thinking… this is too complicated. I don’t want any of this stuff. Simplify things with BBQue. Yes. BBQue. If smoke is your flavor (and I’ve been told it is the flavor of 2013… there’s even a smoked water company to make smoky cocktails!) Two of my favorite clients from last year had a BBQue dinner with bibs and all. So fun and so delicious. The best BBQue in So Cal is www.richardjonespitbbq.com . The man is a genius. If you’re in KC or Texas, you’ll have your favorites, too, of course.
Finally, if you’re looking to have the most spectacular experience, arrange a tasting menu for your guests. Five to Eight Courses. Small Bites. Give you guests something to really remember. Rick Bayless (Yep. Top Chef Status) from www.fronteragrill.com and www.topolobampo.com created the best
tasting menu in cialis online pharmacy 2012 for my clients . He’s based in Chicago, but spends much of his time in Mexico, learning his craft. Favorite item on his menu? Mochomos. Crunchy threads of beef bristled and cripy onion strings, guacamole, and spicy salsa roja.
Bon Appetit. Be swell. I’m off on my next Foodie Find Wandering.
Wish Upon a Wedding is a non-profit organization dear to my heart, and I was honored to be on The Board of Directors for the LA/OC Chapter this year and help produce the annual Blissful Wishes Ball. WUW provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illnesses.This year the Blissful Wishes Ball annual fundraiser was held at the very cool Vibiana in Los Angeles.
This Blissful Wishes Ball was completely sold out, and was our most successful event to date! Both wedding professionals and local supporters came together to raise over twenty five
It was truly an honor to be on the board of directors and be able to be a part of producing such a fun, heartwarming and elegant event.
A special thanks to Samuel Lippke who provided us with all of the breath taking images below!
When I say that this was a wedding sendoff that was worth remembering, I mean it! Last summer we had the honor and pleasure of working with Jessie and Chris; truly kind hearted, down to earth, wonderful couple.
Their wedding sendoff was well planned, adorned with sparklers and a drive off into the moonlight on a motorcycle that Chris had crafted himself.
Everything went according to plan until...well...just check out the awesome photos below courtesy of Ashley Bee Photography (who was
also a joy to work with).
The bike started per usual, but then we heard the put, put, put, and it eventually stopped running. After time and time again of trying to restart the motorcycle...nothing...until about five minutes later. Of course, Jessie and Chris took it stride like they do everything else, and were so funny and gracious about the entire situation.
The crowd went absolutely wild!