Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I just looooove babies little ones in Halloween costumes! I told The Husband when we have babies every day is going to be Halloween! One day his child will be a pumpkin, the next day a giraffe, the day after that a bear, and the day after that an dragon. And that will just be the boy. My imaginary girl will be a ballerina, then a fairy, then a bumble bee, and so on.

The Husband and I are off to Napa Valley today to spend a rainy fall weekend drinking wine, visiting wineries, and then sitting in front of a fireplace drinking wine. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Derek & Angela's Wedding on The Queen Mary

Last Saturday I had the honor of coordinating Derek and Angela's wedding aboard the history Queen Mary ship in Long Beach. The Queen Mary was converted into a hotel in 1972 after operating since 1926 as a luxury transatlantic super liner and then a troop transport ship during World War II.

Their ceremony was held in the ship's chapel and the reception held in the gorgeous art deco Queen's Salon--it was so beautiful! Angela carried a travel theme throughout the evening by giving silver luggage tags in the shape of a ship as favors and having the escort cards displayed on vintage travel trunks covered with stickers from hotels around the world. I was so happy to see that both Derek and Angela let go and really had a ball on their wedding day! So many times couples get caught up being hosts all evening that they run out of time and don't really get to get down and dance and party! I couldn't stop smiling as I watched them boogie the night away.

They flew the next day to a honeymoon in Italy.

Congratulations, Derek and Angela! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your special day!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Amber Events Presents: Making the Magic

Michelle, my Vibiana bride, was sweet enough to give me permission to bring in a camera of my own on her wedding day to film what takes place behind the scenes in order to create a seamless wedding. My brother-in-law Dan Anderson makes promotional videos and was kind enough to come in to do this for me. You can see a higher resolution of this video if you have a Quick Time player here. I am so excited about this video! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Wedding at Shutters On The Beach

Last Saturday I worked a wedding at Shutters On the Beach in Santa Monica with one of my mentors, Carol Rosen of Party Designs By Carol. I've always admired the hotel from the bikepath and the venue was as lovely as I expected, but it was also much tougher to work than I expected. The hotel is laid out in such a crazy way that there is no direct way to get from point A to B--to get from the Grand Salon to the lobby you seriously had to go up the elevator, across the pool deck, and then down the elevator on the other side. Herding guests through a maze like that consumes time, energy, and patience. The poor ceremony musicians were initially directed by the doorman to the Grand Salon when they should have been directed up to the pool terrace for the ceremony. I thought the poor Cellist was about to blow steam out his ears after he lugged his Cello down to the ballroom only to find out that he needed to be up on the roof.

The ceremony was held at sunset overlooking the Pacific and a 10 piece orchestra gave me Goosebumps. It was the prettiest ceremony music I have heard to date. The reception was equally fabulous with custom linens from Wildflower Linens, floral arrangements flown in from Hawaii, lead crystal stemware, and the killer 13 piece Entourage band of de Bois Entertainment bringing the house down. One of the highlights of the evening were the Bon Bon Girls passing out favors such as candy cigars, chocolates, and glow in the dark necklaces. I think every guest in there got their picture taken with the sassy cigar girls in their fishnet stockings and satin tuxedo jackets!

Below are pictures taken from the hotel website as I did not snap any pictures that day other than the hemming job I did on an usher's dress--it was either this or her cutting off 5" of her silk gown!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's your style?

Confession time: I am a wedding coordinator and I don't subscribe to ANY of the wedding magazines. Color me bad, but I just don't have the time to read them or the room in my home to keep them. I do like flipping through them while waiting for a client at Barnes & Noble and what not, but I just don't subscribe. I find I get more wedding inspiration from non-wedding related magazines.

It's amazing how something like the new Anthropologie catalog can help me come up with a motif for a design board I'm working on. Below is a sample of what publications are inspiring me lately:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Michelle & Dave's Wedding at Vibiana

Whew! What a weekend! Saturday I had the privilege of coordinating Michelle & Dave's wedding at the beautiful historic Vibiana cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. It is an insanely difficult venue to work, but the entire day was incredible. All day long I kept thinking "this is going too smoothly, when are the snags going to happen?", but they never did. It was wonderful. Things were great as a result of an awesome couple, a happy and loving group of people (all 338 of them!) and kick *ss vendors. A huge thank you to Vibiana, Truly Yours Catering, Allie & Bri Photography, Reel Life Pictures, Dash Entertainment, Lisa's Floral Designs, Aspect Lighting, guitarist Frank Unzueta, A Rental Connection, Tim from PartyBooths, Suzie Cakes, Lounge Appeal, Crystal Creations, the security guards from Chase Protective Services, and my wonderful assistants Barb, Beth, Dani, Lina, Paige, & Beverly--I could not have done it without you all!

Not only am I excited about seeing the professional pictures from Allie & Bri, I am psyched about seeing the video that my brother-in-law Dan of Anderson Entertainment is making for me. Michelle was sweet enough to give permission to allow me to bring in a videographer to film me, my staff, and all of the vendors producing the entire day. It's going to be great--it shows what it takes to pull together a wedding!

Photo by Brian Callaway, Allie & Bri Photography

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I've been Tagged

I was tagged by Meredith Tomasulo of Elegant Engagements in Philadelphia, PA.

Four things I did today

1. Completely overslept. I'm not sure if I didn't set my alarm last night or if I turned it off in my sleep, but I overslept by an entire hour! I still feel as if my head is on backwards.

2. Spoke to the Fire Marshal re this Saturday's wedding. Four times.

3. Prepped my "script" for today's rehearsal for this weekend's wedding.

4. Painted my nails. At my desk. And then continued to type.
"Opry calls it 'MULTI-TASKING' " (said in my southern accent quoting the hilarious mother from the movie "Sweet Home Alabama")

Four things on my to-do list:

1. Register for the ABC national convention in November

2. Put up the curtains in my living room & dining room

3. Buy plane tickets home for Christmas

4. Renew my ABC and Coordinator’s Corner membership

Four of my guiltiest pleasures:

(they’re not guilty though—I have no qualms about taking care of myself)

1. Napping

2. Massages

3. Reading

4. Drinking wine

Four random facts about me

1. My name is actually Amber Jean the Queen. When I sign my name that way, I turn the Q into a kitty cat facing away ala Ramona "The Pest" Quimby. Childish, yes, but it makes me smile. The only people that get cards signed this way are family & close friends, so if you ever get a card signed that way, you know I love you.

2. I've had a love affair from age two with the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz. I've worn red shoes my whole life and even wore red glittered shoes under my white wedding dress. Right now I have a pair of red sequined flats that last I wore out for a night in Vegas. I was so tickled by them I kept dancing around and staring down at them like a kid wearing those annoying blinky light shoes. Thankfully, my husband thinks I'm cute.

3. I love the Anne of Green Gables books so much that I made a pilgrimage to Prince Edward Island to visit the faux town of Avonlea. While there, the (probably 20 year old) actor playing Gilbert Blythe followed me around all day like a puppy and finally asked me for my email address. It was weird on so many levels.

4. The husband and I are working hard on building a life where he is a successful musician, I am a successful destination wedding planner, we build our Tuscan-inspired dream home on 10 acres out of straw bale, we have horses, dogs, cats, goats & chickens, and we homeschool our children as we travel around the world. If that's not random, I don't know what is....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mmm Paper

I'm a paper snob. Then again, I am also snobby about chairs, lighting, and bridesmaid dresses. I have massive opinions about all of these things. And contrary to popular belief, some opinions I do keep to myself, thank you very much!

I recieved an email from a company called "Mmm Paper" and the name of the company immediately caught my eye. I love fondling good paper. Obviously, the ladies at Mmm Paper do too. They were introducing their new line of Do It Yourself invitations call Yumminess and they wanted my address to send me some samples. They also added some stationary goodies for me to use and anyone within the next few months getting thank you notes from me will be getting some yummy ones.

Anyway, the DIY invitations are lovely. And not outrageously priced.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Slideshow: Lindsay & Mike

I am submitting Lindsay & Mike's wedding to The Knot's Real Weddings and am crossing my fingers that it gets chosen...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Doable Destination Wedding

I was asked to guest blog for the jewelry rental company Adorn Brides this month and I had a lot of fun writing this article on Destination Weddings. You can find the original blog here.

Destination Wedding's by Featured Expert Amber Gustafson


I've asked one our great partners Amber Gustafson, from the West Coast (Los Angeles), to be one of our Featured experts this Fall. She gladly accepted the role and gave me the low down on what's hot right now!

Amber -Destination weddings are so hot right now. Or…. "Hott" as the infamous Paris Hilton would say. Even just saying the words "Destination Wedding" conjures up images of Maui sunsets, exclusive Mexican resorts,

and Tuscan villas--the top destinations for North American couples that can afford it. 'That can afford it' being the key words. However, just because

you may not be able to afford a Maui wedding, don't think you can't HAVE

that mini-vacation-activity-laden-only-our-closest-friends-and-family-love-fest feeling that is a destination wedding. My dad always told me as a kid "you can always camp in your own backyard". It just takes a certain mind set to look at what you have in front of you and make it work.

With the economy in its current state and the dollar as weak as it is, long distance travel is not as easy for everyone as it was a few years ago. But if you want a Destination Wedding, you can have one. It's a matter of Access, Area, and Activities.


To have an affordable destination wedding, I would suggest choosing a location that is within a four hour drive of where you are. I guarantee that no matter where you live in the US, there is a place within fours that is appealing enough to make your guests want to spend a long weekend there.


When you find the town you want to have your destination wedding in, find

your base camp. Whether it be a historic Bed & Breakfast, boutique Hotel, rental home, or Inn, you want something with personality and ambiance, something that really fits you and your fiancé. Do your best to book the venue for at least three days in order to have that and that Destination Wedding vibe and try to make sure that your venue can accommodate all of your guests to obtain that exclusive and intimate feel.


Choose a few activities throughout the weekend that suit you and your fiancé and the location. If you are on a lake rent a boat and have a party. If you are in the country, have a hayride or a BBQ. Try not to plan more than one activity per day for your guests, as you do not want to over schedule them. This is family time for your guests as well.

And while this should go without saying, I will say it anyway: hire a professional wedding planner for at LEAST the day of the wedding if not the entire weekend. Even though you are not having a traditional wedding or a Destination Wedding in an exotic location, you NEED someone to run the entire show so you and your loved ones can have fun and not worry about all of the little details it takes to pull a wedding together.

While most of my weddings are large, formal 200-300+ people affairs in ballrooms & estates in the Los Angeles area, my favorite wedding was the funky wedding that my sister Dana and her husband Dan had in Twentynine Palms, CA.

Their wedding was held in the courtyard of the 75 year old Irene's Adobe at the 29 Palms Inn by Joshua Tree State Park. Dan and Dana have been going to the Inn for 4 years for an annual desert getaway and when they got engaged, they knew that they wanted an intimate destination wedding, and so the funky Inn fit them perfectly.

Dana was the ULTIMATE laid back bride and pretty much left it to me and her husband to plan. Her husband designed and printed the invitations, and Dana only specified to me that she wanted candles everywhere. Lots of candles. Since she gave me total free reign of the decor, I filled the courtyard with 50 or more luminaries, twinkle lights, candles, wild flower arrangements in mason jars and floating candles in mason jars. I normally don't do flowers for my clients, but since this was my sister, I did everything I could for her.

I brought the flowers out in coolers from the Los Angeles Flower Mart!

With only 25 guests in attendance, the weekend was so stress free and such great bonding and team effort with family & friends. Everyone arrived on Friday and all of the setup for the wedding was completed that day. I sent our dad out to the desert with a trash bin to collect the sand for the luminaries. Our mom made her famous pineapple upside down cake for the reception. Saturday morning, wedding day, the 25 guests went out into Joshua Tree State Park and hiked on the boulders. After the hike, the guys played horseshoes and Bocce Ball throughout the afternoon and the girls did a Yoga session by the lagoon. After Yoga, Dana had a relaxing massage before hair and makeup. Hiking, Yoga, Massage, and a Wedding! Now that's what I call a good day!

At 6:00pm, Dana was escorted into the courtyard by a guitarist playing and singing “Pretty Woman”. The guests could hear the music start from across the property and come closer and closer. The ceremony was beautiful and touching and there were no dry eyes in the group as they spoke the vows that they had written for each other. The reception was wonderful and laid back with a wonderful vegetarian dinner prepared by the 29 Palms Inn restaurant. The organic vegetables are grown right there on the property!


Nadine - Amber, thank you for sharing your knowledge with us along with your sister's wedding story. I wish I had been there! Wow, I wish I had a sister like you!

Los Angeles based wedding coordinator Amber Gustafson is in love with texture, things that sparkle, and the drama of fabulous parties.

