How to be a Great Wedding Guest

In today’s post I’m going to get a bit preachy.  I feel like these are such important things to take note of, that I really can’t say it any other way.  If you’ve ever been a wedding guest, I’m talking to you.  Honestly, this post isn’t about making MY job easier (although certainly if you follow all these rules, you will).  Instead, it’s about being a great guest to the people who are getting married.  That’s right – your friends or family members.  The ones who love you enough to invite to share in their special day.  So listen up! 😉

So you’re invited to a wedding…  Hooray!

Do yourself – and your friend or family member who is getting married – a favor, and read this list first.  Trust me, you want to be a great wedding guest.  Not “that” wedding guest.  Right?

RSVP!

Weddings are expensive, time-consuming affairs to plan.  The couple has requested that you attend and wants you there.  But if you don’t ever let them know whether or not you’ll be coming, how are they to plan for your dinner?  How will they know to save you a seat and a piece of cake?  It’s a simple process – check the box, perhaps write in your name and select your meal choice.  Just do it.  Before the RSVP-by date.  Don’t forget.  Many couples even give you the option to RSVP online (some don’t even send paper response cards anymore).  You know, you can visit their website before your daily dose of Farmville…

Don’t forget, too, to be a thoughtful guest when RSVPing.  Inevitably at every wedding there will be one RSVP card without a name written in, that the couple has to track down.  There will always be one guest who asks to bring someone additional, who wasn’t invited (A tip: if you weren’t sent an invitation that says “You and Guest,” that means that the couple probably doesn’t have the space or the budget to invite you with a guest, but they still want you there…  I know it can be a drag to not know anyone at a wedding, but it can also be an opportunity to meet new people!).  There will always be someone who writes in their request for a chicken dinner when the choices are beef, fish, or vegetarian.  At weddings where no children are invited, there will always be an irate family member who calls to complain.  But just say no.  Don’t be that guest.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t bring up legitimate concerns to the couple (such as allergies or major childcare issues) but don’t presume, don’t bother, and always check over your RSVP to make sure it makes sense.

Whatever you do, don’t forget this crucial step in being a wedding guest.  Don’t make the couple call you to see whether you’ll be in attendance.  Don’t make them wonder if you’ll randomly show up that day.  And don’t just show up without telling them.  They, after all, have lots of other things on their plates.  Like getting married.  

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Arrive on time.  Or better yet, a little bit early.

So you’ve never been to a wedding that started right when it was supposed to.  So you hate waiting.  So the wedding is outside in blazing sun on the hottest day of the year and you’ve been asked to drape yourself in black to fit in with the bride’s color scheme.

If you are a guest at a wedding, getting there any later than the time listed on the invitation is inconsiderate.  And just plain rude.  Aside from the fact that you might miss the couple walking up the aisle, you also might hold up the wedding (I coordinated a wedding once where less than half the guests were seated, ready to go, by ten minutes after our start time…  and the bride decided to wait another twenty minutes until most – not all – of them finally arrived!  And at another wedding, we had an unavoidable delay due to a bridesmaid getting stuck in traffic, and started twenty minutes late.  I sent the bride up the aisle and had eight guests waiting behind her to walk in!)

Obviously, traffic and delays happen.  I once had a dress zipper break – and then the dress get stuck halfway over my head – when I was on my way to (attend) a wedding.  Yup.  I missed the bride walking up the aisle.  It happens to all of us.  Which is why I actually aim to get there a little early – and always suggest that to all guests.  But that doesn’t explain everything.  In fact, I know a lot of people simply don’t ever get to weddings on time.  I hear it every time I am in charge of a wedding and a guest gets there after it starts.  Life happens.  We all have those days.  But if you on-purpose plan on getting there late…  Or simply on-purpose don’t give yourself enough time to get there reasonably…  Just STOP it!

Don’t forget to sign the guestbook.  And your card.

