Category Archives: Love Marks the Spot Advice

First Look Photos – Are They for You?

San Diego Wedding PlannerI’ve recently been asked by a few brides what my thoughts on first look photos are, so I thought to make a blog entry about it. We’ll start off by defining what a first look photo is. A first look is a dramatic way of describing the first time the bride and groom see each other on their wedding day. Will first look photos be a viable option for you and your fiance? Here is my objective opinion on the topic.

Pros for a Pre-Ceremony First Look:

(1) First look photos can save you time and allow you to enjoy/mingle during your cocktail hour. Instead of staying back to take photos together, you can take the photos prior to your ceremony and enjoy some extra time with your wedding guests.

(2) They can help make the ceremony less nerve-wrecking. The thought of seeing each other, while walking down the aisle in front of your wedding guests may be a little overwhelming. Seeing each other alone prior to the ceremony may help with some of your pre-wedding nerves.

(3) These photos are very intimate.

(4) You’ll get to spend some quality time alone on a day where (literally) everyone is vying for your attention.

(5) Your hair and makeup will be fresh.

Pros for a Ceremony First Look:

(1) The drama. There is something absolutely beautiful and highly emotional about a groom seeing his bride in front of everyone for the first time.

(2) Tradition. Many people believe it is bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other prior to the ceremony.

(3) Timing. First look photos require the bride and groom to be ready earlier in the day to allow time for the photos. No first look prior to the ceremony = more time to get ready.

(4) No “after ceremony” break. You’ll go from vows, straight to mingling with guests. Some couples enjoy the time after the ceremony together as a breather, of sorts before spending the remainder of the evening mingling.

(5) Sharing emotion. All of your wedding guests will get to experience your initial emotion, which is a priceless gift on it’s own.


In the end – whether you decide to look (or not to look), it is important to recognize that there is no “right” answer as to what a couple should do. Weigh your pros and cons objectively, and do what you feel is right for YOU.


Happy Planning!


You’re Engaged – So now what?

You’re Engaged – So now what?

I remember that when I got engaged I was SO excited. After my husband and I had called our families and I stopped staring at my ring (I had to be sure it wasn’t a mirage), I wasn’t sure what to do. Overall wedding planning is a HUGE process that can easily seem daunting if you look at it as one solid task. So this blog is dedicated to new brides. You’re engaged – so now what?

Many couple’s first intent is to set a date. I caution against this. Your first step should be to create a mock-guest list to give you an accurate ballpark figure of how many guests you expect. Why, you might ask? Because your guest count will tie into almost every single aspect of your wedding. Your guest count will give you an idea of what size venue is needed, so when you start searching for a venue – you’ll know that it can fit the adequate amount people AND if your wedding date is available.

My second suggestion is to set a realistic budget. Setting a wedding budget will be a determining factor concerning which vendors you can afford to hire for your wedding. Remember that a wedding budget does not have to be the same for every couple. If an aspect of your wedding is very important to you (i.e. wedding dress) it is okay to allocate more money there, and go for a more budget friendly approach in another area (i.e. lighting). For tips on how to create an effective wedding budget, you can check out this article from Boho-Weddings.

Third, I would suggest to chose a venue/date. Some couples prefer to have their wedding on a specific date for sentimental purposes (i.e. anniversary), which may limit your venue selection. If you do not have a specific date in mind and are more flexible, finding a venue may be an easier task.

Lastly – remember to breathe! You’re engaged, and you’re planning your wedding, that is a lot to be excited about. The wedding planning process should be just that – a process. Enjoy this very exciting time in your life:)

Photo credit to: Justice Photography

A Bride’s Guide to Finding THE Dress

I’m a self proclaimed wedding reality TV show junkie. I critique the contestants on Four Weddings, I fawn over the detail in David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding, and my very favorite guilty pleasure is Bridezillas (they’re scandalous!). Although these shows are quite different – they all make a point at some time during thing hour to focus on the bride’s wedding dress. I’ve had a few brides as my thoughts on dress shopping lately, and I thought I’d make a blog about THE dress. It is after all, likely the most beautiful and expensive gown you’ll wear if your lifetime:) So, here are some of my best tips concerning dress shopping.

1. Go in with an open mind. Try on all of the dresses you swoon over in the magazines…and try are a little outside of your regular style. Some of the dresses you think will look nice won’t – while some that you may have not considered will surprise you.

2. Keep your wedding location and the length of your reception in mind. A ballroom gown may initially seem like a good idea…until you consider that your wedding is in Temecula. In August. And your reception is 5 hours long. Your dress should be easily wearable considering the weather during the month of your wedding and the level of activity you plan to experience that day.

