Sunday, June 28, 2009

Details are great, but don't forget the big picture!

I adore the gorgeous design websites ala Style Me Pretty, Snippet & Ink, and Elizabeth Anne Designs, and like you can't get enough of the pretty pictures, but as you are planning your wedding, make sure that you are looking at your wedding from a purely logistical standpoint and to make sure that the day will flow correctly and the guests will be comfortable. You could design the prettiest wedding in the world with the cutest favors ever imagined, but if the venue is impossible to find, parking a nightmare, caterer understaffed because of budget constraints, the blazing sunny ceremony site does not have shade or water, or there is one bathroom for 100 people, the hours you poured into the tiny details don't really mean as much.

Make sure you spend as much time thinking big as you do thinking about the details, details, details.

I know how hard it is to focus on everything at once. I consider myself a fairly creative person, but I can get bogged down in the logistics of each wedding. I recommend making sure that the who, what, why, when, where, how are asked about every aspect of the day.

Image taken from

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Emily and Nick's wedding at The Westlake Village Inn

The wedding rehearsal on June 13 was foggy, misty, and chilly, just like the previous two weeks of June had been. The icky "June Gloom" was to blame. But Sunday, June 14 dawned sunny and warm, with fluffy puffy clouds in the sky. A perfect day for a wedding!

Nick and Emily live here in Los Angeles, but many of their family and friends came in from out of state for the weekend. Emily's lovely mother, Sara (who lives in Kansas City), and I did a majority of the planning via phone, email, and two powwow weekends of back to back meetings. Nick and Emily are a busy, busy couple. He is a doctorate student at USC and she just finished her doctorate in clinical psychology. Very smart people. And wonderful, kind, and deeply in love.

The ceremony was held at the gazebo at the Westlake Village Inn. Rabbi Brett Krichiver officiated a beautiful and touching Jewish ceremony, and Emily walked down the aisle to a song that Nick specifically chose for her: "Le Cygne" by Saint-Saƫns played by a quartet with Blue Skies Events. Cocktail hour was held on the terrace of the Provence room. The ceremony and reception colors were a mix of whites, celery green, and pale aqua. The flowers, designed by Val Eule of Just Flowers, were a summery airy mix of white and green Hydrangea, Roses, Lilies, Lisianthus, Freesia, Dendrobiums, Tulips and Orchids. Alternating high and low arrangements looked lovely against the aqua linens and beneath the sparkling chandeliers.

The cake was baked from scratch and decorated by Joeleen Jaquez of A Sweet Design. The guests enjoyed a dual entree dinner with fun touches to the reception such as a Sundae Bar and a Cappuccino Bar. DJ Nahchey of Dash Entertainment turned the evening into a party and guests had a ball.

The entire day was full of handmade details made by Emily's mom Sara. Unique fan programs, escort cards, table numbers, favors and adorable petal cones were such great touches made with love.

Not only did the day flow smoothly with a happy couple enjoying their family and friends, I had a wonderful time. Sara actually thanked me in her welcome toast and told me that she could not have done it without me! Such an unexpected gift!

Videography was done by Isabel Gonzalez Videography and Images were captured by the talented Veronica Puleo of Verofoto. A huge thank you to my assistants Krista and Dani--as usual, I could not have done it without you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An interactive wedding video

I love this video. The wedding day flies by so quickly that I cannot begin to imagine what it took to coordinate it! It put such a huge smile on my face!

