Category: Inspiration

I’m SO excited to round out my 2014 Love & Splendor Workshop recap series (Welcome Recap / Day 2 Recap / Day 3 Recapwith this look back at our beautiful farewell dinner.  I wanted to send off my attendees with a grand final experience: an incredible meal, an inspiring environment, and surprises around every corner.  Although I’m biased, I felt we achieved just that.  🙂  I loved planning and designing this evening alongside some of my dearest friends.  Going through the images for this blog post made me SO nostalgic and simultaneously excited.  I cannot wait for this year’s workshop, coming September 14-17 to San Luis Obispo, CA.  I plan on announcing all the details NEXT WEEK (ahh!) and registration will open on Wednesday, June 10th at 9a PST.  Here’s hoping that we’ll have another fabulous group of creative, joyful and energetic attendees!

i love this arrival/reaction photo!

missing a few but i love this photo of these beautiful ladies!

For this special farewell dinner, I invited attendees and speakers/collaborators to join me for dinner at a secret location.  I didn’t reveal the dinner location until the night of the event itself, and provided direct transportation for my attendees to keep the excitement high.  With the help of The Venue Report, I landed on The Washbow as the perfect backdrop for this celebration.  This modern gem in Culver City has a sprawling indoor space that is an ideal blank canvas for any event.  For my more intimate dinner, however, we kept the festivities outside in their beautiful urban garden.  There is a striking metal “pergola” on-site at the Washbow that was perfect for hanging charming bistro lights, along with foliage-draped chandeliers from JL Designs.  It set the tone for the romantic autumn feel I was hoping for, inspired by a magnificent mountain lodge.  To foster conversation and a feeling of camaraderie, we all sat down to one feasting table (made up of multiple wooden tables from Found Rentals) in beautiful bentwood chairs.

I embraced a jewel-toned palette of mostly oxblood, burgundy and crimson, with texture everywhere, from wooden tables and chairs, to fabrics like wool, tweed and velvet, to sprawling fall foliage used alongside the most sumptuous blooms of the season.  Once again, Carissa from JL Designs made the perfect collaborator as she brought my visions to life.  I especially loved her use of dramatic amaryllis (a fav of mine!) and whole pomegranates in her design.

Casa de Perrin tabletop wares stole the show in a variety of textures: walnut florentine chargers as a base, white collection china, gold flatware and a mix of red and cut crystal goblets for an extra pop on the tables.  The look was unabashedly luxurious while still feeling accessible.  Linens from La Tavola added even more color but the natural linen texture kept it subtle.  I set each seat with a wooden box filled with curated treasures like a name tag by Anne Robin, travel candle from Rosy Rings, beautiful matches, my homemade gluten free granola packed into Weck Jars, handmade Malvi marshmallows and Solstice Canyon almond butter.  It was a final opportunity to spoil these precious new friends.

Heirloom LA blew us all away with a phenomenal family style meal featuring all the best the season had to offer: a red grapefruit salad with speckled lettuces, fresh figs and sunflower seeds; grilled coho salmon and crispy pork belly served alongside roasted root vegetables and a warm sunchoke salad.  It was easily one of the most wonderful meals I’ve had, thanks to Chef Matthew Poley and his unparalleled team.  I loved looking up and down the table, watching new friends share in this meal together.  It was magical.  Heirloom LA put together a decadent mini dessert display, accented by ice cream cakes made by Sweet and Saucy Shop with Sweet Lucie’s ice cream (what a collaboration, right??).  My friends from Sweet Lucie’s even came out with their signature cart to scoop their ice cream in person.  Guests mingled in stylish lounges by Found Rentals and hopped in and out of the fun Flipbooth (a photobooth that prints out perfect flipbooks!) until we had to say farewell.

For a special takeaway station, A Rental Connection hung my favorite Edison bulbs on a vintage arch from Found Rentals.  This beautiful display featured seasonal apples from my favorite local orchard.  Apples are one of my favorite things about summer and fall, so I had to share some with my guests!

Without further ado, here are the stunning photos from my dear friend Ryan Ray.  I am so grateful I had him behind the camera, capturing every detail with such an artful perspective.

me & Ryan himself! Grateful I got him in front of the camera for this snap!

obviously this was before I changed, but I love this snap of me and Cary (Ryan’s wife), my soul sister

Michy, Lauren from Found, Erica from 10.11 Makeup, me, Jeni from Found, Carissa of JL Designs

my precious friend Tara of Heirloom LA

I always love seeing Mike from Sweet Lucie’s!