Every couple loves getting to see messages from their guests in their guestbook.  That’s why they’re so popular.  So if there’s a guestbook (or a wishing tree, or an art project), participate!  It’s just sad to see a guestbook with only a few signatures in it…  Especially when it’s been sitting right there all night for you to sign.

And don’t forget to sign your card too.  The couple will want to send you a thank you.  Even if they don’t – they’ll still like to know who got them this beautiful toaster!  Oh – and on that note, please for the love of Pete, don’t just buy something for them that YOU like.  Use the registry.  Or a give a gift card.  Or money.  The couple will love you forever.

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Pay Attention.

If the officiant asks for quiet, be quiet.  If the DJ asks all the single ladies to come out on the dance floor and you qualify, the bride wants you on that dance floor!  If you’re supposed to be seated at Table 3, don’t sit down at Table 5, no matter how many of your friends are there.  I promise, there’s a reason you’ve been asked to do all these things.

And – this is a personal request – if the coordinator is dismissing tables for dinner, don’t just go ahead and hop in that buffet line.  Aside from it being (again) totally rude, you’re also creating chaos.  Sure, it might just be you.  Then again it might be you and every other guest at said wedding.  Which creates a super-long line and lots of grumbling.  Both by the people who are patiently waiting at their seats to be dismissed, and those who are now at your table watching you eat.  And then people get mad at me.  There’s actually a method to dismissing people, even if you can’t see it.  The coordinator – um, ME! – will be paying attention to the length and speed of the line, and I promise you’ll get dismissed as soon as you’re able to.

Look, someone has to be last.  Someone has to come to the dance floor for the bouquet toss.  Someone has to sit at Table 5.  I’m sorry if it’s you and you’re not happy, but I promise it’ll go more smoothly if you just pay attention.

Don’t bother the couple!!!

This goes for the entire day.  From the moment that couple gets up in the morning until the moment their wedding reception is over…  Just do your best to be considerate of them.  Don’t call or text them asking for directions or what you need to wear to the wedding.  Don’t interrupt their picture taking (it’s probably been scheduled to the minute and believe it or not you might be the difference between their being able to take all their photos and not!).  Don’t come up to them and ask to take their photo while they’re eating.  No, seriously.  Don’t do it.  I once had to have the DJ make an announcement to let the bride and groom eat because people were literally lining up to take their photo while their food was on their plates.  The guests sat down for a few minutes and then kept hopping up to talk to the couple, who were desperately in need of food (getting married is exhausting stuff!); I finally had to stand next to their sweetheart table and tell people to come back later.  Over and over again.

The couple may be the center of attention, but to be a great guest, let them enjoy their day.  Don’t bring them undue stress, take their time away from what they’re supposed to be doing (eating is absolutely essential!!!), or expect them to be able to answer your phone call while they’re getting ready.  Call another friend – or a relative of the couple if you must.  Wait until they aren’t busy and can give you their full attention.  And let them eat!!!!

http://www.jasonalmazanphotography.com/

Don’t ding your glass.

Okay…  It’s cute for the first three or four times.  And most couples are good sports.  After all, kissing your new spouse is great fun.  But along the same vein as the last point…  Just let them eat already!

Don’t make a mess.

Seriously, after certain weddings I feel like someone’s mom.  I go around, picking up water bottles and candy wrappers (Seriously…  Don’t throw these behind the candy buffet…  Haven’t you heard of a trash can?).  I find balled-up napkins in the strangest places, and usually wipe down sinks covered in water.  At a venue like a hotel, this is bad enough – they have a full-time janitorial staff who will scrub down the reception area to make sure it’s ready for the next couple.  But if you’re a guest at a backyard wedding, the janitorial staff is the homeowner and (sometimes) the wedding vendors.

