No matter the guest list size, the number of family traditions you didn’t realize you needed to do, or how much of a priority paleo options were for the best man, remember that wedding day is all about you and your fiancé. So after you say “yes,” here are 8 wedding planning tips to get you ready to say “I do” in Los Angeles and Orange County:

1. Choose the theme that fits you and your partner.

Be authentic to you and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine in your wedding choices. Even if you live here, Southern California is still considered a top destination and your wedding day will be no exception and you’ll have plenty of inspiration in this area to choose from. Every detail of this day should be special, but with so much that needs to be done, it can be a daunting task to figure out the best place to begin. Start with resources like Pinterest of The Knot to create a vision of what you want on your big day and then come up with your theme and colors. Go trendy and tap into iconic Los Angeles themes or be wholly unique and make it something your friends and family would recognize as “it’s so them”. Los Angeles and Orange County offer great theme weddings based on their unique locations alone. With warm beaches and sunsets – you can exchange your vows barefoot in the sand. Or capture the magic of old Hollywood by matching your pin curls to the style and glamor of Rodeo Drive. By defining this first, it will keep you from getting too overwhelmed with choices and give you a solid foundation for your planning.

2. Take the time to come up with your guest list.

It’s the event of the year (maybe even the century?) and it’s important to figure out who should be there. More importantly, who YOU want to be there. The size of the party will dictate the space that will be best for your wedding. Hotel ballrooms can easily accommodate larger parties for up to 500 guests while restaurants or beach clubs can host more intimate affairs. Southern California offers so many options when it comes to both outdoor and indoor venue spaces and each space is easily a blank canvas for you to design to make it your own. Whether you are looking to accommodate that big city feel, or an intimate tropical paradise – locations through Los Angeles and Orange County offer the best of both worlds. The best part is, with great weather all-year long, you never have to worry about whether or not it’s the right time to get married. Think about your ideal location and who you want to share the day with and it will help you narrow your options.

3. Create a schedule and stick to it!

Project planning will be a lifesaver when it comes to managing the details of your wedding. The easiest trick is coming up with a list of everything that needs to be done and then adding timelines to it. Write down every detail you think of to get it out of your head and onto paper. Take ideas from wedding planning sites and then add them to your own list. Remember to review the laws for obtaining a license in California and keep in mind that certain outdoor spaces require permits (like Malibu beaches). Simply add dates to each task with a start and end time and use productivity tools like Evernote or Google Docs allow you to collaborate with others including your fiancé and wedding party. By doing this, it will enable other people to help with tasks and also to keep you from forgetting to return your signed marriage license to the county clerk within 10 days of your ceremony.

4. Make a wedding website that is easy to navigate.

Save your inbox for the emails from vendors and well-wishers and create a guest-friendly portal for all their FAQs and your fiancé’s college roommate’s concerns about dress code. You don’t have to know HTML anymore in order to create a functional site. In fact, it’s probably easier if you don’t!  With so many free and paid templates available to help you stick with your theme, making a site is easier than before and honestly, it’s what guests come to expect. The usual details should be included like how you met, event date, time, place etc but include all the details you know they’re going to ask: Is there valet parking at the venue? Does “semi-formal” really mean long pants for men if we’re on the beach? Is the wedding really off Santa Monica Blvd on Friday at rush hour? How do I get there again? Yes, Yes, Yes and take the 10 to the 405 to the 110 to the 91 and exit after 2 miles. Include these details and more on your site and direct guests there first. The best part about online is that you can always add more to it as more questions come in :).

5. Develop your social strategy

Social media is a great way to see your memories of the day immediately and tie you over between now and when the professional photographer gets back to you. The hashtag is the simplest way to collect all the photos of the night from your guests. Take the time (add it to your master list!) to look at hashtags a couple months in advance of the wedding to create your own. Find a hashtag that is memorable, short, descriptive and most importantly, not one that anyone else has posted to before. An easy place is using a combo of #YourNameAndMyName and if two souls with the same name are already using that, keep adding modifiers or find another one that becomes uniquely yours. Post photos of any pre-planning or pre-parties, bridal showers, bachelor parties and more and then when the big day comes, print it on all your collateral. Then it won’t be a question that this is where people should go to see your love (and all that hard work you’ve done!).  Check out other California-themed wedding hashtags for ideas of how to incorporate your beautiful destination into your strategy as well.

6. Go beyond traditional favors

Play into your social strategy with an interactive activity for your guests always seems to be a winner. Party favors have truly come into their own. While some couples still opt for a memorable keepsake, photobooths have pretty much become a mainstay in modern weddings. Whether it’s a DIY camera on a stand with a backdrop or an elaborate set-up in a VW bus, your guests’ favors can now take the form of downloadable gifs, take home flip-books, slow-motion videos and more. Southern California defines trends, so you should consider yourself to be a trendsetter here too. Give your friends a new profile pic as a gift that will last at least until their next vacation. And just like the photos taken by your guests, these photobooth-type memories will be a great part of your wedding collection. Don’t forget to add the hashtag!

7. It doesn’t have to be just chicken, steak or veggie.

This isn’t your parents’ wedding buffet line. Many venues offer on-site catering and can create anything that you imagine and the hottest trend in food right now is to eat local. California offers some of the best produce in the nation and Los Angeles and Orange County are on fire with their culinary offerings. On-property caterers are offering some pretty choices that source from local farmers and combine the flavor of the state to match the tastes of your wedding. Is your favorite food mac and cheese? Add tri-tip! Looking for that Instagrammable feast? Enjoy avocado toast canapes!  Venues are often willing to work with couples to create not just the event of their dreams but their dream menu as well. Choose your wedding space based on looks and size but consider your catering options too!

8. Remember, it’s your big day but don’t forget your guests

Think about where you want everyone to stay and create options for people so they can properly celebrate you! While some friends and family may live nearby, keep the party together by booking a block of rooms for your group to help save on costs and create a true wedding community atmosphere. Consider accommodations that are near restaurants or have easy dining options on property to take some of the stress away from out of town and local travelers alike. In Los Angeles and Orange County, you’re never far from great theme parks like Universal Studios and Disneyland, famous landmarks and of course, the beach. Stay near (or far from!) local attractions to provide guests with convenient agenda items to fill their time before and after the event and make this celebration just as special for them as it will be for you.

With over 284 days of sunshine each year, there’s no better wedding destination than Los Angeles and Orange County. From intimate outdoor events on the beach to black tie ballrooms, be surrounded by your friends and family and let Hilton bring your vision to life on this special day. Find your perfect space here.

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