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Say Cheese!

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Note: Well, I’ve been so behind with blogging, I’m at the point where I think it’s easier if I just continue with current events and if I’m feeling it I’ll go back and blog about past events.  :) 

Yesterday, Chris and I finally did our engagement photo session in Laguna!  We were a little behind on this, but it’s done now so we’re happy!  It was a miracle that I could coordinate so many people together as I wanted to kill two birds with one stone on my hair and make-up trials.  To do this, I had to make sure our photographer, my hair stylist and a make-up stylist were able to fit me in so I could coordinate it all for our photo session.  I managed to do that and we were on our way!

I took off work a few hours early and headed over to Stacee Mason for my hair trial at 1:30pm.  She was able to replicate pretty much exactly what I showed her a picture of.  I did love it, but I’m not entirely sold on the style so I’ll have to see if I go back and try another hair style.  Stacee then was able to pull my hair down and I was able to keep it curly still for the photo session so it wasn’t too formal.  Before she did that, she took a bunch of pictures of my hair style so I can reference them while I make a decision about my hair style.  From there, I drove down to Huntington Beach where I had a make-up appointment with someone that Stacee had referred me to.  I really want to do airbrush make-up for the wedding, and this girl was able to do it which looked great.  I didn’t love how she did my eyes as they were a little too thick in the eyeliner department and it wasn’t clean looking which I had to clean up a little with some q-tips.  She also put on fake lashes for me, but didn’t cut them down to my eyelid size so I had to do that myself when I got home after peeling the ends off my skin.  The extra length was hanging off and made my eyeliner look all crazy.  She didn’t charge a ton, but I guess you get what you pay for.  I don’t think I’ll be using her for my make-up, but I guess that’s why you do trials.

Once I got home, my mom and Esther came over.  They were coming along to help us out.  We needed one person to drive us around since parking on a summer Friday night in Laguna can be crazy and another person to help our photographer out.  Thanks to both of them as I don’t think things would have gone as smoothly without them!

We started taking pictures down an alley Chris found in downtown Laguna.  Michael was directing us and hopefully he got some great shots since Chris and I definitely are not naturals in front of the camera.  Michael is great though so we trust he was able to get some great shots.  Esther swears we weren’t awkward, but I think she was just being a good friend by saying that. LOL! :)

We did a quick outfit change and from there we headed down to Victoria Beach.  This is a great spot we found through word of mouth and a little online researching.  It’s quite hidden away so it’s not easy to stumble upon.  It has some great rocks and structures that you can get to when the tide is low.  We tried to utilize as much of the daylight as we could since we arrived about 30 minutes before sunset.  By this time, my hair was no longer curly and had a definite beach-messy look going on, but hopefully that will go with the theme of the pictures.  We haven’t yet been able to see the pictures yet other than what Michael showed us on his camera screen during the photo shoot, but just based off of that I know we’ll be happy with it!

A “Snap” Decision

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(Blog entry title is courtesy of Chris.  Cheesy, yet catchy…I couldn’t resist.)

The next vendor that Chris and I really wanted to focus on booking was the photographer, as they tend to book out more in advance than other vendors and photography is pretty important to us.  Since Chris is a budding amateur photographer, I wanted to let him take the lead on making the decision since he knows more than me about photography and would be pickier than me.  I started the process by searching the internet for local photographers, asking friends for referrals and using our venue’s preferred vendor list as well as going through all the random business cards I had picked up at this point.  I vetted out the ones I didn’t like pretty fast.  I have a particular style I like so if the website of the photographer didn’t show it, then I pretty much just nixed them right away.  First impressions based off the websites were a big factor in my decision making process.

We decided to interview three photographers: Carlos Salazar, a referral from a friend, Michael Erdkamp, off our preferred vendor list & Happy Photos, who we met at the Invisible Touch Open House.

Chris and I first met with Carlos at a Brueggers in Irvine.  He was newer to the wedding photography business and had great rates.  I also loved all the work that was on his website and thought that his style was exactly what I was looking for so I thought it was a win-win.  Great prices and great work! My friend at work Molly, who referred us to him, also had great things to say about him.  She had been in two wedding where he was the photographer so she was familiar with his work.  Upon meeting Carlos, we immediately felt comfortable with him.  He told us about himself and we asked all of our questions about his process, his style, how he runs the wedding day, etc.  I wanted to make sure that our photographer’s personality jived well with us, because if we felt uncomfortable with them it might make for awkward pictures.  Since I’m not so photogenic, it was important for me to feel comfortable with the photographer so that would be one less thing to worry about during pictures.  Chris and I walked away from that appointment pretty much ready to book Carlos.  (I would highly recommend meeting with him if you are looking for a photographer!)  But, I did tell Chris that we needed to meet with other photographers to see what else was out there and we couldn’t just go with the first person we met.