Brian & Eileen's Wedding Music Video. from LOCKDOWN projects on Vimeo.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Seating chart and escort card advice

In my opinion, getting the guests seated and the reception started is the stickiest part of the wedding day. Seating charts look perfect on paper, but factor in human error, extra guests, or missing escort cards, and we have situations that can quickly get out of control. An alphabetical list (preferably in Excel) of all of your guests and what table they are at is crucial to get this transition done smoothly. This is one of the items on my checklist that I request from my clients, and trust me when I say that my assistants and I USE this list. When the ballroom doors open, we are stationed next to the escort card table to assist the elderly that cannot read the cards, pick up the cards that fall on the floor, and troubleshoot the problems that arise. We have seen everything--guests that do not have an escort card, couples that are assigned to separate tables (in error), guests who pick up the wrong card, guests who go to the table and find that it is already full, and guests whose cards are blank because the table number was not written in. If we have an alpha list, we can fix this in one minute and the guests can find their seat and the party can begin. If we don't have a list, it is difficult and embarrassing for all. I have had a few weddings in the past where the brides did not have time to get me this list, and in each situation we started the reception late because we could not get guests properly seated. It's bad enough when the guest who can't find their seat is a college friend or coworker, but it's worse when it is a grandparent, godparent, etc. A few years ago I had a couple leave because the bride had forgotten to assign them a table and they were embarrassed and angry. They refused to wait while the staff created place settings for them. Not a pretty situation.

If you do not have a wedding coordinator, there are a few things I recommend to help assist this transition time:

1. Make sure you not only triple check your seating chart, you have someone else check it with fresh eyes. At this point in the game, you are tired and overwhelmed and mistakes are easy to make in this area.

2. Create 2 empty seats at a table at the perimeter of the room that you can use as a backup if there are any errors.

3. Ask an aunt or a friend to take time during the cocktail hour to check the tables to make sure they are set correctly, as in, if the floorplan says that Table One is set for eight, make sure that there are eight chairs, plates, silverware, etc. Banquet staff make mistakes and set tables incorrectly all of the time.

4. Ask an aunt or a friend to be the escort card table host and use this alpha list to help guests find their seats.

5. Reconsider your decision of not hiring a wedding coordinator :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Westlake Village Inn, Universal Hilton, and Universal Sheraton--all in one week!

On Sunday I had the honor of coordinating Nick & Emily's wedding the Westlake Village Inn. Since Nick is in his doctorate program and Emily just finished her doctorate, they were both completely busy and allowed Emily's mother and myself to plan the wedding. Emily's mom lives in Kansas and even though we did most planning over the phone, we were on the same wavelength regarding design, flow, etc. and had a blast planning together. Such a wonderful family!

Once I receive the images from the talented Veronica Puleo of I will post a full recap of the wedding.

Today I am gearing up for a two day Indian/American wedding that will be taking place at the Universal Hilton on Friday and the Universal Sheraton on Saturday. I love mixed culture weddings! This wedding I am actually working as a lead for one of my fellow coordinators, the fabulous Mimi Flowers of Mimi Events, as she has a wedding out of town. It's not uncommon for vendors in the wedding industry to help each other out like this--Photographers, DJ's, Florists, etc will work other weddings when they have an open weekend. It's challenging to walk into a situation with new assistants and vendors that I haven't worked with and run a smooth event, but it keeps me sharp!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The BEST invitation I have ever seen!

This video is 4 minutes long. Hopefully it will blow your mind like it blew mine!

Congratulations, Corey & Rachel. If you are anywhere near as cool in person as your video makes you out to be, you rock!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Celebrating Us

Eight years ago today I married the coolest guy in the world. Eight years married sounds so old and stuffy! For us, it's as natural as breathing. He is my rock, my playmate, my partner in crime, and my love. Even after 14 years together, we still make each other laugh.

Marriage is never all roses and butterflies, but it really is a wonderful gift when you are with the person you are meant to be with. We've weathered quite a bit over the past eight years, but we're still madly in love and committed to the promise we made each other June 9, 2001.

I dug through some of my old photos and pulled out some of our happiest memories together:

1995 or 1996
One of the first photos I can find of us

1996 or 1997
Napping on my parents porch in Arkansas. One of those warm late winter days when you can feel spring right around the corner.

1996 and 1997
Fayetteville Christian School. These pictures are happy memories because we were getting out of a crazy, crazy place.

