Monday, November 30, 2009

What is a Catering Service Charge?

To answer a client's question, I was trying to find a formal description of the 18-22% service charge that venues and caterers add onto proposals and man were there some inaccurate answers out there in Googleland. (*cough* Yahoo Answers *cough*)

This is going to blow some minds when I say this, but bear with me: the service charge is NOT in any way shape or form a gratuity! Again, the service charge is not a gratuity. Nor is it part of mandatory state taxes.

The service charge is a fee (usually 18-22% around the Los Angeles area) that is added by the venue or independent catering company to act as an operating cost for things such as insurance, advertising, admin staff, trucks maintenance, fuel to get to events, cocktail napkins, and various sundries.

To get an even better answer for this question, I asked two of my favorite caterers to give me their answer to the question "what is the service charge?".

Nathaniel "Nace" Neubauer, the Owner/Operator of Contemporary Catering, specializes in "off-site" catering (meaning: they don't have a specific venue that they work at, they can cater anytime, anywhere). I asked Nace what this service charge is, and this is what he said:   

"We get asked all the time what our “service charge” is.   Some caterers call it “coordination-administration”, some call it “event production fee.”  We now call it event production fee.   The event production fee is not a gratuity for staff.  It covers all of the back end costs that go into the event aside from  the food itself.   We do not charge for tastings, walk-throughs, meetings, CAD diagrams, insurance certificates, etc. This fee offsets all of these costs to insure our clients aren’t worrying about asking for help in these areas, as many of our clients have had, or heard of others’ experience in which they are billed for these things.  We like to insure that the planning process is as easy as possible with nothing to worry about once you have us on board.  As far as actual gratuities go, we pay our staff very well!  Our staff’s motto is that gratuities are “never necessary, never expected, and always appreciated.”

Melissa Allen, fabulous Catering Director of the gorgeous historic Ebell of Los Angeles, an all-inclusive venue (meaning, they provide everything but the linens)  answered my question with:

"The service charge helps cover the costs of doing business: office staff, utilities, office supplies, day to day operations, etc.  So while a catering contract may show a break down of the event elements and their costs, the service charge helps cover the cost of the hours needed to prep and plan the event." 

So a tip for those of you planning a wedding and getting quotes: ask for the all inclusive amount that includes venue rental, food & beverage, labor, staff, tax, and service charge. Many times a venue will leave out the tax and service charge in order to hook you in to booking with them. When the bill comes to you, it's 30% higher than you were originally budgeting for. OUCH. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend!

I'm blogging from my iPhone because I'm stranded in the desert without
WiFi. Yes, I'm a workaholic lunatic, but any other small business
owners can understand my pain. After answering a few more emails I
WILL turn my phone off. I will.

I had the plan to write a poignant and poetic blog about Thanksgiving
and what I'm thankful for, but the phone started ringing off the hook
on Wednesday and I ended up rearranging my schedule and meeting
potential clients out at Saddlerock in Malibu. I'm so not complaining
though: one of the 8,000 things I'm thankful for is a booming business
and the people who trust me to plan their weddings.

So this weekend my husband and my sister's family are enjoying a
friend's vacation home in a gated community out in Palm Desert. I'm
surprised they let us through the gates as none of us wear polo shirts
or sun visors (it's a fancy pantsy golf community) but our motley crew
pretty much sticks to our own pool. It's a great place.

This year I'm thankful for my husband, my family, my health and 7,997
other things.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa Wedding: Joanna & David

Joanna and David’s wedding was anything but simple, yet it was kind of intended to be simple. Joanna didn’t want any of the things that she considered unnecessary (guestbook, cake knife, toasting glasses, cake topper, favors, garter, etc) but instead wanted to focus on the experience of just being with her family and friends and creating a night to remember. She did just that.

The wedding was actually a weekend affair held at the gorgeous Ojai Valley Inn and Spa just 80 miles north of Los Angeles. The men enjoyed golf, the ladies enjoyed the pool and the spa, and everyone enjoyed the rehearsal dinner held at a local winery.