This goes, too, for not breaking things.  At Emma + Chris’ wedding, an overly-enthusiastic guest was trying to get water to flow faster from my glass dispenser and tipped it and shook it vigorously.  The bartender told me the story afterward that the guest simply was too fast for him to stop – and the large, heavy top to my dispenser went tumbling.  The bartender had to dump all the water in the dispenser in addition to cleaning the bar and the floor, because sherds of glass went everywhere.  Oh yes, and my dispenser sat for the rest of the night with a cocktail plate on top of it, which looked, frankly, terrible.  Functional but ugly.  Wedding vendors get it – we don’t bring anything to a wedding that we aren’t aware could potentially return broken or lost – but it’s still tough to see all that extra work, not to mention the expense of replacing an item just because a guest wasn’t being thoughtful.

With this story goes one more…  And it’s too disgusting to go into too much detail.  Let me just delicately say…  At a backyard wedding I worked, an extremely drunk guest evidently decided that he needed to use the urinal in the rental bathroom trailer for more than its intended purpose.  And then decided to “redecorate” the room.  Let me reiterate: this is unacceptably repulsive behavior in any venue.  But at a backyard wedding, who do you think will be cleaning it up?  I guess this dovetails with my next point, though, which is…

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Don’t get too drunk!

One of my brides asked me recently, “Isn’t there always that one couple at every wedding who gets too drunk?”

Sadly, yes, there usually is.

That doesn’t mean that you should be that couple.  In fact, that couple doesn’t need to exist at every wedding.  Drunk guests cause the most chaos at weddings – from stepping on the bride’s bustled train and tearing the buttons off to throwing up (never in the toilet or the trash can; it’s always in front of the bar or in the middle of the bathroom!) to grabbing the mic and making embarrassing toasts to starting fights…  There is no reason for you to drink enough that you won’t remember the wedding the next day.  Or that you’ll think it’s okay to leave “presents” for your hosts (see above).  Save that behavior for the frat party!

(And yes, the photos above and below demonstrate that you CAN have an immensely good time without being wasted!)

Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

This is especially easy to do at a backyard wedding, where no venue staff is there to kick you out at 10:01.  But as a guest at a wedding, please don’t be that person who lingers forever.  The couple wants to go back to their room.  The vendors – often having worked a ten, twelve, or fourteen hour day – want to clean up and go home.  The hosts want to be able to get some sleep.  Once the DJ plays that last song, hug your friends, clean up your area, and head for the exit.  If you absolutely, positively must keep the party going on longer, gather a group of your friends and plan to meet at a bar or club, or someone’s house nearby.  Just remember to have a designated driver!

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Photos by We Heart Photography, FlutterGlass Photography, Jason Almazan Photography, Bryan N. Miller Photography, and Chaz Cruz Photography

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Happy Anniversary Emily + Jeremy!

I can hardly believe it’s time for another anniversary post (one day late)…  It seems like such a short time ago that we were hanging the lanterns in the pool house at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe!  Emily + Jeremy’s day was chic, whimsical, and romantic, and the photos are to die for!  You might recognize these two as being all over my website, blog, and Facebook page…  I can’t help it – they’re just so gorgeous!

Wishing you two the sweetest of anniversaries and another year of happy marriage! 🙂

See the full gallery of photos from Emily + Jeremy’s wedding on my website!  And read the blogs about their ceremony and reception!

Emily + Jeremy’s Modern Handcrafted Inn at Rancho Santa Fe Wedding Details:

What to Look for When Choosing Wedding Vendors

This post has been inspired by some conversations I’ve had over the last few months, both with other vendors and with clients and potential clients.  Every single point addressed here has come from more than one source, so I hope no one feels singled out!  I’ve been meaning to write something like this for a while!

Ah, wedding planning.  The fun! The joy!  The feeling of balancing on a tight rope with hundred-pound weights on your feet.

How do you know where to go?  For advice?  For support?  For recommendations?  After all, Aunt Mildred might have known all about wedding planning when she got married in 1943, but things have changed.  Drastically.  Even in just the last ten years.  Even in the last five.