3. Don’t sign a dress off due to price. Many bridal boutiques offer sample or trunk shows where you can purchase your dress at a discounted price. Also – closer to the end of the year, some bridal boutiques have end-of-the-year sales to make room for new gown collections.

4. The “ah-hah” moment is different for every bride. You may not cry when you slip on “the” dress. In fact, you may need to try it on several times before deciding. Do not let this deter you! I tried on a dress at a bridal boutique, cried, and then I found my real dress a few weeks later. No tears shed at all. When you know, you know – simply put.

5. If your dress isn’t perfect, remember – you can alter it. Does your dress come with straps but you’d prefer strapless? Have your alterations shop nix them. Rather have a corset instead of zipper? No problem. More bling? Yes please! Alteration shops are wonderful, and they can help you perfect your dress. Just remember to keep in mind that alterations come at a cost.

I found this awesome infographic from Randy of Say Yes to the Dress that I’d like to share with you all. It has a few other things for brides to consider when choosing a dress:

Wedding Themes 101

Creating a wedding theme works somewhat backwards compared to the rest of wedding planning. Close your eyes and imagine yourself on your wedding day: How are your guests dressed? Are they dressed to the nines or in cowboy hats and boots? What is your reception atmosphere like? A party rock crowded dance floor with an open bar, or laid back and paired with classic cocktails?

Keeping this “final vision” in mind will help focus on the mood and style of your wedding day.

Here is my simplified definition of a wedding theme: Color palates, textures and reoccurring motifs that are held together by a strong concept.

Now for my favorite part – examples!! Here are some wedding themes (hand picked by San Diego Wedding Planner Love Marks the Spot) that are trending in the wedding industry right how:



San Diego Wedding Planner Vintage Wedding

Vintage weddings allow creative couples a chance to make the old new again and reinvent how the details are used in a special way that is unique to them.


San Diego Wedding Planner Rustic Wedding

If you’re into the outdoors, creating a “homey” and comfortable atmosphere for your guests, and have an eclectic side you’d like to express, rustic weddings are for you.


San Diego Wedding Planner Glam Wedding

For those couples who want to showcase elegance , glamour (and a bit of bling) for their big day!


San Diego Wedding Planner Love Marks the Spot

Romantic weddings are a great way to express love in an intimate setting.

Keep in mind that no theme is set in stone. The best part about picking a theme for your wedding is that you’re allowed to fine tune it custom to your taste! If no one style fits what you’re looking for – you can also combine styles until you find something you like. If you’re looking for ideas on your wedding theme, check out our Pinterest account…it is a great starting point!

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

Lauren Sharon Vintage Rental Pop Up Picnic
Lauren Sharon Vintage Rental Pop Up Picnic

While I love what Valentine’s Day stands for (who doesn’t love love?), the past few years I’ve noticed that Valentine’s Day can feel a bit…crowded. With restaurants booked weeks in advance and florists selling out of red roses – I figured I’d give my two cents about a few V-Day options that are as fun as they are unique.

1.) Hire a chef to cook an in home meal. I love this date idea for many reasons: no dinner crowds, no wait to be seated, you don’t have to find parking, the list goes on and on. Best of all, you can enjoy a delicious meal in your own home, prepared by a gourmet chef. What isn’t there to love about this idea?

2.) Embark on a gondola cruise. Gondola cruises are something that I recently discovered in San Diego. The Gondola Company offers cruises through the Coronado Cays. Valentine’s Day packages include dessert plates and souvenier wine glasses (you can bring your own wine).

3.) Create your own wine tasting at home. This is one of my favorite things to do with my hubby – we try to do it once a month. Go to a local Bevmo and purchase a bottle or two, pair it with a cheese or two from Trader Joe’s along with some chocolate, and viola – instant romantic night in! You can light candles for some ambiance if you’re really trying to set the mood.

4.) Set up a romantic Pop Up Picnic. I learned about this idea from Lauren Sharon of Lauren Sharon Vintage Rentals. The concept is simply genius. Pick a location and they will bring everything you need for a romantic set up – including a tapas style meal for two, champagne and dessert. This idea makes me swoon (note to self to not-so-discretely suggest this to my hubby). If you’re interested in booking, you can check out Lauren’s website:  P.S. This is my favorite date idea!!


Whatever you decide to do – have an amazing Valentine’s Day!

So you’re engaged…now what?

First of all, congratulations on your engagement! Getting engaged is very exciting, but after the excitement has settled – the initial steps of wedding planning can be a bit confusing, even overwhelming to some. So what are your first steps of wedding planning? I’ve compiled a short list of easy steps couples can take to get the ball rolling.