October 10 dawned blue and beautiful with just a hint of fall crispness in the air. Thankfully, the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa has a pub that allowed David and his groomsmen to watch the Packers vs. Vikings game before they dressed for photos. During the game he had gifts sent to Joanna’s room: a pair of diamond earrings from Sarah Leonard Jewelers in Westwood, and a Packer’s jersey with their new last name on it. Great guy, that David!
Ojai Valley Inn and Spa wedding - brideThe ceremony was held at sunset in the Hacienda courtyard underneath the gigantic Live Oak tree that was strung with twinkle lights and flowers in bell jars. The wedding was officiated by Judge Gerald Buchwald, a family member, and a sitting judge on the California Superior Court. Joanna and David’s parents stood up under the tree with them and their bridal party. Six of Joanna’s friends were brought up during the ceremony to each give a short blessing for the couple.
Ojai valley Inn and Spa wedding
A fall chill started to set in once the sun fully disappeared, so after the ceremony the guests were escorted indoors to the foyer of the Anacapa Ballroom for the cocktail hour where the fireplaces blazed.

Joanna’s motif was a modern fall feel and her colors were metallics: silver, gold, bronze, and pewter. Her flowers were white Hydrangeas, Delphinium Orchids, Lisianthus, silver Manzanita branches accented with silver leaves. The tall silver Manzanita branch centerpieces were hung with candles that twinkled and glowed throughout the ballroom.
Ojai valley Inn and Spa wedding reception
Aside from a few toasts, and the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances, the evening was free, per Joanna’s request, of the formalities that accompany most weddings. Joanna and David even quietly cut the cake in the corner with just their parents and photographers as they did not want to stop the dancing. The 160 guests danced until the party ended at midnight. Joanna’s grandmother Norma even danced and celebrated that night and the family will forever have fond memories of her dancing as she sadly passed away the Monday after the wedding. The evening was magical.

The celebration could not have been possible without the team of dedicated and professional vendors that worked their magic and my assistants Michelle and Ruby:

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa – Venue
Amber Gustafson, Amber Events – Wedding Coordination
Raya Carlisle, Raya Photography
Spotlight Music – Band
Yamaguchi ‘s Flowers – Floral (805) 525-9268
Skyline Videography
Ambient Event Design – Lighting
Ventura Rentals – linens, chargers, chair covers
La Starr – Wedding Cake
Casey Robinson – Bridal Makeup
Melina Guerrero – Bridal Hair

Joanna’s Dress and Accessories

Necklace: Neiman Marcus

Shoes: L.A.M.B. (Nordstrom)

Dress: custom made by Jose Flores of In Style by Jose Flores. Joanna and Jose designed the dress from a blend of a few pictures and Joanna bought the buttons at M&J Trim in NY.

Veil: custom made by Pol Atteu, Pol Atteu Couture in Beverly Hills (he also made Joanna’s mother’s gown)

In memory of Norma Joseph

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Epic Save the Date

Yesterday I received this postcard in the mail from my clients, Jeff and Erin. Jeff and Erin live in Sydney, Australia, but are getting married at [REDACTED cause they're getting famous from this] next October and we are planning via Skype and email. We're meeting in person for the first time next month when they come home for Christmas. God bless technology!

Their postcard teaser, written in both English and Vietnamese, included a link to their website where I saw this: (I would embed it here but I think it loses some of that "oomph", so you have to view it on their site)