With the advent of the internet, it’s incredibly easy to do research on your own.  And it can be incredibly overwhelming too.  How can you decide what you want when everything starts melting together after hours of searching into a big puddle of jewel-encrusted, lace-embellished, rose-scented goo?

Budgets are important of course – and it’s certainly not a good idea to spend more than you feel comfortable with.  But having been both a budget bride and a wedding vendor who works with brides who have budgets of all sizes, I think there are some other really important – and often overlooked – points to keep in mind when you’re choosing the vendors who will make your wedding day special.

  • How does the vendor talk about his or her clients? Client reviews are obviously the number one way that potential clients find their vendors.  If a vendor has high ratings, chances are that you’ll be more inclined to check them out.  But check to see, too, how a vendor talks about his or her clients online – in blog posts and comments, on Facebook and Twitter, and anywhere else they might be interacting with other vendors and clients – and to you specifically.  Are they excited?  Engaged?  Interested?  Helpful?  If a vendor consistently has a whiney, pushy, snobby, or complaining tone, it’s a big red flag.  I’m not a big fan of vendors who bash their clients.  And if a vendor ever tells you “Well, you don’t know, because you’ve never been married, but I’m an expert at this, so listen to me…”  Well, let’s just say that it’s a HUGE pet peeve of mine.  To clarify: I know you’ve probably never been married before, and I try to be an expert.  But I will never ever tell you that you must do something my way, just because I “know” what to do.

  • How does the vendor present him or herself? How do they come across online? On the phone?  In person?  Do they type in complete sentences or netspeak?  Do they answer e-mails promptly?  Do they dress professionally?  Do they have an informative website?  This is not to say that a vendor has to have the prettiest, flashiest, or most up-to-date website (goodness knows it took me long enough to have one I was proud of!).  But if they consistently come across as unprofessional, uneducated, or unprepared, they probably are.
  • Does the vendor’s work come across as high-quality? Please don’t confuse “work” with “photos of work,” unless you’re talking specifically about photography/videography.  Even then I have a caveat (see below).  High quality work doesn’t always mean high-quality photos or high-budget items.  Just like any foodie can tell you, the most authentic and best-tasting food can often be found in less-than-picturesque locations.  When you’re looking for a talented designer (florals, invitations, dresses, or weddings in general), look for thoughtful details, carefully placed.  Often, the most creative styling goes into the event with the smallest budget – it takes an out-of-the-box designer to stretch a few decoration dollars!  Instead of looking for exactly the details or the design you’d want, and instead of judging a wedding vendor by the budget of their last wedding, look for a vendor who puts thought into everything they put out, whether or not they have the best photographs.  By the way, this same principle can be applied to photographers too – don’t judge a photographer by the details in his or her photographs, but rather on the quality and composition of the photos themselves.

Handcrafted rice paper circle "sculpture" table runners by Events by Elisa

  • How do they work? This can sometimes be hard to determine from websites alone – you usually need to ask your potential vendors this question when you meet them. First and foremost, it’s important that you have compatible working styles (if you expect constant communication and they expect to not have contact with you after your contract signing, you might not work well together!).  But more than that, learning about their working style will help you to know whether you can trust them to really give your wedding special attention.
  • Value is not the same as cheap.  You’ve probably heard that you can have either low cost or high quality service.  I don’t necessarily subscribe to that idea – I think that it’s very possible to get a good balance of both.  But the best value service is usually not the lowest cost service – it’s the best mixture of quality and price.  Couples will often get so focused on the bottom line of their wedding that they overlook a vendor’s lack of experience or expertise.  I even made this mistake when planning my own wedding (despite my years of planning events for other people – it’s an easy trap to fall into!).  A good value vendor will be one who goes above and beyond the minimum, who offers you consistently good service and communication, and who knows how to make things happen.  Think of wedding vendors like purses – the ones who offer you the most value are not usually the least expensive.  Low quality purses can be expected to last a week or a month before breaking.  But high quality purses will easily last for years, and often buying a single high-quality purse can end up saving you money in the long run over buying low-quality pieces.  The same principle applies to vendors – if you’ll have to provide your DJ with a CD of all of the songs you want played at your wedding, or your florist requires constant attention, or your coordinator shows up an hour before the wedding ceremony and hasn’t even glanced at the timeline she didn’t help to make, you might be paying rock-bottom prices, but what are you really getting?  Look for vendors who go above and beyond the minimum, and your dollar will be well-spent.