My Dream Team… event planning + design + styling: Love & Splendor // photography: Ryan Ray // venue: The Washbow Culver City, California // catering: Heirloom LA // florals: JL Designs // furniture rentals: Found Vintage Rentals // tabletop rentals: Casa de Perrin // linens: La Tavola Fine Linen // lighting: A Rental Connection // ice cream cakes: Sweet and Saucy Shop x Sweet Lucie’s collaboration // ice cream: Sweet Lucie’s // photobooth: Flipbooth LA // hair + makeup:10.11 Makeup // calligraphy: Anne Robin (placecards and menus) and Miss Multee (apple station signage) // venue scouting: The Venue Report

I hope you’re all having a great week!  How is already Thursday??  Look out for all the workshop details next week & don’t forget to set an alarm for Wednesday, 6/10 at 9a PST when registration will (finally) open!  Hooray!!  Thank you for stopping by; I am truly grateful for you.

Happy Friday, everyone!!  I thought I’d send us off into the weekend with some beautiful engagement photos from one of my 2015 couples, Makenna and Tyler.  Although I’ve yet to meet Tyler, I just ADORE Makenna!  She is an absolute joy and I feel truly blessed to be working alongside her (and her darling mom!) on her wedding next year.  Clients like Makenna remind me how very fortunate I am to do what I do.  After nine + years in this industry, this is what keeps me going: the sincere connections I am able to build with incredible people.  It is a privilege and joy.  Can’t wait for this beautiful day to unfold next fall… it’s going to be one for the books!

Makenna — thank you for entrusting me with the planning of your special day.  Love you!!

Here are some sneak peeks of their recent engagement session with I Heart My Groom.  Although Madison and Felicia aren’t shooting the wedding, they did a stunning job with these heartfelt images.  <3

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  My big tasks are to  finalize my Thanksgiving menu (can’t wait to be hostess for the first time!), do some grocery shopping, and deep clean the kitchen.  See you soon!

Today is an exciting day for our family, as Erik’s older sister is getting married!  We are so thrilled for her and her fiancé, whom we’ve known and loved for years now.  They will exchange vows after dark, in a super romantic rooftop ceremony in downtown Los Angeles.  As a fun bonus, Erik, Olive and I are all in the wedding!  I’m a bridesmaid, Erik is a groomsman, and Olive is one of two adorable flower girls.

One thing I am NOT, however, is the wedding planner.  😉  Although I assisted in pulling a few things together for Meg, I really wanted to enjoy the wedding day as a member of the bridal party and family.  I am grateful for some sweet friends who will be managing the set-up and day-of details so we can all relax today.

The wedding has an underlying Art Deco and Gatsby-inspired theme, since her venue is a historical building with period architecture and furnishings.  This made it a ton of fun picking our my bridesmaid dress (we all go to pick our own!) and accessories.  My lovely friend Heather from Twig and Twine did the dark and moody florals — I can’t wait to see everything come together!  Feel free to check my Instagram today where I’m sure I’ll post a few sneak peeks of the big day, too!

photo by Callaway Gable

Congratulations, Megan and Anthony!!  We love you so much and are truly delighted to see you join together in marriage.  Let’s celebrate!

Everyone else — enjoy the weekend and see you soon!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I spent some time in Palm Springs in October with some fabulous industry pals.  The talented folks behind The Wedding Artists Collective hosted an incredible trip as part of their Collective Gatherings series.  I was thrilled to be included alongside so many of my favorite people at the Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs.  We spent 3 wonderful days together enjoying fabulous food & drink, laughing and getting to know one another better, and visiting some fabulous venues in the desert.  Today they are sharing Day 1 of our trip on 100 Layer Cake so make sure to check it out!

I want to emphasize that I was just an attendee at this fabulous trip — I had nothing to do with the planning or design.  What a delightful treat to simply sit back and soak up every beautiful detail as a guest.  It was downright luxurious and I can’t thank The Wedding Artists Collective enough for the refreshing time together.

My hats are off to the brilliant vendors who DID plan, create and design this experience.  What a team!!  My friends Megan of Enjoy Events Co. and Emily of Shotgun Floral Studio simply blew me away.  Check out a few gorgeous images (courtesy of Josh Goleman and Gary Ashley, of The Wedding Artists Collective) and make sure to click over to 100 Layer Cake to see the rest!

food by Whoa Nelly! was absolutely scrumptious!

what a magical, magical evening…

I also couldn’t resist sharing this beautiful video by Courntey of Love+Brain Films, also a member of The Wedding Artists Collective…

Collective Gatherings: Cocktails & Caftans from Courtney Arcese on Vimeo.

