I am so thrilled to bring you Summer & Hugh’s Rancho Guajome Adobe wedding on the blog today! If you’ve never stopped by The San Diego County Park called Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista, you are missing out. This spot is the essence of San Diego with its Mission Style architecture and pepper trees mixed with succulents. Summer & Hugh wanted a relaxed day outdoors with their closest family and friends and they got just that. From a relaxed morning getting ready to their adorable first look to a literal pretzel cart at the cocktail hour, every detail was approachable and focused on everyone’s enjoyment of the day (including the bride & groom)!

The florals by Leaf it to Lexi were absolutely stunners and the planning by Ivonne Amezcua of San Diego Event Planning kept everything feeling perfectly coordinated and seamless.

Special thanks to my second shooter for this day, Jenny. She always keeps me calm, hydrated, and contributes gorgeous images to the final gallery!

And of course the biggest thanks of all to Summer & Hugh! I was so honored to be a part of their day. They clearly have so much love and respect for each other and I am better for knowing them and their story.

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Wedding Planning: Ivonne Amezcua of San Diego Event Planning

Florals: Leaf it to Lexi

Bridal Gown: David’s Bridal

Music: CB Music Productions

Food: Mexico City Cuisine

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Where to Shop for Your Family Photo Session

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Ah the constant question…where to shop for your family photo session and WHAT on earth will we wear?! If there is one thing I have learned as a portrait photographer it is that wardrobe makes ALL.THE.DIFFERENCE. Yes, my photography skills matter. Yes, location matters. Yes, lighting matters. But seriously. We could have all of those things and if you show up with everyone in jeans and white t-shirts its just not going to look good. Similarly if you show up in a color scheme that just doesn’t mesh with our environment, it won’t look good. I want you to look like *you* and I want you to be comfortable but I would be remiss if I didn’t help you – help me create beautiful images for your family!

Because I know how important wardrobe is to a successful session I take steps before your session ever happens to make sure you are well prepared. It starts with a family photo session preparation guide that you receive by email. This guide tells you what to expect at you session and gives lots of tips on styling your family for an awesome session! I also love to meet for coffee before the session when time permits. I find this is a great time to get to know each other and discuss styling in more detail. Finally, I always welcome clients to send pictures of what they are considering. I’m not afraid to tell you a tweak might be necessary!

As we approach the busy Fall Photography Season, I thought it would be fun to share where to shop for your family photo session!

1. Joyfolie

Let’s face it….the ladies are the most important part of the family photo session (yes, I said it!)! Moms, I know we are used to worrying about everyone else first, but I’m going to encourage you to pick your outfit first and pick something you feel FABULOUS in and then style the rest of the family around that. Joyfolie has the most gorgeous dresses with flowy fabrics and lovely textures that will make your images something really special. Often people try to stand out in pictures with bold colors but I’m here to tell you that texture is where its at! Although they have some matching sets for mothers and daughters I wouldn’t recommend an exact match. Instead go for something that coordinates! Also check out their instagram feed for lots of inspiration that will show you just how special their dresses can look in photos! Bonus: Another super feminine shop that reminds me of Joyfolie is Chicwish! Everything is to die for!

2. Target

You guys, Target has come a long way in the style department and has lots of options for adding depth and texture, layers, and interesting accessories to your family’s wardrobe. If you’re on a budget this can be a great option for items that just need to look really awesome once!

3. Gap

Yup, the old standby! If you aren’t so much a frilly dress kind of girl, check out the Gap! The Gap is great for a more casual vibe while still offering lots of style with layers, accessories, etc. This is one time when it might even benefit you to go on into the physical store and tell the sales rep that you’re shopping for family photos. Did you know they’ll actually help you style your whole family? Perhaps show them some sample pictures so they know what you’re going for!

4. EleStory

On the other hand, if you can handle a little “fancy” in your life don’t be afraid to go all in with a tule skirt for moms and girls and a bow tie or jacket for the guys. You have chosen to invest in your pictures, you might as well make it a special occasion if that suits your personality! Guaranteed your photos will be epic! Bonus: I’m still dying for someone to wear this lovely number from Milk and Choco!

For a little more inspiration, I’m going to share a few of my favorite family styles over the years!

Tomorrow I’m going to be opening my Fall schedule for family photo sessions at 9 a.m. to my e-mail list. If you’d like to get first dibs on open spots, you can sign up for the list at http://eepurl.com/csQw2D. I look forward to seeing all of your beautiful smiles over the next few months! We’re going to have so much fun!

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Three Unique Wedding Venues in Southern California by San Diego Wedding Photographer, Marisa McDonald Photography

There is certainly no shortage of GORGEOUS venues in Southern California but sometimes that can be overwhelming, am I right?! Today, I’m going to share 3 of my favorite Unique Wedding Venues in Southern California! I’ll be taking you from the city to the mountains to the valley. Are you ready?!

