Happily Ever After

As guests start to arrive they step out of reality and stepped onto the wooden ballroom floor in the historic El Cortez Don Room. They looked up to admire the exquisitely designed ceilings made of gold and adorned with chandeliers. This historic ballroom has been the host to San Diego’s finest events, but on this summer day in 2016 this ballroom belonged to Christina and Ryan. The vendor team made sure the room was never less than perfect.The room was decorated with lush floral to compliment the burgundy and gold ceilings.

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USS “The Prado”

AHOY! Step aboard the love boat of Tayonie and Charles which set sail at The Prado in Balboa Park. These two United States Navy active duty sailors said their ‘I Do’s’ in The Prado’s quaint and romantic courtyard with their close friends and family. Christopher Tuttle from Vows From The Heart did a fantastic job officiating the ceremony.

tay5The nautical theme of the ceremony and reception was very fitting for these love birds. Subtle navy blues and other tasteful touches of the motif appeared all throughout the venue. Continue reading

Island Romance in San Diego!

Mad libs, fingerprint stamps, and the coolest photo booth! Yes, all these things were a part of Vanessa and Matt’s amazingly fun and lovely wedding at the Bali Hai in San Diego. We met with Vanessa last summer and immediately connected. Her cool style, fun color palette, and inner beauty were all reasons we knew we were a match for this very organized bride!

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Vanessa and Matt had an emotional and private “first look” moment captured perfectly on film by Joseph Guidi at Humphreys. This beautiful couple then exchanged vows under a delicately covered bamboo chuppah on the lawn overlooking the famous San Diego Bay. Many gorgeous elements were created by the bride herself like the “here comes the bride” ribbon. Her nephews played as she walked down the aisle. Pastor Ricky of the Rock church had everyone laughing during the ceremony as he shared more insight about the fun-loving couple.

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The cocktail hour included a “sign in” station which was a fingerprint stamped page of fish and wishes. Guests left their mark along with messages on the adorable fish board.  The bright color palette of fuchsia and yellow lit up this fun venue magnificently. Hawaiian elements were infused into the style of the already awesome Pacific Island decorated venue including the chuppah, floral arrangements, ring bearer pillow, cuisine, and island styled signature drink!

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Inside the reception room, guests had a blast filling out the wedding mad libs for Vanessa and Matt. On a more serious note, guests filled out cards with advice for the couple to ponder later. The beautiful floral by Flora Glamour was creative and the twine bringing two centerpieces together was impressive!

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Joseph Guidi also had a great photo booth set out for the guests to enjoy all night! Music by DJ Randy of R3 Entertainment had the guests rockin’ the house until the very end of the reception. We loved coordinating Vanessa and Matt’s wedding day and wish them all the best in their future together!

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Falling in Love ~ Gorgeous Autumn Wedding

It’s a crisp and golden autumn afternoon at the enchanting Prado Ballroom in Balboa Park, one of San Diego’s most beautiful treasures. The theme, to go with the season, is “Falling in Love”. Hues of cranberry and tangerine embellish the golden ballroom. Beautiful, breathtaking, and romantic, the wedding of Ceni and Steve was truly a pleasure.

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We started planning and designing Ceni’s wedding earlier in the year.  We created an autumn color palette of tangerine, cranberry and green with to go with the whimsical theme of “Falling in Love”.  Since orange was the color of the year for 2012 and went perfectly with her fall wedding date, Ceni was thrilled to include the color.

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Before we knew it the day was upon us and the bridal party was getting ready. As always, Al Torrico and his assistant Sandy of Torrico Photography  were fantastic. They had the bridal party laughing and relaxed while getting beautified. Al’s calm demeanor and joking personality is always what a nervous bride loves. The backdrop of downtown San Diego was an amazing site for getting ready photos of the bridal party.

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Ceni and Steve were married at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown San Diego before their reception at the exquisite Prado ballroom. The cathedral was brought to life with the beautiful sounds of cantor  Michael Ruhl and harpist Masalo Stewart of Goldenruhl Music Productions.

