Wedding Registry 101

Wedding registries are a fun ‘must-do’ item on a couple’s planning check-list… we venture to say it ranks right up there with cake tastings & wedding ring shopping. But for some couples, registering for wedding gifts can be somewhat daunting if you have no clue what to register for or why you even need to (I mean, you already live together, you have eeeverything). Many of you even hope that by not registering you will just get cash for the honeymoon or that house you just bought (you know, the one with eeeeverything already in it  but needs a new stove or bathroom remodel).

Well let us tell ya… the chances of you getting cash when you don’t register are lower than the chances of the Chargers winning  (yeah, we went there). So while there is no written rule stating you have to register for gifts, you need to do everyone a favor (including yourselves) and at the very least have a humble registry. Most of your guests are likely going to bring you a gift and without any sort of guidance, you might end up with a variety of random items (home made flower vase, crafted by what can only be assumed was the cat), random restaurant gift cards, frames that don’t match your decor, or believe it, a re-gift. It has happened, we have seen it!

Please don’t misconstrue what we are saying, throwing a wedding isn’t about the gifts you are going to get, but undoubtedly you will receive some (that’s right, not everyone will bring you a gift, gasp!) and you need to make it easy on everyone who wants to give you something.

Now that you’ve decided to register, before you go scanner-happy, sit down together and assess what you have as a couple to figure out what voids need to be filled.

A-  If you’ve spent the past few years in bachelor/ette paradise of dorm-room bedding and mix-matched décor they’ve collected from college buddies and thrift shops, now it the time to donate all of that &  start with the basics.  A high quality bedding set (heard of Egyptian cotton?), quality pots & pans, a complete dishware set (you know that isn’t paper), or basic bathroom linens are all good.  Don’t be afraid to ask for the fun stuff either!  How about a grill?  Margarita maker? Lawnmower? Or that infamous Vitamix mixer!? Believe us, you WILL use it.

B- For those couples who are truly closer to having “everything,” consider an upgrade! Register for gorgeous china  or silver that can become your family heirloom or how about a gourmet knife set for those of you home-cooks. How about the honeymoon?  Sites like and can manage that for you. Lastly, you can have guests donate to a non-profit organization or charity instead, and are great sites to check out for this option, as well as your favorite charity directly of course!

We now have an idea of the what, so on to the where!  Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma are extremely popular choices for gift registry.  These stores are easy to find and also offer online shopping which makes it super easy for your guests to shop for you!  When choosing your stores, try to register  for items in every price range.  Think of your guest list, some guests may be financially well off while you may have a distant cousin funding their way through college.  Not everyone can get you the big-ticket items, so offer some choices to let them feel they are still getting you something you want for what they can afford.

Informing Guests:  First and foremost, do NOT talk about registries on your wedding invitation or place those oh-so-convenient yet incredibly tacky store inserts in there!  Traditional etiquette suggest to rely solely on word-of-mouth sharing of said information by your family and bridal party to the rest of your guest list, although in modern times, it is perfectly okay to put this info on your wedding website.  A

Remember to always send a “Thank You” to anyone who gives you a wedding gift at any point, send that note of gratefulness right away too! Don’t wait.  Do note that some guests may send your gift months before the wedding, some will bring it to the bridal shower, and others may send their gift months after.  Traditional etiquette gives guests a full year to send a wedding gift to you. So try not to panic if not every guest brings you a gift to the wedding and STILL send them a Thank You for coming to share the day with you.

Happy planning!


Brenda & Brittany


Image above by Kristy Huston

NOTE: Links on post are personal suggestions, they are not paid endorsements. Photograph above was originally seen on pintrest and we thought it was cute! It is not from one of our events sadly.

Year in Review Part II: San Diego Wedding Planner

As I am reminiscing over the last year, which quite frankly went by faster than the Shanghai Transrapid, I can’t help but have my mind pop in & out of the last nine years as well… While there is too much to recount since 2004, I will confess that exactly one year ago,  I was doing the final prep work for the wedding that would simultaneously send-off 2012 while kicking-off 2013, what I *thought* would be the last year of Swann Soirées.

