Guys! One of my very favorite types of weddings are BEACH weddings. For this inspo blog, I’m featuring Lauren and Tommy’s wedding at Crystal Cove Beach in Laguna Beach, California. It was an absolute perfect day, and everything was STUNNING. Typically, beach weddings are not cloudy but we lucked out and had beautiful cloud cover with no rain, which made for some soft lighting all day long.
Pro tip: knowing the environment and working off of it really helps create consistent and jaw-dropping images. I think Lauren did just that! If you look at the details, they are all pretty tropical and beach themed. While you don’t need to stick to a theme per say, understanding what colors, style, and shapes will compliment your venue (whether it’s outside or inside) goes a long way! She chose blue for bridesmaid dresses, neutral creams and whites with pops of color for invites and table settings, and indigenous plants to that area to decorate. To see more decor from the ceremony and reception, keep scrolling!
She opted for a stunning gown that would easily sway with her steps. It was easy to match the natural movement of the ocean surroundings as the wind took the fabric during portraits. It really was the cherry on top. Her dress was tight on top for a form-fitting look, but loose on bottom so that she could run around in the sand, stay cool in the heat, and move freely with the surroundings. LOOK AT HER. Wowza.
Let’s talk first looks, and private vows.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a HUGE fan of both first looks and private vows! Not only do you get a special moment with just you and your person, you get to capture it on camera! Most couples I photograph express a discomfort for reading such intimate feelings to a crowd, so I always recommend doing a first look and private vows. If seeing the dress before the ceremony isn’t something you want, I recommend hidden private vows. That way, you both don’t see each other but get an intimate and private moment together to remember forever. Emotions are typically more raw when they aren’t on display for dozens of people–it can just be me (and a videographer, if you have one), you, and your almost spouse!
Another awesome idea Lauren had was to do a first look with her dad! Obviously, this was his reaction, and how CUTE is this? He’s seriously one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet him twice now. You can do a first look with basically anyone: Dad, Mom, your almost spouse, bridesmaids, Grandma… anyone special in your life you want a memorable moment with. It’s a great option to consider. Here’s Lauren’s incredibly emotional and beautiful moment with her husband-to-be before the ceremony.
Obviously, they chose an utterly breathtaking location for a wedding! Two beautiful humans and one beautiful world.
Note the ocean-side plants used in her bouquet and to decorate the arch! Each of the bridesmaids also got to hold a simple yet beautiful arrangement that matched the groomsmen’s boutonnieres. The pinks really popped against the dark blues and whites, while flowing with the light blues! It looks extremely thought out–and I’m sure it was!
Lauren ended up making a lot of these things herself as DIY wedding projects, and it turned out splendidly! A lot of people fear doing that (me, personally lol), but if you’re crafty and want to save money, that’s a great option for you. Most of these signs were made by her and some helpful volunteers. She used driftwood to add texture and pull in more natural elements, and it’s one of my favorite creative things she did!
Sky is the limit when it comes to gifts! Tommy is a surfer, and if this wasn’t just the bees knees, I don’t know what is. She had to hide this custom surf board for months (definitely got trickier and trickier to transport it without him seeing), and it really paid off! Obviously, because look how happy and surprised he was to receive something like that!
Plus, it really made for some dope photos. A few more details here: in lieu of a guest book, she had family sign in their personal bible (Tommy and Lauren are religious), and I thought that was not only clever but extremely beautiful. To open up a book of worship to see notes of love and encouragement from one of the best days of your life is such a lovely idea.
Pro tip: Lighting is everything! We got to steal them away for a little bit after some dancing to go play on the beach for some photos of just the two of them, and I’m so glad we did! To this day, they are still some of my favorite beach pictures. Definitely try to plan enough time to get some photos at sunset! While we didn’t get much of a sunset that day, the best time of lighting is in the evening; on the beach, that’s super important! The light is harsh most days and reflects off the ocean, making it extremely difficult to photograph well. When hiring a photographer, always see a full gallery, but even more importantly, consider what the lighting will be on your wedding day. Ask to see galleries of similarly lit weddings. Whether it’s harsh light or candle light, it’s important for a photographer to be able to handle any scenario your day may require to give you the best images possible.
Also, if you have the space, USE IT! Beaches usually have a large amount of space that make for awesome images like these. It isn’t very often I have a tremendous amount of space, but when I do, I utilize it by getting couples in the landscape around them. While Lauren and Tommy had a more intimate wedding, they really wanted a photo with all of their guests, family, and friends. They all crowded together on the dance floor to get this awesome image during a song. This is one of my favorite photos to take at weddings. It gets guests involved, out of their chairs, and onto the dance floor so we can get great images of them really enjoying the party you’ve planned for years. I do it at almost every wedding, if possible.
Think outside the box! Since sparkers, rice, and rose petals weren’t allowed on the beach, they opted for a strand of Christmas lights that their guests held up! I’ve never seen this before then, and haven’t seen it since. It was super unique and still extremely cute! They ended the night relatively early, so it wasn’t quite dark yet, but it really lit up their exit wonderfully. Going back to the whole lighting thing: if your exit will be after the sun goes down, really keep in mind how you want to say goodbye to everyone. To have amazing photos of that moment, consider an exit that has extra lighting. I’ve literally asked guests to pull out their phones and light the couple as they walked past. Sparklers, iPhones, glow-sticks, light wands, and even Christmas lights can be an awesome way to end your day.
All in all, this wedding was absolutely perfect, and I’m still good friends with Lauren and Tommy to this day! California has some great people, and they are two of the best I know. Thank you so much, Tommy and Lauren, for having me! It was an honor to be there, and I love you both SO MUCH!