Elise + Craig’s Wedding at Laguna’s La Casa del Camino

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Laguna locals, as well as visitors, often refer to this location as simply “The Rooftop.” But The Rooftop is atop the historic boutique hotel, La Casa del Camino, that oozes charm. (And of course, also offers many little corners for photos.) The Spanish inspired guest rooms are beautiful, or you can choose from a number of “Surf Rooms” designed by So Cal surfwear companies.

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The headboard was the perfect backdrop for the gown. And, Craig gave Elise the single rose earlier in the day.

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Love the personalized shoes. See the soles on a separate photo.

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Girls, especially sisters, just want to have fun!

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The natural light coming from the window, combined with beautiful carved headboard and iron sconces, made this a beautiful setting for some portraits.

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Love the serious look here. The lad is groom Craig’s son, and ring bearer.

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How sweet was this message Craig wrote to his bride?

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Something blue…

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That would be a wrap. Married!

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Down to the beach. Literally just steps away.

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Love this little courtyard. And when a couple can “dip”, I take advantage of it! So romantic.

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Oh yeah!

monique + steven get married at occasions at laguna village

I’ll admit … I went a little crazy with this post. I just couldn’t narrow the field to fewer than these 25 images. What can I say? Monique was a stunning bride. I loved the piece she added to her gown around her shoulders, to make it extra special, rather than “just another beautiful strapless gown.” I think it absolutely made the dress.

And, as you know, I love shooting at Occasions at Laguna Village. The setting just can’t get any better. Their wedding was in the middle of a sunny day, so lighting was tricky, but we made it work. There’s no other option, right!

Kudos, as always to Dayna and her daughter, who coordinate Occasions weddings flawlessly; Annie of La Tulipe Florals who always wows; and Rev. Michael Ahern, who performed a heartfelt and touching ceremony.

Starting the processional. The moment when reality hits and the groom and guests see her for the first time.

Starting the processional. The moment when reality hits and the groom and guests see her for the first time.

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A gorgeous puffy cloud day.

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I think they’re married!

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Brown’s Park, the little walkway just north of the property.

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Even a parking lot can provide an interesting backdrop!

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Just a white wall in the corner of the property. Gorgeous!!!

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First dance.

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Groom and Mom is always a shot that has so much emotion.

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Giving myself props for capturing the bouquet before it was caught 🙂

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Priceless view from Occasions.

LOVE this.

I love this shot AND the little pocket park where this metal fence resides. Isn’t it beautiful?

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One of those serendipitous moments that turns into a beautiful capture.

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Tips on makeup and hair styling for your wedding day

You’re only going to be a bride once (at least we hope that’s the case) so you want to look picture perfect. Not just for your husband-to-be,  but for the photos you’ll have for the rest of your life. Although some things will surely look dated after a few decades pass, you don’t want to do a trendy look that will scream out “2014”. Think timeless.

Here’s some advice I can offer after years of photographing weddings.

1. Do a makeup trial. And if you don’t like the first one, do a second…or even third. You want to still look like YOU. Well, maybe a more made-up version of you, but if you’re a “less is more” kind of girl, you don’t want to end up with thick black eyeliner and red lipstick.

This is a look I LOVE. Natural eye, and a little more emphasis on the cheek and lip. Great for photography.

This is a look I LOVE. Natural eye, and a little more emphasis on the cheek and lip. Great for photography. And let’s talk about the pearl and rose gold hair ornament.

2. Bring photos of makeup and hair that are examples of what you’d like to look like on the big day. A picture says a thousand… Of course, your particular hair length, texture and thickness will mean you can or can’t do certain things, but you can still convey the vibe. Classic, sophisticated, hippie, boho, fresh, etc. And please don’t decide to change your hair color the week before the wedding!

3. Speak up if you aren’t happy during your trial. That’s why you’re doing it. It’s possible that he/she won’t get it completely right, so this is the time to let the artist make changes.

