?WOW! This is so beautiful! You don?t even look like yourself– It looks so country on you!? Those were the words that my friend said when I walked out of the dressing room in Vera Wang, after trying on my 23rd wedding gown that day. I had actually found this dress online the night before, and I was so excited they had it! I had visited 4 other stores that day, and had tried on so many dresses that everything started to look the same. But when I tried on the Vera Wang gown, I was excited that everyone liked it, it?s just that I had always pictured myself on my wedding day to look like myself, but a better version of myself. Oh and not to mention, no part of me is country. There?s nothing wrong with country, I love it, but it?s just?not who I am. That was it, that was the last time I went wedding dress shopping and invited my friends and family.
I?m writing this blog because after posting about our 1 year Wedding Anniversary, I got an overwhelming amount of questions and requests on how to find the right venue, how to find the right dress, how to plan the wedding, what vendors to use. I had such an amazing time planning my wedding and I wanted to help out all future brides! So here goes nothing!
I had always known what I wanted my wedding to look like, and how I wanted it to feel. So when my husband proposed to me, it only took me a few months to map out all the details of our wedding.
Let?s start with the venue. Disclaimer: This is all just my personal opinion?..I always knew I couldn?t have a destination wedding. I LOVE destination weddings, but I?m too controlling to leave some things to chance, and I had to oversee every detail, so I knew my wedding had to be local. Being from Orange County, I just always knew that I wanted to get married at the Ritz Carlton. The property sits on top of the most beautiful cliffs, with endless ocean views. The ballroom is large and has beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. Not to mention that the service is unbelievable, and they really go above and beyond to make you feel special. There simply are no flaws that I saw with the Ritz Carlton.
??????????? Other venues in Orange County that I like include:
Pelican Hill: It?s beautiful, the ceremony site is so personal, and the rotunda is just breath taking. But I don?t love the ballroom
St. Regis: Gorgeous property, but it doesn?t have the same view Ritz Carlton has.
Montage: Beautiful hotel, amazing location. Ceremony site is not personal (people from the pool, restaurant, and passing by on the walkways stop to watch your wedding).
SECRET TIP: When you pick your venue (if you are getting married at a hotel), know that you can negotiate all the terms of your contract. For example, most venues have a set food and beverage minimum. It?s possible to have that lowered. Also, try to put as part of your contract that you (bride and groom) can have separate complimentary rooms the night before the wedding, and that you two can have a complimentary room the night of your wedding together. It?s really nice to start getting in the wedding mood and staying at the hotel the night before, and then waking up there to get ready. Also, try to include that for your 1 year wedding anniversary, you can stay in the same room as you did your wedding night?complimentary! It?s really special to go back on your 1 year anniversary and stay in the same room! We did it and it was the best way to spend our 1st Anniversary as husband and wife.
Wedding Planner: I just had to have one! My wedding planner was probably the biggest reason of why my wedding turned out the way it did. First of all, she made EVERY wedding planning appointment fun! This is so important because your wedding is just one day, but the process is long. If you don?t have a good experience planning your wedding, it can just become overwhelming and too stressful. But when you actually enjoy your appointments, you end up enjoying your wedding so much more! Since I work full time and run my own business, it?s really hard for me to coordinate with people. I would tell her what I needed, and she would organize everything for me. She also had amazing connections with the wedding vendors, and she really helped explain to them what I wanted. Her and I were really on the same page, she understood me perfectly. She was on top of everything from beginning to end. She even was able to get deals for me with certain vendors. My recommendation is to find someone that gets you! Find someone who has done weddings that you like, ask the bride/groom how they felt about their wedding planner, have a meeting with a few wedding planners, and then pick one. A wedding planner should make your life easier, not stress you out.
Hair and Make up: I had known my make up artist since I was 14, so I was good on that, but hair was difficult for me. I did so many hair trials, and left crying after all of them, until I finally found my girl! I was recommended to my hair girl through a friend and I absolutely love her. Definitely pay for the trials. You don?t want any surprises on your wedding day. You want to know what you will look like, how long it takes, and how you mesh with the people that are helping you get ready. It sucks that you have to pay for the trials because it?s an added expense, but it?s worth it! Think about it?you are paying thousands of dollars for photos and videos, and those photos and videos will last a lifetime. You want to make sure you look how YOU want to look. Also, try to look like the best version of yourself. If you don?t wear red lipstick, don?t choose red lipstick for your wedding. If you normally wear light eye shadow, don?t do a heavy smoky eye!
Dress Shopping: Dress shopping was torturous for me.?? I would plan these long days with all my friends and family, and drive to all these locations and try dress after dress after dress. Hearing everyone?s comments was draining. The dresses were heavy. After 3 hours, they all start to look the same and you don?t even know what you want anymore. Let me give you a tip?if you have never tried on a wedding dress before, and you have an idea of what you want?GET RID OF THAT IDEA! What you want and what looks good on you are probably very different. Go into dress shopping with an open mind, and be open to trying on different styles.
SECRET TIP: Also, I recommend having photos taken in your dress. You may try on a dress and see photos of it and end up hating it (happened to me), and you may try on a dress and absolutely hate it, but see a photo and fall in love with it (also happened to me). My ceremony dress was just that! When I first tried in on I HATED it. I asked the lady helping me put it on to take it off me immediately. She told me I should take a photo and I said no. She took a photo anyway and I took it off right after. When I got in my car, I started going through the photos, and I fell in love with the gown. I called my mom immediately and said ?I think I found my wedding dress.?
