Monday, September 29, 2008

A Home Wedding

Weddings at private residences are really difficult. And I love them. I always jump at the chance to work a wedding at a private residence as I learn something new to be on the lookout for in the future (this past weekend I learned that the rental order really needs to be checked in). Saturday I assisted Carol Rosen of Party Designs by Carol at a lovely home in Beverly Hills. The bride was sweet, the family was hospitable, the catering divine, the guests kind, the weather perfect, and the garden gorgeous. A recipe for a perfect day! I especially loved the wildflower, garden, homey feeling that the bride Heather wanted to convey. She wanted her 97 guests to feel relaxed, comfortable, and welcomed. She succeeded!

The food was served family style in that platters of food were served on the tables and the guests passed them around. The escort cards were made using stamps of different colored wildflower silhouettes. The centerpieces were groupings of flowers put in glass and crystal vases, bowls, and pitchers owned by the family or bought at flea markets. The lighting was a mixture of Italian style string lights over the entire back yard, colorful votive candles on the tables, and clusters of candles around the pool. Handmade linens and hand stitched napkins added to the details of the day.

I honestly feel that home weddings require almost twice the amount of work as an all inclusive venue such as a hotel. There are things that come up at home weddings such as: where do we put the ten 50 lb bags of ice? There is no way that stuff is going to fit in a residential freezer. Where will the caterer be able to do prep work? Where will the scullery be for dirty dishes to be bussed to? Garages are usually converted to prep/scullery areas, but if a garage is not available, the messy business might be happening in your house. Power is always an issue and if dedicated circuits are not available, a generator must be brought in.Then there is the wear and tear on the house and the strain of the plumbing. Yes, there were only 97 guests at this wedding sharing two bathrooms, but when you factor in all vendor staff, there was up to 125 people trodding on the grass, using the toilets, spilling drinks, etc. There is a lot of wear and tear that happens on a wedding day!

The wedding was gorgeous and came off without any problems. The bride and groom did an adorable first dance that culminated with confetti cannons firing gold and silver flutter confetti all over the yard. The confetti was a surprise from her father and it was awesome!

I had time to snap pictures throughout the day...


Carol checking in the bar order. The five boxes in front are JUST martini glasses. We also had crates of wine glasses, water glasses, champagne glasses, and coffee cups.

The vintage linen tablecloth just made this table so pretty


The daisies scattered around added a great touch



Friday, September 26, 2008

Congratulations Phil & Maureen!

Our good friends Phil and Maureen got married this past Sunday in their home town in Michigan. Phil is the keyboard player in my husband's band Just Off Turner and Maureen is the band's Yoga teacher. She's the Yoga teacher for our entire group of friends, actually, yet we never manage to coordinate all of our schedules to have one big class. But somehow we can manage coordinating champagne brunch?

Anyway, as Phil and Mo were paying for the wedding themselves, they chose to have it back home in MI. Needless to say, it was much much cheaper than anything they could have had here in LA!

Before they took off for their honeymoon in Brazil, Phil generously answered some questions for us all. The pictures were taken by wedding guests--we haven't seen the professional ones yet!


Q: What was the best part of your wedding day?

There's so many amazing, special moments to choose from. I think it was, simply, when my bride-to-be came down the staircase escorted by her father.

Q: What do you feel was totally unnecessary?

I think that we successfully weeded out unnecessary portions of the ceremony, photographs and reception beforehand. There was nothing that I rolled my eyes at, which for me, is quite a statement…

Q: What would you change, if anything?

Everything that we had control over was perfect. However, with so many different components of the day needing to fall exactly into place, there's bound to be a couple of snags. Cellists being thirty minutes late, forgetting the boutonnieres until the last second and losing an important envelope (if only for a little while) could fall into this category.

Q: What was unexpected that you loved?

I didn't expect driving golf carts around the golf course with the wedding party to take photographs would be such a blast.

Q: What are your fondest memories of your wedding day?

Having all of my best and oldest friends & family all in one place, the amazing food, my four-year-old niece tearing up the dancefloor and breaking little boy hearts all over the place. Dancing with my new bride and her dance with her father to the song that he wrote the words to, I wrote the music to and one of my dearest friends & bandmate, Bryan, sang on.

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

A little more time to secure the boutonnieres probably would've been wise… Otherwise, we did alright.

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

You always want to spend less money, of course, but for as DIY as our wedding was, I think we got our money's worth on everything we invested it in.

Q: Were there any unexpected surprises or issues?

See: Cellists arriving late, guests grabbing pie a little too early and the dilemma of whether or not to get the bee out of Maureen's veil in the middle of the ceremony or not.

