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10 Things Every Bride Should Know About Planning a Hotel Wedding

April 22, 2015

When it comes to planning and hosting weddings, Newport Beach’s top hotels offer some of the finest personalized service to be found … not to mention some pretty spectacular ocean views and ceremony venues. From relaxing and letting the experts take care of the details to adding special custom touches, here are some tips from in-house wedding and event coordinators on what every bride should know when planning a wedding at one of our area hotels.

1. Set the Date. The factors in choosing a date include the availability of your venue, friends and family. Think about the people you must have at your wedding, and try to set the date with their availability in mind. Also, the sooner you choose your venue the better so you know you have the place you really want. Check out the spaces offered, catering deals, etc. Find out whether the prices quoted cover everything or whether you’ll be expected to pay for extras. —Linda S. Wade, senior catering sales manager, Carlton Hotel Newport Beach.


Ballroom at Carlton Hotel Newport Beach

2. Hire a Wedding Planner. They are pros at this for a reason. It can be very overwhelming to know where to begin and what small details need to be taken care of before the big day. Plus, a bride’s job on her wedding day is to enjoy her wedding day. This is guaranteed with a wedding planner focusing on all of the little details. — Rachel Gellerman, social catering manager, Fairmont Newport Beach.

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Bamboo Garden at Fairmont Newport Beach

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Garden Gazebo at Fairmont Newport Beach

3. Assemble a Dream Team. Many couples consult with a wedding expert who handles the broader coordination of the occasion, but you will ultimately collaborate with a team of specialists for menus, décor, music, beauty services and much more. Assemble your “dream team” to bring your vision to life. In addition to on-site event planning, and culinary and audio-visual experts, Pelican Hill Weddings include a wedding butler to assist the bride with anything she needs on the wedding day until she walks down the aisle. —Fernanda Jaime, Associate Director of Weddings & Special Events, The Resort at Pelican Hill.

4. Customize Your Day. Pelican Hill allows one wedding at a time in our private Wedding Estate with its Bridal Suite, ocean-view Mar Vista Ballroom and iconic Rotunda Wedding Lawn. So, couples enjoy heightened exclusivity and attention on their special day. Every wedding couple receives a complimentary wedding night accommodation in one of the resort’s bungalows or villas. Our chefs customize wedding menus with traditional cultural cuisine, including incorporating family recipes upon request. The Spa at Pelican Hill also offers luxurious pre-wedding celebration and wedding day pampering packages designed to make everyone in the wedding party look and feel their best, and the resort recently introduced a new wedding etiquette program that is open to brides and grooms, as well as their families and wedding parties. —Fernanda Jaime, The Resort at Pelican Hill.

5. Be Open to Suggestions. But add your own personal touch. Let the hotel know what you would like to set your wedding apart from everyone else’s and let them create their magic in ways you wouldn’t believe. The idea is to have your guest look into different elements and think, ‘OMG … this is so her.’ —Shanti Jetwani, senior catering sales executive, Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa.

6. Plan your Fairytale Realistically. Sound impossible? I promise you it’s not. In the beginning of your planning, be sure to set your budget. It’s important that you ask everyone who’s going to be contributing funds to share the amount they intend to contribute with you and your fiancé. This allows you to know what you have to spend. Then decide what is important to you and where you want to spend your dollars. Your food and beverage will be a large part of your budget. Our chef is happy to customize something that will speak to your tastes. Buffets are not less expensive than plated dinners and you will have to pay for all guests over the age of 21 for a bar service, even if they don’t drink. —Kate Eaton, wedding specialist, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach.

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Back Bay Amphitheater at Hyatt Regency Newport Beach

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Ballroom at Hyatt Regency Newport beach

7. Control Costs. The best way the bride, groom and the two families can take more control over the wedding weekend investment is to trim the guest count, which may at times include the bridal party attendants. Each table of 10 guests could easily add up to a $3,000 investment or more when you take into account meal service, bar, specialty linen, décor, florals, etc. The key to succeeding in this effort is to focus on the families and friends who mean the most to the bride and groom and who have the best opportunity to enhance their wedding experience. At Balboa Bay Resort, the Bay View and Commodore rooms are both waterfront locations with stunning panoramic views of the Balboa Bay, luxurious yachts and amazing sunsets, and are perfect for hosting Newport Beach weddings for 80 to 130-plus guests. —Robert Hayden, catering sales manager in charge of weddings, Balboa Bay Resort.

8. Cushion Your Budget. There are going to be unexpected costs throughout the planning process, like extra power required for the DJ/band or meals for your vendors. It’s better to be realistic about this from the beginning so you don’t have to worry when these surprise costs pop up. Ask yourself what the most important factors of your wedding day are and allocate a bit more time and money toward these areas. Everyone’s top picks will vary, but this will allow you not to lose sight of what means the most to you. —Rachel Gellerman, Fairmont Newport Beach.

9. Take Advantage of Technology. Fortunately, today’s wedding planning has been highly streamlined mainly by technology, including e-mailing, texting, teleconferencing, instant photography, and online support sites and systems. All of these resources help wedding planners like those at Island Hotel better communicate with wedding couples. Brides and grooms also have become very visual and Internet savvy, so using theknot.com’s planning website, for example, can really help give them step-by-step knowledge, as well as support the suggestions and valuable experience wedding planners bring to the picture. There are many things brides can “do themselves.” For example, using Pinterest and other sites are great tools to give people ideas and help them be creative and connected. But leave the big pieces like the venue operations, florals, music, catering, etc. to the professionals. —Deanna Jones, director of catering, Island Hotel Newport Beach.

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Island Hotel

10. Do a First Look. Our outdoor terrace overlooking the Newport Beach Back Bay Preserve is the perfect place to capture every second of your wedding. The moment of anticipation that you’ve both dreamed of for months, where the groom sets his eyes on his bride for the first time and the excitement is unbearable. Break the tradition and opt for first-look pictures before the ceremony so the couple can see each other for the first time. By taking these pictures, this allows you to take a deep breath and be in the moment so you are able to sink it all in. —Amanda Mikkelson, senior event manager and destination sales executive, Newport Beach Marriott Bayview.

The Final Word. Last, but surely not least — and perhaps the most important piece of advice of all: “Take it all in,” says the Marriott Hotel & Spa’s Jetwani. “Pause to make mental notes throughout the evening. Despite all the time that goes into planning for the big day, the wedding itself lasts only a few hours and goes by quickly. Every once in a while, stop, look around and really focus on what’s happening … take it all in. You won’t remember every detail, other than with photos and video to fill in the gaps, but take a moment to note who’s on the dance floor, which older relatives made it past midnight and how many people came together to celebrate your love.”

Hyatt Regency wedding specialist Christeen Orr agrees. “On the day of your event, enjoy your day,” she says. “Accept the love and laughter that you’ll be surrounded by and never forget all of the special moments you’re sharing with your friends, family, and most of all, your partner. Never forget the reason why you’re celebrating this day.”

Written by Wendy Bowman

Wendy Bowman is a San Clemente, Calif.-based freelance journalist. She spent 15-plus years as a writer and editor for Atlanta Business Chronicle, covering nonprofit business, homes and lifestyle, the Atlanta visitors market and more. She currently writes for Modern Luxury magazines including The Atlantan, Men's Book Atlanta, Interiors California, Interiors Atlanta and Brides California, as well as websites such as DIGS.net.

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