Monday, November 23, 2009

A Newlywed's Perspective: Ben and Beth

I don't necessarily get into the habit of posting all of my thank you's and testimonials on my blog (cause there'd just be too many! Ow! Ow!), but this thank you letter from my most recent couple, Ben & Beth, is too wonderful to not share because of the insight that Beth gives to their feelings during the process. Beth is a Psychiatrist and she delves into some of the emotions I spoke about in my blog "On Getting Married".
Their wedding was at the historic Huron Substation in Los Angeles and I'll be blogging it shortly. The images from Carolyn of Troadec Photography are fantastic!
Dear Amber,
Ben & I have a few rhetorical questions for you.
What would we have done without you?
We would've lost our minds, I think. I, for one, would've drowned in detail: I would've had to fret about the number of seats to rent, how to pick a florist, and where to put the DJ and the bar. The venue would have come to dislike us with our incessant & miniscule questions. We would've spent countless hours meeting with and sorting (blindly) through the advantages and disadvantages of numerous vendors. We would've (truth be told) bickered with one another and with everyone else around us. We would've felt defeated and confounded by the whole process. We probably would've had a mediocre wedding, and it probably would've cost us a lot more (truly, since we'd waste money out of ignorance).
We had a small and simple wedding. No huge families to corral, no multiple venues to move between, no enormous train to carry, no aisle of rare rose petals, no pack of bridesmaids to make comfortable, no ice sculptures, no picky guests to accommodate. But we had so much to do nonetheless... so many wonderful, important things and so many small things that we had to do ourselves, and this was with your help. So how would we have coped if we hadn't been able to let you handle the big picture?
But, more to the point, Why would we have done without you?
Had either of us been through this wedding planning thing before? No. Did either of us know what to expect? Whom to call? Where to find good advice? No. Did we want to worry about ordering linens and chairs when we could be spending time with friends and family or cuddling with one another? Did we have the first clue as to how to set a wedding day schedule, coordinate vendors, arrange for lighting, rent heat lamps, or make a beautiful production run smoothly? No. Do either of us have friends who'd like to take time away from work, family, sleep, fun, and vacation to help us do these thankless and laborious tasks? No. Did we really know how this would feel, what that day would be like, what we would? need and want? No, and we needed to be able to ask you, trust you, rely on you.
We could and we did.
Amber, we were so thrilled to work with you. You really did drop everything and come by our house the night before the wedding to load your car with our candles and alcohol because I sounded nervous and you knew it would help. You really did know exactly how to set a Timeline, set a table, and set all of the pieces in place. You really could latch hold of our vision for the day right on : both when that vision was unusual and particular and when we had no idea and no clue  and then you could make it happen: by crafting a table runner, finding the PERFECT flowers and candles and color schemes, and fixing the ceremony schedule. You really did have a lovely, gentle-but-firm way of making it all run smoothly on the day (need I mention the trousers?!?!). You helped us feel confident with our preferences and helped us adjust them when necessary (read: usually). In short, you inspired us, and that was the nudge that made all the difference: the nudge that made this wedding a joyful project rather than a scary chore. You have thoughtfully considered and exuberantly marveled at weddings in enormous detail and in countless different contexts, and you could in a most friendly and supportive way -- share that wisdom with us even before we knew it could be useful to us.
We really don't know how to thank you except to wish you a magnificent, long, prosperous and fulfilling career doing something amazing and for which you have an incredible skill: making weddings happen beautifully. It's a remarkable and unique gift to be able to give to others. Thank you for all you've done!!
Wishing you all the best,
Beth and Ben

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tis the season to Network

I love November because it’s time to network and see all of my industry friends after the wedding season ends. From about May to October we air kiss at weddings and promise we’ll get together “after this craziness dies down”, but in actuality, we live for that adrenaline that we’re experiencing as we’re rushing past each other at weddings.

Halloween comes and goes and the invitations start rolling in. Open houses! New venues! Lunches! Seminars! Parties!

This past Tuesday was one of the best events I’ve attended this year.  My husband Eric has never seen any of these glitzy events that I go to, so I decided to bring him along with me to see what it’s all about. I promised him that there would be an open bar and he would know at least two people there.

The event was a masquerade theme held at the incredible Petit Ermitage Hotel in West Hollywood. What a hotel! Such a gorgeous and funky place. The event was hosted by The Bridal Bar and Angeleno Magazine, designed by Cobalt Events  and pulled together by Tic Tock Couture Florals,  Classic Party RentalsLaura Hooper Calligraphy, Custom Candy Buffet Bars, Plush Puffs,  Supernova String Quartet, and Madame Chocolat. The highlight of the night without a doubt was a performance by the Aqualillies, a 50’s inspired water ballet group. Guests were invited to have their face painted by an authentic french Masquerade make-up artist and have their photos taken with a group of lovely Masquerade Models  wearing sexy lingerie  with their gorgeous hair and makeup by Fiore Beauty. All of the photos were taken by the beautiful (inside and out) Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography
Amber Events Petit Hermitage West Hollywood

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day of Coordination

Countless times a week I get the following email: "I am getting married at ..... , how much do you charge for Day Of coordination?"   

