Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bling for the Bride

And I mean BLING. Real ICE. This set featured in the picture above is worth $74,000 and you can have it on your wedding day! have to give it back. The lovely ladies over at Adorn Brides have created a company where you don't have to be a celebrity to wear expensive diamonds on your wedding day. You can rent them!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A wedding at Hummingbird Nest Ranch

Last weekend I assisted my friend Heather Ham at a wedding she had at Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Simi Valley. This weekend she is assisting me at a wedding I have in Santa Monica. It's a win/win situation for both of us.

I don't even know where to begin with this wedding! The bride is a fashion designer who designed and commissioned EVERTHING for her wedding: the dress, stationary, table runners, Mexican tile magnets for escort cards, everything. And it was exquisite. The wedding had a very sexy Latin/Cuban/Spanish/European feel to it. Nicole, the bride, is Cuban. Her husband, Phillip, Italian. The ceremony was held at the Mission San Fernando and the reception at Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Simi Valley. Both venues were spectacular! The Mission was built in 1797 and is a gorgeous and historical church.

Hummingbird Nest Ranch is.......breathtaking. This 140 Equestrian Estate located in Simi valley is overwhelmingly beautiful. Pictures do not do it justice. It was a private estate (the big house is 17,000 square feet) and is now available for weddings, events, filming (NBC's "The Biggest Loser" was taped there) , competitions, and conferences. There are 10 guest houses that can be rented to give a destination wedding feel to your wedding. I highly recommend a tour of the grounds if you are looking for something special and different for your big day!

Ok, on to Nicole's wedding. I am going to stalk photographer Jasmine Star's blog until she posts more picture than this!
Nicole's colors were navy blue and fuscia and her motif was a Mexican tile pattern that she incorporated through all of the design elements along with Spanish lace accenting items such as the invitations and napkins. She ordered 800 plain tall white "Saint candles" to decorate the dinner hour and reception areas. My thighs still ache from squatting down to place then pack up! Pathways of candles led guests from the cocktail hour to dinner, then a trumpet player let the guests to the Cuban band tearing up the dance floor. A photo booth, Cuban cigar roller, and dessert buffet kept the guests very, very entertained. It was a gorgeous wedding and I can't wait to do another one at Hummingbird Nest Ranch!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I love a bargain

Even when it's not my wallet benefiting from it! I always tell my brides NOT to buy their veils in the bridal salons, but if they can handle going to grungy downtown, to get the directions and tips from me. Some brides take me up on it. Some have already made the emotional purchase in the salon.

Next weekend's client responded to my "did you find a veil?" question with:

Yes! Yesterday in the fashion district....$20 and it's being made by one of the bridal stores down there. They're replicating the $400 one I had my heart set on. Got jewelry and hair barrettes too. What a great tip!

$20. Yes, $20. How awesome is that?!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


After a hell of a summer (a trial, a move, a robbery, and an audit--all in 4 months! During wedding season!), I recently signed up for English horseback riding lessons. I've dreamt my whole life about riding horses and decided I wanted to stop dreaming and start doing. And then I started questioning myself--shouldn't I be putting all of my time, money, energy into my business, networking, clients, etc? Am I crazy to take time for myself a few hours per week? Shouldn't I be working?

After questioning myself, I went to a few of my riding lessons. And then stopped questioning. It was the balance that I needed: nature, exercise, connection with the most beautiful creatures on the planet, and all that good stuff. After each lesson I feel mentally refreshed (and sore!) and ready to tackle more hurdles.

Make sure you maintain balance during your engagement. It is easy to lose. I remember being engaged and being completely consumed with my wedding. Most brides are. But try to take some time to maintain balance in yourself and your relationship. Go on some dates with your fiance and don't talk about the wedding, don't just look at your friends as "bridesmaids", take a new type of exercise class. You need to refresh yourself and maintain your balance in order to tackle more hurdles.
This is not a picture of me. Yet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Laurel & Hardy Go Camping

The husband and I FINALLY got to get away to the Sequoias for a camping trip last weekend, and based on what happened, you'd think we'd never set foot out of the big city before!

It started out perfect and organized on Friday--the car was loaded down with all of our camping gear along with wine, beer, and the insanely good chili and spaghetti I had pre-made from scratch. The four hour drive was made bearable by a stop at Sonic outside of Bakersfield (LA transplants from the mid-west: I know you feel my pain) and a crazy good Mexican restaurant in the last town before the mountain, Springville.

The campground was the best we've ever stayed in--only 10 spots so secluded in the giant redwoods next to the river that the neighbors could not be seen. Sequoia Trees! Ferns! Waterfalls! Paradise!!!!

And then it begins...