1. Lot 8

First up is this totally unexpected gem in the heart of Mission Valley, just a few miles from downtown San Diego. With its rich wood panel walls and modern succulent walls this fun venue fills its little “lot” in the middle of San Diego with tons of charm. Add some fun touches from TBD San Diego, twinkle lights, and maybe chic traveling bar and your magical day is ready to go!

Credits for all of the loveliness I was honored to photograph at Lot 8!
Coordinator – Katie Hammond Photography(@katiehammondphotog) Designer/Rentals/Decor/Florals – TBD SanDiego (IG: @tbdsandiego) Cake – Oh So Lovely Desserts (IG: @oh.so.lovely)
Hair + Makeup – Lesli Jones (IG: @leslihopebeauty) Calligraphy/Stationery – Sam Allen Creates (IG: @samallencreates) Bridal Gowns – D’Angelo Couture (IG: dangelo_bridal)Menswear – Stitch And Tie (IG: @stitchandtie) Bride + Groom – Rachael Brown (IG: @rachael_mariephotography) and Cameron Brown (@cameronbrown81) Bridesmaid – Jody Kuni (IG: @bellajoday) Bridesmaid – Care Cowen (IG: @fenwaysrunway)

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2. Sacred Mountain Retreat

Next up is this gorgeous getaway in Julian. When I first approached this gorgeous venue it just about took my breath away and I’m sure you can see why! This place is truly a retreat. It makes you slow down and appreciate all that is good in life. What better place to reflect on the days ahead with the one you love?! With several gorgeous and unique spots on the extensive property to choose from, you can’t go wrong at Sacred Mountain! Bonus: You would be totally justified in having two deserts at this venue because both wedding cake and Julian apple pie would be a must!

Credits for all of the loveliness I was honored to photograph at Sacred Mountain!
Planner and Designer – Taylor’d Southern Events (IG: @taylordsouthernevents) Venue – Sacred Mountain Julian (IG: @sacredmountainjulian) Florist – JLH Blooms (IG: @jlhblooms)
Cake – Eat Your Cake Too (IG: @eat_your_cake_tooRentals – CC Vintage Rentals (IG: @ccvintagerentals) Hair Stylist – Jennifer with Buetowful Hair (IG: @buetowful.hair)
Makeup Artist – Nancy Lares (IG: @lipglamartistry) Calligrapher/Stationary – Feather and Figs (IG: @featherandfigs) Bridal Gown – Oleg Cassini (IG: @olegcassini) Menswear – Friar Tux (IG: @friartux)
Horses – Sacred Mountain’s Integrity Stables  Bride & Groom – Natasha Rubinstein & Jordan Vettoretti (IG: @uprouteme) Bride – Jennifer Buetow (IG: @jen.buetowful.hair) Bridesmaid – Veronika Grechman (IG: @klever)

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More credits for all of the loveliness I was honored to photograph at Sacred Mountain!
Planner and Designer – Taylor’d Southern Events (IG: @taylordsouthernevents) Venue – Sacred Mountain Julian (IG: @sacredmountainjulian) Calligraphy – Bloom Stationery Co @bloomstationeryco⠀Vows – Sam Allen IG:@samallencreates  Cake – Sweet Maple Creations @sweet_maple_creations Wine – Jen Maldonado @winetastingjen
Florals – Studio 2053 @studio2053_floral_eventdesign
Hair + Makeup – Bridal by Haydee @bridalbyhaydee and @thebristlehair⠀Gowns – D’Angelos Couture @dangelo_bridal⠀Menswear – Stitch & Tie @stitchandtie⠀Bride & Groom – @leslihope & @poinsett78⠀Bridesmaid – Kaila Cotler @kcotler⠀Bridesmaid – Rebecca Jesslyn @rebeccajesslyn

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3. Lake Oak Meadows Winery

Temecula is becoming such a hot spot for weddings and Lake Oak Meadows Winery is the perfect example of why! This place is the essence of a luxurious wedding venue! Lush, beautiful trees around every corner, flowing fountains, long cobblestone walkways, gorgeous patios for al fresco dining in wine country.  Walking around the property at times I felt like I was Savannah, Georgia while at other times I felt like I was in Italian Wine Country! Wherever I was, I loved every minute of it and I know you will too!

