More than a one-night affair…

Swann Soirées Real Weddings

Sage, Purple & Lace | Liberty Station Point Loma, Real Wedding

Nothing beats getting to work on my home turf! This past April I was part of Rachel + Rick’s uber fun wedding day which took place at Liberty Station. The ceremony was held in the NTC Chapel followed by a casual cocktail reception in the Luce Court.

There were two things that made this wedding memorable (well actually a lot of things) but two that were particularly enjoyable for me. One, was the over grown seagulls which aggressively stole the sand-filled paper luminaries surrounding the parameter of the area, I am sure they were hoping for a burger and fries instead of votive candles. It is too bad I do not have photos to share of the hilarious scene they caused.

The other was how timelessly beautiful Rachel was… her dress was so delicate, romantic, and feminine. Her hair was sweetly tied into a side bun, make-up; dewey and soft – she was brilliantly stunning, and glowed even brighter when at Rick’s side. The way he looked at her was beyond adorable… so giddy yet in awe of his bride. Oh how the secret romantic in me ate it up! Enjoy these shots compliments of Aaron & Samantha at AS Photography.



This is my favorite photo of the day- it is the epitome of what a Wedding Day should be.


White, Black & Red | Real Swann Diego Wedding

Being in this industry, many people often ask about my & Mr. Swann Soireés’ wedding… “It must have been perfect!” “I bet it had spectacular details!” “You probably weren’t stressed at all!” -Since today is our Third Anniversary, I figured it would be a good time to share with you what the Swann Wedding Planning experience was like.

While I am quick to share that our wedding was a beautiful & unforgettable day, I’ll also admit to a day full of highs, lows, the unplanned for, and puppy dog tails- literally. We loved every last minute of it- including the jean-wearing crashers, lost Rolls Royce limo’s, and the cocktail hour which was spent at the hospital with the Mister’s 82 year old grampa who had caught pneumonia while traveling to our wedding. Overall I remember it as SOOO MUCH FUN and it is the way I typically describe it despite anything that was a challenge around it. Oh, and there was challenges, but that’s a blog for another day…

When Dayton proposed, we were both in the midst of making some pretty big life changes which included him getting ready to deploy on what ended up being a 399-day tour to Iraq, while I was gearing up to go study abroad in India. Neither one of us will ever deny the serious consideration we gave to eloping, we (or he, rather) was ready to pay to just fly our parents to Fiji & get hitched. We would have too had it not been for, hhmm…well, I am pretty certain it had something to do with his mom & grandma… not entirely sure anymore… So Alas, I was left here with what started out to be a $5000 (I know! GASP!!) budget to plan a wedding over a year and a half while he went off to war. Occasionally, we joke that if he hadn’t gone to Iraq and gotten the little bit of extra pay for being in a war zone… we wouldn’t have had a wedding at all.

The planning, oh the planning >insert awkward laughter here<… At the time, I was a day-of coordination hobbyist, doing weddings here and there for my friends (for the fee of fancy dinners OR a whopping $75 dollars if I didn’t know them directly). Because I had been involved in other people’s weddings, I knew that planning weddings was hard, time consuming, and expensive “Really Dayton, you are just giving me $5000?!!?” (If only I would have known then that getting married in a barn was going to be all the rage!) I was overwhelmed by the thought of it all… I mean, when I was coordinating (ahem, yes, coordinating, not planning) other people’s weddings, THEY had already thought of nearly everything, made their DIY items, organized themselves, designed it, etc. They had done it all… all I had to do was take all their work, call people to make sure they were showing up, pull it together, and carry around this huge bag of emergency “stuff.” I knew right from the start that this was going to be a very looong process & I wasn’t looking forward to it (is it sin to admit I as more excited about going to study in India?). Thankfully, because I had made several good relationships along the way, and had the BEST Matron of honor & Bridesmaid, all came together and turned out to be a Swanntastic day!

I’ll give you the basic run down of our priorities:

  • Location: We HAD to have our dogs with us all day, so the location had to allow off leash dogs
  • Location: We had to have plenty of free parking
  • Location: It had to be in central San Diego, or what we dubbed it: Swann Diego

Outside of the above items, I had NOT A CLUE what I wanted for a “theme” or colors or touches…I didn’t know what kind of menu I wanted, shoot I don’t think we had a date set for what seemed like ages! But, I knew what I wanted my hair to look like, and that I wanted to wear comfortable shoes so that I could dance all night (which we did!)….I spent months looking for a dress all over, from Florida with D’s grandma & aunt to Mexico with brides I used to take down there to get custom-made veils, finally, I bought my Pronovias gown about five months before the wedding- I know, GASP again, just five months out!! Oh, did I mention I bought it for about 2/3s of the budget D gave me for the whole wedding? EEK!