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

There's an amazing amount of details for your wedding day that you can accomplish yourself with research and tenacity. Flowers, centerpieces, favors and decorations can all be done at a fraction of the price with some imagination and elbow grease.

Q: How did you feel after the wedding?

Happily exhausted.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Confessions of a bad wedding guest

This article from brides.com amused me and I have to share. I used to be exactly the same way before I got married. One of the questions I ask my brides during our details meeting is: "do you have a Maid or a Matron of honor?". If she has an unmarried friend as her MOH, I assign a bridal assistant to her compliments of Amber Events, cause girlfriend's gonna need it. If she has a Matron of honor, I breathe a sigh of relief and say, "good, you'll be well taken care of because she'll know and understant exactly the torrent of emotions you will be going through!!!"

Confessions of a bad wedding guest

A woman reflects on the ‘rules’ she broke and her naughty deeds


By Zibby Right

Last month, on a flight to a friend's wedding in Chicago, I sat next to someone even more clueless about weddings than I was: one of my fellow bridesmaids.

“I bought these great open-toed sandals,” she cooed. “They match the dress perfectly! How about you?”

Hmm, didn't she get the e-mail from the bride insisting we wear closed-toe pumps? Turns out she hadn't gotten her dress altered either ("It'll be fine!"). Plus she'd forgotten to RSVP to some of the wedding-weekend events. And she was shocked to hear that I'd gone to the trouble of preparing a toast for the rehearsal dinner. In short, she was a disaster. But I had to smile. She was just like I used to be.

Before I got engaged last May, I'd broken every rule of wedding thoughtfulness. It wasn't that I didn't care about the bride and groom or that having good manners wasn't important to me. I consider myself a caring friend: I send thank-you notes promptly, I never show up to a housewarming empty-handed. But somehow, the world of proper wedding behavior had eluded me.

It wasn't until I started receiving piles of lovely engagement presents (before we'd even decided to have an engagement party) that I realized I should have given some myself. And it wasn't until my own bridal shower, when friends who couldn't attend made sure they still had gifts waiting for me at the hostess' home, that I learned I should've done so, too. I'd actually arrived at one friend's "game theme" shower with a waffle maker. She'd opened it, paused, and politely said, “Well, this will be a lot of fun to play with.”

I never bought off the registry, reasoning that personal gifts like, say, monogrammed robes, were more exciting than china. "What an original idea," brides would write in their thank-you notes. Now, after spending hours selecting items for my own registry, I find myself slightly miffed when guests don't use it. Why do they think I've gone to all that trouble? And that idea that it's acceptable to send gifts up to a year afterward? No one told me that, though technically acceptable, procrastinating until months after the wedding is disappointing for the bride and groom.

Occasionally, I'd forget to send in the response card until the bride's mother followed up. At the time, I didn't see the big deal. After all, I'd told the bride a million times I was coming! Now, after eagerly awaiting the mail each day so I can tear open those little cards and begin table arrangements, I marvel at my thoughtlessness. With the wedding a month away, I can't remember my vows, let alone which friends told me what. And when guests ask to bring dates, I bristle. Our numbers are so tight I couldn't invite some of my cousins. How could I squeeze in someone's new flame? But then I recall how once, days before a wedding I was in, I begged the bride to let me bring my new boyfriend — of six weeks.

“Fine,” she snipped. “If it's really that important to you.”

I spent the entire wedding locked in his arms, neglecting my bridesmaid duties. Soon after, the boy was history, but I'm reminded of him and my poor judgment whenever I see the two of us in my friend's wedding photos.

Ultimately she got over it; perhaps she'd committed her own faux pas, too, before she was a bride. Or maybe she just preferred to focus on the ways her day was special. I'm mortified by my past behavior, but thankful that this friend and others let it all slide. And now that I'm in their position, I'm trying to do the same. Don't get me wrong: Having to e-mail guests for their RSVPs makes my blood boil. But I know that someday they'll be brides and grooms themselves and discover that there are actually pretty good reasons behind those wedding rules we've all (cluelessly) broken.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hotel Bel Air Wedding

Last night I assisted my friend Beth Helmstetter of Beth Helmstetter Events with a wedding at the Hotel Bel Air in Bel Air, CA. It was as gorgeous as expected. I love the Hotel Bel Air--I love it more than the Beverly Hills Hotel, in fact. It is so secluded, luxurious, and conveys that perfect sunny Southern California feel with the pink bougainvillea covering the pink hotel. I'd love to hide away there like Oprah does!

Anyway, on to the wedding:

Ashley, the bride, is originally from Texas, so she wanted to convey that Southern/Shabby Chic feel. Magnolia branches and faux Magnolia "trees" decorated the spaces along with pink and cream roses, hydrangeas, and tiny pink rose sprays in silver vases and mint julep cups. My favorite decor aspect were the antique silver serving trays used to display the escort cards. It was a lovely wedding!



Bentley, the prettiest ring bearer there ever was!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Engagement Sessions

Michelle and David are some of my clients that are getting married next month at the gorgeous Vibiana venue in downtown L.A. They are cool. Through them I was able to meet and work with the fabulous photographers Allie and Brian Callaway of www.allieandbri.com.
They are also way cool people on top of being fantastic photographers. I don't feel like I have to censor my humor and act proper when I'm with them! I asked Brian to write a little bit about the importance of engagement sessions and feeling comfortable with your photographers. You can see more pictures and read more on their blog.

Allie and I cannot stress enough how important an engagement session is to your wedding experience. We include it in every package because it is SO important. Why?
The main reason is it allows you to become relaxed in front of the camera and in front of us - so that when your wedding day arrives you won't be self-conscious and camera-shy. The engagement session is a lot of fun, especially with Allie and myself because we are fun and really make an effort to make the experience as loose and easy as possible. Before the session we help you with wardrobe, location and hair choices. During the session we rely heavily on our backgrounds in the modeling and acting business to offer hints and tips so that while you are in the moment, you'll remember the best way to hold yourself when the camera is near.

And while our style is based in photojournalism, that doesn't mean that you, the subject, shouldn't be aware of the relationship between you and the camera. The engagement session is an exercise in what we call "camera-awareness." It's this little bit of practice that will make a tremendous difference in your wedding photos.

An engagement session will also allow you to get to know your photographer better - which equally important because it opens communication and again, eases nerves and self-consciousness on your wedding day. You now have the confidence and trust of your photographer because this is not the first meeting or photo shoot.

What are the tangible benefits: the photos, of course! Couples will use these pictures for Save-the-Date invitations, or they'll insert them into a slideshow to be played during the wedding. Our favorite idea is to make an album with the pictures from the session that can then be used as the wedding-day guest registry. Whatever you decide to do, you and your family will have amazing photographs that celebrate you and your love!

Have fun!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sweet Home Arkansas

After being very naughty and going to Turkey and Greece last year instead of home for Christmas, (sorry, Mom & Dad!) I finally went home this past week. 10 paved and .6 dirt road miles outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas is where I call home. And what a home it is. Mom and Dad own the 105 year old farm house that was owned by the family that at one time farmed the whole valley. Many of the that family were born and died in the house. There have been two weddings that we have known of (mine is one of them), and the spring water that is pumped up to the house is the best water I've ever tasted. It is heaven.
I told my friends and family that I was holding court there and if they wanted to see me, they had to make the drive out to me. I needed a break from driving. And computers. Mom and I undertook the project of redecorating her dingy brown dining room and spent 3 full days scraping, sanding, caulking, priming, taping, painting, and turning it into a lovely sun filled room. It is gorgeous!
I got to see baby Danica, my new niece, and she is as precious as was expected. What a doll!I got to see my little brother play upright bass at a show in his self described "psycho-billy bluegrass" band
I got to visit my friend Kellie in her adorable Victorian home in my favorite town in Arkansas, Eureka Springs, "The Little Switzerland of the Ozarks"

I got to dress up like an 80's rocker girl for my good friend Jason's 30th birthday party, and I got to hang out with my best friends and have a great time.I got to go on full moon walks with my parents, our dog, and our cat (she thinks she's a dog), and I got to live for a week in a happy bubble where I was fed all of my favorite meals and got to sit on the porch during the rain.Then I got to kiss my adorable husband in the Tulsa airport as he was making his way home to AR for his week of heaven. His band had shows last week and he couldn't make it home with me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Real Perspective: Lindsay & Mike

I so love it when my couples take a moment to fill out my post wedding questionnaire and are open to sharing their experiences with currently engaged couples. Thank you again, Lindsay!

Q. What was the best part of your wedding day?

A. Everything ran so smoothly. We had such a great time.

Q. What do you feel was totally unnecessary?

A. n/a

Q. What would you change, if anything?

A. Nothing…it was perfect!

Q. What was unexpected that you loved?

A. The reception/ceremony set-up. We left it completely up to Amber Events to translate our vision and we were pleasantly surprised with every detail.

Q. What are your fondest memories of your wedding day?

A. Our vows.

Q. s there anything you wish you had spent more time or money on?

A. Flowers (though Mike would disagree!) ; )

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

A. No.

Q. Were there any unexpected surprises or issues?

A. I was disappointed to hear someone had gone through my bridesmaid’s purses and some of my personal items had been lost. **

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

A. Start organizing things early on. Don’t wait until the week of to start running errands.

Q. How did you feel after the wedding?

A. Exhausted and incredibly happy…would do it all over again if we could!


**FROM AMBER: Unfortunately, the feeling of the day was dampened a bit when these things happend. Thankfully, the hotel took responsibility for the stolen items and made things right.

Friday, September 5, 2008

An event at Greystone Mansion

Our most recent Association of Bridal Consultants networking event was held at the magnificent Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. I love this park. It has always been on my list of favorite places in L.A. If it were not for the Los Angeles skyline (and smog) in the distance, I could totally pretend that I am a guest at a grand European manor house. And I am wearing a fabulous dress. Le sigh.

This Gothic English mansion on 12.58 acres of land was at one time a private estate belonging to the oil wealthy Doheny family. True to all Gothic mansions, there was a gory murder/suicide (many people say it was actually a murder/murder, never solved) at one point, and also true to all Gothic mansions, Greystone is totally haunted. But you can't have a wedding inside of it, so no worries about spooky wedding crashers!

If the interior of Greystone is dark and haunted, the gardens are heavenly and deeeevine, dahling!

Because Greystone is a city park, wedding ceremonies are actually pretty affordable to have there. Receptions can be held there as well, but that is a whole other ballgame of red tape and much, more money. There is a long list of rules to abide by as well. For instance: no candles are allowed. Anywhere. Period. No alchohol other than beer or wine can be served. Events must be over by 8:00pm. And the list goes on. It is also costly to bring in all rentals for this venue as there is nothing provided, not even electricity. So generators, tables, chairs, lights, linens, flatware, china, dancefloor and everything else it takes to create a reception has to be rented. But it sure is pretty!

(If I were designing a wedding that were to incorporate Greystone. I would have the ceremony in the formal gardens in front of the fountain all foofy, traditional and flowery, then have the reception at a modern hotel like the Luxe on Sunset and make it all sleek, chic, and sexy. Two wedding dresses would be required, of course.)

Ta ta, darlings!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Coordinator at work

Thanks to the wonderful photographer Chung Li, I can now see what I look like on a wedding day. Apparently, I look very, very serious...

I am modeling my new and improved red sparkly necklace. The last one exploded in a shower of red beads cascading down the stairs and bouncing across the dancefloor at Liza's wedding. Apparently, I also play with my necklace a bit too much when I am stressing.....er....focusing.

Checking off the list!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More pictures from the Wedding at Hummingbird Nest Ranch

Here are some more pretty pretty pictures from the wedding I helped coordinator Heather Ham at Hummingbird Nest Ranch a few weeks ago. For more pictures, you can view a slideshow on the fabulous Jasmine Star's website HERE.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Congratulations Lindsay & Mike!

Sunday I had the honor of coordinating Mike & Lindsay's wedding at the Sheraton Delfina Hotel in Santa Monica, CA. I had only met Mike once during the planning process as he has been living in London for the past year working on his Masters degree while Lindsay has been working on her doctorate here at USC. They are such a special couple. And Lindsay was the perfect bride! Good communication, good response time, good instructions, and a good person on top of all of that. I am so lucky! Her family, bridal party, and friends were as equally kind and happy and as a result the wedding day was stress free, smooth, and wonderful. All pictures were done before the ceremony, even the large extended families. We were so on time throughout the day that sometimes we were AHEAD of the timeline! Crazy!

Lindsay and Mike are both Chinese and incorporated their heritage into their reception when Lindsay changed out of her gorgeous white wedding dress into a stunning red Chinese dress. Chinese Lion dancers came in and Mike and Lindsay enticed the "Lion" with a head of lettuce hanging from a stick. The drums, the sparkly "Lions" and Lindsay's red dress were so exciting! Pictures to be posted later.

Below are some pictures of Lindsay and Mike and the bridal party taken by the wonderful San Francisco based photographer Chung Li of Chung Li Photography. His blog is great as he not only posts pictures of the events that he shoots, he also posts pictures of the behind the scenes stuff. Later I'll post pictures of details of the wedding and the Lion dancers during the reception.

Congratulations on your marriage, Mike and Lindsay, it was an honor working with you!

Thank you to the Sheraton Delfina, Chung Li Photography, Just Flowers, Buckley Videography, Afterburn Productions, Officiant Elizabeth Oakes of Marriage To Go, Noted LA string trio, Northern Shaolim Chinese Lion Dancers, and my wonderful assistants Heather, Dani, and Kamryn. I could not have done it without you!

Amber and Chung
Checking on my lovely bride before she walks down the aisle