Tastemaker: Lucia Dinh Pador of Utterly Engaged

Photography: Foxes & Wolves Makeup & Hair: Melina Ruiz
Photo: Foxes & Wolves
Makeup & Hair: Melina Ruiz

Lucia Dinh Pador, 36, is founder and publisher of Utterly Engaged, an online and quarterly print publication that features weddings in gauzy photography and appealing layouts. The Anaheim resident and graphic artist started the magazine in 2009 and recently launched a website to expand her audience.

Why start Utterly Engaged?
During the financial crisis in 2008, the original two founders and I saw a need for a wedding magazine that was not only beautiful but would work for the budget-conscious bride. Being a graphic designer and a bride as well— I was planning my wedding at the time—design, style, and budget were important to me. My friends are no longer involved, by the way.

Why that name?
We tried others, but Utterly Engaged just stuck—to be completely captivated and devoted to each other.

Is the focus print or online?
It’s a print magazine, but we’re extremely active on social media. We also launched a website that fuses the print and Internet worlds. I consider it a tech company because it has such a social media component and web platform, and it’s expanding. I gained my experience as a production artist for an all-male, auto-industry niche magazine, which later led to multiple jobs, including working in Burbank designing movie posters. It was interesting working in that tech world. It’s fast-paced and male-dominated, with a “hustle, hustle, hustle” mentality. When I started Utterly Engaged, I knew I wanted it to be a tech and lifestyle start-up led by women.

Photo: Priscilla Iezzi

Where do you get the wedding stories?
I have contributors who are photographers, event designers, a stylist, and writers, and we have couples who submit their weddings as well. I interview them to get a better idea of who they are. We also create our own editorial content. Storytelling is important to me as a graphic designer—you know, form follows function—so I always go back to that. I’m selective; our content has to fit the concept of that issue and relate to the audience. With this approach, the magazine feels more complete, almost like a book: beginning, middle, and end.

Who’s your audience?
People who are modern, fresh, a little bohemian, stylish, design- and detail-oriented. Romantics at heart. It’s also multicultural. All of my friends are in interracial relationships. I relate to that a lot.

How long does it take to design an issue?
Three months. My husband is my advisor, my sister-in-law is the copy editor, and I have a lot of contributors spread across the states and in other countries as well. I can’t do this all alone. We’re one big global family.

Describe your personal style and how it relates to the magazine?
I’d call it “modern bohemian”—clean lines with a little surprise. And I guess that’s my approach to the magazine as well. I really enjoy including visual surprises in the magazine that you might not see at first, but if you go through it again, they appear … as a kind of discovery, and that gets me excited.

Do all these weddings ever become a blur?
Yes, because they’re all so beautiful! But I do remember a time that everything was Mason jars and vintage. I’m happy that more brides are now focusing on their own stories and personalities instead of the trend of the moment.

So what are the trends?
Flowers used in a more organic and natural way; more long-sleeved gowns, with lots of lace rather than strapless or sleeveless; and I’m seeing more color schemes using the rich jewel tones.

What would you like to see go away?
Mason jars! They’re a way to create interest with vases, at a low cost, but they’re still overused. The mixed use of ceramics and shapes is a better choice.

Common mistakes people make while planning a wedding?
Trying to be unique instead of timeless. Let’s not get too theme-y and too stuck on a color. You’re going to look back in 10 years and wonder what you were thinking. Be inspired by your story, your style. Reflect your personality.

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