Beautiful Handmade Guestbook

  • Book early! It’s never too early to book a high-quality wedding vendor.  For one thing, good vendors are in demand.  Waiting until late in your process can mean that you miss out on your favorite vendor because he or she is already busy on the day of your wedding.  For another, prices can go up (sometimes several times a year) as vendors find the best pricing structure for them.  And for a third, the earlier you book a vendor (particularly a coordinator/planner, but any vendor, really), the more value they can add.  From referring other quality vendors to adding on extras to helping you to create your design vision, good wedding vendors, when brought in early, can actually save you money, time, and hassle.
  • Do you LIKE this person? Your wedding vendors are going to be spending a lot of time making your wedding great.  It doesn’t make any sense to hire them if they don’t seem like someone you’d enjoy being around.  Coordinators, planners, designers, DJs, photographers, and officiants are integral to the success of your day.  Florists, graphic designers, and bakers won’t actually BE at your wedding, but you’ll still be trusting them to make your wedding day vision happen.  TRUST is key.  Don’t hire anyone you don’t like!

Photo credits:

What Wedding Planners REALLY Do (a new series): Editor

Today I’m starting a new feature series here on my blog.  I’ve got so many post ideas that end up being so extremely long that I’m trying very hard to break them into smaller, more digestible bites.  This one came out of a discussion I had earlier this month with my newest couple (Diana + Julian).  Julian was skeptical that they really needed a coordinator to help with their wedding day preparation, and it got me thinking about all the different “hats” I wear in my function as planner (or designer or coordinator, but for this particular series I’ll be using the term “planner” to encompass all parts of the design, planning, and coordination process).

There are a lot.

So I decided to write them out.  Give a little explanation.  To give you some insight into just what your wedding planner does, on and before your wedding day.  You might just be surprised.

The first of my functions?  Editor.

The Wedding Planner as Editor

Do you remember playing as a kid?  Imagination abounded, you could be and do anything you wanted.  Possibilities were endless.  One day you had your heart set on being a rock star when you grew up.  The next it was a doctor.  The next an astronaut, or a paleontologist, or a baker who made cakes 100 layers high.  Do you remember that feeling?  That there were so many amazing opportunities for you?

That’s kind of how it feels when you’re first planning a wedding.

Actually, I know that it’s not the case for everyone (some people flat out hate wedding planning, and that’s where another of my roles as planner comes in, but we’ll get to that in a future post).  But for so many of my couples, their wedding is this fantastic opportunity to do whatever they want!!!!  Bubbles, rice, confetti, streamers, sparklers…  The possibilities are astounding.  And those are just for the end of the ceremony!

Most wedding planning journeys take a lot of twists and turns.  You might choose a theme but be completely stuck on colors, or decide on one look and then suddenly realize it’s wrong for you.  One of my former clients looked into three separate “feels” for her day.  Sometimes remnants of one theme stick around after that theme is long gone.  Sometimes there are just too many ideas to decide.  Sometimes there isn’t much clarity at all.

In my role as wedding planner, I help you to pare down all those ideas and unify all those themes.  Part of my job in the planner/designer capacity is to make sure that your ideas all tie together on your wedding day.  I try to look at your overall plans and tweak them so that they make sense.

For example, when designing the details for Emily + Jeremy’s Wedding, we knew that the very!bright! color of the pool house wasn’t going to tie in with her wedding day style.  So we created a showpiece using Chinese lanterns, and brought them into the other spaces in the wedding.