We begin to unpack. Rain flap for tent nowhere to be found. Dark clouds roll in. I tape a plastic table cloth over the top of the tent. Husband starts to get the blow up mattress ready. Power converter for cigarette lighter wrong voltage for mattress motor. It doesn't work. We start to gather firewood. ‘Where are the car keys’, I ask? ‘In my pocket’, he says. I lock the car and close the doors. Rain starts to fall. Tent starts to leak. Dirt turns to mud. We drag the tent under a tree for more protection. Tent still leaks. Maybe we should get in the car and wait out the rain? But keys aren't in husband's pocket--THEY ARE LOCKED IN THE CAR. There is no cell service and definitely no AAA up here. Rain starts to fall harder. We start to laugh. Hysterically. It's the only alternative to killing each other.

I sit in the tent and duct tape trash bags together for more waterproofing. Husband runs through the rain to all of the other campsites to ask for a coat hanger, marshmallow wire, anything to jimmy the door open. No luck.

We devise two plans:

1. Bust the window with a rock

2. Tear the antenna off the car to use as a tool to pop the lock

Option 2 wins.

4 hours, 100 curse words, 100 prayers, 6 beers, 1 bottle of wine, 1 kitchen knife, 1 bent car antenna and an insane amount of determination later: the husband pops the lock open. He ROCKS!

And the rest of the camping trip was FABULOUS!

Check out the way we squeezed the tent between those two trees!

We decided we're going back in October between two of my wedding. Were taking more duct tape. And an extra key...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This made my day

After weddings I usually send emails out to the vendors thanking them and following up, and yesterday I got the greatest reply from the caterer, Auntie Em's Kitchen. It made my day!

Hi Amber,

Well you beat me to it. I was going to send you a juicy, fat laden thank you as well. Everyone on our staff loved you and your staff. I truly never have had such a positive experience with an event planner....this was a real test as you well know and I am so pleased we were all able to provide Liza and Ian a wedding which fulfilled their expectations. It was a great team and I felt that we had each others backs...and that is the way we love to work..THANK YOU! I hope we will be referring business to each other for years to come.

Much Respect

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Congratulations Liza & Ian!

Back in January I wrote a blog about a wedding I was taking over for a coordinator friend who booked an August wedding and then SURPRISE!!! got pregnant. This past weekend was that wedding.

Brides like Liza make me love what I do even more. I wish I could clone her! She not only graciously and happily took me on as her substitute planner, but she and her fiance pretty much threw their original wedding plans out the window 2 months before the date in order to make it more "them". Well done! Instead of getting married at a very popular (but strict) venue in LA that probably does 5 weddings per weekend, they rented a beautiful house in Los Feliz and held their wedding for 100 guests there.

Home weddings are very, very tricky, and this one had its own snags to work around, but because Liza & Ian were so happy and relaxed, the day just unfolded beautifully. Guests really mirror the emotions and engery that the bride & groom put out so their guests were as happy and had as much fun as they did! A big thank you to Auntie Em's catering for being so flexible and accommodating as well as my assistants Tiffany, Dani, and Maureen for all of your hard work!

Below is a picture of the home, but due to my camera getting stolen, I don't have any pictures to show of the wedding or the bride & groom! Those will have to wait for the photographer.

Congratulations, Liza & Ian! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your special day! And congratulations Sharon and Joey on the birth of your beautiful baby boy!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Your Momma

People ask me all of the time if I have had any "Bridezillas"? I tell them "No, but I've had Momzillas!". Too many, unfortunately.

Unless your mother has passed away or you are completely estranged, your mother and your mother-in-law play a big, big role in your wedding. Whether you like it or not. Mom plays an even bigger role if she is paying for any part of your wedding. My mom used to tell me that one of the facts of life is: "You pay--you say", meaning whomever is paying is the person in control. This gets sticky when you and mom have very different opinions of what elegant is!

One of the roles I play as a coordinator is assessing the relationship that my couples have with their mothers. If it is a good relationship, I suggest that they hand over certain projects to mom to take care of (welcome baskets, bathroom baskets, programs) to make her feel included. If the relationship is strained, I do my best to keep mom calm, happy, and as far away as possible.

I had a mother of the bride once that was a HANDFUL. Thankfully, I knew this well ahead of time (I had been warned by the bride as well as a few different vendors!) and so I brought on an intern for the day whose job was just to check on mom. As in every 20-30 minutes. It worked! Mom was happy and felt important and included on everything. My bride was happy also because mom was attended to and therefore didn't cause drama.

I love getting couples who have wonderful mothers--it takes away so much unnecessary stress!

On the topic of "your momma", enjoy the trailer for the Jennifer Lopez movie "Monster-In-Law"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Congratulations James and Alana!

I don't think people use the term "penpal" anymore, but James and I have been penpals for something like 10 or 11 years. He lives in the UK and we were both avoiding homework at the University library one boring day and met in a chat room. We became buddies talking about our business marketing classes. We've kept up with each other sporadically throughout the years, mostly due to the fact that in is almost impossible for either of us to stop responding to an email. I always have to have the last word. So does he. No, I do. Anyway...