Confession: I don’t know how to do “Day Of” coordination.  Don’t get me wrong, I am great, at what I do and I know how to tie everything together and make a wedding day go smoothly, but I have NO idea how to do that with only one meeting with the client, no venue walk-through, and no assistants. Yet that is what potential clients are asking me to do when they email me and want a “Day Of” coordinator for less than what a DJ charges or a quality cake costs.  IF I were to only do the bare minimum of a 3 hour meeting, 3 hours of paperwork/communication, 1 hour rehearsal, and a 10 hour assistant-less wedding day, these 17ish hours would not really benefit you, the client, and my reputation would be ruined because too much would fall through the cracks. My work would be mediocre at best and the possibilities of what could go wrong are endless.

I just don’t know how to do an incomplete job when my reputation is on the line.  Instead of 17 or 18 hours of bare bones (Day of), I spend 30-40 hours (Month of aka "Wedding Supervision") by doing a venue walk-through, contract reviews, two meetings, and I have assistants with me at every wedding that the Amber Events name is attached to.

This wedding season I provided a Wedding Supervision package where I discovered as I was reviewing the rental order that the rental company was not installing the chair covers. We’re talking 160 intricate satin covers that have to be tied on in a specific way. I asked the rental company how much time they estimate per chair? The answer: 1-2 minutes. That doesn’t sound too bad, but multiply 160 covers times 2 minutes: that's 320 minutes, or 5.33 hours. Since I caught this early the week of the wedding I was able to schedule my assistants to start earlier to take care of it. It took one assistant 4.5 hours to complete this task. I can imagine the fallout of what would have happened if I’d shown up alone as the “Day Of” coordinator.

So, I don't do Day Of coordination. My Wedding Supervision package, on the other hand, is pretty darn great.

photo by B & G Photography 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On getting married

A recent bride told me when I asked her what it felt like to get married: "the wedding was ALL of the emotions one has about any and every relationship in your life ALL AT ONCE". Another bride told me that "it was both the longest AND shortest day" of her life. I think both of these statements sum up getting married and the wedding day brilliantly.

Many times when my clients start sharing how overwhelmed they're feeling, I explain to them that while I understand that they do have a lot to get done that is stressing them out, I usually find that it is the overall presence of the wedding that is making them feel anxious.  And then I ask if the "Weddingmares" have know, the dreams that you forget your dress or no guests show up? The dreams are crazy and bizarre and I think it's just a way that your brain attempts to process this monumental step you are about to take.

For some reason, the act of getting married dredges up emotions that you may have forgotten or pushed away for some time. While it is a wonderful time, it can also be extremely painful if you are dealing with the loss of someone close in your life that should have been at your wedding: a parent, a sibling, a friend, etc. The emotions, along with the 5 million wedding tasks, your job, your in-laws,  and the budget make for an emotional pressure cooker of an engagement.

And then the wedding day arrives. All of the emotions you have ever experienced in your life are boiling inside of you. The day flies by faster than a whirlwind, and then it is over.  You're married! THIS is what it was all about!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not all referrals are equal

My preferred vendor list is precious. My reputation is hitched to each one of the people that I refer to my clients and therefore I am very, very particular about who I recommend.  Most wedding planners are. Not to preach to the choir, but our referrals are part of what you are paying us for. We have spent years cultivating our preferred AND our black lists.

When a person gets engaged, usually that person first turns to the people around them to get referrals for dress shops, photographers, florists, etc. and while that is all good and natural, those referrals may not be that great when it's all said and done. Many times, a vendor is referred based on the final product: the pictures or the flowers, but that is just the end result of the referral. There is SO much more that makes a photographer good than good pictures or a florist pretty flowers! Is that photographer friendly, punctual, courteous, professional, organized, helpful, and a team player? Is that florist a diva who promises the moon and stars, charges you an arm and a leg, then shows up two hours late on your wedding day? You may not know the answers to these questions until after your wedding is over.

