Outdoor Wedding Tips From Terranea Resort
Planning an outdoor or destination wedding? Take a page from the playbook of the wedding experts at this California resort.
Photo By: Photo by Angela West
Go for a Destination Wedding
Destination wedding planning? The 102-acre Terranea Resort on the Palos Verdes Peninsula an easy 40 minute drive from LAX, is a great place to start. Embracing natural beauty and stunning outdoor locations are big wedding trends. Terranea offers an appealing blend of luxury and natural beauty, plus countless ways for guests to engage with its unique location hugging a Pacific hillside where whales, dolphins and sea lions are your neighbors.
The Honeymoon Has Become the Wedding
The beauty of a destination wedding is, of course, a gorgeous location. But it’s also a great way to entice guests to fly in for a mini vacation and allows for plenty of magical bonding opportunities with your guests and a way to extend your special day into a weekend or more. L.A. is an easy-to-reach destination, but more exotic destinations are also on the rise, including Bora Bora, Croatia and Vietnam. These spots are moving beyond honeymoon to destination wedding locales.
Be the Hostess With the Mostest
If you’ve planned a destination wedding, you’re the travel agent who’s going to ensure your guests have a good time. Sure, your wedding will be the high point, but think about the comfort and entertainment factor beyond your big day. How will they stay busy? What will they eat? You can have a variety of activity options lined up to keep adventurous guests busy, but also factor in plenty of down time if friends and family want to just enjoy the resort or catch up on work. Also, think about how your guests will get to the resort; consider a destination that’s relatively close to a major airport and won’t require guests to rent a car once they arrive. Remember, they’re going to a lot of trouble and expense to come to your wedding, so celebrate that gesture and make it easy for them.
Exotic Weddings Abound
Terranea stages more than 100 weddings a year, from intimate sunset affairs to 600+ blowouts coming in at a million dollars (or more!). The resort can even accommodate an elephant (one way Indian grooms choose to make an entrance at traditional weddings) — a virtual requirement at high-end L.A. wedding destinations.
Go for Broke in Your Entrance
Not everyone can ride into their wedding on a pachyderm. But do think about what sort of entrance you want as the bride (or even the groom). Discrete or dramatic? If you’re in an outdoor location, take advantage of the landscape by debuting over a hillside or descending a staircase into a dramatic green lawn.
Think Outside the Floral Box
Are orchids your favorite? Then embrace those elegant, minimalist blooms for your event. Don't feel beholden to traditional flowers or traditional design. Many brides are embracing unusual blooms like succulents, which grow like weeds in the lush, low-water California landscape of Terranea. You can add succulents to your event in lots of inventive, inexpensive ways even if your wedding is not taking place in California. Incorporate them into boutonnieres, place them in small terra-cotta pots on tables or create terrariums filled with succulents as a centerpiece. Better still, succulents are incredibly durable and do well with potting up well in advance.
Have a Backup Plan
It probably goes without saying that if an outdoor wedding is your dream, then planning is key. If you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding, learn from the pros at Terranea and set aside an indoor location that will be just as beautiful and special as your outdoor spot should the weather prove uncooperative. Having your destination in a remote location? Wedding and event planner Jeannie Savage of Details Details is seeing brides incorporate luxury portable bathroom trailers with AC and marble countertops and wood floors to bring a touch of luxe to even the remotest locale.
Think Like a Foodie
Consult with the chef at your chosen destination to find out how you can take advantage of what is in season, or use a specialty of the house. It could be farm to table, or it could be a unique niche the hotel offers, like Terranea’s flights of Port, sherry and Madeira offered by resident sommelier Szymon Piechaczek. Foodie culture is big, so adding in family-style dining, craft liquor and a mixologist can really appeal. Terranea offers a resident naturalist to lead fascinating, information-filled hikes pointing out key flora and fauna and animal life in the area. Find out if your hotel, resort, or even local community offers an equivalent way to embrace the unique setting where your wedding is being held.