Fabulous Vendors Responsible for All This Beauty…
Photographer: Josh Goleman and Gary Ashley of The Wedding Artists Collective / Videographer: Love + Brain Films of The Wedding Artists Collective / Venue: Korakia Pensione / Event Design, Planning, Invitation, & Paper Goods Design: Enjoy Events Co. / Floral Design: Shotgun Floral Studio / Catering:Whoa Nelly Catering / Wine Pairing: Domaine LA / Cocktails: Please & Thank You Bar / Tabletop Rentals:Hostess Haven / Table and Chair Rentals: Planks & Patina / Lounge Rentals: PowWow Vintage Rentals / DJ: Dart DJs / Gift Baskets: Paddywax

Grateful to be a part of such an amazing community.  Can’t wait until the next opportunity to connect and be inspired together!  Enjoy the rest of your day!

Hello everyone!  I had to share this beautiful preview film with you all from a wedding we did in September with my friends, Ben and Drew of The Cana Family.  These two guys are brothers to me — we have worked together for years and they are truly my favorite cinematic storytellers.  Their signature preview films, edited and shown during the wedding reception, always bring me to tears.  ALWAYS.  I just love the emotion of the cinematography, the heart wrenchingly beautiful music (composed and played by Drew himself), and the pure and honest way they capture a couple in love.  It’s inspiring.

video still by The Cana Family // still can’t get over Tiffany’s Jenny Packham gown!

This couple couldn’t be more precious, either.  I love Tiffany and Leo dearly — they are two incredible people and it was a joy working with them on their wedding celebration.  I can’t wait to visit them in Austin, soon!

If you want to see more of The Cana Family’s work with our couples, or if you just want to fill up on lovey dovey feelings right now, check out:

Brian & Natalia at Saddlerock Ranch


Jess & Scott at Flying Caballos


Richard & Shue-Ping at Bel Air Bay Club

More from Tiffany & Leo’s wedding is coming soon.  😉  Thanks so much to Ben & Drew for sharing your gifts with us; it is a special blessing to work alongside my friends.  Enjoy your evening!

I absolutely LOVE putting together welcome bags for my clients and their guests.  I firmly believe that a guest’s experience should begin the moment they receive an invitation (or save-the-date!), and culminate in a well-planned weekend full of personalized details.  With this weekend’s destination wedding in Paso Robles, my sweet bride and groom commissioned me to assemble some fabulous “swag bags” for their favorite people in the world.  As I delivered them this morning at four different hotels, I couldn’t help but smile thinking of the lucky guests who would receive them today and tomorrow.  A welcome bag is a special touch that can simultaneously: 1) Tie in the look/feel/design of your wedding, 2) Provide your guests with helpful weekend info and enough snacks to postpone their raiding of the minibar, 3) Make the recipients feel really special, kicking off the celebrations of the weekend and setting the tone for the wedding.

a trunk packed with hospitality!

For today’s installment of {the nuptial primer}, I thought I’d break down how to plan and prep your own welcome bags.  From simple to over-the-top, we never tire of these thoughtful gifts.

photo by Ryan Ray // custom artwork by Kristin, in-house graphic designer for Love & Splendor // printing by The Wedding Chicks

1) Start with a great tote/bag/basket/container!  Many of my clients love to use reuseable totes from the Wedding Chicks shop, which are reasonably priced and totally customizable.  They have tons of darling designs to choose from but you can also send them your custom artwork for printing.  🙂  For this weekend, we used their airplane state wedding totes but adjusted it slightly to have the plane’s trail coming from Texas, where the couple currently resides.  Beyond totes, I have used kraft paper gift bags, gable boxes of all colors and sizes, baskets and sturdy gift boxes.  For a tropical destination, you might consider a straw beach tote.  For a garden wedding, a galvanized steel bucket would be a charming pick.  Make sure that the size of the bag or container is appropriate for the contents you plan to pack inside.

