Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A fun favor

I went to Disneyland a few weeks ago and was completely enamored by the little shop on Disney's Main Street where you could have an old fashioned silhouette cut out done for around $10. If the husband had been with me, we would have definitely gotten ours done. I love the old fashioned nostalgic feel of cameos and cut outs and would love to frame put one in our home.

I remember walking away from that thinking that I wanted to find a silhouette artist and propose that as a favor idea for a few of my upcoming weddings. This morning I got an email from Lauren Johnson of showing these lovely pictures of her husband Karl working at weddings. I love it! Karl's work has been in Martha Stewart Weddings and InStyle magazine. I love the idea of incorporating the bride & groom's silhouettes on invitations, stationary, etc. as well as hiring him to create one of a kind favors for your guests. SoCal brides in luck--he lives close by!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Video Montage? Not this time!

I've seen many a video montage shown at wedding receptions. I can't imagine being at this reception expecting to see a slideshow of pictures and seeing THIS:

Neil + Jigna's Bollywood Concept "Tum Hi Ho (You Are The One)" from Pacific Pictures on Vimeo.

Kevin Shahinian of SoCal based Pacific Pictures took the reception video to a whole new level.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unique Guestbook Ideas

I've been researching Guest Book ideas for a client and have quite a list of ideas to share.
A few tips: make sure that you have a Guest Book attendant to help guests sign and keep the line moving. I've found if guests do not sign it when they arrive at the wedding, they won't sign it unless someone specifically takes it around to tables during dinner and asks them to. Guests don't like that. I know from experience. If budget permits, try to have more than one to keep the line moving.

Wine Bottle Guest Book
In order to facilitate this idea, you will need a few bottles of wine as they are not very large. Take your paint pens and designate one bottle as your first anniversary, 10th, 25th, etc. and make sure to have proper signage explaining to guests what to do. Keep in mind that the more hands that handle the bottles, the more oil gets mixed into the paint and causes it to smudge. The more bottles of wine, the better....but then again, that's my philosophy about wine!

your favorite wine and paint pens from your local craft store
(image taken from The Knot community boards)

Engraved Platter

These silver platters can be customized with your names and wedding date in a special font and then guests sign with a diamond tipped pen. Let's see if your grandma can bring herself to scratch the silver...

PURCHASE: (image taken from website)

Quaker Marriage Certificate

This is currently my favorite idea. In Quaker marriage ceremonies, all guests sign the certificate as witnesses to uphold the marriage and support the couple. The certificates are works of art that will look very beautiful framed and hung in the home. The Quaker Certificate is a bit similiar to the Jewish Ketubah that is signed by the couple and their two witnesses with the Rabbi prior to the ceremony, however, all guests sign the Quaker Certificate, not just two witnesses. I love the thought of the guests vowing to uphold this new union. It is very powerful.

PURCHASE: (image taken from website)

Instant Photo Guest Book
These Guestbooks are fun, but require at least two people to man it constantly in order to make sure it actually works. Guests have short attention spans and need to be assisted through the process of having their picture taken, putting it in the book, then signing it.

Bea-Coup (image taken from website)
Target .

Quilt Guest Book
This idea is great if you have a quilter in the family or want to become one yourself. Provide guests quilt squares and pens and let them have a good time! Encourage them to draw pictures, etc.

image taken from

Photo Guest Book

Guests love looking at pictures of the two of you, so they have a good time flipping through the pages to find which page they want to sign! This usually causes the line to back up, but at least they are having fun, right?! You can use pictures of trips you have gone on, childhood pictures, family photos, or your engagement pictures. Many photographers will include this book as part of their package.

Through your wedding photographer
Or make your own at or
(image taken from

Wishing Tree Guest Book
This idea can also be called a "Wishing Well" where guests write advice, encouragement, or blessings to the couple. You can take it a step further and put the folded cards into a box to be opened on certain anniversaries.

(image taken from

Purchase a bound scrapbook at the craft store and all of the fun stuff that goes with it: stickers, pens, pretty paper, etc. and let the guests have a ball. This is something that would have to be set up in the reception room and a note put in a program or on a menu asking guests to please create a page before the end of the night. Photobooth companies can also be a great addition to this idea as many companies can print two of the same picture: one for the guests and one for the book.