For The McAwesome Wedding, Neva came to me with a few ideas – elephants! birdcages! The Party! lanterns! peacock feathers! daisies! – and her wedding invitation (which featured a round cutout piece of patterned rice paper) and we sketched out a basic plan for her table runners and reception decor, bringing them all together.

Handcrafted rice paper centerpiece for the family's round table by Events by Elisa

For E+D’s Wedding, I remember when the bride first sent me the link to her inspiration photos in Google Docs.  There were over 40 different photographs there!  Together, we went through, prioritizing, discussing options, working to unify her disparate ideas.  In the end, we pared things down to just what was really important to her, carried the bird theme loosely throughout the day, and I threw in a couple of fun surprises.

Welcome Chalkboard

Your planner will ideally be able to help you create an overall vision for the day, cut out the pieces that simply don’t fit, and put a pretty little bow on top.  Because your planner has seen how all the elements of a wedding interact with each other on many occasions, she can tell you what will make the greatest impact or how best to make all your ideas work in concert.  But only if you share your vision with her and listen to her input – otherwise, she’s got nothing but a blank page!

Photo credits:

Emily + Jeremy’s Modern Handcrafted Wedding at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, 11*05*2011 (Part 2)

When last I posted, I gave you the ceremony portion from Emily + Jeremy’s gorgeous wedding in Rancho Santa Fe last November.  Today I’m sharing the reception with you!

But first…  One more photo of the couple, in a quiet moment between the ceremony and the reception. I love the relaxed, ecstatic expressions on their faces!

For starters, here are some shots of the setup, featuring table runners by Classy Covers and florals by Suzan M Florals.

I’m a huge fan of rectangular tables at weddings.  I’m not really sure why.  I just like them.  Feasting tables too.  I also love mix-and-matching table shapes/sizes so that each one is a little different.  Emily did just that, mixing circles with rectangles and creating an extra-extra long head table!  Being flexible with table shapes and sizes helps accommodate guests with different sized groups.

Remember how I said this dessert table was one of my favorites?  Here’s a shot of the whole thing, including the “Sweet Love” banner Emily made!

And more pictures of my mini bunting.  🙂  Each piece was less than an inch high.

YUM.  My mouth is watering!

My assistant Rachael makes the most gorgeously perfect escort card setups.

We also added some fun touches from the Events by Elisa inventory, including this gorgeous card cage:

And our guestbook tree.  Complete with one of my favorite pieces, the little metal bird.

I love these photos of Emily and Jeremy’s first dance:

And their “cake cutting” (really clinking together cake pops):

And let’s not forget the garter!

Of course I said before that the Chinese lanterns were some of the biggest parts of the decor at this wedding.  I do love a good lanternfest.  Here’s the archway near the dance floor – this is where we used up the extra few that we had.  It just made the whole thing festive, and was a nice surprise for the bride!

And my Chinese lantern sculpture.  Seriously, this took three people FOUR hours working together (perched on ladders!) just to put it together.  But it turned out so amazingly.  I could have stared at it all night.

It looks relatively small in that big photo, but it really made a huge impact on the entrance to the reception.  And that GIANT lantern?  Fabulous.  Especially after dark.

The guests were such fun, too.  Not all weddings end up having a breakdancing party on the middle of the dance floor!  Of course YES Productions kept the tunes coming.  🙂

My assistant Rachael and I got a chance to have a quick photo with the bride and groom. 🙂

It was such a stunningly beautiful, fun wedding, with such an incredible team!!!  I just have to leave you with another of my favorite photos from the day.  🙂

Emily + Jeremy’s Modern Handcrafted Inn at Rancho Santa Fe Wedding Details:

Emily + Jeremy’s Modern Handcrafted Wedding at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, 11*05*2011 (Part 1)

Now that I’ve finished up my website (finally!) I can get back to blogging!  And I’ve got quite the backlog of gorgeousness to show you!

