Tuscany Style Wedding at Serra Plaza


Ballantyne Hotel Wedding Inspiration


Last week I was lucky enough to chat on the phone with Jeannie Ward ... the master wedding coordinator behind Los Angeles based company: Wedding Jeannie (Los Angeles brides, if you don't already have a coordinator, give her a ring!!).  We dished about guys, food, invitations, and models ... you know, the typical 'wedding crazed people' talk ;)  All of the above and more are below for you to fancy ... and it's pretty frickin' fantastic.  There is a beautiful write-up below the photos from Jeannie about why this styled shoot at Serra Plaza was so dear to her heart.  Also, if you haven't eaten lately, your tummy will be grumbling and growling after seeing all the amazing goodies from Jay's Catering.  OMG, YUM.  Of course, this article woudn't even exist without the noteworthy images which were clicked by the amazing Imagery Immaculate ... srsly, I can't stop drooling!!!  Enjoy!

XO ~ Heather

Wedding vendors involved include: Photography: Imagery Immaculate  Event DesignWedding Jeannie  FlowersFrench Buckets Florist  StationeryPetalos Di Pauli  Cake:  Erica O'Brien Cake Design  Venue:  Serra Plaza Events   Catering:  Jay's Catering   Bridal Stylist:  Hope Stanley  Beauty:  Design Visage  Dresses:  Marry Me Bridal  Chair Rentals:  Chameleon Chair  Rentals:  Classic Party Rentals


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A Wedding In Tuscany – Photo Shoot at Serra Plaza

When I think of Tuscany, I think of food, wine, bread and cheese. I’ve been dying to create a wedding that would embody all of the qualities of Tuscany.

My friend and colleague Mary Lallande is the Venue Relations and Marketing Director of South Orange County’s newest venue, Serra Plaza. It’s located in the historic Los Rios District of San Juan Capistrano.

It’s steps away from the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Serra Plaza’s architecture and design are in keeping with the area. It’s a mission style gem, highlighted by clay tile roofs, adobe colored walls, and a bubbling stone fountain. When I saw it for the first time, I discovered my Tuscany. Imagine how thrilled I was when Mary asked me to design and coordinate a photo shoot that would feature the beauty of the venue.

The first step was in putting together the finest team of creative partners we could assemble. The crème de la crème stepped up to bring my ideas of a Tuscan wedding together. Our color scheme was cream, brown, green and plum. What a warm and sensual palette. I created story boards that were overflowing with images of artisan cheese and wine, rich cuisine, abundant greens, herbs and wildflowers. These story boards went to each vendor, and they embraced the feeling I wanted to convey.

My biggest goal for this shoot was stepping away from everything we’ve seen in traditional Southern California weddings. I wanted everyone to think “new and different”. Most weddings we see in publication are elegant affairs filled with traditional ideas in regards to design. I wanted to inspire couples to embrace elegance in a whole new way. I was hoping to convey a feeling of rustic elegance.

When I dream of a Tuscan wedding I think of families and friends coming together in a beautiful courtyard, bringing out wood tables and their finest china, silver and glass ware. Imagine local farmers bring their finest produce as a gift to the couple. Regional foods would adorn the wedding table, family style. Everyone would share in a toast to the couple, with coveted wines from their cellars. The celebration is filled with family and love, in a casual, yet lush setting.

Each member of our team was more than excited to make my dreams come to life. I was able to count on their individual talents and expertise in knowing exactly what they needed to create.

FLORALS AND DÉCOR: Sussanna Davidson of French Buckets strung olive branches, rosemary and other fresh herbs to adorn the fountain and ceremony area. The smell was incredible. It was as if we walked into an Italian Garden. She used vintage style urns for our dinner table. They were filled with lush hydrangeas, roses, passion fruit vines, succulents, herbs and fragrant wildflowers. As accents, she filled the table with vintage bottles dripping with more herbs and wildflowers. She took the look over the top with dramatic candelabras. To achieve the lush dream, she filled every spare space with figs, plums, pears and grapes. It was a delicious display.

Sussanna is an amazing stylist, not just a floral designer. Using props and antiques, she created a beautiful sitting area, and a sensual bed, for the bride and groom to be photographed. Her careful touches were right on target, especially the rosary on the bouquet, and medal for the boutonniere. They were a perfect reflection of Italian Catholic ideals.

FOOD: Jay’s Catering provided an amazing spread of artisan cheese trays, berries and bread. The mouthwatering dinner menu included:


Caesar Salad with Herb Croutons and Parmesan Curls

Cheese Tortellini with Mushrooms, Italian Pancetta, and Pesto Cream Sauce
Caprese Skewers
Mediterranean Chicken, with Artichokes and Mushrooms, tossed in a Lemon Caper Beurre Blanc
Grilled Green and White Asparagus, drizzled with Balsamic Viniagrette.

