10 Best Places for Engagement Photos in Los Angeles

You’re Engaged!  What better way to celebrate and memorize such a special occasion than with an engagement session.  Today couples are being so creative with their engagement sessions and there are so many unique and beautiful locations in and around Los Angeles to choose from.

Engagement sessions are usually included as part of your wedding photography package.  It’s a great way for you and your photographer to spend a little time pre-wedding time together to get to know each other better in a relaxed atmosphere.  When the big day comes, no longer strangers, you are use to working with each other and the result is amazing photos!

Choosing a place for engagement sessions is one of the most fun things to do and it’s a great opportunity to bring your personality into it as well.  Are you a beach person, into the symphony, love great architecture? 

Here are 10 of the best places to take those engagement photos in and around Los Angeles:

1.     El Matador State Beach in Malibu

2.     Venice Canals

3.     Huntington Library and Gardens

4.     Walt Disney Concert Hall

5.     Paramount Ranch

6.     Malibu Creek State Park

7.     LA County Museum of Art

8.     Santa Monica Pier

9.     Griffith Observatory

10.    Union Station





  • DON’T change your relationship status on social media before letting your parents and those closest to you know about it – nothing worse than family and close friends feeling like the world knows before them!
  • DON’T go DIY crazy - you can wear yourself out, take on too much and run out of time and sometimes it’s more money than not doing DIY - simple is always better on the planning and the budget!  
  • DON’T forget to consider your bridesmaids when choosing dresses, bachelorette destination parties, etc.  Some may not have the finances for what you are dreaming of and it can become more of a burden than fun for all
  • DON’T feel you have to invite Aunt Mabel who you haven’t seen in the last 4 years…keep it to those that you see on a regular basis and manage that guest list
  • DON’T book your venue and photographer and wedding planner as early as possible – popular venues and great photographers/planners today are booking a minimum one year out and many are more like 18 months out.
  • DO figure out a budget before you start committing yourself to a venue, etc.  or you may find that you have over extended yourself and have to cut back on things you didn’t want to in the end
  • DO put your personality into it with signature cocktails and have guest experiences – lawn area games, cigar rolling, photobooth, personalized favors, different themes that are all about what you love, etc.
  • DO give those giving toasts a strict time limit and have one of the bridal party members give them a cut off sign so they don’t put the guests asleep when going on and on and on. 
  • D0 schedule a trial makeup and hair session so know you are comfortable in how you look the day of your wedding – no last minute surprises that ruin your day.
  • Most importantly, D0 take time to eat and grab some couple time throughout the day to be together and take it all in because it’s gone before you know it


First Dance Choreographed to Beauty and the Beast

Kaitlyn and Austin's Wedding

A little romance is always good for the soul!  Six years ago, Kaitlyn and Austin began their love story when they met in high school. Recently they took the next step together on their wedding day exchanging those life long vows. They chose a beautiful wedding venue for their special day at Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley, California and used rich deep purples in the banquet room which looked so elegant.  

There was a hint of Beauty and the Beast throughout their decor with the rose under a dome at the sign in table, Beauty and the Beast statues, and of course Kaitlyn's beautiful wedding gown that screamed Princess!!  But quietly they kept one surprise under wraps.  They made it even a more magical evening when they surprised their guests with the First Dance choreographed to Beauty and the Beast!

They turned to Pam Rossi at Pam Rossi's Dance Ten in Moorpark, California to help guide them.  Originally meeting with her for their first dance choreography, they turned it into a choreographed dance that included their bridal party.  With only a few hours of lessons, they were ready to show off their skills on the big day.

Gliding beautifully across the dance floor gazing in each other's eyes the whole time, Austin lifted and twirled Kaitlyn like he had done this many times before.  They truly looked like a prince and princess and when their bridal party came out dancing around them in the end, it simply took everyone’s breath away! Many wishes for their beautiful love story to continue forever! The full version of this beautiful First Dance can be watched on YouTube at this link http://youtu.be/EDs4D6X420g?a Enjoy!

How I Became a "First Look" Believer

One of the questions I ask our brides is if they are doing First Look.  Only about 50% of them know what it is, so for those that don’t, let me explain.  First look is a time, pre-wedding ceremony, where your photographer will choose a setting to stage the first time you see each other.  Usually the groom has his back turned as his bride walks up to him from behind and the photographer captures this private moment and he turns and they have the “first look”.

As a traditionalist, I was not so crazy about the idea when I first heard of it either.  Doesn’t the bride want to have the surprise of seeing her husband to be as she is walking down the aisle and vice versa?  Isn’t it more for the convenience of the photographer because with first look they can get all of the photographs out of the way pre-wedding?  As I was soon to find out, this was not necessarily so and as a result I became a convert.

