Where can love shine more than along Laguna Beach’s breathtaking oceanscapes? Burrowed into the cliffside near Main Beach is a quaint little inn voted one of the most romantic venues in Orange County–The Inn at Laguna Beach–a perfect backdrop for our styled valentine shoot. For couples who love the grandeur of romance with the intimacy of a smaller wedding, we hope this inspires you as it did us.
As the day before the shoot had been unseasonably warm, we were excited about the possibility of clear skies to truly highlight the scenic views. Little did we know that El Niño had other plans. That said, a rainstorm during the day added a moody element to the dark romantic colors of deep love: golds, rich purples, crimson reds, and jewel-toned pinks. All these colors weaved through the design of the day, starting with the bride’s boudoir session in one of the ocean-view rooms.
When thinking about the boudoir look, we wanted to channel a classic romantic vibe with a hint of decadence. For starters, we used amethyst-colored lingerie instead of the traditional white bridal look. Adding in the classics of french perfume, champagne, and pearls, we created some depth with a gorgeous cheese and fruit platter. The dish was as beautiful as it tasted, showcasing an array of savory cheeses, herbs, olives, chocolates, and fruit, with actual honeycomb–all a perfect paring with champagne. We also brought in mirrored trays, some handcrafted hat boxes, a brush and mirror set, as well as some other trinkets to set the mood, finding a balance between sensuality and elegance. We anticipate this style of boudoir picking up in 2016, as couples want more from the wedding experience. You can check out more images from our opulent boudoir session in our portfolio.
Which, by the way, also got us thinking about the groom, who generally has a lot of downtime on the wedding day. Part of the reason behind that is that there aren’t a whole lot of experiences created around his prep, and therefore no expectation but to wait. So to change that, we created some moments around Scotch whisky and pipe-smoking, the drink of choice being The Exceptional Malt, a blended malt whisky that pairs wonderfully when smoking. With the rain, some of these images look like they were out of a rain-drenched Scotland landscape, and we chose black and white in some of these to really add a moody feel to the whole setting. Today’s grooms enjoy these experiences on a regular basis, and with the resurgence of whisky appreciation, we just knew this would be the right approach.
When it came to the wardrobe, we looked for the best styles to accent the colors and feel of the theme. The bride wore a Spanish-inspired golden-hue lace gown with a slight mermaid style, its fitted sweetheart top exuding classic french seduction while the flowing layered lace in the back provided a dramatic Spanish element. Pairing it with Aldia Design’s delicate jewelry was the perfect touch needed to bring about the bride’s natural beauty, while also highlighting the neutral tones of the makeup, alongside purple accents. A low up-do worked well to show off the gown as well.
The bouquet drew from a beautiful palette of rich hues, assembled to perfection. It featured a unique variety of gorgeous blooms that included cymbidium orchids, renaculas, calle lilies, safari sunset, kale, and Italian ruscus. Each flower was impeccably placed side by side, which resulted in a beautiful floral sphere. To accent and complete this regal look, the bouquet was hand-tied with an elegant longer length silk ribbon in a golden tone.
With navy suits having been popular last year, and no emerging trends for 2016, we decided to experiment with a dual-colored approach. We opted for Grey Kristoff from Savvi Black Label, featuring a grey suit jacket with black lining on the lapel. We paired this with a white shirt, black trousers, and black and gold cufflinks. While this was based on our color palette, we envision more mixing-and-matching this year. A black bowtie simply tied in to the elegance of our theme, and also allowed us to use an unmade tie for the whisky and smoking shots. We also took a chance with the boutonniere–a single maroon cymbidium orchid delicately wrapped in gold-tinted kale–by placing it on the right lapel, instead of the traditional left. What it allowed for is opening up the otherwise clustering that happens on the left side, as we generally photograph the bride to the left of the groom which allows us to showcase the ring. So now, the ring and boutonniere complement each other in photos.
With the rain continuing to pour, we utilized much of the indoors of the Inn to get our couple’s portraits. With large windows, covered outdoor walkways, and incandescent lighting reminiscent of candlelight, we had a lot of opportunities for dramatic portraiture. It really allowed us to be creative in new ways. There were plenty of decor and lighting options to pick from, but we would also run out any time the rain let up to capture the ocean. And then, in perfect timing, the clouds broke to reveal a golden sunset for a time of celebration: the reception. The Inn holds their intimate ceremonies and receptions on their fourth floor balcony with a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean on one side, and that of glimmering city lights strewn across the hills on the other.
The Welcome Table was curated with one of the previously mentioned hat boxes for collecting cards. We combined that with paper goods and calligraphy that pulled black and gold together–with some paper white, of course–as well as candles and accent florals, communicating opulence very well. On the sign, we used a verse from Pablo Neruda, and the escort cards, painted in gold calligraphy on black paper, reflected the table names–named after poets–serving as an ode to the romance of it all.
And for the Sweetheart Table, we used gold linen to set a rich base for sweeping florals that really pulled together the full decor. The dark green Italian ruscus paired with the pink and purple tones found amongst the hanging amaranth was a favored detail in the cascade of flowers draping the table. Highlighting the florals with vibrant yellow cymbidium orchids gave the table a depth to contrast against the glowing sunset.
At sunset, we had the bride let loose her up-do to reveal soft curls that allowed us to capture a relaxed look. This would be perfect for a bride looking to do a ‘Trash the Dress’ shoot at the end of the day as well. The views from the Inn at Laguna Beach just lent themselves to gorgeous sunset portraits, some of our favorites from the day. We hope this was as enjoyable for you as it was for us. Please reach out to me or any creative partners (listed below) if we can help you with any part of your wedding day!
Meet the Vendors
Venue: Inn at Laguna Beach
Photography, Planning, and Styling: Visuals by Arpit
Florals: The Dizzy Daisy
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals (Orange County)
Decor Rentals: Sweet Pea Rentals
Calligraphy: Pirouette Paper
Catering: In Good Taste
Hair & Makeup: Archangela Chelsea
Jewelry: Aldia Design
Wedding Gown: Ferndales Bridal
Men’s Wardrobe: Friar Tux
Whisky: The Exceptional Whisky Company