Tuesday w/ the Pros: Rachel Coffin

Tuesday with the Pros is an ongoing blog series featuring experts in the wedding and event industry. Today’s authority is Rachel Coffin, catering sales manager at Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa in Dana Point, CA.Rachel LI: What is your job like?Rachel: I do corporate and social events and handle many wedding occasions here at Laguna Cliffs.LI: What is it that makes this resort unique among other event venues in Southern California?Rachel: Aside from our fantastic view?  Well, we're a Marriott, for starters....so for clientele who want to use their Marriott points, or want the level of comfort that they're accustomed to at a Marriott, they can be assured that they'll receive that here.  At the same time, we are also a franchise and therefore given the authority by Marriott to stretch our legs a little, which allows us to have this beautiful resort atmosphere but still furnish Marriott rewards points and service at a familiar Marriott standard.

Laguna Cliffs resort

LI: How did you become involved with the event team here at the resort?Rachel: I used to work at a trade show technology company and while I loved doing events and tradeshows, I really hated technology.  So it was time for a change...I started revisiting the hotels that I'd worked with as a trade show event specialist and talking with the staff and was eventually fortunate enough to be hired on as an event specialist here!LI: What are some of your favorite things about being a catering manager here?Rachel: Working with people, not being stuck in a cubicle all day...and I get to meet all different types of people and hear all these interesting stories!LI: Do you work exclusively with brides?Rachel: No, we have a pretty fair mixture here.  I work with wedding clientes as well as associations and businesses who host awards, parties, and fundraisers here.LI: What do you think would be a dream event to host here?Rachel: A themed, outdoor dinner party would be fun. Something where we get to exercise our creative idea muscles and stray from traditional concepts about what a party should be like and focus on how different and interesting it could be.LI: What do you recommend to the wedding couples or corporate clientele out there who are looking to save some money on their event?Rachel: Use sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Etsy to your FULL advantage.  You'll want to be careful because some things like photography and wedding attire are probably best left up to thoroughly-researched professionals and NOT uber-cheap Craigslisters, but many details like invitations, jewelry, hairpieces, etc you can buy unique, and high quality items online without totally breaking your bank.  You also don't have to do favors at all...party favors are old-fashioned, unappreciated by most guests, and the money could be put towards so many other things for the event instead.LI: Are there any exciting events coming up here at Laguna Cliffs?Rachel: We're hosting a joint Chamber of Commerce event here soon, and in June we're doing an event for the Ocean Institute of Dana Point.Laguna Cliffs ballroomsLI: What would your professional advice be a festive, stress-free event?Rachel: Just let go and enjoy your day.  You don't have to be SO involved that you're detached from the moments you should really be savoring or enjoying---hire true professionals and let them handle it!  Let go of the reins on the day of the event, and understand that not everything is going to be EXACTLY as planned, either. Just remember that the calmer you are the more smoothly everything will run regardless of what snags we might hit.  It's all about focusing on the importance of the fact that this is the day that you're finally getting married, not how late your ceremony is starting or whether the ring bearer pillow was forgotten at home!  Because that is all trivial in comparison to the big, lifelong step you are about to take with your fiancée!For more on Rachel and the Laguna Cliffs Resort, visit:The Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa official website.Laguna Cliffs' official Facebook pageLaguna Cliffs on Twitter

Seal Beach "Polar" Plunge

This past weekend curiosity got the better of me and I showed up at the Seal Beach Polar Plunge. Part of me was curious, the other part wanted to do some more experimentation with my new camera, particularly shooting RAW. I shot exclusively in JPG before, but Kevin Kubota's seminar at the Pro Photo Expo last week kind of helped show me the light.

Have I mentioned that he's like one of my professional heroes? Yeah, if you ever wonder who inspires me...

I still can't shoot entirely in RAW yet because I don't have all the equipment necessary (I still need to acquire Adobe Bridge, about ten more CF cards, and another hard drive, hah), but for little things and portrait sessions, I am convinced that RAW's the way to go.

Anyway, there weren't that as many people there as I figured there'd be, and I didn't go crazy shooting, but someone did ask for my card, so I suppose it was worth it!


A diver leaped from a Coast Guard chopper to kick things off.


I suppose a lot of people would scoff at the "polar" Southern Californian water temperature of 54 degrees.


One of the groups sponsoring the event was the Seal Beach Police (a costumed member of which is pictured)


The Seal Beach Fire Dept. hosed down the participants as they emerged from the ocean.