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Laura of Sweet Ribbon embellished the church with gorgeous manzanita trees adorned with delicate orange and red roses and tulips with green hydrangeas and lavished the space with candles. Laura is such a sweet and giving lady and we highly recommend her!

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The ceremony was special on many levels. Family and friends took the role of holding the important  items which included the pillows (for kneeling) and the coins. There are thirteen coins to symbolize Jesus and his 12 disciples. The groom gives these coins to his bride as a promise to provide for his family, and the bride in turn promises to trust him. The couple also lit a unity candle to symbolize becoming one and leaving their separate lives behind. Mariachi Real surprised the guests at the exit of the ceremony, waiting outside to play the moment the doors of the church opened!  The Mariachis are one of the best in town and always have the guests enjoying their incredible lively music.

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After the ceremony, the guests headed to the spectacular Prado ballroom for a fun filled cocktail hour with delectable hors d’oeuvres and continued to enjoy the sounds of Mariachi Real. For the ceremony, guests entered the majestic ballroom which had a romantic glow of amber lighting, tall gorgeous centerpieces, personalized decor and an magnificent stage with a DJ and band ready to get the party started!

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San Diego Candy Buffet provided a delicious chocolate fountain station with goodies throughout the night for all.  The guests loved dipping treats in the irresistible chocolate fountain! Flour Power designed a spectacular four tiered cake which had a splendid design of chocolate swirls and a burgundy ribbon.  Sweet Ribbons provided the beautiful golden cake stand and surrounded the cake with romantic candles. The favors were bronze classic keys on a  keychain and candles delicately placed at each guest setting.

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Ceni and Steve entered into their first dance as a couple to “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Elvis Presley and it was such an amorous moment. One exceptional moment in the night occurred when Ceni’s daughter, Leslie,  was compelled to give a toast to the happy couple. It was impromptu and touching.

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Jukebox Productions did  marvelous job at entertaining the guests with an impressive band and a very hip DJ with a immense plasma screen at the back of the stage. John with Jukebox Productions was a fantastic emcee and had the crowd cracking up. The guests had a blast dancing the night away to the delightful music mix of DJ and band!

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Ceni and Steve had huge smiles on their face the entire reception and kept commenting on how perfect everything was. Thank you Ceni and Steve for allowing us to create the most immaculate wedding day!  It was a blast and we wish you the best in life and all you do.

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Beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn Wedding Full of Joy and Hugs

Laughter. Joy. Hugs. These are some of the words I would use to describe the wedding celebration of Elizabeth and Brian. These two were surrounded by a wonderful group of loving family and friends. I loved hearing the heartfelt toasts and speeches which showed just how much this couple was adored. The groom’s sister was the matron of honor and from the beginning, that was a marker of how these two families were already one.

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Elizabeth and Brian exchanged vows at the St. Elizabeth Setan Catholic Church in Carlsbad, CA. This stunning church was perfect for the couple. The church was adorned with gorgeous floral in hues of blues and ivory by Lindafloral. T

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The bridal party arrived in style in a beautiful black stretched limousine provided by the 5 star company, A Leading Limo. The owner, Will Williams, relaxed the girls by being ever sweet and pleasant. The ceremony started with the entrance of the groom accompanied by both parents, followed by sponsors, the bridal party and the bride, also with both of her parents.

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The Rancho Bernardo Inn’s Aragon room was spectacular! Floral by Inn’s Floral looked adorable and all the personalized touches created by Elizabeth completed the beautiful look and feel. Elizabeth had cute “Just Married” signage, a vintage trunk for cards, a collage of photos, and even had a gorgeous tiered groom’s cake as a surprise for Brian, designed by Sumi’s Oven.
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The photobooth by Ahhsnap Photobooth was an original hit! It consisted of a photo area with so many crazy props like boas, hats, pom poms and more. We could barely pull the guests away from this fun-filled photo station for the couple’s grand entrance…they were having way too much fun! Bruce Battleson was the emcee and DJ who did such a fabulous job keeping the guests entertained and informed.  Bruce’s funny and down to earth personality made him a joy to work with.