Planner/Stylist/Decor – Katie Hammond Photography (IG: @katiehammondphotog)
Florist – Studio 2053 Floral and Event Design (IG: @studio2053_floral_eventdesign)
Cake – Eat Your Cake Too! (IG: @eatyourcaketoo) Hair – Tessa + Amy (IG: @wonderpinstudio)
Makeup – Chelsea Caddick (IG: @chelsearosebeauty) Stationery – Madison Stationery (IG: @madisonstationery) Ceremony Canopy/Reception Table Bridge – Enticing Tables (IG: @enticingtableswelds) Bridal Gown – Essense of Australia (IG: @essenseofaustralia)
Bridal Gown – Enzoani (IG: @enzoani) Bridesmaid Gowns – Mac Duggal (@macduggal)
Bride + Groom – Brooke Parent (IG: @brookieee_231) and Jesse Ernst (@j_l.e.e_23)
Bridesmaid – Megan Caldwell (IG: @_megancaldwell_) Bridesmaid – Alexis Ruan (IG: @ms.alexisruan) Groomsman – Bryan Portillo (IG: @_bryanportillo_) Groomsman – Bobby Villegas (IG: @realitythroughart) Menswear – Stitch & Tie (IG: @stitchandtie

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If you’re looking for a photographer for your big day, I’d love to plan a time for coffee so we can get to know each other! Email me and we’ll set something up ASAP! In the meantime, here are a my top 4 questions to ask a potential wedding photographer. I’ll answer all of these and more over a latte. 😉

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Tim’s “Wish of a Lifetime” Comes True at Solana Beach

A few weeks ago I learned about Wish of a Lifetime, an organization that connects “seniors to people, purpose, and passions to eliminate feelings of isolation and help them live vibrant, purposeful lives.” Their mission spoke to me an their vibrant imagery of seniors living their dreams inspired me as a photographer. I immediately reached out through their website to volunteer as a photographer should they ever decide to grant a wish in my neck of the woods. Lucky me, they had a wish lined up in San Diego soon and they thought we’d be a great match!

About Tim

Tim Brown, 66, of Dayton Ohio had a challenging life…one of seven children and the son of an alcoholic father, he was never educated beyond 6th grade and never left a 30 mile radius of his hometown. Throughout his life he worked hard in labor intensive jobs and overcame homelessness, tragedy, and addiction in his life. With faith and goodwill for his fellow man, Tim sought every opportunity help others. He is often seen at the bus stop handing out food and often invites the homeless to his apartment for a shower and a hot meal. As he got older Tim often thought of seeing the Ocean one day and what that would mean to him. A few months ago Tim’s brother passed away after never leaving his hometown. This tragedy inspired Tim in a new way to make his wish of seeing the Ocean come true!

Tim’s Wish Coming True!

Enter Wish of a Lifetime! This amazing organization reaches seniors just like Tim who have inspiring stories and meaningful wishes. They were thrilled to make Tim’s wish come true by flying him to San Diego to put his toes in the sand, see the waves crashing on the shore, and smell the salty air!

The day Tim arrived in San Diego I met him in a Starbucks parking lot. He greeted me warmly with a hug immediately! From there I lead the way to Tide Beach Park in Solana Beach. During that brief mile drive, the Ocean came into view and I imagined what Tim must be feeling! As we reached the top of the staircase that would lead down to the beach, I had Tim pause and soak it all in. His wish was coming true and the majesty of the Ocean was before him!

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As we made our way along the sand and Tim dipped his feet in the (very cold) water, he was full of thankfulness for Wish of a Lifetime and full of prayers of wonder and awe at God’s creation. One of the unexpectedly amazing things about being a photographer is that I get an entrance ticket to the most intimate and wonderful moments of a person’s life. I am continuously amazed by this gift I have been given but never more so than I was on this night!  I hope you enjoy these images and I hope Tim inspires you as he did me! 

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P.S. If you’re inspired, a donation of even $25 can help fulfill another senior’s “wish of a lifetime”! www.wishofalifetime.org

To learn more about Marisa’s photography for senior citizens, email marisa@marisamcdonaldphotography.com

  • Jeni

    Aw Marisa & Tim!!! This is so awesome! Marisa, as always, your pics evoke true emotions of those of us taking them in. Im in love with this, the idea, the images!! Well done(: These are great! How long does Tim get to stay? So happy for him (and you getting to meet him).ReplyCancel

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Carlsbad Newborn Photographer

Carlsbad Newborn Photographer, Marisa McDonald Photography here! I have another gorgeous family to share with you today! This family went from 5 members to 6 a few months ago and I had the honor of photographing their entire journey from maternity to birth to newborn. There is something so special about the time of adding a new member to any family but its all the more fun when there are siblings already in the picture. At the maternity session, we had lots of belly kisses and hugs for mom and at the birth, big sister even helped deliver her baby sister! Needless to say, we captured too many sweet moments to count. I hope you enjoy this photographic story of one growing family full of love!

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