Photo Mat Guest Book

This idea isn't really new anymore, but it is still a good one. Purchase a large mat and have your guests sign it to then put one of your wedding pictures in.

PURCHASE: any wedding favor website
(image taken from

Typewriter Guest Book

Set out an old-fashioned typewriter with long sheets of paper for guests to write good wishes to the bride and groom as the feeling strikes. Look for inexpensive vintage machines online or at thrift stores or flea markets; they come in colors to go with any palette. After the wedding, tie into a scroll with ribbon.

(image and description taken from

Whatever you end up deciding on for your Guest Book, keep in mind that guests have to be hand held through the process of creating it. If you just put your unique Guest Book on a table and expect that your guests will all take the initiative, you might be very disapointed after your wedding.

If you have any cool ideas I'd love to hear them!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Hollywood Evening

Despite the torrents of rain assaulting Los Angeles, last night was way too cool for school. The evening started with a tasting for one of my May weddings at the new faaaabulous West Hollywood hotel The London. We actually saw the infamous chef Gordon Ramsay as we were tasting in a private room in his restaurant. I don't watch Hell's Kitchen, but I'm familiar with his persona, and I heard from a good source last night that it's not an act!

The London is unbelievably beautiful. I'm a texture loving person and every surface in that building I just want to pet and caress. After Jessie and Zack chose their yummy looking menu, we talked linens, chairs, lighting, and logistics. It is going to be a FABULOUS wedding!

After I left The London I headed over to the new SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills for the Hip Hostess Series hosted by wonderful The Hostess With The Mostest blog and Chambord liquor. Yet another gorgeous new hotel!
Harmony Walton, editor of and owner of The Bridal Bar introduced me to Hostess With the Mostess' owner Jennifer Sbranti and I fell in love with her a little bit more when she told me that her strapless black dress was from Forever 21 and the feather in her hair from Michael's Craft stores! I love a girl who can rock it without feeling the pressure to wear some name brand and has the guts to say it! My kind of girl.

The event at the SLS was great, I picked up some good tips from Jennifer when she spoke about entertaining, and the Chambord and Champagne drink that I had was yummy.

I guess last night was one of the few days where being a wedding planner actually felt a little glamorous. Today I'm back in my PJ's in front of my computer...

All photos taken from the websites of The London and Hostess With the Mostess

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What are you wearing?

A little while ago one of my girlfriends told me about a wedding she was invited to through her boyfriend's coworker: a 400 person lavish Persian wedding at the Ritz Carlton. I asked her what she was wearing and she said, "oh, just probably my little black dress". I gave her a bit of an idea of what to expect at this wedding in terms of appearance: something floor length, beaded, and very, very formal would be more appropriate or she would feel like she was wearing a sun dress to an evening wedding! After she went to the wedding she thanked me for the tip--she had worn something much more formal and felt very comfortable. She was blown away by the beauty of the wedding and said that she had never seen anything like it. The fruit and coffee buffet! The opulent flowers! the dancing and music! The threw herself into the moment and enjoyed the culture--she threw flowers in the air to shower the couple and attempted to dance like the Persian women. She had a ball.

One of the things I love about what I do is the access I am allowed to other cultures that I would otherwise not be privy to. I loved this article below from the New York Times found here:

Different Rules for Different Cultures: Be Prepared

AT some Thai weddings, the guests are expected to pour water into the cupped hands of the bride and bridegroom. Before breaking into that well-practiced hip-hop move, guests at Muslim weddings should be aware that while there may be dancing, modesty is the rule. And at traditional Persian weddings, guests may grow alarmed when the bride twice doesn’t answer when asked if she will marry the bridegroom. (He doesn’t get the yes until he presents a gift, often of coins or jewelry.)

When a ceremony involves unfamiliar customs and rituals and is conducted in a foreign language, even guests who pride themselves on their cultural sophistication can feel like bewildered tourists.

And try as they might, guests zig when they should zag. Justin Chen thinks it is critical to do one’s homework.

Mr. Chen, 28, of Los Angeles arrived in his best suit for a Hindu wedding on a Friday afternoon in August 2006 and discovered — too late — that the dress code was informal.