1. Set a realistic, affordable budget. Before I was a wedding planner, I was a bride who completely underestimated the cost of a wedding. To set a realistic budget, I suggest you and your groom sit down together and discuss your wedding “must haves” (i.e. an awesome gown) and things that you’d like but can live without (i.e. expensive wedding favors). This will give you a general idea of how to allocate wedding funds. Below you can see The Knot’s “The True Cost of a Wedding” survey results from 2011 (the 2012 results won’t be released for a few more months). This will help give you an idea of what an “average” wedding costs.

Love Marks the Spot San Diego Wedding Planner

*Keep in mind that variables such as time time of year/day of the week, guest count, and food selection can have a large influence on the cost of your wedding.

2.) Choose a date or location/venue. I list these two options together because some couples are set on tying the knot on a certain date, while others may be flexible on the date as long as they can get married at their dream venue. This is extremely important to consider if you want to get married on a Saturday, which is the most popular day of the week to get married (for obvious reasons). If you are set on a particular date you may need to identify a handful of potential ceremony/reception venues, while vice-versa if you are dead set on a specific wedding location.

3.) Decide on your bridal party. This step is one of the more fun steps to wedding planning. I recommend doing this step earlier than later to allow your bridal party to begin saving for wedding related expenses, such as buying wedding attire, or travel expenses if they live out of state.

4.) Begin a guest list. Your guest list will be directly related to your budget – the correlation is simple. The more guests you have, the more expensive your wedding will be. One option you have to make sure your guest list is in check with your budget is to create an “A-list” for people that must attend (i.e. close relatives and friends), a “B-list” for people you’d like to attend (i.e. your college room mate), and a “C-list” for people that can attend if there is room (i.e. your cousin’s best friends’ boyfriend). This will help keep your budget on track.

5.) Book your wedding planner. The earlier you book your planner – the better. Booking a planner early allows your planner time to get to know you and your groom (and your wedding preferences) well before your wedding. This will also allow them to be there for you in all aspects of wedding guidance. If you choose not to book a wedding planner, I highly suggest investing in a wedding planning binder to keep all of your wedding planning pieces in one spot.

If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to answer them! Just a reminder that Love Marks the Spot San Diego Wedding Planner is currently offering 50% off all of our wedding planning packages:) If you have any questions at all, please contact us. Happy planning!

Weddings & DIY Part 2 – DIY Done Right

San Diego Wedding Planner Love Marks the Spot
San Diego Wedding Planner Love Marks the SpotSan Diego Wedding Planner Love Marks the SpotSan Diego Wedding Planner Love Marks the Spot










On the our last Love Marks the Spot Wedding Planning blog post I covered DIY stressors, aspects of a wedding that can be difficult or stressful to DIY. This blog post will feature how you can incorporate DIY wedding elements that can give your wedding a unique, personal flair while maximizing your budget.

(1) Stationary. Depending on how creative and computer savvy you are, creating your own stationary can be a great way to add a DIY stamp on your wedding. Wedding stationary can include invitations, programs, menus, place card settings, table numbers and more. Choosing to create your own piece of stationary is often times less expensive than getting it done professionally, especially if you’re interested in having multiple printed pieces.

(2) Simple Embellishments. Simple embellishments can quickly make a blank space more attractive. The best part is that they are simple! Examples of simple embellishments may include decorating votive candle holders, wine cork place card holders or adding lights into mason jars.

(3) Table/Photo Backdrop. Creating your own table or photo backdrop is a great way to bring color and vibrance to your space. Backdrops are fairly simple to create, and there are a variety of them to choose from and personalize.

(4) Ceremony Extras. I’ve seen couples incorporate various personal touches into wedding ceremonies. One of my favorite ceremony DIY touches I’ve seen is a ring box the bride and groom worked together to create (it sounds more difficult than it was – just a matter of purchasing, staining, and decorating). Other DIY ceremony extras can include aisle runners, bubble kits and cute signage.


The most important thing to remember if you do choose to go the DIY route for your wedding is to have fun!! Taking part in these unique projects will ultimately become a wonderful memory of your wedding planning process. If you run into difficulties or begin to feel stressed, take a break and come back with wine and friends. It will make the process a lot more fun:)

Weddings & DIY Part 1 – DIY Wedding Stressors

San Diego Wedding PlannerI want to start off by saying that I am a big advocate of DIY touches in weddings. On the other hand, I am also a fan of making weddings run as smoothly as possible.  As far as weddings are concerned, sometimes DIY is an amazing way to add unique flair to your wedding…and sometimes it is a recipe for disaster. That being said, this blog entry is part 1 of a 2 part Love Marks the Spot exclusive blog that will focus on how do-it-yourself touches can enhance or harm your dream wedding. This portion of the entry will focus on how DIY isn’t always the best route to go for certain aspects of your wedding. The second entry will focus on instances where DIY can add to your wedding without adding to your budget.