2) Include the basics.  I think all welcome bags should contain a bottle or two of water, a sweet snack, a salty snack, and a pack of gum or mints.  These are traditional items that will definitely be appreciated by your traveling guests.  Depending on the location and season, I also like to include a piece of fresh fruit (like an apple or banana — something that travels well).  For the sweet and salty snacks, consider favorites of the bride and groom.  This weekend’s couple requested Pirate’s Booty as well as fun-size Snickers and a piece of fresh Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory fudge.  For my sister and brother-in-law last year, we included a tin of Hampton Popcorn because they love watching movies together.

3) Add local flavor.  Guests love getting to sample some local treats.  Is the city or town famous for their citrus (ahem, Ojai)?  Well throw in some Ojai Pixies (tangerines) for your guests to enjoy.  For Anna and Sean’s wedding, we also included local favorites like Zhena’s Gypsy Tea and raw lavender honey.  With this weekend’s wedding taking place in Paso Robles, a half bottle of wine was a must-have.  They opted for a Cabernet Sauvignon from Justin Vineyards and Winery.  I had a couple who got married in New Mexico and they integrated both local treats (roasted nuts) as well as items from a city important to them (New Orleans — beignet mix from Café du Monde).  A Hawaiian welcome bag might feature chocolate covered macadamia nuts or a small bag of Kona coffee beans.  For a Santa Barbara wedding, I might include some Robitaille’s famous mints (from nearby Carpinteria).  And for an L.A. shindig, some inexpensive sunnies, some Handsome Coffee and a box of See’s candy might be perfect.

I hope Ryan Ray forgives me for taking an iPhone pic of this print because I don’t have the photo uploaded to my comp.  The fuzziness and light leaks are all mine.  😉

4) Share vital info.  If you need to update guests on a shuttle schedule or various weekend events, include a little note or card with important addresses, contact information, and itineraries.  It may also be helpful to put in some local maps and guides to help your guests navigate the area.  For an SF wedding, you might put in a BART or MUNI schedule and map, for example.

5) Pack up to perfection!  Consider working with your stationer to create custom labels, tags and notecards to go with your welcome bags.  If you are buying certain items in bulk that you will be repackaging (e.g. Goldfish crackers to go into small clear boxes), you may need to source just the right mini boxes.  A simple tie-on tag that says “welcome” is also a nice touch.  Assemble the bags/boxes carefully, putting heavy items on the bottom and any printed materials on top (so they won’t get crushed/bent).

pretty paper goods from Le Partie Sugar

Now deliver those special packages to your guests!  Make sure to save one for yourself and have your photographer shoot it on the wedding day for some great detail shots.

I hope this post was helpful to some of you out there!  What was the best thing you’ve ever seen in a welcome bag?  Or on the flip side, what would you make sure to put in one now?

See you again soon!

Since writing more regularly here on the blog, and sharing more personal posts, once in a while I will get an email from a prospective client who is curious if I am still planning and designing weddings.  😉 The answer is definitely YES!  I am thoroughly enjoying my life and responsibilities as a wife & mother but I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working with wonderful couples across the globe in planning their nuptial celebrations.  The key for me (and any working mom, really) is balance: I want to ensure that I am able to take care of my home and give Olive 100% while also serving my clients with the utmost care and attention.  For this reason, I am quite discerning when it comes to the clients I do take on and the number of events I’ll do in a given year.

Here’s a glimpse at a few of fast-approaching weddings I am currently working on…

… A charming and rustic vow renewal at my beloved Saddlerock Ranch… Lots of burlap, vintage bottles, wildflowers, southern comfort food and apple pie (groom’s favorite!).

Astilbe, dahlias and vintage stamps?  I’m in heaven.

… A vintage-inspired wine country wedding in Paso Robles, featuring some of my favorite industry friends including Allyson Magda, Cana VP, {found} vintage rentals, Casa de Perrin, Enjoy Cupcakes, and FOUR awesome musical acts… #dreamteam

… A glamorous modern fairytale wedding.  Luxury and opulence and drama!  This will be one for the books, and I can’t share anything else for now!  😉

Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 2.41.30 PM

Are you smitten (like me) with these new antique white Florentine chargers from Casa de Perrin??

Add to this lots of 2014 client inquiries and consultations and our first 2014 brides, and it is quite busy over here!

One thing I have always loved about my job is that it is constantly changing.  Each couple has a unique wedding vision and I love getting to know my clients and helping them edit and develop that vision.  I am constantly inspired by the new venues I uncover, the passionate vendors whom I work alongside, and of course, the people in love who trust me with the plans of one of the most important days of their lives.  I thank God everyday for this sweet and rewarding job.

