Happy New Year!!!! Did you have fun last night? Maybe you stayed in, maybe you went out ... or maybe you were like me (a mom of 2 young children) and were sound asleep by 9:00 only to be woken up at midnight with the sound of fireworks. Either way, it's a brand new year and I am so excited! And what a beautiful way to begin the new year ... a stunning Orange County real wedding photographed by Christine Bentley Photography. I love the details of this one! LVL Weddings and Events (Orange County wedding coordinator) did such a beautiful job on Malia and Brandon's wedding. Check it out!
Malia: My best moment was walking out of the bridal suite with my dad right before walking down the aisle. I paused there for a minute and took it all in - seeing 200 of our closest family and friends who were all there to celebrate with us. Looking around at all the smiling faces, looking at the beautiful flowers/decor/candles/chandeliers, looking up towards the altar at my sister and best friends, and finally the moment when I made eye contact with Brandon and saw the emotion pouring out of him.
Brandon: The best moment of the wedding for me was when I saw Malia walk down the aisle for the first time. She took my breath away. I was nervous because there were so many people watching me at the altar but once I saw her, the nervousness went away and I was overcome with joy. Everything leading up that moment was worth it, all the taste testing, all the reminder emails, errands and meetings… they were all worth it because at that moment, I was the luckiest guy in the world.
The hardest part of the whole planning process for me was choosing a venue. I had no idea where to start. The only thing I knew I wanted was to be outdoors for the ceremony - I didn't want to get married in a church. I called and visited numerous venues from Los Angeles to San Diego. At first I thought I wanted something close to the beach, but when I started visiting venues, I started to realize how very public many places were. I didn't want to run into another bride the day of my wedding, or have to be routed to specific areas of the venue because another wedding would be taking place. I didn't have a set of predetermined criteria, I just wanted to visit as many as I could in person to see what fit us best, compare all the prices, and start weeding them out. As soon as we arrived at Rancho Las Lomas, I knew that was it. I immediately fell in love with the venue. I loved the privacy aspect - everyone there would be there for us. The place was so different and unique - and there was so much foliage, flowers, trees, lights already in place, that you wouldn't need much to fill out the space. I liked how the venue had different areas (ceremony area outside, another outside space for the cocktail reception, zoo animals throughout the grounds for guests to walk around and see, and an indoor room for the late reception), so it seemed like you were somewhere new and exciting throughout the night. After I saw Rancho Las Lomas, I compared every other venue I visited to it, and in my mind, nothing else came close. I knew this was the right place for us.
Our florist was Empora Flora - Marisa Perring. We absolutely loved working with her. I had met a few other florists prior to choosing her, but at our first meeting, I loved her enthusiasm, personality, and creativity. She was very out-of-the-box, and wanted to create something unique and beautiful. I brought pictures of some ideas I liked in magazines, then we looked at pictures of arrangements she had done. After she got an idea of my style, she began to use her imagination and creativity to give ideas of what we could do. She was very easy to work with. She had my colors exactly perfect, and the final result was absolutely stunning. The arrangements, aisle petals, bouquets, centerpieces, ceremony candle/glasses, etc. were more than I ever could have imagined. I was 110% satisfied with the final result and will recommend her to everyone!
When we began looking into photographers, we started looking online and in wedding reviews to see what was out there. A family member had recommended Christine Bentley, so we made an appointment to meet her. As soon as I sat down in her studio, I knew she was the photographer for me. Not only did I love her work and photography style, but I really clicked with her personality. It was important for me to find someone whose photography I liked, but even more important, I wanted to find someone who I actually got along with and really liked. I'm a huge "photo person" so I wanted someone efficient and ready to hustle, who could work well under stress and get as many shots done as possible. Another big thing for us is that we wanted to wait to see each other until the walk down the aisle. I knew getting married at 5pm in September would give us limited time for good lighting to get all our shots done. I had many photographers try to persuade me to change my mind and take photos before the ceremony, and Christine was the only person who said, "Of course we can wait, I will make sure we get every shot you want, we will make it work." She was more than willing to work with us, and I loved her efficient and organized work ethic. Not only that, she came while we were getting ready and stayed until the very end. What really stuck in my mind was when she told me, "I will be there until the very end. I do not want to see guests taking out their cameras and phones at the end of the night to get shots because the photographer's time ended and she left." We did an engagement session with her first, and her work was spectacular. After seeing the thousands of incredible shots from the wedding day, I couldn't be happier that Christine Bentley was our photographer.
We hired DJ Tasos, owner of LSM Entertainment. We heard of him through several different wedding websites, and he was highly recommended with several positive reviews. When I met with him, I immediately loved his personality, charisma, and energy, and I knew he could definitely keep the momentum and fun going throughout the night. He helped select songs for the ceremony and reception, and was very helpful in coordinating our first dance with our surprise "Thriller" routine. Not only did he provide an entire night of great music, he also brought in all of our uplighting and spot lights. He knew exactly what areas to highlight to make the reception space look spectacular. He also assembled a large beam draped with fabric with 5 hanging chandeliers over the head table that looked amazing!
Our event was catered by 24 Carrots. We absolutely loved the food and had a hard time finalizing our menu because we wanted everything! They were very organized and easy to work with. During our tasting meeting, we got to try many selections, and everything was delicious. We loved the beef and chicken skewers, bacon wrapped scallops, mushroom cakes, and mini caprese salad appetizers that we chose for the cocktail hour. We decided to go with the buffet option for dinner, and many guests were thankful because they loved the food and helped themselves to seconds and even thirds. We received a lot of compliments on the food. We also chose to add late-night bites which everyone loved. We had mini sliders and chicken quesadillas. 24 Carrots also has an exclusive baker, so it made it easy and convenient to order our cake from them as well. We wanted something simple with some added floral touches from our florist. The baker drew our cake design by hand at our tasting menu and let us try all the flavors. We ended up with a 3-tier cake with a couple of our favorite flavors, and added several mini desserts as well. Being a guest at many weddings, I know a lot of people don't end up eating their piece of cake, and many served slices go untouched and wasted. The mini desserts were a great way to add some variety - we had cake pops, cheesecake, tarts, lemon bars, and chocolate/peanut butter shots. We had zero leftovers to take home, so we knew the food was a hit.
My biggest piece of advice is to take one thing at a time. You can be easily overwhelmed in planning a wedding without a full-time wedding coordinator. Once you select the date and venue, the rest will fall into place. Think about the 3 most important things to you, and work on that next - whether it's the photography, dress, food, music, florals...Make a list and slowly cross things off as you go. The biggest thing is that when your wedding day finally arrives, it literally flies by in the blink of an eye. All the planning, stress, money, and time put in over the entire year comes and goes in a flash the day of your wedding, so try to enjoy the whole process. At times you'll be stressed and overwhelmed, but just enjoy the entire engagement and planning period, because when it's all over, you'll miss it and want to do it all over again!
Photographer: Christine Bentley Photography
Wedding Coordinator: LVL Weddings and Events
Venue: Rancho Las Lomas
Flower Design: Empora Flora
Catering, Linen Rentals, Event Rentals: 24 Carrots
Wedding Cake: Sweet Gems
Wedding Stationery: Proskalo
Wedding DJ: LSM Entertainment
Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Bridesmaid
Bride's Dress: Mon Amie
Cinematographer: Pristine Videos
Makeup Artist: Nida Gazi
Hair Design: Monique Hale