Tuesday, February 26, 2008

YouTube Tuesdays: A Commercial for Wedding Planners

Ok, since you're reading my blog, you're probably aware of the benefits of a Wedding Planner/Coordinator (I like the word coordinator because it takes away some of the connotations that I am taking your planning away from you. It's my preference) but allow me to "preach to the choir" for the next 4 minutes:

Amen. And AMEN.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I don't know what to title this blog...

Last week's UK Telegraph article ticked me off; this week's comlpetely tickles me!! It looks as if many young Japanese couples are loving the Hollywood glamour of Western style weddings and so are essentially playing "dress up" and having play weddings that are romantic, yet not legally binding. Hmmm, maybe I should consider moving to Japan?!

Hired and fake, wedded bliss for Japanese

By Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo
Original Article Here

As with any Westerner working in Japan, it helps to be smart and presentable and to have a grasp of the local language.

But for Kevin Charles, a suave and friendly American living in Tokyo, being "just the man for the job" has involved exactly that. The 32-year-old's regular job is as a translator - but every weekend, he also becomes best man to Japanese bridegrooms.

750,000 weddings performed in Japan last year were "Christian-style"
Japanese couples like Western style

Mr Charles, from Missouri, is part of a bizarre and growing craze among Japanese couples for Western-style wedding ceremonies, widely seen as a fun alternative to their staid, traditional Shinto counterparts.

In the name of authenticity, foreigners stand in as fake reverends and best men, and while the vows over which they officiate are legally worthless, it is providing a lucrative source of income for growing numbers of Westerners.

"I am basically a surrogate best man, and am at the groom's side during the ceremony to make sure it all goes smoothly," said Mr Charles, who has now stood in at more than 350 weddings.

"Working at a wedding is good money. It's common to receive about 10,000 yen (£48) for a single wedding which takes an hour. If you do six a day, you earn double what you'd expect from teaching English."

Such weddings recreate every ritual of the Western ceremony in detail. The bride typically walks down a petal-strewn aisle, accompanied by a singing choir and smiling "priest" clutching a Bible, while the groom often sweats, fluffs his lines and loses the ring. In fact, the only traditions Mr Charles doesn't take part in are the drunken stag-do and the post-wedding dalliance with a bridesmaid.

People embrace these weddings because they are very romantic and match images from Hollywood movies," he said.

Figures show that numbers of young Japanese couples are shunning Shinto ceremonies, which normally involve only family members and are sealed with sips from a sake cup rather than a romantic kiss.

More than 70 per cent of the 750,000 weddings performed in Japan last year were "Christian-style", despite the fact that only one per cent of the population is Christian.

While a number of those who conduct the Western-style ceremonies are legitimately ordained priests, religious qualifications are not regarded as essential because the service is not binding. As a result, a growing number of academics, actors and teachers boost their incomes by dressing up as vicars.

"Father" James, 52, who is a professor of American culture and history at a Tokyo University, "marries" up to a dozen couples across Tokyo every weekend.

"It doesn't really matter if I'm not a real priest, people don't care, as long as I look the part and read my lines correctly," said James, who asked that his full name be kept secret. "It is also one of the few working environments where everyone is happy and enjoying themselves."

Maybe Disney should create "Wedding World" next?!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gettin' Mauied in Maui

I wonder how many times that title has been said? Probably every person that ever has and ever will get married in Maui!

I just got back from a long weekend in Maui where I assisted my friend, the fabulous Beth Helmstetter of Beth Helmstetter Events, on one of her island weddings. Beth has recently moved to LA due to her husband's job transfer and is now in the process of changing regions. I asked her if I could assist her on any of her upcoming Hawaiian weddings as I am keen on the destinations and when she emailed me her dossier for the 2008 I asked her which one was the most challenging that she needed the most assistance? Valentines Weekend, 5 day event for 172 people she said. Chris & Kim's wedding. So it was off to Maui I went. Trailing my ever travel ready husband, as well. He's always up for an adventure!

We got into Maui Wednesday night and got settled in a wonderful guest cottage of a florist couple Beth knows and on Thursday (Valentines Day) Eric and I hit the west side of the island. Beth didn't need my help that day as the wedding guests were on a sailing trip and fairly self sufficient. My husband and I had a fun and momentarily terrifying time driving the one lane road on the north west side of the island. I kid you not: we were 2" from rolling down a mountain.

Friday, I jumped in and kicked it into high gear with Beth. We met at the Seawatch Restaurant with the two other people that were going to be assisting Beth since the event was so large: Christine, one of Beth's good friends who has helped her out on many weddings in the past and island planner Evonne Wong of Events by Evonne, LLC who also took these beautiful detail shots. We pow wowed and got the low down for the intricate event that involved gutting the restaurant, extensive set up, and perfectly timed shuttles transporting the guests up to Molokini Lookout for the ceremony and then to the party after the ceremony. The rest of the day consisted of errands, more timeline reviews, transporting decor & items to the site, and the assembly of all of the sand dollar napkin rings custom made by the bride. Oh, and I met the bride, groom, bridal party & family and they were honestly the NICEST group of people I could ever imagine! Score!