Many times, referrals come from other wedding vendors, and that vendor has only experienced one facet of this referred vendor.  Example: you ask your photographer for a recommendation for a DJ and the referral that your photographer gives you is the guy he met last week at an industry networking party. They clicked on a personal level but this DJ turns out to be a total hack that ruins the reception and embarrasses you. I've seen this happen.

So while referrals from friends and other wedding vendors can be valuable, they can be just as tricky as just choosing someone from a wedding planning website.

My point: wedding planners and coordinators see entire picture of the wedding-- we see how vendors work behind the scenes AND also see the end result of that vendor's product.  We know who is ethical, who is going to return your emails/phone calls, who will give you good value for your money, who will follow through with promises, who is a team player, and who is an all around nice person.  Oh yeah, AND they'll take pretty pictures or create mindblowing flower arrangements for you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Trouser Tale

I’m a big, big believer in padding the Timeline on the wedding day because you never know what is going to happen on the day itself. Saturday’s wedding was a perfect example of that.

Ben and Beth’s wedding at the historic Huron Substation in Los Angeles was incredible and I cannot wait to blog about it once the pictures are back, but I have to share this story (with my client’s permission, of course!) about what happened behind the scenes.

Ben, my lovely British groom showed up exactly on time in order to get changed into his  suit for the first look and romantic pictures. Beth, my lovely bride, was in another room listening to her iPod to calm her nerves as her hair and makeup were being finished. Photographers were in place, set-up was still in full swing, and we were one hour from guest arrival.

Ben walked out of his changing room still in his jeans with a look of horror on his face as he held a pair of black slacks in his hand “These are Beth’s!” he said. “I grabbed the wrong trousers from the dry-cleaning bag!”. Oh no.  It was 2:30 and our outdoor ceremony was scheduled to start at 4:15 PM due to the fact that it would be dark by 4:45 PM. We HAD to get all pictures taken before the ceremony…or else.

Things like this happen ALL of the time, so I'm pretty quick to react. Within three minutes my wonderful intern Sacha had house keys and directions as to where the correct trousers were in Ben’s closet and she was in the car heading the 14 miles to Sherman Oaks. In Saturday traffic. I told Ben I’d see what I could do to find him another pair of slacks temporarily but worst-case scenario he would need to have his jacket, tie, and jeans on and the photographer would take all photos from the waist up. Limiting, yes, but you gotta do what you gotta do in circumstances such as these.

Thankfully, our wonderful, wonderful site manager the one and only J. Loop Haro of TACT Event Management saved the day! Loop does set up in jeans and a t-shirt but brings a suit to wear when guests arrived. He is so tactful, that Loop! We gave Ben Loop’s slacks and told him we weren’t going to tell Beth as to not stress her out we’d have his slacks to him before the ceremony. Aside from the slacks being about 1.5” too short, Ben looked dashing and ready to see his gorgeous bride.  Photos were completed on time and at 4:00 PM Sacha came flying through the door with the correct slacks. Success! 

Beth never knew about the adventure until later in the evening when Ben told the funny story during his toast and thanked the vendors that came to the rescue. These are the stories that pop into mind when I tell my clients “you never know what will happen, so we need to make sure we have plenty of time on the wedding day to get everything done!”

**Post Script: it’s been hard to not use the word “pants “in this blog post, but due to the fact that Ben is British and pants are short for underpants to him, I decided to be tactful and omit that word!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Venue Coordinator vs. Independent Coordinator

Recently a potential bride with whom I felt that I clicked with emailed me to say basically: "thanks for your follow up, but we booked Venue X and they provide a wedding coordinator and so I don't need your services."  I was sad for her because I really liked her and she has no way to know that the wedding coordinator promised to her is a venue coordinator, not a wedding coordinator. I'd like to explain the difference between the two.

A venue coordinator works for that venue. That is where their loyalties lie, and that is not a bad thing or a good thing, it just is. Their job is to sell the venue to brides, give out a list of preferred vendors, answer questions about the venue, assist with room layout and tasting, and make sure that your wedding follows the rules and regulations of the space. They may or may not help with the master Timeline of the wedding day and rarely do they help decorate or design for your reception. They do know what works and what doesn't in a space, so trust them if they say "that won't work!". Depending on how large the venue is, they may have four or more weddings they are juggling that weekend. On your wedding day, they may not even be the person you have been talking to all of these months, as it is a very challenging job and some venues tend to have high turnover.
Don't get me wrong, a venue coordinator's job is very, VERY important, but they are not your wedding coordinator.  Neither is your DJ, a photographer, or florist. Yes, they all coordinate things that directly relate to them (a photographer will help with the Timeline as that affects pictures, etc), but they are not orchestrating every single detail of the event like an independent coordinator will.

As an independent wedding coordinator, our loyalty is to you, our client.  Not your parents, photographer, videographer, DJ, florist or venue.  An independent coordinator's job is to assess what level of service you need and to go above and beyond that. And to do it in a timely manner, with patience, and with a smile. Whether hired for "month of" coordination or full production, an independent coordinator will become the adviser and orchestrator of the entire production and how all of the vendors tie in together, as well as all of the millions of details that need to be dealt with. And this is just the logistical stuff. Then we have the emotions that come into play during the planning of a wedding. I'm not kidding when I say that half of what I do as a wedding coordinator is to act as a good old-fashioned shoulder to cry on! An independent coordinator will help you with wording of your invitations, encourage you to let your personality shine through, debate the pros and cons of the shades of Bashful vs. Blush roses,  give you advice on sticky budget questions, advise you how to seat your divorced parents during the ceremony,  remind you to hold your bouquet low as you walk down the aisle, and hug you goodnight at the end of the day.

A venue coordinator and an independent wedding coordinator are both extremely important as they each have a specific job that they are good at doing. A wedding with strong coordinators working hand in hand usually provides a seamless and stress free wedding day for all involved!

Krista's Weddings: David + Debora

Meet David & Debora.
Wedding: D&D 1
This beautiful couple was married on October 10th, 2009 at The London Hotel in West Hollywood. D&D are young, fun, funny, cool, and have amazing style. And I was truly honored to be their wedding coordinator.
Wedding: D&D 6
David is a fashion designer and the CEO of Kasil Jeans. His gorgeous wife, Debora, is an assistant designer, but you would have thought she was a model in her stunning Melissa Sweet gown, cathedral-length veil, Mirium Haskell pearl jewelry, and fabulous, floral-embellished Miu Miu shoes.
Wedding: D&D 2
The decor for their wedding was soft and romantic, yet modern. I love the paper poof balls and swags of hydrangea strands that hung above their ceremony altar.
Wedding: D&D 5
There were enormous gold birdcages wrapped in and overflowing with blush pink roses, hydrangea, peonies, and dahlias flanking the ceremony and throughout the reception. Birds, branches, and beautiful vintage glassware popped up everywhere throughout their wedding.
Wedding: D&D 4
In lieu of a traditional champagne toast, the couple chose to do a tequila shot toast instead. Shot glasses were poured at tables and tray-passed during the reception to insure each and every guest could enjoy. (Did I mention that they're fun?!) Their guests also had two specialty cocktails to choose from, which were created by the bride and groom: a spicy, citrus martini and a blackberry mojito.
Wedding: D&D 3
The bride and groom barely left the dancefloor and demanded I join them for the last song of the night. So alongside the happy couple and their amazing friends, I danced, sang, and celebrated to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Wedding: D&D 7
David and Debora are the best kind of bride and groom: kind, happy, and head-over-heels in love. They (along with the incredible vendor team listed below and my awesome assistants, Suzanne and Nicole) made my job of coordinating their wedding a fabulous experience. I know I will be joining the newlyweds for tequila shots very soon!