The first person booked for our team (sans location or date) was our DJ, Primo from Primo Deejays. I had met Primo in 2001 at a Bridal Bazaar I attended with a girlfriend when she was planning her wedding, she loved him. I loved him… I had worked with him twice (in 2002 and 2004) and knew he was who I wanted, even if he didn’t remember who the heck I was. After booking Primo, he urged me to lock down a location & date, which I did… eventually… ceremony would be held in the courtyard of the Old Naval Hospital (mostly because it was within the now $2500k remaining budget) and had loads of parking, plus being that it was a public place the permit was inexpensive and it was semi-private since not many people tend to tourist around that part of Balboa Park (AND I figured the chances of a park ranger coming to yell at me for having my dogs wandering around off leash were slim). The reception was a toughie, but we ended up at a”hall” where a friend of mine who worked for a caterer said they’d let me bring my own alcohol and most importantly, they allowed dogs! The “hall” was actually the Cypress Room which belongs to the St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church on Park Blvd, exactly one mile from the ceremony. So, no, we aren’t Greek nor orthodox BUT they had plenty of free parking and allowed dogs, even served them a hot meal of boiled chicken breast cut up into little pieces. Did I mention they gave me a military discount too? So there, reception site found. Oh and for Catering? The only preferred vendor for the venue: California Cuisine. Great, done. pheeww.

With the “big stuff” in order (right), I went away to study in India where I became obsessed with linens & colors…India will do that to you folks- be ready if you ever visit. I bought sooo many linens out there it was ridiculous. I used NONE of the textiles I scoured the streets of New Delhi for… I know, crazy. wasteful, so typical of a girl who’s not dreamed about her wedding day… well ever. Instead, upon my return, I looked into a lady that one of my clients recommended, Haydee, at Concepts Event Design (then Concepts Party Rentals) and rented from her the most exquisite of linens for my reception, black and damask satin… oh it was gorgeous, but nowhere near as inexpensive as my treasures from India. So just like that, I ran out of $$ and wrote D an email- “I need more $$ for Your wedding, I was all about eloping remember?” -LOL! After he reluctantly gave me a little more money, that’s when I found a photographer, Alice Hu (who’s shots are below), and made about 53 trips to Michael’s to buy materials for the centerpieces- which were just bowls and floating candles (did I mention I had everyone at my day job collecting Michael’s coupons for me? Ha Ha! Then, I fell in-love with our wedding invites from Wedding Paper Divas… after ordering them, I wrote D another email: “I need more money.” We still didn’t have flowers, or cake, decor, favors, or shoes, >insert over dramatic panic< “omigosh I have nothing!” I was getting married and I had nothing!!! “Whaaaa!! I needed more money!!!”

So I got more money.

Then I booked NR3 Video Productions. I had fallen in-love with Norma from the moment I saw her website, I tried to go to other places, but I kept coming back. So… I wrote D another email: ” I need A LOT more money.” The way I saw it, this was an investment, not just uncle whoever shaky recording from the fourth row back (or worse, standing in the middle of the isle thinking he’s James Cameron!