Wedding day dawned bright and hot and set up began. I got a good 4 hour workout unstacking, tying on ribbons & starfish, tying on the cushions, then stacking 172 gold chivari chairs. Whew! The final outcome was worth it though.

The ceremony was gorgeous up at Molokini Lookout. The clouds were dark and rainy behind us on Haleakala, but rays of sun were breaking through the dramatic clouds by the time the ceremony started. It was gorgeous.

Keikie (children) Dancers performed a Hula for the guests before the ceremony started, and the bride was escorted into the ceremony alighting from a groovy old Woody to the blowing of a conch shell
The reception setup was a whirlwind of 20+ catering staff turning the cute Hawaiian restaurant into a romantic and glamorous venue for a truly spectacular wedding reception. The pictures just don't do it justice.

These are my favorite professional shots from San Diego photographer John Mireles of Ventana Photography. You can view more great wedding shots on his blog
The next day, despite my intentions of getting up super early to drive the renown road to Hana since that was my last full day in Maui, I crankily got up at the crack of 9:00am to get on it. As gorgeous as it was, I was pretty pooped after the weekend.Wedding Coordination is not as glamorous as most think: if people want to continue to think that this is a glam job, I invite you to come work manual labor with us! There are some great perks though:

This is what I did (in the shade, of course) on the world famous black sand beaches. Thanks, honey, that is a really flattering shot...
(Yes, my skin is really that white. No, it is not an illusion since I am laying on pitch black sand. Can't change or beat genetics....)

All in all though, it was a really educational trip. A lot of work, and a lot of fun. Weddings are pretty different on the islands and brides need to be very discerning when they are planning their dream days there (and anywhere, for that matter)

A word of advice for brides wanting to wed in the exotic Hawaii Islands:

There are a LOT of brides, and not that many vendors. The odds are in the vendors' favor. There are some of good ones, and there are a LOT of bad ones. It's best to find a good coordinator who will work in your best interests by not taking kickbacks, performing markups, or charging a percentage of your wedding.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dina and Jared's wedding

It's always so exciting to get the pictures from a wedding. All of the crazy clock racing set up adrenaline and the more difficult "we need two more seats at table 10 because a guest brought their children" type stuff is all in the past and now you have new memories of: beauty, love, laughter, flowers, and music. Good things, I say!

Dina and Jared got married last October at The Ebell and they were such a joy to work with. They are the nicest couple and Dina gets an A+ for being the most responsive, on top of everything, happy bride I've had to date. She is the sweetest person. Not to mention way pretty. I just love the close up picture of her--it should be in a magazine. She chose classic black and white colors and her simple and elegant wedding just fit so well with the old world venue that they chose. The day was happy and seamless and the guests seemed to have a ball. Congratulations, Dina and Jared! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your day!

Make a PhotoShow Full Size

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not wedding related, I just want to brag about my hubby

Below is an interview and article written on my husband's band and posted on Clearchannel Communication's "New!" music section. My husband is the very talented drummer and it's about time he is getting the recognition he deserves :)

Just off Turner

One Million John Mayer Fans Can’t Be Wrong

Formed in Arkansas around the millennium by a couple of high school friends, Just Off Turner moved west to Los Angeles in 2001. Since then, both their line-up and sound have continued to evolve.

These days, the band features original members Bryan Mounce (leadvocals, guitar) and Eric Gustafson (drums, vocals), along with new additions Phil Metzler (keyboards, vocals) and Stephen Andrews (bass, vocals).

Just Off Turner has self-released one E.P. and two full-length albums, including 2007’s “The Long Way Back”. Their music has been featured on the ABC sitcom “Help Me Help You” and the E! reality show “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”. In June of last year the band was a New! Featured Artist after reaching #3 on the New! Adult [Contemporary] chart and #5 on the New! Hit chart.

A big break came in 2007 when singer/songwriter John Mayer posted their song “How Much It Hurts” on his MySpace page. (Click here to listen!) That blessing attracted a lot of attention and garnered Just Off Turner more than 1 million plays on Mayer’s MySpace page. A nationwide tour followed, with plans in the works for a West Coast tour this spring.

We caught up with Mounce as he and the band were heading back into the studio to work on new material and get ready for their fifteen minutes.

24/7: How did the current line-up of Just Off Turner get together?