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Richwell Correa Photography did a fabulous job at capturing each moment and even creatively organized group photos on the dance floor! We loved his imagination and his team! Videographers Classic Filmworks were a pleasure to work with. They were behind the scenes and yet on cue capturing the entire day.
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Elizabeth and Brian had At Your Side Planning set out a variety of candy in beautiful glass containers for the guests to enjoy (after dinner of course!) and this candy bar was a hit. Our favorite moment in the evening was when the couple surprised their guests with a choreographed dance routine with several fun songs including Gangnam Style! Everyone was cracking up and loved this lively surprise.
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Thank you Elizabeth and Brian for allowing us to coordinate your wonderful, fun and fabulous day!

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A Wedding Planner’s Wedding on the Big Island: Intimate, Sweet, Perfect

I have been a wedding planner in San Diego for 8 years and I was recently married myself.  I chose to have a destination wedding in Hawaii to keep it intimate and stress free. I was engaged earlier this year to an amazing man named Carlos who I had been sharing my life with for nearly three years. He gave me a gorgeous Levian chocolate diamond ring from Kays in Fashion Valley which I absolutely love. I wanted something that reflected my uniqueness so I chose chocolate diamonds.

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We set the date for an August wedding, and after planning hundreds of weddings for others, I knew I wanted something small and personal, so Carlos and I decided to have a destination wedding. While visiting Hawaii the previous Fall, I fell in love with the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort so we decided to book it!

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We then asked a great friend, Api Lavatai, to officiate our wedding.  We secured our ceremony music with a fantastic DJ, Ed Geer.  After getting off to a great start I had a devastating injury which left me with a broken wrist and caused a pause in my life. I put the rest of the planning on hold for months.  About a month before the wedding I finally started dress and decor shopping. I purchased a beautiful, ivory wedding gown with a jeweled belted waist line from Bridal and Tuxedo Galleria near my house.  The staff there is fabulous but they thought I was a little crazy for waiting until a few weeks before the wedding to try on dresses,  especially being an ever-organized wedding planner!

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I quickly had the dress altered at Shimaki Tailoring, went shopping for jewelry and undergarments and packed. Three days before flying out we chose Carlos’s ring at Kays in Fashion Valley.  We flew out and shortly landed on the big island of Hawaii!  Carlos’s mom joined us and my amazing life long friend, Ruby, landed soon after. The pre wedding days were pretty tense with a lot of emotion.  I had no idea how much stress and anxiety a bride truly carries right before the wedding.  Did I question my choices? Yes. Did I stress out like crazy prior to the wedding? Beyond a doubt. Did I cry? I certainly did.  Did people drive me crazy for calling me with questions before looking at the 5 page detailed minute-by-minute timeline I had intricately created? Absolutely! Did I know I wanted to marry my husband in spite of the craziness and arguing? Most definitely!

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Ruby stayed with me the few days before the wedding at the Hilton Waikoloa. The morning of the wedding was truly awesome. Stress seemed to dissipate and every moment became dreamy. Ruby and I had a lovely breakfast at Big Island Breakfast at Water’s Edge. Live, mellow music played from the Christian retreat that was onsite.  Then it all started to come together with my mom and my makeup artist / hair stylist / brother’s girlfriend arriving as well as the other very special ladies in my life.

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My photographer, Al Torrico, arrived and the environment become amusing. He joked a lot which helped everyone relax. At one point he told my mom that he had just picked up the camera at Costco and hoped he had “film”. The look on her face…priceless.