4. The personality of the makeup and/or hair stylist is also extremely important. You want someone calm, positive and happy. And, PLEASE make sure they can stick to a schedule. In my experience, if hair and makeup run behind, your whole day is messed up! It all starts with them. A call to a previous or client or two should help you learn that important bit of intell. I’ve had brides keep 150 guests sitting in an un-airconditioned church for an hour because the hair and makeup folks had NO sense of urgency.

5. Make sure your stylists bring enough staff for you, your relatives and your bridal party if you’re all getting “did.” Very important.

6. Let the makeup artist apply false eyelashes. They don’t have to be long and super thick, but your eyes will look much better in photos. And, again, the trial will help you get used to the feeling. Having them put on for the first time on your wedding day isn’t such a good idea. And, your makeup should be set with a loose translucent powder. Not only will it set your makeup and help it last longer, it gives a smoother, more flawless finish.

Simply beautiful. And beautifully simple.

Simply beautiful. And beautifully simple.

7. Same goes for hair extensions. While you may not need that extra volume every day, they’ll add that extra “oomph.” AND, extensions hold the curl. So while your own hair is wilting from the humidity, the extensions will look freshly curled. Trust me on that.

8. The fancier your gown, the fewer accessories you need. You want to look “done”, but not over done. Curate your look and think about every detail you’re tempted to add. Do you really need earrings, a necklace, bracelet, hair ornament, jeweled sash, etc.

Jen rocks a pretty distinctive style in her personal life, so the red lip was perfection. But do  note lack of accessories. Anything else would've been too much.

Jen rocks a pretty distinctive style in her personal life, so the red lip was perfection. But do note lack of accessories. Anything else would’ve been too much.

9. Don’t let your makeup artist apply too much shimmer on your face or body. It can actually bring out imperfections and make you look sweaty or shiny in your pictures. No bueno.

10. Don’t do a crazy manicure for the big day, e.g. nails the color of your bridesmaids’ robin egg blue dresses. It will surely look outdated in no time. Don’t forget you’ll likely have close-ups of your hands to show off your ring and/or bouquet, so a simple French manicure or a neutral pastel is much better.

I'm trusting you know which one is which :-)

I’m trusting you know which one is which 🙂

Truly, if you keep these simple guidelines in mind, you’ll have a flawless look that will look beautiful in person and in your photographs.

 

You Say You Want the Sand Between Your Toes?

This is for those of you who want to plan your own wedding on the sand in Laguna Beach, as opposed to using one of the beachfront properties that offer that option. It is doable, but there are some rules to follow, and reservations to make. Make sure you’re good with an “informal” wedding, because that’s what it’s going to be! In other words, if you’re thinking black tuxedos and a ball gown, this is probably not the right decision for you.

Three Arch Bay, Laguna Beach

Three Arch Bay, Laguna Beach

It’s also extremely important, in my opinion, that you choose a photographer familiar with the characteristics of our beaches. Just one critical factor to consider are the tides, as the sand on some beaches virtually disappears at high tide. Just like the fact that photographing a corporate event is very different from shooting a wedding, a beach ceremony has idiosyncrasies that a ballroom or country club doesn’t.

Here's a chance to use some cute beachy details.

Here’s a chance to use some cute beachy details.

There are many beautiful coves in Laguna! Make a day of it and check them all out. And when you have your short list, visit again at the specific time of day you’re thinking of having your ceremony. Look at the shadows. If the sun is still high you can get harsh shadows and/or squinting if you’re oriented in a particular direction. Neither makes for great photos. And, if you want shots of the sun hitting the horizon, you need to make sure it isn’t setting ‘around the bend’. Pay attention to all the details.

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Such a cute sign…and flower girl!

Most beach locations are restricted from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. If you are determined to have a summer ceremony, you can choose from those directly below Heisler Park. They are: North Main Beach, Rockpile, Picnic Beach, and Diver’s Cove. Be sure to have your guests stay at a hotel within walking distance, because parking will definitely be at a premium. Don’t worry — there are many to choose from.

At other times of year, you can get a permit for any of our Laguna beaches, other than those south of Victoria Beach, which don’t require one.

This NY couple chose to say their "I Do's" at Tablerock Beach, just south of Aliso Creek.

This NY couple chose to say their “I Do’s” at Tablerock Beach, just south of Aliso Creek.

The permit allows a two-hour use and costs $255 as of this writing. The rules may seem restrictive but it’s an ‘informal’ wedding after all! Here they are:

  • Maximum number of people, including the wedding party is 95. However, capacity at the Gazebo and Monument Point in Heisler is 50.
  • No tables, chairs, archways, or structures of any type. “Decorations” are allowed, but fixed with ribbon or string and removed afterward. No tape, nails, staples, etc.
  • No blocking of paths or walkways.
  • No amplified sound.
  • No rice, birdseed, confetti or flower petals may be thrown.
  • No alcohol or champagne toasts.
  • No open flame, including candles.

Contact the city Community Services Department located by City Hall at 515 Forest Avenue, (949) 497-0716. And, the permit application is available for download online at http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/community/permits/wedding.asp

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A happy, and gorgeous, couple right after their ceremony!

A fun and thoughtful idea to protect your female guests' high heels.

A fun and thoughtful idea to protect your female guests’ high heels.

Click Chicks featured on Borrowed & Blue

Always fun to be acknowledged and have your photos on a cool wedding website. We love Borrowed & Blue! And of course, Jen & Rich. http://www.borrowedandblue.com/orange-county/weddings/jen-rich

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Using effects to make a good photo great. Or … what’s really happening backstage.

As I’m sure you know, a photographers’ job doesn’t end when the last guests leave the reception. It’s really just starting! This post is specifically to show readers what is possible in post-production, and one of the factors that separates the amateurs from professionals. An effect can’t save a bad photo, and granted, a little goes a long way. But, in a wedding album, it’s nice to have variety. Some images just seem to lend themselves to an particular ‘effect’. A simple conversion to black & white is in that category, as is desaturization, sepia, a vintage feel,  and something I love called ‘creamtone’. With sophisticated post production software, the variations are endless.When I first view a group of photos, my creative eye ‘sees’ what would be the perfect effect to apply, if any. The photos I’m showing you all have effects and in the caption I’ll tell you what I’ve done.

Nicki and Phil’s wedding was terrific. They got ready at La Casa del Camino … always a great spot for photos, and the fact that the beach is so accessible is a big plus. The lobby has lots of opportunities, and I especially like the courtyard, where I staged their ‘first look’. The ceremony and celebration (as David Tutera calls it 🙂 was at Tivoli Too, also in Laguna Beach.

This is the moment I always look for, when the bride is saying to herself "I'm a BRIDE today!" The effect is a cream tone.

Desaturated to emphasize the beautiful silhouette of the gown -- and Nicki!

This is right after the first look. The narrow courtyard has golden tones, so I popped the wall.

Another angle (from the second story window); same effect(s) as the previous shot.

Next up: a short walk down the stairs to the sand. It was the middle of the day, so harsh shadows were abundant. I found this spot of shade, and the effect you see here adds some green, which makes the rocks more textural. It's called Surreal Moment.

Can't explain why, but I saw this image as one that needed to have a vintage feeling. Looks like a Polaroid you'd find in a shoebox in the garage!

I love the officiant's face smiling behind (and between) the couple! I popped the green and black in this shot.

There's a lot going on in this picture, so I wanted your eye to go to the couple. I vignetted the image, making the edges a little darker, bumped up the purple, and increased the black.

The bouquet toss. I lightened up the tossed bouquet a bit so it visually separates from the top of the tent more.

The fact that this works at all is because I was standing on a chair, so I could catch Nicki's Mom's happy face. I just shifted the exposure a bit and increased the black.

Just a good old fashioned black and white. I like a lot of contrast in mine. This was in the photo booth ... you can't leave me out!