He gave me more money (and I added to the pile from my secret pile of cash, aka my 401K- GASP! I know, blog for another time!), which I also used to book Rolls Livery, a Rolls Royce Limo to transport us to the ceremony and from ceremony to reception…. and you guessed it, I needed more money after that too. When I got it, I booked Dan Libertino to play our ceremony music… he basically got me with his charming personality and the fact he suggested playing the “Peanuts” theme song for when the dogs walked down the isle. Genius. I love you. You’re hired. Just when D was about to get the email that said “Yay! All done booking stuff! Now just get home…” I decide I need more money… for white-wooden-padded ceremony chairs instead of plastic, for red Steve Madden wedding shoes, for $200 custom dog collars for the pups, oh and dance lessons… I (I mean we) need dance lessons. Did I mention we had no cake or flowers yet? So I got more money, upgraded our photographer’s package, got my red shoes, oh and a custom made lariat necklace for me… it matched the dog’s collars. Oh yea, and I started to look into cake and flowers. Just as I was going to ask for, you guessed it… more money… A colleague in the industry offered to do my flowers as a gift (her: “What do you want Brenda?” Me: “Uhm, whatever…red, timeless, unique, blah blah, uh, you pick”). I found a baker that gave us a sweet deal and didn’t hate on my idea of doing multiple cakes that I wanted to place on the multiple heirloom platters D’s Grandma gave to me, plus! She concocted the best triple coconut cake ever (D and I loooove coconut!). I still asked D for more money though “I might need it, you know, for like lipstick and stuff..” Ha Ha Haa. The last piece of the puzzle was the coordinator, a position that was not originally up for grabs since I was stubborn and thought I could do it all myself because I did it all the time (I know! I undermined my own role!) but eventually ended up with my former assistant and a former colleague as my coordinators. They were incredible.

So- that my dear friends is how this Swann planned her Soireé (or let the Soirée just plan itself because I was busy going to India, putting together care packages, asking for more money, and watching Law and Order with my dad till the wee hours of the night, etc, etc,)- as it was it took over 18 months to plan (and I was honestly faaar more interested in my clients events than my own!). When it was all over, it really was quite the simple and intimate affair, nothing was over the top. We had 105 guests, served chicken & vegetarian (YUM couscous!) entrees, our fave beer, wine, and signature cocktails, which we called the “Something Old,” “Something New,” “Something Borrowed,” and “Something Blue”- I can’t for the life of me remember what any of them were. I didn’t have favors ( gave some $ to charity instead), place cards (decided seating chart was waaay easier), and we live happily ever after. People that talk about our wedding, remember it the way we do: It was SO MUCH FUN! We danced the night away!

Whoa this blog is way too long. It really was just supposed to be a little old thing with pictures for all of you to see, and another place where I could say “Happy Anniversary” to my sweet husband, who gave me the wedding that I didn’t know I wanted.

So, Happy Anniversary to Mr. Swann Soirées, who actually let me start using his name for my company before we were technically married. Also, Happy Birthday & Happy Anniversary to Granny Pat & Pa. Love you two very very much!! Enjoy the photos!

~All Photos by Alice Hu Photography~


Like my fascinator? I made it! My sole DIY item for the wedding.




My beloved Steve Madden shoes! Bridal Bag from Ebay, custom lariat necklace, Wedding Paper Diva




I walked myself down the isle | Our Flower Girl was the CUTEST!



Saying our vows



Having our kids with us was #1 priority! Love that they were able to be there!




One of my fave photos0 my parents in the back ground




Our dashing men in Uniform! love this picture because men in uniform aren't usually laughing




The *BEST* bridesmaids a girl could ask for!




THE Steve Madden shoes we all *had* to have




The pups were well behaved the entire time, and just look at those incredible dog collars




One of about only six pictures we got with or in the Rolls Royce



Told you we danced all night!



Those dance lessons were sooo worth it!


Blue & Taupe: Surf meets Sand | Del Mar, California Real Wedding

Upon first meeting, Shaina described herself to me as the anti-bride. I tried not to giggle, but I failed… for in her voice I heard an all too familiar quiver from many other brides I’ve met before. “It’s ok, let’s hear why you think that…”- Believe it or not, I’d say there is a 50/50 ratio to brides who have never thought about what their wedding would be like to the ones that have been dreaming about it since they were five. There is nothing wrong with either one {or anything in-between}. Dreams, like ocean waves, are all different.

Like many newly engaged women, she didn’t know where to start (and was being given all kinds of ideas & opinions by everyone around her). She hadn’t been dreaming of this day her whole life and was certainly overwhelmed by all the choices, decisions, and how quickly costs added up. She did however know that it had to be a reflection of her & her fiancé; both could be described as enthusiast of wine, the outdoors, and all things simple… so the planning began.

Shaina & Eric selected Seagrove Park in Del Mar as their backdrop for the interfaith ceremony. Neither of them minded being in a busy area frequented by tourists year-round, not to mention all the locals that can constantly be found strolling through the beautiful setting, AND the coaster that rides past at least once an hour. Many people stopped to watch her walk down the park to the beautiful chuppa where Eric & congregation of about 70 guests awaited, some even took pictures, but you didn’t see the slightest of concern or peeve in Shaina’s face, she was ready for it all to happen!