If you’re getting too much outside noise cluttering your brain, go by yourself. ?Choose a dress or two, then go back with your family and have them help you choose. ?After my experience at Vera Wang, I went dress shopping alone and it was so much better! Once I ordered my gowns, I went back with my friends and family for the fittings. ?At this point, the dresses were already purchased so they had no choice but to tell me it was beautiful and the perfect dress for me, and really that?s all you need to hear at that time in your life.
Photographer: I knew I wanted my photographer, but I had to make sure he was available. I actually planned my wedding day around his availability.?? Everyone thought I was crazy, but I wanted my photographs to be a certain way, and I wanted them captured through his eye, and I had to make sure he was available. When it comes to photography though, I recommend hiring an amazing photographer. Photography is everything. You can have a very low key wedding and your photographer can make it look like it was the wedding of the century!! Just make sure your photographer has photographed weddings at your venue before. It?s important that they are familiar with the area, because they will be familiar with the lighting, and the best photo spots. Also ask them to see some photos they have taken at the property. This way you can make sure you are on the same page.
Videography: If you?re going to have a videographer, make sure you watch a lot of their videos to make sure you like their style. I was extremely picky w/my videographer, but they made it so easy to work with them. As far as their packages, SECRET TIP: I recommend having a package with a lengthy video so all the details of your wedding can be captured, but I also recommend getting a same day edit which is a short (3-5min) video that captures your wedding day and all the highlights. You will likely watch your same day edit more often than you will your long video.
Florals: Again, choose a florist that has worked with that venue before. Also, don?t forget that people can?t read minds and that you need to express what you want in detail to your vendors, including your florist. If you don?t know what you want, ask them to help you, but you should try to be as specific as possible. Show tons of photos, and make sure you have a mockup! Doing a mockup is really important because you can see the colors, the way the arrangements are done, and you can make changes if you need to.
Entertainment: For my wedding I wanted a DJ with live instruments. I did a lot of research before choosing my entertainment, but I picked them based off of their professionalism, quality of work, and from recommendations. I also made sure that all of them had worked together before, that?s really important!!! You can?t pick random musicians and just stick them together on your wedding day, they need to have all worked together before and all be comfortable with each other!
Ballroom set up: There are so many things that go into planning a fun party that keeps all the excitement going! My main tip for this is going to be to make sure you don?t have any attractions outside your ballroom.?? If you have a bar, a photobooth, food, dessert table? They should ALL be inside your ballroom so that your guests stay inside the ballroom.
Food: Some people get catering from the location, some get an outside vendor to come in. Make sure you keep in mind that when you are doing your tasting, you are tasting only a few dishes that have been prepared. ?When they decide to make 100 or 200 or 300 of the same dish, sometimes it just doesn’t taste as good. ?Talk to the caterer about this!
Lighting: Lighting is very important! A lot of times this goes unnoticed, but your lighting will either make all of your d?cor look like a million bucks, or it will make it look terrible. If you are in southern California, I recommend using amber event productions. There are a few other great companies, but amber is my favorite and boy does she deliver!!!
When you are picking people to work with on your wedding day, remember these few things. Pick reputable vendors. Pick people whose work you admire, and pick people that are well known in the field. Be really picky about what you want, and express your feelings, give direction, and be detailed about your vision. But also realize that you are working with professionals and experts, and let them take your ideas to the next level. If you work with someone based off their talents, learn to trust them, and let them work their magic for you. I have found that giving these experts freedom to deliver, the results are far greater than you could ever dream! This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give opinions and direction, and if you don’t like something you should stay quiet. This simply means that you should express what you want, but let the expert show you they are the expert. Otherwise, work with mediocre people that you can micromanage and tell them exactly what to do.
Wedding shoes: If you have a long wedding dress, you can get a pair of really cute fancy shoes to photograph and take photographs in, but then invest in a shoe that is REALLY comfortable and change into the early so that your feet don?t hurt throughout the night. It doesn?t matter what they look like because no one will see them!
Most importantly remember to enjoy the process. Enjoy being engaged, and enjoy all the phases of wedding planning. On your wedding day, know that some things may not turn out how you thought, but be okay with it. Don?t ruin your day over tiny details that don?t matter. The day is about you and your significant other coming together as one. Don’t ruin it for yourself by being upset that your flowers are more on the pink side rather than the coral side. Focus on everything that did go right, and the things that ended up being amazing that you never even thought about before. At the end of the day, most people don?t remember what your wedding looked like, or what they ate? they remember if they had fun or not! So make sure you are having the time of your life so you can make memories that you will cherish forever.
For more details about my wedding (like some of my vendors), click the link below to follow me on Instagram and see some of my wedding photos.
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My Dream Come True✨ yesterday was easily the best day of my life. I am so happy to be married to my best friend! Thank you to everyone that went above and beyond to make my vision come to life ? . . . Flowers: @squarerootdesigns ?: the one and only @dukeimages Hair: @hairbyvalerie Makeup: @beautybymelina Dress: @moniquelhuillier custom gown Wedding Coordinator: @eventsbyshideh Sofreh: Fakhereh Maleki Videography: @impressivecreations Lighting: @ambereventprod