That brings us to Happy Photos.  We met him at the Invisible Touch Open House a few nights before and at that time I was right in the middle of researching photographers.  At that time, I only had found Carlos and Michael to meet with so I figured that Happy Photos would round out our photographer interviews with a total of 3 vendors.  Happy Photos was pretty standard as far as photographers go.  They had great pictures, but pretty pricey so we pretty much knew if it were between them and Carlos, we would definitely pick Carlos.

The same day we met with Happy Photos, we had an appointment with Michael from Memories by Michael.

Michael’s studio is in Villa Park, which is where Chris and I went to high school.  The building of his studio is on the other side of the wall that separates the business complex and our high school’s football field.  We felt it was a little bit of fate finding him.  :)   We loved Michael as well.  He told us his style consisted more of taking candid shots instead of posed photos which works well for me because I’m Chandler when it comes to taking pictures (if you are a fan of the TV show “Friends,” you’ll know what I’m talking about).  Since Michael was on the preferred vendor list, he is familiar with our venue which was a big plus!  He knew all the secrets about where to take these great shots at the hotel and Chris and I loved that about him.  His prices were reasonable, but definitely not the lowest.  Chris and I left that meeting with a lot to think about.  We were torn between Carlos and Michael.   We weighed a lot of different factors including personality, pricing & experience.  I deferred to Chris on the final decision since I trusted his opinion on photography and thought he was slightly more passionate than I was on who our photographer would end up being.  It was a hard decision, but we went with Michael because of his experience in the business as well as his experience with our venue.  Carlos had never shot a wedding at our location so I was a little concerned that he wouldn’t have the advantage of knowing the venue and utilizing all of its great picture spots.  At the end of the day, we know we made the right decision; however, we would still encourage people to check out Carlos, because from what we know about him, we think he would be a great photographer as well! :)

DJ Open House

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Sorry for my hiatus! It’s been a busy time with work, traveling to Thailand and of course actual wedding planning. J A lot has happened, but I’ll keep this entry focused on our DJ selection.

Chris and I actually didn’t look around for a DJ that much.  My friend Erin had told us how much she loved her DJ, Tim, and we remembered when we attended her wedding how great we thought he was.   We asked her for his information and learned he was affiliated with the DJ company, Invisible Touch.  From there, we also realized that they were on the Marriott’s preferred vendor list so we were pretty much set.  Chris also did some research and saw on their website that Invisible Touch was having an open house in the middle of January where if you booked that night you would get a discount so he RSVPed for us.  Our plan was to go to the open house and request Tim.

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Hunt for the Dress

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So I’ve been away from blogging for a few weeks now and so much has happened! I need to catch up!  So after the holidays and getting our venue squared away, I figured I should start looking for a dress since I didn’t want to limit myself in terms of time.  (Sorry, there won’t be pictures in these entries, because we need to keep Chris surprised about the dress.  :-) )  I’ve heard some dresses you have to order 9 – 10 months in advance!  So on Sunday, Jan. 8th, my amazing MOH made three appointments for us to go dress shopping.  Prior to her doing this, she made this amazing spreadsheet of all the bridal places she researched in LA and OC with notes and yelp stars for us to review.  It was AND she is amazing! So off the three of us went (Christine, my mom and I).

Our first stop was Winnie Couture’s flagship store in Beverly Hills.  I wasn’t really familiar with the designer so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this ended up being the best place to go shopping first.  It was definitely a good experience for my first time out shopping.  The store is amazing and everyone was so nice! Each dressing area has its own pedestal and seating area for your guests.  The store is pink and brown and the shag carpeting and wood floors are so fun! You definitely feel like a princess trying on dresses here.  I definitely feared the snobby attitudes that sometimes comes with dress shopping; however, I definitely did not get that here.  My bridal consultant, Christy, was amazing.  She definitely did her best to accommodate my taste.  At one point, I even had two dresses on at once, because I liked the top of one but the bottom of the other.  So literally we put both dresses on so I could see what it would look like.  Apparently, Winnie Couture is known for the ability to customize their dresses like this so it was definitely doable.  One thing I noticed is that I started loving huge trains at this store.  I never imagined myself as a huge train kind of girl, but now I can definitely see it in my future.  At the end of the day, I don’t think Winnie Couture is my kind of style, but I’m really glad that this was my first stop for dress shopping.

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Location Secured!

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It’s official! Chris and I have signed the contract and will be having our wedding at the Newport Beach Marriott.  I am so proud of myself because I was able to negotiate the price down.  I know that negotiating is part of the wedding industry, but I’m not the negotiating type of girl.  I usually leave that stuff to Chris, but we both agreed that since I was the main contact from the start with the Marriott that it was best if I negotiated.  I had a set goal in mind when I started the negotiation and was willing to let go of some food items or drink items, but I ended up being able to keep everything and only be $3 per person over my target.  The only thing I lost was the fanciness of tray passed champagne. Instead, if guests want champagne they can ask for it at the bar, which works for us! After the price was agreed upon, I set a date to sign the contract and invited my MOH along.  She really wanted to see the place and I wanted her to be able to get the full tour.  She came along with Chris and I to sign the contract and we were able to show her the place and she loved it!

Anyway, Chris and I are both really excited that this part is over and we have a location we both like.  On top of that, this makes our wedding date (10/27/12) locked in and everything is so much more real.  The clock is ticking and now we can move on to other pieces of our planning!

Venue Hunting Trip #3

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(This is my last blog in order to catch me up to real time! After this, hopefully, I’ll be keeping up with the important events on this blog as they happen.)

Since reevaluating what was important to us when it came to venues, we decided to go look at the Newport Beach Marriott.  We determined that although a hotel is not as unique as we would like, it would provide a lot of the other important things that we wanted.  I got an appointment to view the property and meet with the catering manager on Thursday during lunch time since the hotel is so close to work.  Chris met me at work and we drove over together and my mom met us there.

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Milestone: First Bridal Magazine

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When I talked with Erin, she had told me that I should start buying bridal magazines to kind of get ideas of what kind of decor or dresses I would want so that when I got to that point I would have an idea.  Plus, there is only short amount of time in your life that you can buy bridal magazines and actually have it be applicable to you! :) So on Tuesday, I happened to be at Target for some other things and decided to grab one.  I am now officially the proud owner of my first Brides Magazine!

Milestone: First Wedding Planning Breakdown

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The Monday following our second venue hunting trip, I had my first wedding planning breakdown.  After a few days to think things through I was sold on Muckenthaler.  Chris, however, didn’t agree with me.  He didn’t like the fact that the party had to end at 10PM.  I tried to sell him on the idea that we could just have an after party with our friends at the hotel that we end up staying at after, but that didn’t fly.  I was okay with the fact that Chris wasn’t sold on Muckenthaler. 

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Venue Hunting Trip #2

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The following Saturday we were scheduled for two more locations.  I invited my Maid of Honor along this time and it was really fun to have her come along.  She was great at asking good questions and sharing insightful opinions. Thanks Christine!

Our first appointment was early in the morning at Muckenthaler Mansion in Fullerton.  I’ve lived in Orange County for my entire life (except for my college years) and I had never heard of Muckenthaler before so it was kind of a surprise to find such a neat place so close to home.  The building and grounds are gorgeous!  The venue is a jackpot for photo opportunities!

When we first arrived, the catering manager met us outside and took us to sit down in his office.  We really hit  it off with him from the start.  He was the first person to ask us what our vision was for the wedding and asked his questions in a way that helped guide us to giving him answers as opposed to open ended questions that usually end in the typical “I don’t know.”  After meeting with him, he gave us a proposal based on what our idea of the wedding was. 

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First Day of Venue Hunting

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Our first day of venue hunting included two appointments.  The first place we went to see was Rancho Las Lomas in Silverado Canyon.  My friend, Esther, told me about this place since one of her friends got married this past summer there and she said it was beautiful and the pictures turned out great. I looked it up online and we were immediately interested because they have some wildlife on site including tigers, lemurs, turtles & zebras.  This would really give a unique vibe and a little something extra for our guests to be able to do while at the wedding.  The site ended up being gorgeous, and the outside spaces for the event were great.  However, due to the fact that we are having our wedding in fall we needed a back up plan for rain and that included their inside ballroom space which we didn’t really like.  The ceilings are fairly low and the layout wasn’t to our liking.  Even if there wasn’t rain, we would have to move our party inside at 10PM due to the noise restrictions.  On top of this was the fact that there weren’t any available Saturdays in October or November that we wanted and there wasn’t much included in the site fee other than use of the site.

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