Drape + Disguise
Think of the ballroom or outdoor space where you have decided to stage your wedding as a mere backdrop. There are many ways you can make a hotel ballroom or outdoor space your own with some creative, design-centric moves. Brides at Terranea have draped existing curtains with their own swags and fabrics to transform the resort’s ballrooms to impose their own unique sensibility and even laid down new carpet to get the look they wanted. (For one high-end wedding, a ballroom was filled with pristine wall-to-wall white carpet placed over the resort’s existing flooring.)
Hashtags are big at weddings, so couples can revisit their special day from countless different perspectives and experience all of the photos their guests take. Drones continue to offer a popular eagle-eye perspective on weddings. Jeannie is seeing more and more weddings offering smartphone charging stations for guests.
Just like in your garden, think of opportunities when designing your outdoor wedding to drape, hang and ornament in unexpected places.
Jewel tones and brights enhance the festivity of any wedding.
Bring the Indoors Outside
Even if your wedding is indoors, think about a way to encourage indoor-outdoor flow to get guests circulating. But if you’re going outdoors, take it to the next level; don’t settle for folding wooden chairs provided by your catering company. Today’s design-savvy brides are embracing vintage couches, wooden dressers and various eclectic furnishings to express their unique style in charming outdoor tableaux.
Embrace Your Location
Find out what the regional food offerings are and bring them to your guests. Terranea harvests its own sea salt from the Pacific, incorporating it into cuisine and will soon use the salt harvest for spa treatments. Meyer lemons harvested from 40+ trees dotting the property show up in luscious cheesecakes and lemon margaritas.
Get Hitched in the Sun
In addition to being a prime destination wedding location, Terranea has the added cachet of being a celebrity hub, featuring a number of discrete bungalows, casitas and villas for maximum privacy. Mariah Carey once holed up here for months on a babymoon getaway, and stars like ER’s Goran Visnjic have dined at resort hot spot Catalina Kitchen. Movies from Pirates of the Caribbean to This Is 40 have used Terranea as a stand-in for paradise.
Embrace your personal sense of style and don't feel confined by tradition or family expectation. Make your wedding day about you to make it memorable. A bespoke umbrella to keep the sun off during an outdoor wedding is just one way to make the day your own.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
The same trick to add space to a garden with mirrors can also add a fun decorative element and a sense of drama to your outdoor wedding.
Go With Graphics
It’s out with the old white and tasteful neutrals and in with the punchy hues. Brides are not settling for catering standards of generic plates and ho-hum glassware; they’re pulling in their own collections or migrating toward wedding planners who can rope in bright, graphic tablecloths, eclectic plates and flatware and lots of colors to make their big day unique.
Create Outdoor Rooms
Draped fabric, pergolas, curtains of flowers all create a sense of enclosure, privacy, romance and bring the indoors outside to enhance your wedding's style.
Flowers, Flowers Everywhere
Nothing says romance like flowers. But think outside the box and incorporate them into your decor beyond bouquets and table arrangements. Flower curtains, flower garlands, flower carpets and pots of flowers show your gardening love and love of the great outdoors.
Brights Are Outta Sight
Think of your wedding as an extension of your home’s decor: if midcentury modern and retro combos of tangerine and gray are your jam, then bring that sense of taste to your special day.
Punctuate With a Chandelier
Wedding expert Jeannie Savage of Details Details has featured open-air cabanas at her events as well as chandeliers hung over tables.
Bring the Pets
A dog or cat who is like a member of the family can lend an impromptu, free-spirited touch to the occasion and integrate a beloved companion into the ceremony. Some brides are even inviting guests to bring their furry companions, says wedding expert Jeannie Savage of Details Details. And finally, when money is no object and spectacle is on your mind, bring in the fireworks! Jeannie says that weddings capped by a spectacular light display are another “I Do” trend.