Hope you’re having a lovely week!!

Happy Monday everyone!  I’m back with another installation of {the nuptial primer} – my little guide to planning your wedding with both substance and style.  🙂  I expect to pick up the pace with this series now that I’m blogging more regularly, so I hope that these entries will be helpful to anyone out there preparing for their wedding (or any party, really!).


photo by Ryan Ray // venue: Flying Caballos Ranch in San Luis Obispo, CA

In a previous entry, I went over the importance of setting a budget.  Once you have determined the size and scale of your celebration, you have the exciting task of selecting the setting.  What will it be: a chic seaside soirée or an elegant garden luncheon?  Will you dance the night away under ornate chandeliers in a dramatically tented canopy, or beneath the stars in a wild and overgrown field??  The possibilities are endless.  I often tell brides that as multifaceted individuals, we may be drawn to many options.  I know that I could plan a dozen weddings for myself: from a clean and modern affair at a loft, to a charming Cape Cod clambake, to an opulent fête at a French chateau, to a snowy mountaintop celebration complete with post-dinner s’mores…  I am drawn to many types of scenes and settings.  My style isn’t singularly defined.  That said, most of us are only going to have one wedding.  (Can I get an amen on a vow renewal, though?  I keep telling Erik that we’re having a 10-year vow renewal…  Sweetie, if you’re reading this, we really are.  ;-))  You will ultimately have to choose what type of wedding you want to host, and where it will be.  Here are my tips on how to hone in on the perfect place to say, “I do!”

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photo by The Image is Found // venue: Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu, CA


photo by Jose Villa // venue: San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, CA

1) Budget: First things first, you have to check the budget.  If you know your overall wedding budget is $20k, it is probably unwise to look into sites that charge $10k rental fees… unless you’re having 50 people and the In-N-Out truck (and hey, that sounds grand to me!).  Ideally you are embarking on this process with a great wedding planner who will have helped you draw up a realistic budget.  Some magazines or books will give percentages on how much to allocate for the venue rental, but you can guess how I feel about their arbitrary guesstimates.  😉  Until you build a complete budget based on your priorities and expectations, you can’t really know how much you can spend on your venue.  It is going to vary widely based on what you value most for the big day.  Nonetheless, you need to start with an idea of what you can spend on the site rental fee, and take into consideration what it includes.  Some venues include tables, chairs, and catering, while others provide nothing but permission to celebrate on their gorgeous property.  Determining the allocation for the budget requires you to know what it takes to actually hold an event at that property.  Are there “hidden” fees like required shuttles, valet parking, and/or security?  Do you have to bring in your own restrooms and/or power?  These things need to be taken into consideration before you sign on the dotted line.

2) Guest count: How many people do you want to have with you on the wedding day?  While some say “the more the merrier,” others yearn for a more intimate celebration.  I encourage clients to write out a thorough guest list together, then go through and revise a couple times before settling on a guest count.  If your priority is to have the most people possible there with you, your venue selection will include consideration of space, cost per head, etc.  If your priority is to get married at an ultra luxe resort property, you may want to trim back the guest list to accommodate the budget.  If others are contributing to the wedding budget (e.g. parents), it is wise to consult them on their guest list expectations before you set your heart on a venue.  Trust me — handling these kinds of conversations as early as possible is the way to go, to avoid as much drama and heartbreak as possible.

3) The Scene: What type of site do you have in mind?  Do you desire particular views or a certain setting?  I think seeing so many fabulous weddings over the years has given me an appreciation for all types of venues.  Whether it’s a coastal private estate or a perfectly worn-in rustic barn, a five-star hotel or a sleek “blank canvas” warehouse, there is something for everyone out there.  Narrow in one the type of space you’d like for your wedding.  Some couples may prefer a venue that can accommodate both indoor and outdoor celebrations.  If you are worried about inclement weather and are averse to tenting (because you honestly just never know…), you may want to seek out a site that has an indoor space as a back up plan.  Other couples prefer the convenience of having a resort host their wedding because their guests can simply walk from their hotel rooms to the festivities.  This also is helpful for a destination wedding where guests are going to enjoy successive days of events.  Perhaps it is vital for you to marry at a certain church.  You will need to consider the distance to your reception venue from the church, how guests will get there, and how long it might take for that post-ceremony travel.