An avid world traveler, she dreams of helping you create your dream wedding on a beach in Fiji, a chateau in France, a villa in Italy, or a castle in Scotland.

If you are thinking of a destination wedding and would like to rent our fine bridal jewelry for your event please contact Laura Marcusse


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Lesson in Letterpress

Buckle in, friends, because this blog post is way cool. It is fascinating! And I didn't write it. Boo. My next blog will be this fascinating, I promise (disclaimer: as long as you consider trips to the circus as fascinating as I do). Below is a blog post by the fabulous Tina Pham of Joie Studios. I knew this stuff was time consuming, but I had no idea just how time and labor intensive letterpress actually is. I loved learning about it. Enjoy!

*as a side note, Tina's prices are very competitive and they are especially good right now as she has a "No on 8" promotion sale going on until October 31 where you can get 25% off orders. Hello!*

Anatomy of a Custom Letterpress Baby Shower Invitation

by Tina Pham

Here is Joie Studio's first anatomy lesson, where I'll take you through the making of a custom letterpress baby shower invitation from start to finish. Here at Joie Studio, we meld old and new letterpress techniques to get our desired results, and this baby shower invitation, more than many other projects here at the studio, showcases the different techniques we use, making it a great project to use for our anatomy lesson.

This project is actually for a very dear friend of mine, so Rebecca, the host of the baby shower, gave me a free rein to do whatever I wanted. I knew that the couple were decorating the nursery with a hippo theme, and as there is a hippo in Joie Studio's upcoming baby line, I decided that it would be the perfect design.

The hippo is part of a safari group that was created and illustrated by the ever talented artist Matt Cox. I laid out the shower invite digitally to figure out how the layout and spacing. Here is the digital proof:

The fonts in the proof are Kabel and Liberty. Kabel is the digital version of Sans Serif Light, and Liberty is a variation of Bernhard Cursive. Both these fonts are fonts that I have handset type for.

Setting the Forme
Here at Joie Studio, we use a combination of handset type and magnesium plates to letterpress our projects.

Here is what a case of type looks like:

To set it, you would take each letter out, one by one, and set it on a line. Time consuming, but I think that handset type gives the best result so I keep as many fonts as I can fit into my type cabinet. The case above is pretty empty, but some of the other drawers weigh as much as 50 lbs.

As space is a major consideration and setting type is majorly time consuming, we also use metal plates. The metal plates are etched from digital files that we send to the engraver's. We used to have our metal plates mounted on wood and we still use a lot of our plates that we had made that way:

I found, however, that I wasn't happy with the natural variations of the wood mount. As it's an organic material, wood will expand and contract depending on weather conditions, and with letterpress, even 1/1000 of a difference will translate onto paper. Sometimes it's ok, sometimes it's not. So now we order unmounted metal plates with a deeper etch that we mount onto a metal base. The deeper etch also allows us to give a deeper impression to our clients who want to go as deep as possible. Here's a closeup of an unmounted metal plate:

For this project, we used a combination of handset type for the text and a metal plate for the hippo illustration. Once the type is set, I use wood pieces called furniture to lock the set type into the chase (which is the frame that fits into the press). What is to be printed, once set, is called the forme, shown below:

Most ink colors are handcrafted by yours truly. Sage is a color that I use a lot so whenever I mix sage, I try to make a bunch extra. For letterpress, you don't use very much ink at all during a run. I store handcrafted inks in little 2oz tins, and as you can tell, I rarely mix that much ink, and this amount will last me through at least 2 more jobs:

Just a couple dabs gets the press to look like:
So after I letterpress printed the forme, the invitations looked like this:
It's still missing the hippo. The hippo is on an unmounted metal plate. To print the plate, it is first locked into a metal base, also known as a honeycomb or patent base:
The forme is then set into the press to be printed:
Notice the roller bearers on both sides? The bearers keep the rollers inking the forme properly, which is essential for gorgeous letterpress printing.

The Result
Here is the result of all that hard work:

I hope you love the result as much as I did, and I hope you enjoyed a peak at our letterpress process from concept to creation. The LUXE letterpress launch has taken up so much of my time that now that it's launched, I can turn my attention to debuting these gorgeous letterpress animals. Keep on the lookout for more animals in Joie Studio's upcoming baby line!