Mounce: It all happened coincidentally. Stephen was invited by a friend of a friend to a party at my place just a couple of weeks after we lost our original bass player. And we met Phil when he was working as a guitar player one night at the Saddle Ranch. We got to talking and found out he was a keyboard player as well, and that’s exactly what we were looking for. It all happened in about a month…but if you look at it another way it took about six years to establish the final line up.

24/7: Have you guys always been called Just Off Turner?

Mounce: I guess we have. I formed the band right after high school and we used to rehearse in the garage of my parent’s house all the time. The guys would ask where I lived and I would say ‘It’s just off Turner Street.’ It just kind of stuck.

24/7: How has your sound developed over the years?

Mounce: We’ve all really grown as musicians in the last few years. I have a hard time going back and listening to things we did even a few years ago because I think we’ve gotten so much better at what we do. Steven, Phil and Eric are all really just amazing musicians so I’ve had to really step up and practice on my own more just to keep up with them. We all really like to work together, explore the songs and make them what they are.

24/7: Some of the attention you have gotten recently came from John Mayer. How did that come about?

Mounce: In January of this year, Mayer wrote a blog on his MySpace page saying that he wanted to use his four song slot to give attention to an unsigned band to help give them a break. We

got an email from him and we were like ‘Yeah right, John Mayer is emailing us’, but we sent him what he needed and about an hour later our song was up on his site. Just last month we reached one million plays on his page. Because of that we were able to do a nationwide tour from here to New York and back. We had a fantastic time and just met people. We got to New York and found out we had fans there all thanks to the attention (Mayer) gave us. Eric and I got a chance to meet him last month and he was really nice. He’s a really cool guy.

24/7: What are your plans for the new year? Is there a record deal in the works?

Mounce: The (music) industry is changing so much. I’m not even sure if a record deal is necessary these days, but if somebody offered us a record a deal and it was a good opportunity of course we would take it. For now, we’re able to play and make fans and we’re slowly starting to be able to branch out and tour to different places. We’re kind of just waiting to see how things are going right now, and trying to keep our options open.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Today's ridiculous article brought to you by the UK's Telegraph

I've just come out of a week of flu induced foggy haze and am getting back into the swing of things. Maybe I'm grumpy today but this article really irritated me. Not because the idea itself is the most bridzilla asinine thing I have read this year, but because they have the audacity to call it "the latest American-style trend for brides". Pardon????

So all bratty bridal "trends" come solely from America now? We better get on the ball girls and live up to this reputation. How about our newest "trend" include an invoice in the invitation so the guests know exactly how much money to give? Sheesh.

Bridesmaids may have to sign weight contracts

By Aislinn Simpson
Last Updated: 1:53am GMT 04/02/2008

Bridesmaids may soon be forced to sign contracts agreeing not to put on weight or get pregnant before a friend's wedding.

One in five brides-to-be is so concerned that her bridesmaids might let her down that she would ask her maid-of-honour to sign a written "pre-nuptial agreement", according to a new poll.

Bridesmaids may have to sign contracts
A bridesmaid contract is the latest American-style trend for brides

Despite the fact that 61 per cent of brides picked a best friend as their choice of bridesmaid and 49 per cent chose their sister, 48 per cent would sack a bridesmaid who failed to stick to the rules.

The survey of 1,000 women, commissioned by You & Your Wedding magazine, asked women which clauses they would put in their contract.

It found that respondents' biggest gripes were with bridesmaids who put on weight, became pregnant or changed their hairstyles before the big day.

A series of suggested clauses included that bridesmaids should not consume more than 10 units of alcohol or make any advances towards "inappropriate male guests" - or the groom.

Many women who had already married reported stories of their bridesmaids letting them down on their big day.

One woman said her maid-of-honour left her dress at a service station on the way to the wedding after deciding she didn't like it, while another revealed a bridesmaid had left 30 invitations unsent in her desk drawer.

Colette Harris, editor of You & Your Wedding magazine, said: "Planning weddings can be a stressful time for brides and while our contract is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, the survey demonstrates that issues with bridesmaids are of concern to many readers.

"Perhaps official contracts are the way forward for brides struggling to keep the peace."

Siobhàn Craven-Robins works with hundreds of brides a year in her role as wedding planner and has organised the weddings of celebrity clients including Joan Collins and Barbara Windsor.

"There has been a spoof contract like this on the internet in recent years but I'm not sure if the brides I know would actually use the real thing," she said.

The bridesmaid's contract is the latest American-style trend for brides. It follows the opening in Berkshire of the country's first bridal boot camp for women determined to shape up to fit into their dresses.

Trudy Dixon, the director of Bridal Boot Camp, said while many of the bridesmaids that work out at the boot camp had complained about the colour or style of the dresses chosen for them, few brides she knew would resort to such draconian measures to keep their ladies in line.

"I've been a bridesmaid several times and if I was presented with a contract, I would suggest they found another friend to do the job" she said.