4) The Rules & Restrictions: Make sure to carefully review ALL of the paperwork that comes with any venue.  Here is another place a planner can assist you in reviewing the site restrictions and relay any information gained from experience at the property.  You will want to understand the amount of time you have access to the site (for set-up, strike, and the event itself), any forbidden items or vendors (e.g. amplified music after a certain hour, open flames, sparklers, smoking, hard alcohol, etc.), any required vendors (e.g. valet, security, additional site management), extra fees (e.g. cleaning fee, use of kitchen or other optional spaces, dancefloor rental, etc.), upgrade costs (e.g. different linens or chairs, cost of bringing in your own cake vs. the one made by the in-house caterer), etc. etc. etc.  I really could go on and on here!  Before you commit, make sure that you are OK with the rules and restrictions for your favorite site. I’ve had clients hire me after securing a venue, only to be shocked by the “hidden” fees we uncover (that were actually plainly written into their contracts).  If you don’t understand the legalese of some of the paperwork, ask!  🙂

5) The Reaction: After you’ve confirmed that your dream site is within the budget, has acceptable rules and restrictions, will comfortably accommodate all of your guests and has just the look you are going for, you’re ready to book.  And for many couples, the venue hunt starts + ends with a reaction.  I will never, ever forget the first time I drove up the driveway at Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu in 2005.  I was speechless as I drove past the beautiful zebras and horses galloping…  The rolling vine-covered hills and idyllic white picket fences… It actually brought tears to my eyes!  haha  Now after planning dozens and dozens of weddings at this special site, I STILL get that magic feeling when I pull through the gates.  I had a similar reaction visiting the Montage Laguna Beach last week, where staff greets you with a tray of champagne, a sample of gourmet cheese from their in-house fromager, and sweeping views of the ocean everywhere you turn.  I can recall the excitement that filled my heart as I first stepped into the courtyard of Smog Shoppe in Culver City, like I was entering a secret club in this urban oasis.  I was instantly obsessed with their wall of succulents and reclaimed wood furniture.  Those first reactions are going to tell you if it’s the right place for you and your love to make the most sacred vows to one another.

Although there may be many places that catch your eye, I hope that all of you ultimately find *the place* that is perfect for you!  🙂


photo by Ryan Ray // venue: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, CA


photo by Jose Villa // venue: 3 Stones in Napa, CA


photo by Trista Lerit // venue: Bacara Resort in Goleta, CA


photo by Braedon Flynn // venue: Smog Shoppe in Culver City, CA

I hope this was helpful to some of you out there!  (If it was, please let me know! ;-))  If you are still planning your wedding, let me know if there is any topic you’d like to hear about.

If you’re already married, I’d love to hear in the comments where you got married and why you picked the place that you did!

See you all again soon!  xoxo, Angel

In early November, I had the pleasure of working with a fabulous team on a winter-inspired shoot.  Yesterday the fruits of our labor were featured on Style Me Pretty, and we couldn’t be more thrilled!  Make sure to mosey over to see both of the posts (HERE and HERE) which take a peek at two unique “takes” on the same table.  And lots of love to the team at SMP for their support of our work throughout the years.  <3

I don’t do a lot of staged shoots, but the idea for this unique project was borne out of a desire to capture the holiday spirit and bring it to life with REAL people, REAL food, and a REAL gathering.  Instead of perfectly manicured models traipsing around opulent tables that are big on WOW and short on practicality (i.e. tables you would never have at an actual wedding), our shoot would feature real people (including me and my husband and some of our dear friends from Cana VP) sitting at a rustic table that you could easily recreate at home.

The hearty winter menu featured beautiful seasonal produce including a ribolita (a Tuscan bean and cabbage stew), fig and chipotle stuffed pork loin, herb and parmesan-crusted pumpkin wedges, cider-braised brussels sprouts dotted with pomegranate jewels and warm farro with grilled raddichio, pistachios, dried cherries and a white truffle shallot vinaigrette.  The meal was presented on my favorite Spode Jewel china from Casa de Perrin (did you know you can rent their wares for more than just weddings?  Their gorgeous tabletop décor is perfect for intimate dinner parties, holiday festivities and more…) — a subtle and lovely white-on-white pattern that gets me every time.  Gold flatware added a touch of luxury, and emerald goblets paired with clear pressed glass made for a festive tabletop.  Simple pine boughs draped along the center of the table, punctuated by pinecones and potted olive trees (hint hint) brought a touch of the season in, without going overboard.  The endlessly talented Julie Song of Julie Song Ink created lovely placecards, menus and placards for the food using reclaimed wood and gold ink.  The coasters she made from wood slices with gilded edges are my favorite!  Our friends from Enjoy Cupcakes provided the sweetest ending with a gorgeous cake (the sugared cranberries were show-stopping!) and scrumptious cupcakes in flavors like gingerbread, cranberry cobbler, and spiced pear butter chardonnay.  YUM.

