At L’Auberge Del Mar, “experiential weddings”- or weddings that guests can live through rather than look at- have become the new norm. More than about saying “I do,” couples seek to create events that are not only authentically them, but also engage their guests as active participants in the celebration.
“Experiential weddings are about designing events that engage all five senses,” says Alison Patt, wedding director at L’Auberge Del Mar. “Everything from the event’s look, to the feel, to the taste must capture the unique flavor of the wedding couple and the experience they want to create for their guests.”
As the hotel’s wedding planner, Patt has seen the trend gain in popularity in recent years. According to Patt, once couples get the basics, such as vendors and location confirmed, she turns her attention to the details that truly engage the senses and create lasting memories for both the couple and their guests. A few of her insider secrets include:
At L’Auberge Del Mar, late night snacks have been a big trend over the past few years. Patt encourages couples to take it a step further and choose a tasty treat that guests can smell even before they see or taste it. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies are a favorite, since they fill the room with a delicious, warm and comforting aroma that guests will remember and talk about long after the wedding night.
While the scenic ocean view at the hotel is always a stunning backdrop, Patt encourages couples to consider other visual elements such as mood lighting and location. String lighting over the dinner terrace or paper lanterns above the dance floor can add visual appeal that make a huge impact. Another popular option is moving the wedding through different spaces as the event progresses. Instead of keeping the wedding festivities to one banquet room, the ceremony may take place at the beach, followed by cocktails and dinner on the ocean view deck, then dancing and dessert in a club-like space with modern lounge furniture and mood lighting.
At L’Auberge Del Mar a favorite addition to any reception is a “his” and “hers” signature drink. Couples meet with the hotel’s mixologist to creatively develop a cocktail that is uniquely theirs. The hotel’s culinary team also works with couples to create unique menus that are reflective of the event. For instance, one wedding featured an “elegant carnival” buffet with lobster corndogs, gourmet popcorn and truffle bars. Another wedding delighted guests with “gourmet street food” such as salmon tacos and sliders.
Sound, much like lighting and food, can set the overall tone of the wedding and reflect the personality of the couple. Using non-traditional musicians for a ceremony or reception is a great way to customize the celebration and might include walking down the aisle to the sounds of a gospel choir or ukulele. At the reception, customized playlists or even strolling musicians help to set the right tone of the event.
Considering the comfort of those attending the wedding is another way L’Auberge Del Mar goes above and beyond for weddings to engage the senses. For seaside ceremonies, couples are encouraged to provided light pashminas or funky sunglasses. Flip-flops are great for a dance reception under the stars or cocktails on the beach. Having lollipops on hand to keep young guest entertained and quiet during the ceremony is another popular touch.
The hotel’s version of a Mindy Weiss, Alison’s role is unique in the San Diego market since she functions as a full-scale wedding planner, rather than a catering manager who oversees the banquet portion of the event as typically offered by other hotels. Alison and her team coordinate the banquet arrangements and are intimately involved in every aspect of the details including research, securing pricing and attending meetings – flowers, photography, outside vendors, contract negotiations, and all the other little details that a wedding planner would handle.
“We oversee all the details and do all the legwork, so that the couple can focus on the fun part of getting married,” says Patt. “The bride and groom share their “vision,” then we bring the expertise to make it happen so that on “the” day, the wedding “looks” like them.”
Located in the heart of Southern California’s most picturesque coastal village of Del Mar, L’Auberge Del Mar overlooks the Pacific Ocean and offers a resort experience reminiscent of a private, coastal estate. Managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, this historic seaside hotel offers 120 guest rooms and suites, refreshing dining options, a cheerful and cozy spa, a private path to the beach and peaceful pool area. The award-winning, signature restaurant, KITCHEN 1540, blends energy and intrigue with a fresh, lively atmosphere.
Find out more at www.laubergedelmar.com