The reception was on Saturday and he showed up in a casual outfit, only to learn that most of the Indian guests had dressed more elegantly.

“I couldn’t win,” said Mr. Chen, who added that he had learned a valuable lesson. “As we become a more diverse population, guests should feel curious enough to learn about the wedding customs before attending. Most people don’t like going into situations blindly and this shouldn’t be an exception.”

These situations may become more common. Richard Markel, the director of the Association for Wedding Professionals International, a trade group in Sacramento, said he had witnessed a sharp rise in traditional, ethnic weddings in the last few years. “I see the cultural aspects growing in the U.S.,” he said.

During bridal shows in November, he met a handful of Asian brides looking for lion dancers for their ceremonies. And because of high demand for more information, Mr. Markel said he planned to add a “culture tour” for the spring bridal expos that he co-produces.

Even when the couple provides information about tenor and tone, and tries to bridge any cultural chasm, some guests still fall right into it.

Leanna Adams, 29, of Decatur, Ga., near Atlanta, was involved in a wedding faux pas when she went to a Pakistani wedding in Charlotte, N.C., in 2006. It was a Muslim affair, and therefore without alcohol, but she smuggled in mini bottles of liquor, and found pouring drinks “fun to do” under the table. She did that fairly discreetly, but then got up to dance.

“I tried to emulate what the women were doing by gyrating back and forth,” she said. “But when I was dancing across from the groom, his eyes bulged and he danced away from me, and I knew I’d done something wrong. Apparently my interpretation was too bawdy.”

Susanne Goldstone, 29, an Orthodox Jew and a bride-to-be, is not taking any chances with her sunset wedding, planned for late this month in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Ms. Goldstone, who lives in New York, wants to ensure that her guests — some of whom have no working knowledge of a Jewish wedding outside of, say, “Fiddler on the Roof” — know exactly what to expect on the big day. For instance, her invitation says “modest attire requested.”

“It’s just that extra reminder,” she said. “Sometimes it doesn’t click for guests because for most people black tie tends to imply slinky, strapless dresses.”

“It’s a dual motivation,” she added. “I want to make all the guests feel comfortable and I also want to avoid any embarrassment for either side.”

Yet sometimes a little cultural shock therapy can be beneficial. Courtney Considine, 27, was the maid of honor, not a guest, at a friend’s Assyrian wedding in Turlock, Calif. She soon discovered that she was expected to master complicated cultural dances in a few hours.

“But over the course of the wedding,” she said, “I learned how to dance, greet, eat and drink like an Assyrian. Everything I know about Assyrian culture, I learned in a 16-hour crash course on three-inch spike heels.”

She added that “while it was scary at times, I did walk away with a new appreciation for my friend’s culture and I’d definitely do it again.”

Heena Chavda of Edmonton, Alberta, who is of Indian descent, has been on both sides of the cultural looking glass. “A foreign wedding for me is a Catholic or Christian wedding,” she said. “You see it on TV, but when you go it’s a completely different experience.”

Ms. Chavda, 29, said that because of her background “all of my Christian friends have asked me to wear my Indian clothing in an effort to add some color to their affair.” She said that when she was in the bridal party of a Hindu ceremony, the bride asked her to help compile an instructional video for the guests. It was very well-received, said Ms. Chavda, though she and the others in the bridal party couldn’t resist a practical joke. “We completely played on all of the Indian stereotypes and had a little fun with the whole thing,” she said.

No matter how upside-down people may feel at a wedding, they can usually recover their bearings upon leaving the reception hall. But not if they’re in a foreign country.

When Emily Sutton and her husband, who live in Washington, were asked to participate in a ceremony in Korat, Thailand, last summer, they learned that that involved preparing ceremonial bowls of rice for the Buddhist monks, presenting banana trees to the bride and bridegroom and pouring water into the couple’s hands.

It also involved being prepared to begin all that at 6 a.m. — when the long rituals started — but they arrived in Thailand still unsure what they were supposed to do, and Ms. Sutton, 30, scrambled to find some sort of instructions. “After much pressing,” she said, “the clueless Americans finally got a handwritten flowchart to help us along with the wedding activities.”