To really showcase the versatility of the tabletop, we ended up doing two set-ups: the original vision as described above, along with one more luxe and lush that could translate beautifully into a wedding.  Our wintery elegant tabletop swapped the branches for creamy textural florals in ceramic glazed trophy cups and striking pillar candles.  The greyish green tones of natural air plants added a bit of modernity to an otherwise classic look.  Our cozy lounge vignette featuring pieces from {found} vintage rentals made the perfect accompaniment, using flokati pillows and a warm cable knit throw.  The entire look was luxurious yet accessible.  The floral designer, Camilla of Camilla Flowers, is a true artist.  Her creativity and talent blows me away…  (She did my mother’s wedding back in 2008 and I am still in awe of her work from that day!)

Here is a peek…

you can always gauge how happy I am when i smile by how much of my gums I show.  so… I’m pretty darn happy here.  🙂

yes, that is my adorable husband above on the right!


As we sat down to wrap up our “shoot,” we realized that the inspired setting we had created was more than just a still-life for eyes only.  Our intention all along was to design a table that could actually be enjoyed, food and treats that could actually be consumed, a place that would become an actual venue for laughter, conversation and holiday cheer.  As the sun set and we clinked glasses and passed dishes across the table, I couldn’t help but marvel at what we had created.  It was more than a tabletop.  It had become an event.

My hope is that this Christmas, this season, at your wedding or at your next gathering with those you love, you would turn your table into an event. Even a casual dinner can become an occasion when you set the mood and incorporate a few well-conceived details.  In the end, what set this shoot apart (in my mind, anyway) was the warmth and love of all those involved, coming together for something more than just a pretty picture.  Of course thanks to Ryan Ray we got the stunning images, but more than that, they evoke a lovely day filled with laughter and good friends.  Your setting is just the stage for creating beautiful memories.

Here is a roundup of the fabulous team that brought this gathering to life…

Thank you for stopping by!  With Christmas and the end of the year rapidly approaching, I have a handful of blog posts coming your way.  😉  Keep your eyes open for 1) Olive’s 9 months post, 2) A gorgeous Santa Ynez wedding feature, 3) Another great giveaway and 4) An exciting announcement!

Let me know in the comments: what are YOUR plans for gathering during the holidays?  Enjoy your weekend!!  xoxo, Angel

This past weekend was busy and WONDERFUL for the ladies of Love and Splendor.  We saw two beautiful weddings come to fruition (one for a dear client, and one for another family member!) AND we had a special arrival.  No, this time it wasn’t a new baby.  😉  Upon returning from the wedding weekend, I discovered a package on my doorstep from my dear friend Ryan Ray.  It was carefully wrapped up with kraft paper and twine; the presentation of the photos was a gift in and of itself!  Gingerly tucked inside a box I found the prints from my sister’s beautiful June wedding!  I cannot begin to tell you all how much I adooooore the images… The photos he took will be cherished by our families for a lifetime.  Every shot reminded me of how lovely the day was in its entirety — I was overwhelmed by emotion as I recounted the day’s events with each photo.  I also got teary looking at the photos Ryan took of Olive… She has already changed so much in the past couple of months, that seeing her as a “tiny” 3-month old really made me sentimental (more than usual!).  We are blessed to have such priceless images of that day.

I hate to be a tease, but you’ll have to wait for the official unveiling of those wedding photos!  In the meanwhile, however, I’m excited to share their beautiful engagement photos with you!  Anna and Sean sent these favorites with me and I couldn’t help but smile as I uploaded each one.  They capture the childlike joy of their relationship.  🙂

Ryan: you never fail to touch my heart with your gift.  Working with you is such a joy.  And Anna and Sean: thank you for allowing us to share these photos here!

Anna’s favorite pic of her husband 🙂

maybe my (Angel’s) favorite 🙂

Coming on Friday: Olive’s (belated) 5-month post and an exciting GIVEAWAY you won’t want to miss.  😉  See you again soon!  xoxo, Angel