Simple seaside wedding in Laguna Niguel

Why are beach weddings so popular? Because the beach and the ocean are inherently beautiful, and you want to have your most beautiful moment — your wedding — in a beautiful place. So you don’t need much to dress it up.

My undercover wedding attender snapped these photos for me of a ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel back in July. It was an overcast day, but trust me — it was a blessing in disguise, since you don’t want to be broiling under the sun as many attendees find themselves at outdoor ceremonies.

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Wedding Venue: Pelican Hill Resort

Looking for an exclusive, ocean-view spot to get married? Then you probably want to check out Pelican Hill in Orange County.

Pelican Hill Resort sits above a huge, swanky golf course in south Orange County. I’ve not had the fortune of ever attending or decorating a wedding here, but I do have friends in swanky places. And my friend says that one of the nice things about Pelican Hill is that they only schedule one wedding a day, unlike other venues that try to squeeze at least three weddings into a room or facility per day. From a decorator’s point of view, that is a huge help. But there is a drawback to such an amazing venue — simple decorations won’t cut it against an amazing rotunda overlooking the ocean.
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A wedding in paradise*

Regular readers may have noticed a bit of a lull around here. Let’s just say that your friendly neighborhood Wedding Decorator went on assignment — to the Big Island of Hawaii!

However, I was not decorating — just attending and taking pictures. So maybe I should simply call myself the Wedding Attender at this point. At any rate, the wedding was a tiny, very intimate affair at the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast.

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Market California state parks as wedding venues, don’t close them

I’ve been reading with dismay about the imminent closure of more than 200 state parks and beaches in California because of our budget crisis. Below is a picture of Cabrillo State Beach, which is on the list.

The move may result in savings as much as $70 million, according to an LA Times blog post. I keep wondering where all that federal stimulus money went. Anyway, California is rich in beautiful parks and beaches, and to shut them down seems like a sinful waste. Here’s an idea — why don’t we keep them open and maybe work a little harder to promote them to the people and, oh, how about marketing them as wedding venues?

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Ocean-view wedding venues

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My browser’s homepage is Yahoo, so as I perused the morning’s headlines, I noticed something interesting. One of Yahoo’s top searches this morning was Beach Weddings. Beach Weddings! They’re great in theory, in my opinion.

But if you ask me, the whole point of a beach wedding — being near the serenity and beauty of the ocean — would be better accomplished with an ocean-view venue. (The idea of sand and bridal gowns, oh, and wedding cake? Lord. Not a good mix in my opinion.) The above photo, by the way, was taken many years ago — maybe 10! — at La Venta Inn in Palos Verdes Estates. I have some more recent photos of the venue here.

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Want to get married on the beach? Check out a state park

Everyone wants to get married on the beach. In California, its totally possible. It can get expensive though. One way to get around that is to take advantage of the vast number of California state parks.

Photo by Flickr’s steveroake

There are a few in the metropolitan Los Angeles area that you can take advantage of, including San Clemente State Beach, pictured above. San Clemente State Beach is probably most often used for engagement and wedding photos, but did you know they have a Historic Cottage? Yeah, its available for rent for weddings, receptions and special events.

Photo by Flickr’s Sonia and Anil

Adamson House in Malibu is another one of those spots. Its owned by the state parks system, so its probably a bit cheaper than other spots in Malibu. The grounds of the house overlook the ocean, and probably makes for a chilly evening reception, hence the portable heaters in the picture above. I’ve actually been planning to visit Adamson House for months, so I’ll take tons of pictures and share them on flickr.

Photo by Flickr’s rbenjaminross

Again, down south in Orange County, another spot I’ve been wanting to visit (for camping, really) is Crystal Cove State Park. Apparently, there are bluff tops perfect for beach weddings. For receptions, though, I’m not sure what facilities are available. Maybe the Interpretive Center? Who knows. You gotta call them to find out.

Getting married on the beach in Long Beach

This is a very late post, but better late than never. My friend Sam above got married on the beach in Long Beach in July 2007. I think I initially didn’t post this because I didn’t anticipate blogging her wedding. Lo and behold, here I blog. As with most of my friend’s weddings (since they’d like me to be able to enjoy the wedding), I did not do these decorations. The bridal flowers were by a florist whose name Sam couldn’t remember the other night, Sam and her bridesmaids did the table arrangements and most of the draping decorations were done by the venue, La Palapa Delmar Restaurant.

La Palapa Delmar’s location was spectacular — right on the sand in Long Beach. But it being July, it was quite hot. La Palapa was a visually interesting venue, but perhaps not well ventilated. Thankfully, its right on the beach, so it wasn’t hard to get out and catch the ocean breeze.

Sam’s parents escort her to the altar. One of the things about getting married at the beach is that you might end up with an audience not included on your guest list. Unless you somehow end up on your own private beach; if you’ve got game like that, then you probably don’t need this blog anyway.

You can tell I wasn’t expecting to blog this wedding by the complete absence of overall room pictures. I’m usually pretty good at that. Anyway, if you look past Sam’s very adorable mom, you’ll see the draping that’s already included in the room, from the chandelier in the center of the room. There are a few other restaurants that have similar ceiling drapes, like Almansor Court. But the room, in my opinion, didn’t need much in terms of decoration — check out those burgundy drapes and the fancy sheers. Plus, the room itself was not your usual blank canvas hotel banquet room — like I said, visually interesting on its own.

Sam and her maid of honor with their yellow rose bouquets.

The places of honor, decorated with fancy netting and candelabra.

The places of honor, occupied.

Finally, the newlywed couple’s first dance.

It was a great wedding, with great music deejayed by my buddy Moonie — yes, Moonie, whose wedding was once also featured here. It was also my first time at La Palapa — seriously, I was surprised I’d never heard of the place before.