January 1, 2000
2 seconds into the new Millenium and our engagement

June 9, 2001
A very, very happy day!

June 2001
Honeymooning in Prague, Czech Republic

March 2004
a village in Northern Thailand

September 2006
outside the Colosseum in Rome
, Italy

September 2006
Vernazza, Italy
And yes, we were traveling with a professional photographer!
September 2007
Santorini, Greece

April 21, 2007
My sister's wedding in Twentynine Palms, Ca
October 31, 2008
Napa, CA

Monday, June 8, 2009

Post-Wedding Perspective from Jessie & Zack

After weddings I send a survey to my clients to see how we and other vendors can better serve them. Jessie was kind enough to fill out the portion that asks about any advice she can share with future brides:

Q. What was the best part of your wedding day?
A. The entire day was just amazing, from the getting ready to the pictures to the ceremony and the party. Everything was the best!

Q. What do you feel was totally unnecessary?

A. nothing!

Q. What would you change, if anything?
A. nothing!

Q. What was unexpected that you loved?

A. The first dance, I thought I would be so nervous but it was just amazing.

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

A. just being with my new husband…and having the best night of our lives

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent more time or money on?
A. no, it was perfect

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent less time or money on?
A. no, perfection!

Q. Were there any unexpected surprises or issues?
A. No, you took care of everything!

Q. What's your number #1 tip for future engaged couples?
A. enjoy your day and make sure you take it all in and remember the evening. Mental pictures are the best!

Q. How did you feel after the wedding?
A. I don’t think there are words to express how happy, joyful, thankful, excited we were! Thank you for all of your help Amber. We love you!!!
I love you both too! Best wishes Mr. and Mrs.! It was a wonderful evening!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jessie and Zack's wedding at The London Hotel

On May 16 I had the honor of coordinating Jessica and Zack's wedding at the gorgeous London Hotel in West Hollywood. The ceremony was held at dusk on the rooftop and the aisle was lined with different size candles marking the way to the Chuppah covered with a Pave style Roses, Hydrangea, Lisianthus, and Cymbidium Orchids. Floral was done by the fabulous Lindy of Commerce Flowers. Ficus trees and hedges were brought up to the roof to warm up the space and make it intimate.Cocktail hour was held around the pool and cabanas with the fireplaces blazing and waterall flowing.

The reception was spectacular. Custom lighting was provided by Aspect Lighting, music was provided by The James Gang of West Coast Music and the 9 musicians kept the floor rocking! Everyone danced so much that night! The tables were set with white pintuck linens, gold crush napkins, and different sizes of floating candles. The centerpieces were gorgeous arrangements of Cream, Lavender, Anna, and Sahara Roses, Hydrangea, Green Cymbidium Orchids, Lavender Lisianthus, and Green Amaranthus set on a tall vase with Cymbidium Orchids floating inside. Famous chef Gordon Ramsay is the executive chef of The London and the food was to die for. The cake was made by Hansen's Bakery. Late in the evening favors of milk and cookies were provided by Lulu's Mondel Bread. Photos were taken by the insanely talented and wonderful Josh and Michelle of Mi Belle, Inc. Wedding Photography and video was captured by Kim and Adam of Skyline Videography. Jessie's beauty was done by Mariah Nicole and Glitz of Beverly Hills. A huge thank you to my assistants Krista, Dani, and Annette--I could not have done it without you!

The day was beautiful and wonderful and the love that Jessie and Zack have for each other was shared by all of their family and friends. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your special day!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Church Estate Vineyards

I'm recovering from two fabulous weddings in the past two weeks (pictures coming soon!) and was able to take yesterday afternoon to rejuvenate and explore an amazing new venue out in Malibu. A few weeks ago I received a slender box in the mail. I opened it and my day was made by a beautiful handmade invitation covered in dried flower petals by Petalos Di Pauli cushioned in dried Hydrangea petals. Invitations that lovely definitely mark a special occasion and I immediately RSVP'd! It was an invitation to a private luncheon held for a select number of wedding professionals at Church Estate Vineyards, a private estate in Malibu that has recently started booking exclusive events (Fergie of The Blackeyed Peas was their first bride!).