When my own daughter got married, she was totally against First Look having been brought up by me, her very traditional Mother.  However, at the last minute she changed her mind.  I now look back and treasure the decision she made.  When I look back at the private moments caught in time when her groom turned and looked at her in awe for the first time, twirled her, kissed her and cried…those are the most memorable pictures of their wedding day and they make me emotional each and every time I look back at them.  At the time, it made both of them very emotional too and most importantly; it allowed them some private time to be alone to really take in what was happening.  They had a chance to relax and breathe before it all really began and to cherish the step they were about to take.

The First Look created a sense of relaxation for all as well. It allowed the bridal party and all of the parents and close family to take their photos pre-wedding so there was no rushing around.  This allowed for everyone to spend some together time, laugh and it seemed to take some of the pressure off of everyone.  There was even a moment caught where the flower girl and my grandson, a sign bearer, were sweetly conversing with each other while waiting for their picture.  Captured by the photographer, it was one of the sweetest photos of the day!  Taking pictures pre-wedding also allowed the bride, groom and bridal party to enjoy the cocktail hour instead of being absent for photos.  The bride and groom used this time instead to visit and then sneak out 15 minutes before the grand entrance to catch some beautiful sunset shots they may not have had the chance to do.

Taking pictures before the ceremony also allows the bridal party to enjoy the cocktail hour instead of being absent for photos.  The bride and groom can be more relaxed during their portraits and also get to catch some of the cocktail hour too to visit with guests.

Of course, the question is - do the bride and groom lose the surprise of walking down the aisle when they do First Look?  I think not.  While I feel the first look photos captured the essence of their love and are my personal favorites, it did not by any means take away from the traditional “walk down the aisle first time we’ve seen each other” experience either.


As with any bride, when they walk down the aisle, she really doesn’t focus on the groom until the very last steps so it’s really more of a one-way view for the groom until the bride is near the end.  She is more nervous about “the walk”, all the people watching, the need to acknowledge them and of course, not getting too emotional while approaching her groom while arm in arm with her Daddy.  But once in her final steps, she still experiences that catch your breath emotion as she heads towards her groom to take his hand.


The groom, gazing at her as she walks down the aisle, even though he has already seen her and spent time with her, is still very much surprised, just from a different perspective than First Look.  The reality of the ceremony starting and their life together still creates the beautiful, emotional photo opportunities as in any traditional wedding. 


Yes, it is more convenient for your photographer mainly because they are not pressured to get all of the photos done in a short timeframe during cocktail hour.  This allows them the opportunity to take even more shots and also to have more creativity in their work.   The end result is a more full portfolio of pictures for your selection.


I think First Look is definitely a combination of the best of both worlds and rather than detracting, it just adds another element of intimacy a bride and groom would not otherwise have. 



One of our most favorite things to do is full wedding design and planning.  When Jill contacted us  about her upcoming wedding at Duke's Malibu, she didn't really know where to begin.  Desiring an elegantly styled wedding, she had an idea of the colors she wanted to use - blush and gold - but was a little overwhelmed in knowing where to take it from there.  

The first step was to create a private Pinterest board which we could share with Jill.  This allowed her to pin anything that caught her eye and gave us a little insight into what her personality was and what she liked.  We were able to add pins as well and she could love them or not.  She could also look at our extensive Pinterest site under the categories such as cakes, florals and escort cards to pin ideas that caught her eye.  After a few weeks of this interaction with her, we carefully went through the pins we both favorited and deleted the rest.  We collected all of the items that we felt would be in line with her tastes and created vision boards like the one seen below.  

This allowed us to start taking the steps to finalize the exact design.  As we met with her various vendors such as Pretty Vintage Rentals in Westlake Village to choose lounge furniture, we began adding these specific items to the vision boards.  We added the wedding cake example from Frost It Bakery in Thousand Oaks and all of the other little details we started selecting.  As a result, the final vision boards created gave Jill and us a breakdown of exactly what we were going to implement to make her wedding the special customized day she wanted.

Jill and Torsten's Vision Board


When it comes to music for your wedding, bringing in traditions is something that makes your wedding just that more special.  This last year it seemed to be the year of the Mariachi.  We had the pleasure of listening to a half dozen Mariachi bands playing lovely ballads during the prelude (music before the ceremony), playing instrumental songs during the procession and ceremony and then playing more traditional songs as they lead guests to the cocktail party.
Mariachi music can be tricky if you are not fluent in Spanish.  We sometimes find ourselves liking the melody or beat of a song, not realizing that the words may be less about love and more about unhappiness so you need to be careful with song selection.  Mariachi bands also usually offer a couple of selection of dress color and can be 4-5 members or many, many more.  They usually charge based by the hour with many having a four hour minimum and prices can vary.  They are not inexpensive but they are definitely a wonderful addition to a wedding especially if it is part of you or your fiance's heritage.
After much experience with having so many weddings featuring Mariachi music and with a lot of research, we've narrowed it down for you.  Below is a list you might find handy.  We have worked with several different Mariachi bands and provide our clients with referrals to them.  Many of the more popular bands have websites but if you have a chance to listen to them at a restaurant or they have some you tube videos, check them out to find one that is a great fit for the two of you.
Ava Maria
Besame Mucho
Bridal March by Wagner
*Canon in D
Cielito Lindo
Cien Anos Contigo Aprendi
El Rey
Es mi Nina Bonita (father daughter dance)
La Gloria eres tu
Mi Linda Esposa
*Que Bonito Amor
Sabor a mi
Si Quieres
Solamemte Una Vez
Somos Novios
Te Amare Toda La Vida
Tre Regalos
Wedding March by Mendelson