I’m starting off with a wedding that probably looks pretty familiar to you, if you’ve visited my Facebook page, or my new website, recently. It’s Emily and Jeremy!  Just a word of warning: this post is EXTREMELY picture-heavy.  I couldn’t pare it down to just a handful.  There is just so much to show you!  And because I didn’t want to explode your computer…  I decided I had to split it into two posts.  🙂

Their beautiful wedding took place on a perfect day in November; the sun was shining but it was just overcast enough not to create shadows in their photos!  And considering that the day before their wedding, it was pouring down buckets of rain, we were all pretty excited to see it looking so fantastic!  It was a bit cool, but that just encouraged everyone to get on the dance floor and boogie!!!

Emily approached me last June, wanting the service that I now call Design+.  She is a graphic designer herself, but wanted another eye to help keep her wedding vision on track.  I loved her ideas from the start, of course, and we had an excellent time shopping together for lanterns to decorate the entry way to the reception (I’ll get to that in a minute)!

It’s obvious when you see the two of them together how much love Emily and Jeremy have for each other.  There was so much joy in the air!  And SO many gorgeous photos.  Emily had assembled a fantastic team of vendors, from Chaz Cruz Photography to YES Productions and Suzan M Florals to Tailored Sweets…  Really every part of the day was more fabulous than the next.

The couple decided that they didn’t want a traditional wedding cake, and opted instead for a dessert display by Tailored Sweets.  Sarah and my assistant Rachael and I styled the table together, and I have to say it’s one of my favorites so far.

Of course, it might have something to do with the super sweet mini bunting I hand made for the occasion.

Or perhaps the tissue pouf/lantern display we created to hang above it (this photo was taken by Chaz as well; I just realized that his logo isn’t on it!).

Those weren’t the only lanterns we used either.  In fact, when Emily and I went shopping, we purchased 35 white lanterns in sizes from 6 inches to four feet wide.  Yes, four FEET.  Add that number to the lanterns I already owned…  And we had a party!

In fact, we used most of those 35 lanterns in the pool house, which served as the entry way into the reception.  Since it was a jarring orange red (not exactly within the color palate of purple and pink!), Emily wanted something beautiful to draw the eye.  My assistants and I worked for almost three hours to hang each lantern perfectly and I am SO pleased with the results.  Our 35 lanterns turned into a single lantern sculpture.  It looked truly stunning, especially as it got dark and the light (just above the largest lantern) lit the entire piece.

But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself again (I tend to do that with details I adore!).  So I should start over.  From the beginning this time.  First, the dress and shoes.

And our beautiful bride.

And her flowers by Suzan M Florals.  Wowza!

First looks are one of my favorite things about today’s weddings – I wish I’d thought of doing one when I got married in 2008, but they just weren’t as common!  This one is simply adorable.

Look at how happy they are!

Bridal Party photos.  Love them!

And then there’s the wedding ceremony.  LOOK at that backdrop (hanging orchids by Suzan M Florals!).  I officially am in love with ceremonies under trees.

It was officiated by a friend of the bride and groom.  One of my favorite parts of it was the wine box.  The bride and groom sealed three bottles of wine into the custom-made box, each one to be drunk on an upcoming anniversary (1 year, 5 years, and 10 years) along with love letters to be read on each of those years.  Feel free to “awwwww!”  I did.

I can’t handle this level of cuteness.

Because of where I stand during wedding ceremonies (I direct people to walk up the aisle and then am at the back), I don’t usually get to see expressions on either the bride’s face or the groom’s.  I love seeing photos like this!

Stunning!

Sealing up the box!

MARRIED!

And of course this next photo will be super recognizable, since I’m totally enamored of the moment.  The bubbles!  The expressions!  The framing!  Chaz, you did an amaaaaaazing job on this one.

With that expression of ultimate joy, I’ll leave you until next week, when I’ll post Part 2 of this beautiful wedding!!!

Emily + Jeremy’s Modern Handcrafted Inn at Rancho Santa Fe Wedding Details: