Recent wedding trends offer couples looking to marry in Laguna more options than ever for creating the event of their dreams.
By Lisa Marie Hart
Far from classic interpretations of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” today’s brides are seeking out-of-the-box inspiration to fulfill the traditional wedding adage and work out the details of their big day. From brooch bouquets to vintage mailboxes for cards, couples can plan completely unique weddings after exploring the latest trends with just a click of a mouse.
“With the advent of ‘idea’ websites such as Pinterest, brides are able to see what is happening in the wedding industry as it occurs, and are more creative than ever,” says Tivoli Terrace manager Patrick Walker.
“Pinterest remains a huge source for inspiration and clever ideas, and it will only continue to grow in 2013,” adds Kat Lawrence, catering manager at Surf & Sand Resort. The resort’s weddings team has even started its own board dedicated to beachfront wedding ideas.
While Pinterest fuels the bridal imaginations of women everywhere, Laguna Beach couples—even those who love pinning images—have a signature style and definite ideas about the big day that are all their own.
“One trend we are loving is simple and chic,” says Sarah Lawson, Hotel Laguna director of sales and marketing. “[Laguna Beach] brides are definitely taking the less-is-more approach, adapting a simple elegance as opposed to the over-the-top grandeur of years past.”
More than anything, Laguna couples are sentimental—they want all of their loved ones at the wedding (not just an edited list). Add a signature cocktail and you’ve uncovered the recipe for today’s modern Laguna Beach wedding.
The More the Merrier
Weddings increasingly feature more love all around, as evidenced by inflating guest lists and larger bridal parties. Not only is the average wedding size at Tivoli Terrace on the rise, for example, but bridesmaids and groomsmen are also showing up in droves.
“While two to four bridesmaids is the most efficient, some brides have a hard time keeping it under six or even eight,” Patrick says.
The out-of-town guest count has also grown significantly at Laguna Beach venues, including La Casa del Camino. Special events manager Melissa DeAngelo says the hotel is receiving more requests for buy-out packages, which allows couples to take over a property and affix their signature stamp.
A Multi-Day Affair
Almost as a rule, couples are hosting multiple-day affairs, says Kelly Odell, catering and sales manager at The St. Regis Monarch Beach. “Whether it’s a day at the pool followed by a casual rehearsal dinner or a festive brunch the day after the wedding, couples want the party to last.”
Marketing director Bree Vetere Case at Pacific Edge Hotel agrees. “[Couples] want guests to have a ‘full experience,’ not just a wedding ceremony and reception.” This has come to mean not only bigger parties, but more of them, along with planned activities that showcase the town’s best assets.
At The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, yoga with the bride and surfing lessons for the groomsmen are in vogue, as are cooking classes followed by lunch for the entire wedding party. In the evening, the once customary rehearsal dinner has morphed into a sizeable bash, now a welcome dinner or cocktail reception for everyone: “[It’s] almost like another wedding reception,” Melissa says. The post-wedding brunch remains a strong preference for many couples.
The multi-day trend works perfectly at unique venues like the modern Hotel Seven4one, which features 12 rooms surrounding a courtyard with a retractable roof, fireplace and living wall. The venue is rented only in its entirety, making it perfect for intimate weddings.
Dog-friendly Laguna Beach hotels have made it easy and appealing for couples to incorporate a beloved canine into the festivities, adding one more special name to the guest list.
“Many of our clients [at Tivoli Terrace] include their dogs as part of their ceremony and reception,” Patrick says. “Our owner, June Neptune, is a very large supporter of animal rights and rescue, so she encourages anyone and everyone to include their pet as a featured part of their day.”
Locals and out-of-town couples alike take advantage of the town’s animal-friendly mindset, often fixing a silk tie or fresh flower to their four legged friends’ collars to honor the occasion in style.
Though emerald green is the Pantone color of the year, not every woman sees her bridal fantasies rolling out in a traditionally unromantic color. In Laguna Beach, neutral colors are making a comeback, says catering manager and wedding specialist Patty Burns of Montage Laguna Beach, citing sweet champagnes, pale pinks, soft greens and off-whites as the palette for 2013. Couples are coordinating their colors with venues, and bolder brides trend toward deep purples, greens and shades of orange at La Casa del Camino and bright shades of fuchsia, teal and yellow at Pacific Edge Hotel.
