Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where did January go?

Yikes! The month is gone and my blog has suffered. I'm happy to say that business hasn't though! I've been living in a whirlwind of meetings, bookings, and events. My first wedding of the year is tomorrow night and I am looking forward to it like a kid for Christmas! It's going to be fabulous.

I also have a wedding coming up at a gorgeous new hotel in West Hollywood this spring and I squealed with delight when I saw one of the forms that the Event Coordinator at the hotel gives to new clients--it spells out what the hotel coordinator does for you and what your professional wedding coordinator does for you. Hallelujah! Thankfully many venues are starting to spell out what exactly their coordinator does. So many brides are let to believe that the venue coordinator is their full wedding coordinator. I love seeing lists like this given out:

The Venue Event Director will

-Recommend Special event professionals that are familiar with and know the venue
-Act as menu consultant for all food and beverage selections
-Detail your banquet event order and wedding outlining all of your event specifics
-Create an "estimate of charges" outlining our financial commitments and deposit schedules
-Create a floor plan of your function space
-Arrange and attend your menu tasting
-Establish your guestroom block
-Oversee the ceremony and reception set ups
-Be the on-site liaison between your wedding coordinator and hotel operations staff
-Ensure a seamless transition to the hotel's banquet captain once the grand entrance has occurred

Your Hired Professional Wedding Coordinator Will:

-Assist with etiquette and protocol for invitations, family matters, ceremony and reception
-Create a "time line" for your wedding day, including the ceremony and reception
-Work with you to organize and coordinate your ceremony rehearsal.
-Remind Bridal party of all pertinent "call times" and "don't forgets" on the day of the wedding
-Confirm call times and details with all vendors several days prior to the wedding day
-Be the liaison with your family, bridal party, band/DJ, florist, photographer and other vendors to create a seamless operation
-Assist you with your gown and any additional needs of the bridal party
-Ensure the ladies have their corsages and bouquets, etc. and assist with the pinning of the mens' boutonnieres
-Set up programs, place cards, guest favors, guest book, champagne flutes, and all personal items
-line up and queue the bridal party and musicians at the time of the wedding ceremony
-Collect any personal items at the conclusion of the reception
-Assist you with "full service" or "day of" coordinating from your engagement to your honeymoon

This is going to be a good wedding, I can already tell.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Bridal Panel Workshop

Last night with the hospitality of the gorgeous Los Angeles Athletic Club and the time of three and a half (one husband was sick) newlyweds, my Association of Bridal Consultants Educational Workshop planning partner Mary Sushinksi of Occasions and I put on a great workshop where the newlyweds answered a series of questions for a group of 50 or so wedding vendors. In order to keep our panelists comfortable, there was no direct contact with the vendors--they were asked pre-written questions by our moderator Jorge Lopez of J&M Entertainment and the answers they gave did not give any vendor names, just categories. The point of this panel was to give vendors some information of what newlyweds are really thinking, what they need, and how we can better serve them. It was extremely enlightening! The newlyweds told us some shocking, funny, weird, and sad stories of what they experienced during their planning process.

The evening was extremely educational. Towards the end of the evening us vendors were allowed to write questions for the moderator to ask the newlyweds and the answers were a bit surprising. I took quite a bit away from the evening in terms of how I can better my services AND my customer service.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bride Wars

I went to see Bride Wars with one of my wedding planner friends last week because I thought it would be funny and it would give me something to blog about., and no. The funniest part of the movie was when my friend leaned over during the scene that showed the uber-wedding planner's swankylicious, extravagent, over-the-top office and attitude and whispered "this movie is going to make our jobs much, much harder"

The movie just wasn't funny. Or entertaining. The best quote I heard about this movie? "“Bride Wars” is only a chick flick, but chicks deserve better than this."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Looking for Newlyweds

Dear Los Angeles Brides,

I am on the educational committee for the Los Angeles chapter of the Association of Bridal Consultants and we are putting together our January workshop which will consist of a panel of recently married brides and grooms. We need a few couples (or just brides if your husband is over it by now!) to come talk to us and let us know the experiences, both good and bad, you had planning your weddings. We have a few panelists that did have wedding coordinators, but specifically need one or two that did NOT have a coordinator on their wedding day. This workshop will be held on Monday, January 19 from 6:00 - 9:00 PM at the Los Angeles Athletic Club ( Dinner, drinks, parking, a gift, and a chance to make a difference in the wedding industry will be provided to our panelists.

Our group consists of all wedding vendors: coordinators, photographers, florists, stationers, DJ's, and cake bakers. We strive to provide excellent service to our clients and value your experience and opinions. Rest assured that you will not be made to feel "stupid" or bad because you did things outside of what is considered normal! You will be kept separate from the vendors before and after the question and answer session and all answers will be anonymous in that you cannot tell us WHO your specific vendors were. We did this workshop two years ago and it hit and really opened our eyes up to what brides and grooms want and need!

If you or someone you know would like to be a part of this, please email me as soon as possible at amber @ A short questionnaire will be sent along with the confirmation of this event.

Thank you and happy planning!

Amber Gustafson
Amber Events

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Colombian Christmas

Ok, so Colombia was incredible, my Christmas and New Years celebrations there were fantastic, and 2009 is going to be a great year!

The husband and I have traveled quite a bit, but this trip was very different in the fact that we stayed with a host family (the family of our Colombian friend Cecilia). Normally when we travel we stay at small inns or family run B&B's.

We based in Medellin and took day trips out into the rural areas surrounding the city. Our favorite trip was a two day stay at the family's vacation home in a small town called Cauca Viejo. Cauca Viejo is a private gated community designed and built to look an old traditional Colombian village complete with a town square fountain, church, and shops. The home we stayed in was incredible! All rooms opened up to the central walkway and the window shutters opened up for a total open air feel. Our room even had an outdoor shower! We slept to the sound of the Rio Cauca rushing past. It was so cool.Our lack of Spanish was the only frustrating part about the trip, but we are determined to fix that issue and return. The family was understanding and accepted our attempts at Spanish, our constant flipping through the dictionary, and our sign language butchering. The kids under six could not understand why we could not understand and speak with them though.
We felt safe the entire time we were there. I think that has to do with the fact that Cecilia's family would not let us out of their sight, and the fact that there were heavily armored police and military everywhere. The country has come a long way from being run by the cartels, but they do still have work to do. My husband was excited to see the house where the infamous Pablo Escobar was finally killed in 1993. I didn't know this until he told me, but Escobar was the 7th richest man in the world when he died. Crazy. Below is a picture of just some of the military we saw.
I realize from my earlier blogs that I always talk about food, so I have to wax poetic about the Colombian food. It was muey bueno. I love the thick tortilla-like arepas and I got to try my hand at making some of the treats like smashed and fried plantains and these fried cheesy bready thingies called Bunelos. Yum! Good stuff. Mi gusta!

Our host family Santiago and Elisa took us out dancing a few nights and we danced until way past dawn! The Colombians sure love to dance! The are beautiful, vivacious, passionate, and hospitable people. We can't wait to go back.Below is a picture of the lights over the river in Medellin. It's incredible in person.