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It was time to see my soon to be husband for our first look photos.  I walked out of my room in the gown that I had chosen just weeks before, and for the first time ever in the pre wedding stage, felt nervous. There was a long hallway I walked down to meet Carlos, who had his eyes covered and back towards me. I tapped his shoulder. When Carlos saw me, he was overjoyed, donning the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on his handsome face!  We couldn’t stop holding each other. The tears started flowing from my eyes and we just melted in each other’s arms. We couldn’t help but kiss (even though it was not allowed) and I knew in that moment it was all going to be amazing beyond compare.  Al, our photographer, was more like a very close friend there to capture every moment. I had the pleasure of coordinating Al’s wedding in 2007 and since then he’s become a highly sought after wedding photographer!
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My dad was an hour late and the leis for the guests were lost… but none of that mattered. I was getting married to the man I loved. My parents walked me down the aisle as Api, our friend/officiant and also wedding singer sang Forever.  Ed Geer  blew us away, doing a perfect job with the music and sound for the ceremony. As I approached the front of the church with my parents, Api looked up and started to cry, which I knew would happen! He is a big teddy bear! We had only 15 people present, our very close family and friends, and that is the intimacy we wanted. Our ceremony was small, personal and fun; we laughed so much! Carlos’s vows were perfect and heart warming…even the part where he mentioned he would still eat meat (I am mostly vegan).

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After the ceremony we took some stunning sunset photos on the lava rock while our guests rode the boat over to the KPC restaurant.

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Next we arrived at the restaurant to find it romantic and elegant.  My friends Luana, Jezzy and Ruby all helped decorate and it was flawless. Jonathan and the staff at the KPC restaurant truly went above and beyond in service and everything was impressive. I know a big part of the reason I was able to enjoy my day was because we had picked the best venue with staff that cared about us.

At the dinner the food was delicious. My parents and Carlos’s mom toasted.  I presented my bouquet to my mom because she truly is the best wife I have ever known. Our wedding cake was adorned with fresh bright Hawaiian flowers and a cute Hawaiian cake topper which kinda looked like us! We cut the cake to top off the wonderful evening with our guests.

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After the reception Carlos and I entered our room and were greeted by champagne and chocolate covered strawberries given to us by Cheryl and Robin of the Hilton.  They provided excellent service and helped me so much. I had a million questions when deciding on a venue and they were extremely patient and attentive! The reason I chose a destination wedding was to have a stress free and intimate celebration, and in choosing Hawaii and the Hilton Waikoloa, I accomplished that.  My wedding was perfect.  Even with the light rain in the morning and the crazy wind…and frizzy hair…it was spectacular.  I would do it all over again. It’s a beautiful memory and I absolutely love being married!

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Thank you Al Torrico!

At Your Side Planning was formerly Ah! Le Party

Immaculata + Tom Hams Wedding: Wine, Romance, Family

I met Leslie in the fall of 2011 at a bridal event I was hosting. She was a good friend of our bride at the time, Michelle. Leslie was one of the sweetest brides I had the pleasure of helping this year. Leslie and Josh lived in Hawaii but were having their wedding in San Diego. Leslie traveled often to San Diego to plan the wedding and we always had a great time during our meet ups. Leslie and Josh are wine lovers, so we designed their wedding with wine as the focal point. This allowed for a rich color palette including hues of purple and burgundy which we incorporated into the attire, decor and, of course, drink!

On the day of the wedding Leslie and her entourage were prettied up by Leslie of Hair by Leslie Cole and Chandra of Makeup by Chanelle. Leslie looked radiant! The bridal party rode in style, arriving to the venue in an exquisite stretch limousine courtesy of Will Williams of A Leading Limo.  A Leading Limo has gorgeous limos, impeccable service, and are highly recommended by At Your Side Planning.

The venue,  Immaculata, is a breathtaking Catholic church on the campus of the University of San Diego. The ceremony included many sponsors who held key roles in the ceremony such as presenting the cord and veil as well as family members. A close friend filled the cathedral with the sound of the beautiful Ave Maria. Her best friend, Carla was her maid of honor. I loved how involved the children of the family were in the ceremony as well as the reception. There were coin bearers, ring bearers and even a bible bearer. Bob Hoffman Video and Photography captured every moment of the wedding.  The team was fantastic to work with; they were very focused, professional and on cue!

