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.