 *Used for bridal entrance
Remainder are good choices for prelude or recessional


As I look back at some of the wonderful weddings we were honored to be a part of, I think of Ali and Luke Simon.  A stunning private home of a friend situated on a hilltop above Simi Valley, California was the location site for this beautiful wedding.  A close friend of the bride’s family, the host not only made this spectacular home available to them, she upgraded everything from landscaping to lighting every single tree to make our bride’s fairytale wedding come alive!

Ali and Luke were just destined to be.  Upon attending their first day at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the first people Ali and her Mom met at the school was Luke and his Mom.  Little did they know that that first acquaintance would end up in marriage 5 years later.  Later at the reception, Ali’s Dad recalled how that day they said how they would love Ali to meet someone like Luke and Luke’s Mom said they had the exact same feeling about Ali.  It was certainly fate that these two were meant to stay in contact and grow their relationship throughout the years to come.

Both Ali and Luke wanted to incorporate their faith in the wedding.  As guests walked through the arch down the aisle to theirs seats, they were greeted by handmade signs with scripture readings.  The rows of rose petals lead you up to the magnificent 7 foot cross that Ali’s Father Steve made for the occasion which was perched on the hill which provided a stunning view of the entire city. 

Ali caught everyone’s eye as she came down the aisle with her Father in her gorgeous lace dress.  Her natural looking makeup by Bliss Bridal Beauty and her long soft curls created by her friend Dana made her look just stunning.

Cocktails followed at the point, as they call it, which is a large area that was filled with seating where guests could enjoy the view while sipping sangria and listening to the easy going music or taking a moment to write their favorite scripture on a card for the Bride and Groom.  An additional lounge area was set up in what normally is a volleyball area.

As guests entered the reception area, a large fountain encircled with candles and florals greeted them.  Blush, ivory and gold accents highlighted various areas and the tablescape incorporated this palette with gold chargers and blush napkins and blush thank you cards with sprigs of olive atop.  The centerpieces by Elizabeth Papadopoulos were perched in gold containers and showed off a blush and ivory mix of florals.

Wanting something unique, they opted for LA Paella Catering.  Ben, the chef, prepared on site three different types of Paella.  Not only did the flavorful fumes waft throughout the air during preparation but the pans of Paella cooking in front of the guests were a colorful addition to the dinner.

From the coffee cart setup on a wagon to the cake set upon an antique dresser, no detail was spared in this wedding.  The three tier cake from Skiff’sof sumptuous buttercream with flowers perched on the top with the bride and groom’s names on the topper looked elegant. 

Away they went in the end with a sparkler send-off offering a perfect ending to what was a perfect wedding and a fairytale that any bride would have loved!  See their love story and all of the details of their wedding in our Galleria!

Event planning/coordination by Karen Marie Events; Photography by Jennifer Jasso Photography; Makeup by Bliss Bridal Beauty; Hair by The Redhead Dana; Catering by LA Paella Catering; Bartending by Gold Star Staffing; Florals by Elizabeth Papadopoulos; DJ by DJSota



A very popular item in today's weddings, mason jars can be very versatile and used in many different ways.

We recently used them two ways - one as a wedding favor. Tied with twine, navy ribbon to tie in with the wedding decor and a rustic looking personal message tag from the bride and groom thanking their guests for attending was a great giveaway.  They used the glasses for the wedding reception and took them home as a wedding gift.  This also saved the cost of renting glasses for an outdoor venue.

We also used them as part of the centerpiece.  We selected three different sizes of mason jars and spray painted them navy blue.  Our amazing florist, Janet Webb with Greenwich Floral, then filled them with beautiful flowers.  The three varying sized mason jars filled with light and bright flowers combined with silver votives on a burlap runner looked stunning at this rustic elegant wedding!

Check out our Pinterest site under Karen Marie Events and follow our mason jar board for many other great ideas.  You can also find greats pins on bridesmaid dresses, flower girl and ring bearer attire, color themes, wedding themes and decor, wedding flowers, wedding tablescapes and much more to help you create the wedding of your dreams!

Photo Credit: Lucas Rossi Photography