Meet Newport Beach’s Wedding Specialists: Kaitlyn brings an innate passion for events, a genuine interest in creating your perfect wedding day and almost a decade of experience on the frontline; Nita has been imagining planning your wedding since she was a little girl and she truly loves her work. Together they work seamlessly to make wedding dreams of any size come true.
Read on to learn how Kaitlyn got into the game, why Nita loves weddings so much, hear their top tips for couples planning their big day and learn a few industry secrets to cut costs without cutting corners. Plus, they’ll share some seriously sweet stories about their favorite Hornblower weddings to date. You can’t not fall in love with this dream team.
Let’s start with getting an idea of how the two of you work together.
Kaitlyn: I have the first contact with clients, which includes connecting via email, scheduling appointments and nailing down the perfect package for each couple’s individual needs. After the booking process, I put them in touch with Nita to have their details meeting—where they discuss the date, size, time and wedding budget—and to finalize last minute changes or wedding additions. Nita and I always work side-by-side to ensure everything is executed without a hitch.
Tell us about your background in weddings and event planning.
Kaitlyn: For me, it started with a general interest in community events and planning. During college I worked for a large music production company in Orange County, which took me to local venues like the Orange County Fairgrounds, RMS Queen Mary, Hollywood Park Casino and Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center.
Then during graduate school, while writing my thesis on local non-profits, in an effort to raise awareness and community support, I discovered an interest in community event planning, which in a roundabout way led me to the wedding industry and I have never looked back!
Nita: Well, I’ve loved weddings since I was a little girl, so after college I found an internship with a wedding planner in San Diego and it wasn’t long before I was hired as their full-time designer/senior coordinator. I eventually moved to Orange County, which led me to Hornblower, where I’ve been coordinating weddings for the past two and a half years.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Kaitlyn: Creating memories for my clients! I love the challenge of putting their thoughts and dreams into action and because each couple is so unique, it always keeps me on my toes.
Nita: Definitely the atmosphere. I work with some pretty amazing people who have become my work family. Plus, the office view is unbeatable; it puts everyone in a great mood, including clients. I love what I do and can’t think of a better place to call “work”.
When planning a couple’s big day with Hornblower, how does the process work?
Kaitlyn: For Newport Beach weddings, I am the couple’s first point of contact and I always begin by asking: “What does your wedding look like? How can I help?”. Then have our details meeting and once those logistics are worked through, we meet in person to tour the Hornblower fleet, choose a yacht and begin bringing their wedding on the water to life. After we’ve decided on a yacht, we review wedding packages and develop a contract and I then introduce the couple to Nita to begin the wedding planning process.
Nita, how involved are you in the wedding planning process?
Nita: Depending on the client, my level of involvement can be very heavy-handed, picking everything—cake, linens, food—to very minimal, where I just confirm orders. I have a great relationship with Hornblower’s vendors and our operations staff, plus I love being involved every step of the way so I make myself as available as possible by constantly checking my emails, even on vacation—and I almost always see off all my events because I like my clients to know they’re in good hands with the onboard crew.
How can couples most effectively work with their wedding coordinator and planner?
Kaitlyn: Open communication! I won’t know what a couple needs unless they say it, so honesty in regards to wedding budget and general wants is invaluable.
Nita: Communication is key! Let me know what your expectations are, your main concerns and what the most important part of the big day is for you so we can work together to create an amazing experience every step of the way.
How should a couple expect their wedding day to unfold aboard a Hornblower yacht?
Nita: They’ll come onboard an hour and a half before their event start time, where there is a pre-boarding platter of cheese, fruit and crackers, and a bottle of champagne waiting for the bride. I like to come onboard early, greet everyone and make sure everything is going smoothly and stress-free!
What are some benefits of having both the ceremony and reception on a yacht?
Nita: We can quickly transform the space from ceremony area to reception hall and guests won’t have to worry about switching locations. Also, the view and venue space are so unique that everybody aboard will likely find the whole experience unforgettable.
What are your top 5 tips for couples planning their dream wedding?
Trust your wedding planner. They have your best interest in mind. Hornblower’s wedding professionals know which vendors work well on the yachts, which are easy and fun to work with and which are budget conscious.
Narrow down your venue search. Before bringing your ideas to your planner, research local venues from home, then pick your top three to tour in person.
Ask for what you need. Open communication with your wedding vendor is important; we can’t give you what you need unless you ask for it.
Flexibility is important. Have a plan but be willing to go with the flow when necessary.
Have fun! Wedding planning is a challenge, but so rewarding for everybody!
Communicate openly and truthfully.
Support each other’s choices and encourage each other.
Trust and respect your partner.
Balance! Be independent but also interdependent with your significant other.
Remember to have fun—always.
What’s your most memorable wedding or wedding story to date and why?
Nita: One of my favorite weddings was a couple who got married on Dream Maker. The bride is from Sacramento and lives in Sweden with her now husband —they are the picture-perfect couple! The planning process was a cinch and the bride knew exactly what she wanted, making her such an easy bride to work with! On the day of the wedding, there was so much love from both families. Everything was perfect that day—the couple, the details, the weather—and they were even graced with the most gorgeous sunset!
Kaitlyn: Every time a bride and groom share their love story with me! They’re all so unique and special but a recent one really stuck with me. I booked a wedding just last month for a couple who were high school sweethearts but separated by different colleges. After college they both settled down independently, married other people and started families with children. After twenty years and one job relocation, they reconnected, fell in love and had their dream wedding aboard a Hornblower yacht.
A Hornblower wedding is truly a departure from the ordinary. We would love to chat with you about your unique wedding, browse our wedding packages at any of our ports: San Francisco, Berkeley, San Diego, New York, Marina del Rey, Long Beach or Newport Beach. Or fill out the form below and a Hornblower wedding coordinator will help you get started.