wedding photography for the colorful lovers

Black Tie Summer Wedding at the Franciscan Gardens in San Juan Capistrano

Franciscan Gardens wedding venue is the one.

If searching for wedding venues is more challenging than you thought. Or you’re finding that finding the right vendors is an overwhelming process – first, know that you’re not alone. 

Planning a wedding is daunting! But here’s some advice:

Take it one small step at a time.

This was my couples’ approach – marking small things off of their to-do list each month of their engagement. 

Like many couples, one of the earliest boxes they checked off their list was booking their wedding venue. Which for them, happened to be at the enchanted and secluded Franciscan Gardens in San Juan Capistrano, California

After securing Franciscan Gardens wedding date, they wanted to check “find a photographer” off their list. In fact, finding the right photographer was one of the most important parts of wedding planning for the couple. Right up there with the venue and entertainment.

Here’s how they made it happen. 

The Instant Spark

Instagram introduced Ellen and Mitch to my work. And like reading an intriguing dating profile, they felt a spark right away. They liked my photos, but they also felt like all of us would vibe IRL. And they were right! Our personalities clicked. And I was just as excited to be a part of their momentous day as they were for me to photograph it. 

Feeling that spark with your photography is so important. Why? Because you’re around your photographer pretty much all day. Feeling comfortable around them will allow you just to be yourself. Which, ultimately, leads to photos that look and feel like you.

Hint: If you really want to make sure you and your photographer vibe and feel even more comfortable with them, schedule an engagement session!

Beyond photography, I tried to make everything as easy and seamless for them as possible. Along with their planner, and after listening to their concerns about wanting to spend time with family, I helped them create a photography timeline that ensured they got to get down on the dancefloor while still getting all the photos they wanted. Which, in the end, is exactly what happened.

When Formal Meets Fun

This Franciscan Gardens wedding was the perfect definition of California meets black tie: Elegant and classy, but still laid-back and fun.

A black, white, and gold color palette set the mood and looked stunning against the garden backdrop in the outdoor courtyard. There were loads of flowers, metal and wooden lanterns, twinkling lights, geometric vases, and copper candleholders. And other unique details that set their wedding apart. One of my favorites: The bar napkins that included fun facts about their dating history. Such a cute idea (and one I might steal for my own wedding!)

Here’s a tip: Instead of printing your wedding date or hashtag on your custom cocktail napkins, use something like your custom monogram, logo, or fun facts like they did. This way, if you have leftovers (which happens a lot!), you can use them for house parties or holiday events without looking like they were leftovers.

In the End

Mitch and Ellen heavily value their relationships with friends and family and made sure to provide an experience everyone would fully enjoy. So aside from all the stunning scenery, beautiful decor, and delicious desserts, they really wanted to entertain their guests. 

Some of the ways they brought the entertainment factor were, rather than a traditional guest book, having a disposable camera and blank book for guests to take silly pictures with and write cute messages. They also had a photo booth during the cocktail hour and reception. And fun LED party props for the dance floor.

There were happy, laughing faces all evening long. Even the grandparents took full advantage of the event by popping into the photobooth and spending time on the dance floor! So, I say mission accomplished!

Mitch & Ellen’s wedding will always have a special place in my heart. Their families and their guests were all so wonderful to be around. 

And if you’re feeling a spark from these photos, take a page out of Mitch and Ellen’s book, and let’s see if we vibe IRL. 


Gowns: BHLDN

Suits: Suit Supply

Hair and Makeup: Beach Bridal Beauty

Planner: Gatherings by Elle

Ceremony Venue: Franciscan Gardens

Officiant: Friend of the couple

Reception Venue: Franciscan Gardens

Caterer: 24 Carrots Catering & Events

Florist: Studio C Florals

Entertainment: Showcase DJ

Lighting: Franciscan Gardens

Linens: Franciscan Gardens

Photo Booth: Janae DawsonBakery: Layer Cake Bakery

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