An after dinner drink was also provided at the Bar. Limoncello was served over lime wedges in shot glasses. What a traditional Italian way to warm up on a chilly evening.

STATIONERY: Paula Estes of Petalos Di Pauli was the perfect choice for our Stationery needs. She uses eco conscious papers and adorns them with real botanicals. She created escort tags for each place setting and a beautiful card for our cake table using the words “La Dolce Vita” (The Sweet Life)…ahhh, she nailed it. For our bride and groom she marked their chairs with banners using real grape leaves, wine corks and seeds. What a great touch. The menu cards she created for the table were absolutely gorgeous. They had real berries affixed to them. All of the paper was tea stained to give it a rustic and vintage look. The star of the show was her invitation. The invitations were a box covered in plum fabric.  When the box was opened, the invitation inside has a dried sunflower and grape leaf affixed to it. Other touches included twine which held the RSVP cards to the box. Paula even took inspiration from one of the photos I sent her. She created vintage envelopes tied together with twine. She even used vintage Italian postage. Oh the detail.

MODEL STYLIST: Hope Stanley brought together beautiful gowns and tuxedo for our models. Based on the photos, she included the perfect touches of layers and lace. Especially the tie and vest, that was almost identical to the inspiration photos. The gown she chose for the bride had a vintage feel, and we loved it. Italian Lace comes to mind when thinking of this style of wedding. The gowns were from Marry Me Bridal, and we thank them for their participation.

BEAUTY: Hair and Make-up were provided by Design Visage. They are the premiere beauty providers for brides in Orange County. The styling of the bride’s hair was incredible. This is exactly as I imagined my

beautiful Italian bride.

CAKE: Erica O’Brien focused the cake design from our inspiration board. There was a piece of lace in the photos. Erica recreated the lace and placed it on the cake. We didn’t want the design to feel overdone.

She knew exactly what we wanted an proceeded accordingly. I love the vintage cake stand she provided.  To give the cake a bit of color and stay with the theme, she adorned the layers of the cake with a thin satin ribbon in sage green. This corresponded beautifully with the olive trees which were placed on the cake table.

RENTALS: Sussanna and I had such fun when visiting the showroom of Classic Party rentals in Orange County. We carefully scoured their amazing inventory. They had the perfect items for our look. Their

wooden Amalfi tables and bar gave us the rustic feel we craved. Adding elegant and modern Chameleon chairs rounded out the look. Lace chair covers added a feminine flair to our table, that every bride would

We chose to go without linens, instead choosing natural hemp napkins to give our place settings an organic touch.

When deciding on table settings, we wanted the table to feel as though several family members added their finest pieces to it. We chose china from one collection, in different colors, with gold and copper touches. We even threw a little twist in with black dessert plates. We chose a distressed gold water glass, and mixed it with a more elegant style of wine and champagne glass, in colors of green and amber.

When the table was completely dressed, we all realized we created something very special. The feeling of warmth, abundance, and love was reflected perfectly. What I love most about this table design, is that it’s attainable to today’s couples. Anyone planning a Tuscan style wedding can recreate this look.  Rustic yet elegant weddings are becoming more popular. Elegance doesn’t always require traditional linens, and table ware. Mixing textures, styles and colors together, can achieve a new and modern elegance. I’m so happy that we were able to pull together a group of wedding professionals, who used their talents and creativity to inspire brides to embrace this beautiful new movement.


~ Jeannie Ward of Wedding Jeannie

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Reader Comments (10)

I adore every detail! Beautifully done.

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

Absolutely stunning photoshoot that my talented friends "Wedding Jeannie", Jeannie Ward created along with Mary Lallande at Jays Catering plus many talented pros. So lush and gorgeous and makes me want to grab a glass of wine and dream of Italia.

Thank you Ladies for the amazing feature! So honored to have worked with outstanding vendors at such a beautiful location!

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary Lallande

Stunning! It's an event I would want to be at or even have as my own wedding. Beautiful, romantic and purely elegant! Kudos to all who took part, and I'm absolutely in love with the photographer!

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAkemi Photography

Absolutely stunning on an entire different level of luxe! Bravo!

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi

Heather & Kimberly - Thank you for featuring our labor of love. What an amazing day this was. The images by Imagery Immaculate are far more amazing than I ever expecting. I'm skipping skipping skipping with delight that this vision came to life so brilliantly. I hope your readers are inspired and pleased with what they see. xoxoxoxo

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeannie Ward

Such a beautiful shoot...I was inspired by it! I am doing a wedding very similar this summer on a Tuscan Style estate and we are doing many of these ideas! Thank you for sharing~

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercolette lopez

What a joy this shoot was.... the love shows in the final results!

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterhope stanley

amazing. love it. that's a very unique pin that the groom has! did you make it as well?

June 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterstan mconley

Oh my, the opulence! I love it!

August 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErica Ann Photography

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