The Bridal Party was small, three to be exact:

Those cliffs at Seagrove Park make for some stunning pictures!

The theme (“I have to have a theme?!?” Shaina asked), colors, & flowers: Organic and complimentary of our surroundings. Christine of Fancy That! Flowers used familiar blooms in white, ivory, shades of blue, fun monkey tails, along with blue & brown ribbons to represent the sand & skies which surrounded us. Easy, simple, clean. Eric really liked his boutonniere!

It was a lovely ceremony. Sunny skies kissed the faces of all the guests (many who traveled here from Chicago), and it was probably a lot nicer than our summer turned out to be this year!

The reception was held at Pacifica Del Mar restaurant, in their outdoor patio where guests could enjoy the beautiful scenery we are so spoiled with here in San Diego. The food was delicious, staff incredible, and costs…reasonable. I highly recommend considering a restaurant as an alternative to your “typical” wedding reception venue, especially when you have a small guest list. Many restaurant venues will allow you to have the “standard” wedding elements such as a DJ, outside baker, florist, favors, etc.

There was little that had to be added to the restaurant inclusions. For centerpieces, Shaina inherited sea-glass vases from a previous bride of mine who had used them at her wedding… I just love being able to recycle items among my brides! The same vases are being used by one of my September brides too! Her paperie was all designed by her sister, a design replicated perfectly on the cake. The tables were named after favorite wines & were adorned by photos of the many adventures her & Eric have shared. Favors: Costa Rican Coffee (where Eric & Shaina would Honeymoon).

It was a lovely wedding… one that perfectly celebrated who Eric & Shaina are as a couple. I am so grateful to have been part of it! My words of advice to future “anti-brides” – plan to celebrate this next milestone in your life the way that makes YOU BOTH happy. There are no rules or guidelines to what you can or should do for a wedding.



~Encouraging & Inspiring Ideas that will fashion your celebration!~

Shout-Out to the Wedd Pro Team by my side:

  • Ceremony & Cocktail Music: Miles Moynier
  • DJ: Joe, JMC Events
  • Cake: Sumi’s Oven
  • Flowers: Fancy That!
  • Photography: Pasion Photography
  • Videography: Cloudbreak Films
  • Ceremony Rentals (including Chuppa): Platinum Party Rentals
  • Getting Ready Room: L’Auberge

Black & Ivory: Timeless Beach Elegance | San Diego Real Wedding

Every single time I look at this wedding it makes me go back to the day it happened. It was such a beautiful day all the way around from planning to execution and everything in-between.  Given I am behind on blogging, why not go back to my favorite month last year, October, specifically to when Maribel & Uriah tied the knot at the St. Francis Chapel in Balboa Park then partied the night away at La Valencia in la Jolla. This wedding meant a LOT to me, for I met Mari & Uri through one of the nurses at the San Diego Hospice where I drop off donations on the weekend. Needless to say, Mari’s left over flowers went to the Hospice after the celebration too. Yay! You can see the “Live” shots from the day on the SS Facebook Fan Page, but since Michelle was awesome & sent me more of her amazing shots it would be horrible not to share!

The theme was a Classy Beach Elegance, there are sooo many ways to depict that, but Mari & Uri went the vintage & formal route. All the little details, from the sterling silver bouquet holder to the ornate champagne flutes really helped bring to life a romantic and timeless event.

Enjoy the beautiful shots & be inspired!



~Encouraging & Inspiring ideas that will fashion your celebration!~



The Details were my favorite part! Beautifully adorned champagne flutes with matching cake cutters. The tables were named after their favorite beaches, thick, clear acrylic frames held photos of the corresponding beach, each frame nestled among arrangements of roses and beautiful greenery of varying height. The ring pillow was a DIY project, the lace came from Mari’s mom’s dress from her wedding…Love! The favors were wine stoppers with crystal clam shells on top, oh and perhaps my favorite detail? The silver bouquet holder with a little tag that had their names on it… it looked beautiful and kept the bridal bouquet in-tact all day & night. Photos of family weddings were set on the piano of the lounge at The Valencia and really added that romantic touch to the lovely and personal event.

The place cards were held inside a cork-lined tray which was made by one of Mari’s friends, the starfish were a perfect accent!

Cake & topper made by Mari’s sister! It was deeelish!

Wedd Pro Team: