A Bluebird Day For an Oak Creek Wedding

Penny and Justin’s love story started when they were both students at Chapman University. We did a fun engagement session there what seems like eons ago, and I was looking forward to their wedding. As it turned out, it was on a beautiful April day. The venue they chose, Oak Creek Golf Club, is so pretty, and — being a golf course — always green. The ceremony pergola has a beautiful backdrop with lots of pepper trees. And, there are also palm trees in abundance, so there are many options at the property.

IMG_1192Okay, so the hashtag for the wedding was #justinsluckypenny. Of course, we had to do this shot.

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The “I’m a bride” moment.

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I absolutely LOVE this bouquet, with gardenias and my personal fave flower — the peony. And the touch of blue is beautiful.

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Dad’s will be Dads. Helping with the tie.

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An interesting angle can turn an otherwise ho hum shot into something terrific.

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This is what you DON’T get with a first look. Love this moment.

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Here she comes!

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Going in for the first kiss.

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Time for a little joyriding in the golf cart to some scenic spots.

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First dance as Mr. and Mrs. The look of love.

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Popping out for the last bit of light.

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Photography: Click Chicks Photography
Venue: Oak Greek Golf Club, Irvine, CA
Property Wedding Coordinator: Sarah Gamble
Outside Coordinator: Cindy Brown, Events by Melody Walker
Florals: Beautiful Savage Flowers
Bridal Gown:  Demetrios
Brides Hair:  Shadows Hair Salon (Tina)
Brides Makeup:  Ashley Gannon
Grooms Attire: Vera Wang from Men’sWarehouse
Bridesmaid/Groomsmaid dresses:  J Crew
Cake:  Creative Cakes
Officiant:  Dr. Brian Trott

Tiny Weddings

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I think I might’ve coined a new phrase: Tiny Weddings. You’ve no doubt heard of “tiny houses?” As little as 300 square feet (!), they’ve become quite the rage as people downsize their lives. All I can say is, the smaller my house is, the bigger my storage unit! So, that term can translate to weddings as well. I had the pleasure of photographing two #tinyweddings at the end of 2016. While small in size they were still B-I-G in love and emotion and I was honored to play a role.

First up: Sakeenah and Regis … now Mr. and Mrs. Ndabadugitse. They’re been together nearly a decade and decided it was time to tie the knot. Regis is from one of the smallest countries in Africa — Burundi. Due to its general instability, he and his family came to the US. Their civil ceremony was at Laguna Hills City Hall and attended only by close family members, followed by photos there.

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Stunning family on both sides.

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Love this spot inside City Hall.

Then to the beach in Laguna, where Sakeenah’s dad talked about the African American tradition of Jumping the Broom, a custom practiced in antebellum slavery when a couple couldn’t wed legally. It’s come to mean sweeping away the old and welcoming new beginnings, joining two families, and a respectful nod to ancestors. img_2260img_2265img_2288Some final shots on the beach and La Casa del Camino, before a rooftop lunch for the family at Mozambique.

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ringing in 2016 at the ranch at laguna beach

My first wedding of the year was at the glorious “The Ranch at Laguna Beach.” You’ve heard the saying everything old is new again? Well, The Ranch is a historic property (formerly Ben Brown’s and Aliso Creek Inn) nestled in a spectacular wooded canyon just down from The Montage. Anyone who’s seen it knows it’s a very special place. With new owners for the first time in decades, they’re in the final phases of a remodel that is sure to make it one of California’s premiere hotel/golf course/spa properties and, of course, wedding venue. The brand-new Sage Ballroom is slated to open in just a few months.

What better way to kick off the New Year by photographing Lauren and Chris’ wedding? Can’t imagine anything better. What a day. What a team. What a couple! Complete credits at the end.

P.S., Yes I know this is a long blog entry. But… what can I say? I’m in love with these photos!

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Lauren’s adorable — and VERY happy — daughter.6M6A0091
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Our groom, Chris6M6A0329

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The team ::

Photographer: Click Chicks Photography
Co-Photographer: Maryanne McGuire
Venue: The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Venue Coordinator: Lindsey Kenworthy
Event design/Planning/Florals: Studio AD Events
Gown: Maggie Sottero
Bridal Makeup: Tamara Taylor Artistry
Bridal Hair: Summer Reed
Bridesmaids’ Gowns: Donna Morgan “Laura”

Awesome advice for an unplugged wedding

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This photo is what was actually happening behind me when one of my couples was having their “private” first look at The Ritz Carlton in Dana Point. What can you do?

I’ve got to say, competing with family members and guests for a memorable shot is an ongoing issue for me as a professional wedding photographer in Orange County. For example: I work to get a couple looking beautifully romantic for an image I know is killer. Next to me are 10 people who also want the shot. Typically family or members of the bridal party. Meanwhile, the couple is terribly distracted by all the other lenses staring at them and don’t know where to look. The results are less an ideal for all of us.

If the couple doesn’t speak up, I politely ask the others to let me get the shot, then they can have their chance. What they probably don’t think about is the fact that we’re on a schedule. We are being paid to deliver. And that’s our priority. So, I apologize in advance if you think I’m being selfish, bratty, or {insert adjective here}. I just want to do my job the very best I can.

That being said, the amazingly talented wedding/event planner, consultant extraordinaire Natalie Vishny (http://natalievishny.com) just did a blog post on this very same issue. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you Natalie.

Here are Natalie’s thoughts:

Wedding ceremonies are more fun when your guests turn off their cell phones.  You get to live in the moment and actually “look around” and enjoy.

Twice, in the last week, I’ve been asked from couples about etiquette for unplugged weddings. 

Here are my simple three pieces of advice for wedding couples:

1)  If you have a cool invitation that allows for an extra verbiage line, you actually can say, “At our ceremony, we ask you enjoy and be “unplugged”.  

2)  Have “PARTY signage.”.  This could be a LARGE framed sign at the sign-in book table, or a sign at your greeting beverage station reminding your family and friends to turn off their cells. An example of signage includes, “There’s a person here taking pictures, we’d like to only have one. Please set down your cameras until our ceremony is done.”

3) Make sure that your wedding planning team knows that you would like an unplugged ceremony, so that they can go and provide a note or a hug to the “lady” who is taking photos.

Having an unplugged wedding definitely makes the moment seem more intimate. 

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.

Three Arch Bay, Laguna Beach

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.

Leeanne + Michael at Beautiful Casa Romantica

Just took a quick peruse of this amazing wedding two weeks ago at Casa Romantica. What a gorgeous and sweet couple from New York. Love these two. And they clearly love each other! Will likely share more as the post-production moves along. So many cool details. And some of my fave vendors to work with! Coordinator – Kristin Shively – ReUp Design & Events Florist – Starla Bork, Enchanted Fine Florals Caterer – Iva Lee’s DJ – Todd Allen, E Mobile Music casa_romantica_wedding