They say that when you are ready to go out, you must not look back, and since I was convinced that I had been there, done that, and achieved all that needed to be achieved as a small town Wedding Planner, I let the fiery passion that fueled me to build my company in the first place become but a mere kindle. I imagine some people recognize that as being burned-out, but I saw it as “my life is capable of more adventure than this!” -Whatever it actually was put me in a place where my ego and work-ethic went head-to-head for an entire year, non-stop. In hindsight, it has probably been the only time I welcomed being so stubborn (“Oh you better believe I am gonna finish this, and I am gonna finish it WELL!”). It has been exhausting on all levels and that “adventure” I wanted… well I got it… maybe not in the climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro manner I still yearn for, but I got it alright.

I will spare you the hot mess situations that were the stress-inducing sleepless nights for my team and I (just turn on any wedding t.v. show for that crap), and instead, show you, via some of the photos from our events what the last 364 days have been filled with. You may not be able to see the same things I see; such as the character growth in each of my squad, achievements they made, the serious physical muscle it took at some points or patience for that matter, to function, the last minute craft projects, or the innovation of managing a suddenly shrunken budget ($8k for 200 guests! What??!). You also wont see the epiphanies we had,  skills that were utilized, gained, or refined, and not to mention shared with budding planners galore! Nor will you see the relationships we built, the 87-message email chain leading to a bridesmaid dress decision, the families we are now a part of, the individuals we encouraged, supported, advocated for, comforted, and who’s secrets we still keep… Lastly, that some of our efforts had nothing to do with the weddings at all…But what you will see is the LAUGHTER and the LOVE… which reignited Swann Soirées (read: ME) to stand proud & strong, with my little ol’ company and the little ol’ adventures, which amount to soo much more I ever credited them for.

Cheers to 2014 friends!!

Let the adventure continue yo!


Blair_Nicole_Photography_New Children's MuseumImage by Blair Nicole Photography

Studio 512 PhotographyImage by Studio 512

Swann Soirees Instagram

Swann Soirees Instagram | Estancia La Jolla Wedding  Swann Soirees Instagram | Rancho Santa Fe Wedding

Swann Soirees Instagram | Estancia La Jolla Wedding

Swann Soirees Instagram | Martin  Johnson House, La Jolla Wedding

Swann Soirees Instagram | Bali Hai Wedding

Swann Soirees Instagram | Napa CaliforniaWedding  Swann Soirees Instagram | Bali Hai Wedding

Swann Soirees Instagram | Tom Ham's LighthouseWedding

Swann Soirees Instagram | Carneros Inn, Napa,Wedding   Image by Acqua Photo | Scriips Seaside ForumImage by Acqua Photo

Image by SheWanders Photography

Image by SheWanders PhotographyAbove images by SheWanders Photography

Blair_Nicole_Photography_ New Children's Museum Wedding

Blair_Nicole_Photography_ New Children's Museum WeddingAbove Images by Blair Nicole Photography

Sean Walker Photography

Image by Sean Walker Photography

Blair_Nicole_Photography_Tara_Dan_Wedding-125 copy   Image by Blair Nicole Photograhy

Bauman Photographers | Balboa Park Admin Building Wedding  Bauman PhotographersAbove images by Bauman Photographers

Sean Walker Photography

Sean Walker PhotographyAbove images by Sean Walker Photography

Swann Soirees Instagram | Tom Ham's Lighthouse Wedding

Studio 512 Photography

Studio 512 PhotographyAbove images by Studio 512

Allie Lindsey Photography

Allie Lindsey PhotographyImages above by Allie Lindsey Photography

Studio 64 PhotographyImage by Studio 64 Photography

  True Photography

True PhotographyAbove images by True Photography

Studio 64 Photography

Image by Studio 64 Photography

True PhotographyImage by True Photography

Swann Soirees Instagram | Thursday Club Wedding | White Bridesmaid Dresses

Swann Soirees Instagram | SDMA Balboa Park Wedding

Acqua Photo | Scripps Seaside Forum

Image by Acqua Photo

Non Pro Images via Instagram: @SwannSoirees

This Year in Review Part I: San Diego Wedding

We can not believe 2013 is almost over!

As we wind down and reflect on our weddings past, we are so grateful for the many friends we have made and the lessons we’ve learned this year. No wedding was the same, yet they were all SO fabulous and full of special little details that may only stay in the hearts of the couple and ourselves…

In our industry, we are given the opportunity to meet many incredible people and learn new things every day.  Not many can say they love what they do, but we can!  We are so fortunate for the vendors and venues we’ve had the pleasure to work with, thank you all for your passion and commitment for our Swannys!  Our weddings this year were a success because of your cooperation and flexibility.