Playing off the neutral color trend, Laguna Beach couples have put their own spin on rustic, vintage-inspired weddings. Whether stringing lanterns or blending family antiques into centerpieces, many are going the “do-it-yourself route,” Melissa says.
For some brides, this means transforming La Casa del Camino into a charming farmhouse, complete with Mason jars and burlap runners adorning the tables; for others, it could be as simple as incorporating elements of lace and shabby chic accents. Kat at Surf & Sand has even helped beach-casual couples host upscale picnics as an authentic Laguna touch on the reception.
At Montage Laguna Beach, couples can opt for already-done, vintage-inspired setups. Fashion-forward brides at The St. Regis Monarch Beach have been batting their eyelashes under retro birdcage veils and long traditional veils, which subtly transport the ceremony to another place and time.
Green is not only a color to consider for 2013; it’s also a state of living for many local couples. Recyclable, repurposed and sustainable are buzzwords for eco-conscious brides and grooms looking to leave a smaller footprint. This planet-saving thinking ties into the less-is-more concept, though simple in Laguna Beach never means skimping on style. Dora Wexell, executive director of seven-degrees, has created installations with hanging moss, air plants and old crates, and she raises reusable succulents for centerpieces and decor.
Using technology such as photo projectors also simplifies decor. “If the [couple] met in New York City, for instance, we can project the city skyline on the wall,” Dora says.
Savory and Sweet
“I love that couples are starting to prioritize food,” Kelly says. “The dining experience is such an important part of the wedding, which sometimes gets overlooked because people focus more on the flowers and decor. But food directly impacts the guest experience.”
Flavorful hits include grilled cheese sandwiches as late-night snacks at The St. Regis Monarch Beach and clambakes, California barbecues and food trucks at Montage. Couples are also clamoring for live culinary action, such as the Pacific Edge Hotel dinner and s’mores dessert stations with the chef.
On the sweet side, cupcakes and candy stations have held their recent edge over three- and four-tier wedding cakes at many venues. The St. Regis wows couples with nitrogen ice cream and its signature macaron bar, while at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, wedding guests appreciate a cookies and milk turn-down to close out the evening.
Signature cocktails and cocktail receptions have become as essential to Laguna Beach as ice to scotch on the rocks. Inspired at least in part by pop culture’s renewed interest in retro drinks and cocktail parties (think “Mad Men”), the trend is in full swing.
“The signature cocktail provides a mixed drink that is hosted, fun and ties into the overall theme,” Patrick says. “With a simple reworking of the name, a vodka cranberry can quickly become a ‘Big Kiss,’ which is a fun way to add style to your reception without adding too much work to an already busy bride’s plate.”
Taking it a step further, his and hers signature cocktails at La Casa del Camino are a personalized twist. Pacific Edge and Hotel Laguna have also been creating cocktail hour menus of small-bite finger foods versus sit-down dinners or buffets.
Couples are finding more ways to connect with their loved ones on their big day, such as by booking a family lounge at Montage.
They’re also finding ways for family and close friends to play a bigger role at the wedding. “[At Pacific Edge Hotel], they are considering different unity ceremonies such as the unity sand, unity candle and even a customized unity flower ceremony,” Bree says.
Integrated details that tell the story of the bride and groom’s courtship are also growing in popularity, as are lighthearted photo booths. “They’re being used as more of a guest book now, with messages for the couple and fun costumes,” says Fernanda Jaime, senior sales manager of catering at The Ritz-Carlton.
Live From Laguna Beach
One old wedding trend returns with sounds of live music. The pros at Hotel Laguna predict 2013 to be the year of the live band. Across the board, couples are opting for acoustic ceremony music and an energetic band for the reception.
Couples relish the chance to literally build their own band, Dora says. Entertainment companies across Southern California offer pools of local talent that specialize in capturing the sound of a specific era, such as the 1960s or the 1980s.
“Brides and grooms still love a live band during dinner and to open up the dance floor, but a disc jockey often comes in to play at least for the last hour of the evening,” Fernanda adds.
In addition to these latest trends and themes, local venues are prepared for any emerging trends and are happy to add any personal touches for couples that choose Laguna Beach as their dream wedding destination. LBM
Originally published in Laguna Beach Magazine