Maja Church Haggstrom of Church Estate, Party Designs by Carol, and Creative Consultant Farla Binder coordinated the event. Good Gracious Events catered the luncheon and we were wined and dined in style! The afternoon started out with cocktails by the boat house, complete with swans swimming to the music provided by Rick Howard Music. Luncheon was served up on the terrace at the house and the tables were beautiful with purple linens with cutout flowers sewn on by Wildflower Linen and soft pink rose and hydrangea centerpieces by Mille Fiori Floral Design. Classic Party Rentals provided all rentals and Henshall Photography captured the day. After a delicious luncheon, we were taken on tours of the incredible property. My favorite part of the tour was meeting Sailor, the carrot-loving Thoroughbred. I fell in love with him and think we're soul mates.

Below is a more accurate description of the estate. It is phenomenal!

Church Estate Vineyards: European Elegance with Malibu Style

October 02, 2008

Driving up to the main house at Church Estate Vineyards, visitors forget where they are. Instead of the sand and surf of Malibu, Church Estate Vineyards resembles a Monet landscape. The 8,000 square foot French chateau is surrounded by nine acres of gardens and vineyards planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Below, a clay tennis court echoes the French Open courts at Roland Garros. Inside, rooms are furnished with French antiques and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

In many ways, the property looks as if it has always been there. But Church Estate Vineyards is actually the creation of California entrepreneur Robert Church Haggstrom, who purchased the property in 2003, envisioning it as a retreat for friends and family. After spending four years creating the estate, Haggstrom has partnered with his daughter Maja, to make the property available to others on a very limited basis. It is an ideal location for any occasion that is special enough to merit an exclusive, once-in a-lifetime setting.

'Sharing the beauty of this place is very important to me,' Haggstrom says. 'It’s really quite magical.'

A native of California, Haggstrom spent more than two decades in the mortgage business. In 2002, he sold a portion of his company to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, and embarked on the next chapter of his life.

For Haggstrom, it was important that what he did next had meaning beyond financial success. Ten years ago, Robert was critically injured in a body-surfing accident, breaking his neck.He survived and embarked on a spiritual journey that he believes brought him to the land that is now Church Estate Vineyards.

'After I was injured I understood what life had to offer me,' Haggstrom says. 'I realized how important it is to slow down and spend time with friends and family, and to surround oneself with beauty. I was determined to enjoy every moment of every day. This place has helped me do that.'

Haggstrom took his cues from the natural contours of the landscape to create a sanctuary of vineyards, vistas, gardens, winding pathways and multi-level stone patios. Mature trees offer gentle shade, and an enchanting combination of European and California florals fill every inch of the property.

A 500-foot stream flows over two waterfalls before feeding into a small lake. There, visitors will find a cozy, rustic lakeside boathouse.

The same attention to detail can be seen in the estate’s interiors. The chateau is furnished with French fabrics, 15th century fireplaces and antiques from around the world. A custom-designed wine cellar, floored with stone from first-century Cypress, houses the world’s best wines and will soon feature Church Estate Vineyard’s first vintage – a Chardonnay that will be released in 2008 and a Pinot Noir slated for mid-2009. An exquisite professional kitchen can be used as a staging area for caterers or as a fantasy kitchen for guests who want to nurture their inner chef. Adding to the charm of the property are horse stables and a romantic carriage house retreat, perfect for a honeymooning couple.

The walled estate, with a complete security system, offers guests the ultimate private venue for special events, weddings, corporate retreats, motion picture filming and television production.

For more information and inquiries, call (310) 457-0600 or e-mail