To our Swannys, we are so honored to have been included in such a momentous day in your lives, through the laughs, tears, breakdowns, triumphs, and epiphanies…  Thank you for inspiring us to keep doing what we love to do.  We are so excited to get 2014 started, and we sure have a full year ahead of us!

Enjoy the sneak peak of what our gorgeous couples looked like on their wedding days!

Happy Holidays!


Brenda & the Swann Squad

Katie + Travis | Scripps Seaside Forum

Image by: Acqua Photo

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Tricia + Kris | New Children’s Museum

Image by: SheWanders Photography

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Tara+ Dan | New Children’s Museum

Image by Blair Nicole Photography

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Brittainy + Ramiro | Private Del Mar Estate

Image by: Studio 512

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Pamela + Justin | Paradise Point Resort

Image by: Bauman Photography

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Jessica + John | Spanish Village Art Center Balboa Park

Image by: Bauman Photography

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Katie + Rich | Admiral Kidd Clubhouse

Image by: Allie Lindsay Photography

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Amanda + Jon | Bali Hai

Image by: We Heart Photography

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Ashley + John | Temecula Creek Inn

Image by: Sean Walker Photography

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Marc + Rachel | Carlsbad Hilton Resort & Spa

Image by: Studio 64 Photography

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Mary + Matt | Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

Image by: True Photography

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Heather + Bobby | Bali Hai

Image by: Studios of Joseph Guidi

Thursday Thoughts: Wedding design & details

One of the things we love most about planning weddings is the small details which make a wedding unique, not unique in the common understanding of ‘never seen before’ but in the sense of personalization to make it yours, to showcase what is important to you, or what brought you together. We love doing this because all of the guests who are going to celebrate with you would have likely been by your side as your relationship developed… through these experiences… and watched you grow as a couple. It is really quite romantic!

When we start the design process, first, we take some time to talk with you (together) and have you share what you love to do.  For example, you may love to go rock climbing together, or your first date movie was Disney’s Up. So we will find a way to represent those things that you hold near and dear in your wedding design. Be it  by accessorizing the groom’s boutonniere or  the bride’s bouquet with little trinkets from the movie, using photos of your favorite climbing spots as the table numbers, or perhaps just creating simple decor vignettes throughout the venue with representations of you… think of the wedding as being a little museum giving an ode to your relationship.

For the couples who may not have a “thing” we find out what aspects of their  lives mean the most… such as family, trust, each other, etc., (by the way, those are “things”)- in order to incorporate simple yet meaningful touches into their decor. Maybe there is a family heirloom cake cutting set or cake topper…the best part of  this simplicity in design, is that those pieces are usually passed down in families or they can become the future treasured piece! As a closet sentimentalist, I love the idea of having momentos from such a big day in our home to someday pass on.

Below are photos from some of our Swanny’s weddings to illustrate what we’ve shared. Remember, no matter the size of your budget or what “things” you like,  personalizing your wedding doesn’t have to be stressful or complicated.

Happy Planning.



Real San Diego Wedding Planner Swann SoireesImage by Aaron and Samantha Photography

Doxie Cake TopperImage by Gabrielle Fox Photography

Real San Diego Wedding Planner Swann SoireesImages by Blair Nicole Photography

Real San Diego Wedding Planner Swann SoireesImage by Matthew Morgan Photography

Fab Friday: {Wedding Gift Inspiration}

We’ve been asked by RedEnvelope  to gather Swann Soiree’s Empire State Building Wedding Picks and showcase them for you.  The items below are perfect for occasions like engagement parties, bridal showers, wedding gifts – the list goes on and on.  And this isn’t all, there are many more items to choose from their website, but with the holidays quickly approaching, what better time to provide some adorable silver & gold gift  ideas!




1. Family Tree Wood Sign | 2. Twist Candlesticks | 3. Whiskey Lover’s Set | 4. Personalized “There’s no place like home” wall art
5. Hootch-Owl™ Corkscrew | 6. Locket Cuff Links | 7. Personalized Chateau Wine Bucket