Guests at the wedding last month of Daniel O’Connell, 31, and Karneisha Levi, 29, of Astoria, Queens, were treated to a cultural stew. It was Ms. Levi’s idea to surprise guests with an African-American tradition known as jumping the broom, which the couple did directly after the ceremony. Mr. O’Connell, whose family is of Irish descent, is proud that they did.

When it was over, he allowed, his relatives were initially flummoxed. “It definitely sparked some questions from my side,” he noted. “I can tell you that very few people on my side understood the significance of it.”

Nevertheless, the tradition, which is said to signify the sweeping away of the old and jumping into the new, proved to be “a great way for guests who didn’t know about the tradition to learn about it,” Mr. O’Connell said.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Marvimon Wedding

Saturday, January 31 dawned with clear blue skies and balmy temperatures. I awoke to the sound of my cell phone ringing and my groom Matt telling me that a part of Broadway Street was being shut down for the Golden Dragon Parade. Uh oh. Marvimon, the fabulous venue where their wedding and reception was being held, is located on Broadway, right on the edge of Chinatown. I pulled up maps of the parade route and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the parade ended 1/2 of a mile from Marvimon. I knew it was still going to be a sticky traffic situation, so I emailed all of the vendors and told them an alternate route to take to get there.

I asked one of my assistants to pick up a few dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts on her way in that morning as I wanted everyone working that day to be hyped up on sugar and happy. The vendors started rolling in on time and things were looking good. Thankfully, Heather and Matt were not going to show up until about 3:30 as they were doing pictures downtown. At noon, the situation took a bad turn. Traffic police pulled up in front of us and started setting out cones to shut Broadway down right where we were! Big problem. I started getting calls from the servers who were trying to get to us and they said that there were blockades north of us as well. Huge problem. We were barricaded in! Jeff, the Marvimon site manager, and I went to talk to the traffic officer to explain the situation. At first he would not relent, but after begging, asking to talk to a supervisor, and finally bribing him with doughnuts and red velvet cupcakes (sorry, Matt and Heather. It was for a good cause!) he gave us permission to let our valets park cars on the blocked off street. One crisis solved, now to get our guests through the barricades...
Jeff spoke to the officers north of us and finally got permission to let the wedding guests onto the closed street, and once we routed out a way get them to us, I called Matt's mom and asked her to spread the word to the guests.

People had trouble getting to us, but once they arrived, things just fell into place beautifully.

All weddings are special, but this one was really special. Matt is Jewish and Heather is from the South, so they wanted to combine their traditions and cultures together for their wedding. When guests arrived, they were greeted with sweet iced tea and the sounds of a six piece bluegrass band. Gerber Daisies, Heather's favorite flower, in red, orange, and yellow, were everywhere. The guests went crazy for the large canvas hung on the entry way wall that was covered in flowers as a custom piece of art. The rectangular wooden tables were covered with a tablescape of candles in Mason Jars, flower balls, and Gerber Daisies "growing" out of beds of wheatgrass.

The ceremony was held in the garden and was officiated by Matt's cousin Aaron. Aaron and his wife Rebecca happened to be one of my first clients and it was wonderful to see them again! There was no bridal party other than four of Matt's friends holding a simple Chuppah made of a Tallit and bamboo poles. As is traditional in Jewish wedding processionals, both Matt and Heather were escorted in by both of their parents. The ceremony was beautiful and touching, and concluded with Matt breaking the glass and exiting to the Irish folk song "Whisky Before Breakfast".

During cocktail hour, the garden was transformed into a lounge with couches, coffee tables, and heat lamps.

The beginning of the reception was so cool. Heather and Matt did a very short first dance to an accoustic folk song, then the band broke into "Rockytop" as Heather really wanted to have this song played for her family. The women in Matt's family started circling and dancing the Hora to Rockytop Tennessee! It was so cool! After Rockytop, the bluegrass band did indeed play Hava Nagila and the Hora was danced again. Matt and Heather were put up in chairs and circled around.

Everything was beautiful that night. The food was delicious, the decor was gorgeous, the band was awesome, the guests were happy, and Matt and Heather had the time of their life. I can't wait to see the pictures! A special thanks to all of the vendors who worked so hard and to my assistants Dani and Krista--I could not have done it without you!

This picture below was taken from the Marvimon website, I have no idea who to credit for the image, but it can give you an idea of the venue until I have pictures.