James and Alana got married this past July 12 and I so wish that my husband and I could have been there for the wedding! I love the beautiful church they got married in and the English Manor house Duncombe Park where they held their reception. I asked James to give some of his perspective of the wedding day to share with my readers. They were planning on getting married LAST July but SURPRISE!!! baby Josh was born instead! They pushed the wedding one year and had him Christened during their ceremony.

Congratulations, James & Alana, and thank you for sharing about your special day!
(a thank you Lakendra Kennedy of Affairs With Elegance --I borrowed these questions from her blog because I loved reading her client's responses!)

What was the best part of your wedding day?

Alana and myself exchanging vows in the church and having all of our family and friends together wishing us a happy future together. Having Joshua's christening on the same day made it feel even more special and I would recommend this to anyone.

What do you feel was totally unnecessary?

Nothing really as we planned it to be the way we wanted it to be. We did ditch the chocolate fountain and ice sculpture idea!

What would you change, if anything?

Have a better contingency plan.. or at least have a contingency plan! We hired a bus to take 40 guests from the church ceremony to the reception which was 20 miles away. The bus was held up in traffic due to an accident so we needed to hire 6 taxis to take the guests to the reception which cost us an extra £150! Its not nice having all those guests waiting around on an occasion such as a wedding although they were very understanding! Although its rare that things like that happen - always expect the unexpected and have a plan B in place in case it does.

What was unexpected that you loved?

This church with all of the flowers looked amazing, as did the reception which was a grand old mannor house (we felt like celebs!)

What are your fondest memories of your wedding day?

Kissing my beautiful bride. Having all of our friends and family gathered together. The church, the reception, first dance... all of it!

Is there anything you wish you had spent more time or money on?

We could have hired the string quartet for longer but it would have cost us much more.

Is there anything you wish you had spent less time or money on?

Some of the drinks were left on the tables (bottles of wine etc) unopened but its hard working out how much people will drink. If you have too little people might think you have been a little tight, but if you have too much it is wasted money.

Were there any unexpected surprises or issues?

Yes - a baby! We had to postpone our wedding for another year!
Bus was stuck in traffic as per above. If you have the reception in the same place I think it is far less stressful than having the two seperate. Also you need to factor in that people will want to drink alchol so they won't be able to drive (hence why we had a bus).

What's your number #1 tip for future engaged couples?

#1 - get married before having a baby!

Always have a plan B and always expect the unexpected! Also don't go over the top spending money on things as it is easy to get carried away - especially when you go to wedding fairs and people try to sell you things that you don't need. If you have a lot of friends and family they shouldn't mind helping out making things. We had people help to make the wedding favours and other bits and pieces which saved us a lot of money (suppose thats two tips!).

Plan everything well in advance.

How did you feel after the wedding?

In one sense very happy but in another sense very relieved. Financially it cost us a lot but it was worth it. It also cost us a lot in terms of time planning it whilst juggling work and looking after a baby :) However we are both VERY happy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Want a fun Bachelorette Party?

Then look no further than Bride's Night Out! I went to a networking event last night at the Bride's Night Out headquarters and learned about what they're doing in the pre-wedding event world. Very fun stuff! After a successful career as a stand up comic, Pamela Yager created the perfect formula for a stylish "Sex and the City" type bachelorette party that includes things like party guide comedians roasting & toasting the bride, interactive games, and a limos driving the party to fun hot spots. And she created this business be able to grow and thrive internationally with party coordinators able to join onto her team to create the perfect bachelorette party in any city.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sherwood Country Club Wedding

Last week I assisted coordinator Carol Rosen of Party Designs by Carol at a wedding at the Sherwood Country Club in Westlake Village. It was such a great, intimate, venue with stunning views of the rolling Santa Monica Mountains! The views, ceremony site, staff, ballroom, food, and ambiance were just fantastic. The outside Grecian Pergola is a lovely area for ceremonies, with cocktail hour on the outside terrace afterwards. And for the reception, the inside is not just another bland country club clubhouse! The ballroom has a beautiful foyer with a pretty table for escort cards, a lovely lounge sitting area, a gorgeous ornate bar, a balcony with great views, and sparkling chandeliers. The waterfall area outfront under the oak trees is a beautiful spot for pictures. It was a beautiful wedding at a beautiful location.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A great gift

Rockstar Husband's only sister is having her first baby. And the spoiling has begun. Along with the beautiful crib that the husband is making for the baby, I get to go wild buying all things baby girl! YES! Along with the cuuuuuute dresses I've already bought, I just ordered a pink infant onesie and a pink toddler tee shirt with the husband's band name. The family is going to love that one. This website is so easy to use: you just choose your clothing style, upload the graphic you want on there, and tada! Custom clothing! A great gift idea for anyone!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Cake Wrecks Blog



Here are the pictures from Mark & Marika's fantastic 5-25-08 wedding at the Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara. (original blog here) It was wonderful! Their sand ceremony had so many colors! Special thanks to Alex of Blue Silver Photography for the photos