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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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San Diego Maternity & Newborn Photography by Marisa McDonald Photography

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I had the pleasure of meeting with a lovely potential client today who is looking for some maternity/newborn session inspiration. I thought this was the perfect time to blog this lovely family who grew by one a few months ago. As I do with many of my newborn clients, I had the pleasure of working with these two well before baby girl made her appearance.

Many moms are a little uncertain about a maternity session for a number of reasons. Some aren’t sure its all that important (naturally our focus jumps straight to baby very early on, right?!). Some aren’t sure if they’ll feel comfortable in front of the camera. I’ve arranged my pricing such that it often makes sense for expectant parents just to give the maternity session a shot, even if they end up choosing a small collection. I have yet to meet one family who has regretted this choice! I find that the maternity session ends up being a beautiful way to document the joyful anticipation of pregnancy…that beautiful time when you’re already in love with someone you’ve never met. There is just nothing like it!

Pin SITE IMAGE________By the time baby arrived, we had shared some laughs and gotten to know each other and were all celebrating the birth of their precious little girl. Once she arrived, mom called me and we decided on a date for the newborn session in studio (I recommend that we get newborns in within 2 week of birth). Of course we included plenty of shots with mom and dad who were just totally smitten and we got some precious shots of the new addition who had motivated all of this photography in the first place. Spoiler alert: She did not disappoint!

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I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the portraits that this sweet family will have to cherish for years to come!

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4 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer from San Diego Photographer Marisa McDonald Photography

It seems like just yesterday  I was preparing for my own wedding (OK, really it was like 12(!!!) years ago!). At the time I had just graduated from law school was also studying for the bar exam and wedding planning was a welcome distraction. Good news: I managed to pass the bar AND the wedding was everything I hoped it would be! I still remember reading through magazines, searching the web, reading the forums trying to figure out everything I needed to know to coordinate this once in a lifetime day…and at times it could get quite overwhelming. Let’s be honest…those magazines are a bit much sometimes, am I right?! As someone who’s been there and who now has an expertise to share (photography!), I thought I’d share my top 4 questions to ask your wedding photographer in hopes that it will help someone save a little time and cut to the heart of the matter!

When you ask these questions, I recommend you keep them open ended and just listen and observe to see if your expectations match. You’re trying to find out if you’re a good fit!

#1 Can I see your portfolio?

OK, this might be an obvious one but this is so important! Don’t just look at the wedding dress or the location or other variable elements. Look at the style and quality of the pictures! I often saw wedding magazines recommending that you ask photographers about their equipment. As a person who is not an expert on photography, its unlikely that it is going to mean much to you if I tell you that I have a Canon Mark D IV and a Canon 50m 1.2. But you know what is meaningful?! Whether or not you love the pictures my equipment produces! What do you love about it? Is it sharp? Is it vibrant? Do the skin tones look normal? Are the portraits very formal or very casual or a mixture? Does it look like something you’d want to hang on your wall? If there are nighttime portions of your wedding, be sure that you have seen nighttime/reception work in their portfolio and make sure you love it too! If you are comparing between two photographers, pull up their online portfolios in two separate tabs and flip back and forth. How are they the same? How are they different?

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#2 What are your precautions for protecting the images of my big day?

Believe it or not, sometimes the unthinkable happens and wedding pictures are lost! What are some things you want to hear from your wedding photographer to make sure you never get that devastating news? 1) You want a wedding photographer who works with a second shooter. If one camera or memory card fails, at least there is another one covering your event! 2) You want a wedding photographer with a camera that has two slots for memory cards to write at the same time. 3) You want a wedding photographer with a backup camera. 4) You want a wedding photographer who will immediately backup images to two locations after your wedding.

#3 What can I expect as we work together?

How will we reserve our date with you? When will we talk to each other leading up to the wedding and after the wedding? When will we receive our final images? Think about what kind of communication you’d like to have with your photographer. Would you like to have a contract memorializing your agreements? Would you like to meet with them before your wedding? Would you like to have an engagement session with them? How often would you like to hear from them? Would you like them to play a part in planning your wedding day timeline? When would you like to receive your images?

#4 What is included and what else do you offer?

You’ll want to know how many hours of coverage are included and what type of finished product you’ll receive. Are digital images included? Are prints or an album included? Does the photographer sell additional time or service or products? What are the prices for any additional offerings? Asking about what else the photographer offers should help you understand what is included (and what isn’t)! Its important to understand the full cost of what you want!

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Alright, there you have it! My top 4 questions that I hope will provide some meaningful answers for you as you search for your wedding photographer! If you’d like to consider me for your big day, I’d be happy to schedule a meeting and answer these questions (and more!) for you! I am based in Southern California, but willing to travel! You can read more about weddings with MMP over here!

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