The guests traveled to Tom Hams Lighthouse for the dinner reception.  The room had a soft, romantic glow created by the centerpieces consisting of wine bottles with open bases which held an assortment of petite candles inside.

On each table was a mini chalkboard with the name of a wine handwritten delicately.

The seating chart was a large chalkboard with guests’ names handwritten and each escort card was held daintily with a wine cork. The guests signed an extra large wine bottle which the couple would enjoy a year later for their one year anniversary!

A very significant and touching moment in the evening was when the bride’s son took his role and said the blessing over the food for dinner. He was happy to have a part in the special day and did a terrific job.

The black and white photo booth  by Mobile Photobooth added a fun element of silliness to the emotional night and entertained the crowd all evening with an endless combination of fun and creative props and poses. Of course the men’s favorite prop was the paper mustache and the women loved the boas! The couple and guests alike will enjoy these moments in time captured by the photo booth to commemorate the exceptional day. What a great treat to walk away with!

CUPS created the enticing cupcake display with the cutest top tier brulee cake with beautiful vineyard vines wrapping around which the couple cut with a sword!

Thank you Leslie and Josh for allowing us to be part of your amazing day! We loved seeing you again Leslie at Carla’s wedding too. We wish you all the best in Hawaii and wherever else life leads you!

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At Your Side Planning was formerly Ah! Le Party

Hotel Del Coronado ~ Coastal Wedding Romance

Carla called me three weeks before her wedding and she was just then starting to plan! I met Carla through a summer bride, Leslie. Carla was her maid of honor and it was a treat getting to know her! Carla was sweet, fun, and caring. Carla and Mark had been together for years and were inspired after Leslie’s wedding to plan their own. They had been engaged earlier in the year however never set the date. This wedding was going to be planned at high speed and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I would meet Carla and Mark for lunch and we would brainstorm and create what would turn out to be the perfect wedding for them! The wedding was held at the spectacular and famous Hotel Del Coronado.

Three Ways Beautiful made the ladies even more gorgeous with their talented hair and makeup stylists. They were creative and one of the bridesmaids rocked the trendy “sock” updo made famous by Kim Kardashian. AS Photography captured the moments beautifully and were truly a pleasure to work with. Aaron with AS Photography had a calm, relaxing personality while capturing each moment with his own creativity flowing through!  He had all the bridesmaids laughing in their pre-ceremony photos and provided all these amazing photos.

I worked with Maddy and her team at the Hotel Del and it was truly a pleasure the entire day. The service is fabulous and Maddy ensured the staff knew what to do to make this wedding extraordinary. What stood out the most were the moments approaching the ceremony when the Hotel Del staff ensured the walkway was clear and that tourists were not part of the wedding… and that the bride was truly in the moment and the center of everyone’s attention.

A good friend of the couple, Chaplain Feagle officiated. Chaplain Feagle made the ceremony fun, personal and lively. The couple lovingly created a wooden arch and it looked perfectly amazing against the bright blue and lively Pacific Ocean. The day was sunny and flawless for this wedding. Cocktail hour was also held on the lawn and the day was simply gorgeous. In keeping with the coastal theme, the couple set out a large surfboard and everyone had a blast signing it!

The guests entered the ballroom for dinner as the energetic mix of music spun by DJ Bryan Leon Guererro entertained from the start.  Bryan was also Leslie’s DJ and a really great friend of many guests. Bryan knew exactly what to play for the crowd and had them dancing the night away.

A beautifully adorned shell and pearl cake was created by Amanda Owen, a friend of the groom’s family who had just moved to San Diego. The three tiered cake was colorful, delicately detailed with seashells, and went perfectly with their coastal wedding style. The first piece of cake was sliced with a sword Carla had specially made for Mark.