DIY Stressors

(1)    Catering. There are several facets involved in catering that can make DIY catering a tricky way to go. If a bride and/or family member is planning to feed the guest list, this can take extensive planning that has potential to add stress as the wedding nears. Things to consider when you’re set on DIY catering include shopping for, preparing, setting up and boxing food. On top of this, the person in charge of preparing the food will need to ensure the food stays warm for guests to enjoy – so the right equipment is necessary.

(2)    Flowers. Although flowers may seem to be a straight forward topic – they can be fairly complicated. Many things should be considered when you are choosing flowers for your wedding: season, temperature, colors, durability and more. Good florists are creative geniuses. They know what flowers are in season to save you money, which flowers look good together, how long certain types of flowers hold up, and they will deliver everything to you. There is no supplement for a good florist.

(3)    Music. Why hire a DJ or band as opposed to using a playlist you’ve created via iTunes? My logic is simple: a DJ or band can read your guests – something a playlist can’t do. A DJ or band can lure your guests out of their seats and onto the dance floor. They can also announce important news your guests will want to hear – such as the bouquet toss or last call.

(4)    Photography. Wedding photography is an extremely important part of a couple’s wedding day. As a married couple, you’ll look back on your wedding photos for years to come. While having family members snap photos at your wedding is a great idea, investing in a professional wedding photographer is one decision you won’t regret. Wedding photographers know important things that novice photographers may not – what times of the day are ideal for shooting, the best angles to shoot from and the perfect moments to capture the emotion surrounding your big day.

After the Wedding

San Diego Wedding PlannerToday I’m covering a topic that not many brides consider – What happens after your wedding. I’ve seen a couple articles that have mentioned post-wedding depression, and I wanted to address that here. Honestly, the first time I read about post-wedding depression, my reaction was “Really? You have to be kidding me! That doesn’t really happen!” Wrong! It does happen. I say this because I experienced it firsthand. When you break it down, it really makes a lot of sense: From the moment a bride gets engaged, many things become wedding related. Whether you’re doing things that are directly tied to your wedding or doing something normal and it somehow ties into your wedding (that song you heard on the radio would be a great addition to your wedding playlist), it all stops after the wedding. As a bride, people are asking about how your and your fiance became engaged, what your dress looks like, etc. Once reality settles in after the honeymoon, it isn’t surprising that some brides are left feeling like…“Now what?”

The answer is awesome newlywed life. Just because your wedding is over doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to look forward to. If you’re left feeling a little blue after your wedding, start planning something else amazing to do with your new husband! It will set something to work towards together – which is always fun. Maybe you’d like to go on a weekend getaway somewhere you’ve both always wanted to go. Or maybe you can redecorate or rearrange your room together. The important thing is that you’ll be accomplishing something, and you’ll be growing together. And that is what marriage is all about:)

On another note, wedding stuff isn’t 100% over just because the reception has ended. You’ll have to write thank you cards, change your last name (if you are doing so), and go through all of your gifts. And trust me – these things will take you WAY longer than you think they will, sadly! I also have a Love Marks the Spot Pinterest board called After the Wedding. I have found quite a few ideas for things you can do after your wedding that still involve your wedding. Check it out!

When Should You Hire a Wedding Planner?

If you’ve made the choice to hire a wedding planner, your next decision should be when should you hire them. For an example, say that you and your husband-to-be have decided that you’d like a month of coordinator to ease the stress for last few weeks leading up to your wedding. Should you hire a planner a year out, a couple months out, or closer to the month of your wedding? The answer is simple: you should hire your wedding planner as soon as you decide that you want a planner. Here are three top reasons for my logic:

(1)  The longer you wait to book your wedding planner, the more time someone else has to book them. Imagine this – you find the perfect planner and tell yourself that you’ll book her three months before the wedding. Three months before the wedding when you try to book her, she’s already taken.

(2) The longer your wedding planner knows you, the better. Wedding planners are only as successful as their relationship with their clients. If you book your planner far out, it gives both the couple and wedding planner more time to interact with one another. My goal as a wedding planner is to become friends with each couple I book. I want to know what you love, what you like, and what you absolutely can’t stand. The relationship that a wedding planner and a couple have can make the difference between a “nice” wedding and an AMAZING wedding.

(3) We’re full of great advice – more time allows for more questions to be answered. Throughout the planning process, brides and grooms are sure to come up with questions. Booking further out leaves time for these questions to be answered quickly and efficiently. For instance, if you don’t know of any affordable hotels within a 5 mile radius of your wedding location for your out of town guests to stay in, chances are – we do. We’ll get the answer to you quickly so you don’t have to spend time researching  for information we already have.


As always, you’re welcome (and encouraged!) to contact us if you have any questions:)

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Love Marks The Spot | San Diego Wedding Planner
San Diego, CA 92101