Carla, Mark, and their guests were surprised during the reception with some lively entertainment by their good friend’s son who wanted to give the gift of talent to the couple.  He sang and danced to Michael Jackson, decked out with shades, a glove and a hat to match! The guests loved it and the bride and groom were all smiles watching his routine.

We got creative with the wedding favors and set up a photo corner that acted as the guestbook and favor area.  When we talked about the favors, I recommend Polaroid cameras. Having guests take photos of each other then write a wish for the couple on the photo was a fun way to interact the guests, stay on theme, and create a unique guestbook for the couple to keep for years to come.  Carla and Mark loved the idea and added to it by having a Hawaiian cut out board created as the prop! Two photos were taken and the guests got to take one home as their favor.

This lovely wedding was intimate and personal. Thank you to Carla and Mark for letting us share your beautiful day, we wish you all the happiness in the world!

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At Your Side Planning was formerly Ah! Le Party

El Cortez – lovely historical venue for weddings in San Diego!

One of our favorite venues in San Diego is the gorgeous Don Room at El Cortez. We love coordinating weddings here.  Not only is the venue breathtaking, but the staff is amazing.  From the ladies managing the pre-wedding planning to the bellboy and day of contact, we have always had a spectacular experience at El Cortez. Sitting atop Cortez Hill in beautiful downtown San Diego, El Cortez is one of San Diego’s most historical landmarks, opening Thanksgiving day of 1927. Since opening its doors, the venue has been renovated to once again host some of San Diego’s finest events. Keeping its original Spanish architectural feel, El Cortez has maintained its character through renovations and is as charming as ever. The wood floor at the Don Room is stunning and the detail throughout the ballroom…breathtaking. The El Cortez Don Room has hosted some of history’s most notable guests and celebrities. Including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bing Crosby, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Frank Lloyd Wright, and many more. We love planning weddings at the Don Room and would love to share some of a recent wedding photos.

Photo Credit – Desire Rohlfs

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Balboa Park Spanish Inspired Prado Wedding

Paulina and Oscar’s wedding was so many things!  Fun, exciting, beautiful, stylish, big and extravagent!  The day was absolutely spectacular! The wedding ceremony was held at the Saint Francis Chapel with the reception at the Prado’s Grand Ballroom at Balboa Park in San Diego. The Saint Francis Chapel is designed with a Spanish Colonial feel, a perfect touch for their Spanish ceremony. Photographer, Tim Hardy, and videographer, Zeke Torres, captured every moment of this couple’s beautiful day. The bride looked just breathtaking. Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktail hour at the Prado with fine drinks, delectable hor’dourves, a mariachi band, and a photo booth provided by A Mobile Photo Booth. The reception was truly beautiful! A table filled with indulging cupcakes from Sprinkles, tall floral centerpieces and purple uplighting surrounding the walls provided a very elegant and stylish feel. Family and friends were definitely an important element to make this wedding unforgettable. Guests received custom hand beaded rosaries and personalized slippers (imported from Mexico City) were provided for all the ladies to ensure comfy feet for an endless night of dancing! Paulina and Oscar had the best of both worlds by having a live band and a DJ provide the music for their special event. The couple shared their first dance together to “Baby I Love Your Way” performed by Kalifornia band,with DJ Christian Ruelas, to back them up. Friends and family soon gathered around to party the night away! We are truly delighted to have had this opportunity to be part of the couple’s wedding day. Thank you Paulina and Oscar for this wonderful experience!  We LOVED helping create the wedding of your dreams and we know that you had an amazing honeymoon in Europe!!

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Vendor Thank Yous: The Prado, Mobile Photo Booth, Tim Hardy Photography, Zeke Torres Videography, Mariachi Zapopan, and St. Francis Chapel.

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Special thanks to Tim Hardy Photography who provided all these amazing photos! Tim Hardy is a fabulous photographer in San Diego who is well known in the wedding and event industry.  Tim often shoots for Riviera magazine.  If you need a wedding photographer, we highly recommend Tim Hardy Photography.   His website is shotbyhardy.com