Wedding Coordination: Krista Malinin for Amber Events
Venue & Catering: The London Hotel, West Hollywood
Flowers, D├ęcor, & Rentals: White Lilac
Lighting: Shine Lighting
Hair & Make-Up: Etude Lounge Salon
Invitations: Bella Figura
Wedding Gown: Melissa Sweet
Bridal Boutique: The White Dress, Corona del Mar
Bridal Jewelry: Miriam Haskell
Bridal Shoes: Miu Miu
Groom's Suit: Custom Made by His Father
Bridesmaid Dress & Groomsmen Suit Rentals: Bella Wedding Bridal
Bridesmaid Jewelry: Carolee Lux
Officiant: Pastor KJ Ahn from Young Nak Celebration Church
Honeymoon: Fairmont Kea Lani - Wailea, Maui, Hawaii

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Amber Adores India

The husband I love to travel as much as we can and one of the things we also love to do is argue about where our next trip will be. Surprisingly enough, I think we've settled on India for our next trip. Clarification: I'm not surprised that we're going to India, I'm surprised that we've agreed on India. We both want to see the whole world and so every suggestion is trumped by the next. We want to experience the world. Except Mississippi. Don't ask.

So, India. I looooove all things Indian. The colors, the food, the sparkles, the culture, Bollywood movies, and, of course, Indian Weddings. I love working Indian weddings because they are so colorful, the Baraat (parade before the wedding) is rad, the bride's red Sari is so pretty, the food is the bomb, and the dancing is so energetic! (Sidenote: I would pay to attend an Indian wedding as a guest. I have only experienced one from a vendor's perspective and that is so not the same. For real. If anyone can make this happen I would love you forever)

Yesterday I was craving some Indian food, a newsletter from Raj Tents popped up in my inbox. I ordered some take out from Great India Cafe in Studio City, turned up the song Jai Ho on my computer and enjoyed the eye candy. So pretty! So fabulous!

Raj Tents, if you're not familiar with them, are the coolest things ever. If you want to add some spice to your wedding or event put a Raj Tent somewhere and you have it made. Your theme doesn't even have to be anything far east related for these tents to add some serious flair. Recently I worked a wedding where the bride & groom got married under a pure white Raj tent with pink curtains. It was so elegant.
Raj Tends
And because I lurve it, enjoy Jai Ho, the credits song/dance from Slumdog Millionaire

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I have the best clients in the world

I'll say it once again: I loooooove my clients!

Today, my lovely bride Jen is featured on the awesome blog LA Style Unveiled as their Bride in the City. I'll let you head on over to LA Style Unveiled to read the entire entry.

Jen and Tim are getting married at the urban oasis Smog Shoppe next June and we're having a blast planning their wedding! Jen wrote some really great things about me in her feature, but my favorite quote is:

"We chose Amber because she is calm, cool, and collected. She shares my love for the color red and Etsy. What more could I ask for? In talking with various vendors, I have yet to hear anything even close to mediocre in regards to Amber. In her words, she “specializes in the fabulous!” "

Bride in the City LA Style Unveiled

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Photographer's Perspective: Picotte Photography

Suthi Picotte of Picotte Photography is one fabulous photographer. And woman. And friend. And I adore her. Suthi took the time out of her busy schedule to answer my list of questions, but the great part is is that she is so humble she couldn't answer my first question of "Who are you and what makes you Fabulous?" so I told her I'd answer it for her. I like to cheer for other people, so let me bust out the pom poms and get started!

Q. Who are you and what makes you Fabulous?
A. (answered by Amber) Suthi is an AWESOME photographer. For proof of that check out her website or the wedding she and I did for Mallika and Steve that was featured on Style Me Pretty in August. She was trained in film and as a result is a true hybrid photographer, meaning she shoots both digital and film, and she's good at both. She recently told me that for all of the natural light photos she is starting to primarily use film again as the quality of the images are better in her opinion. On the planning side, she is a dream to work with from a coordinator's point of view: pleasant, easy going, fun, flexible, and nice. I like nice people. In a nutshell, Suthi is fun, quirky, and passionate about people and her art. She, is FABULOUS!

Q. What is it like working a wedding without a wedding coordinator?
A. Working without a wedding coordinator makes me one sad lady. Of course, it's doable but why??? It's your wedding day! It's about focusing on marrying the love of your life. It's about enjoying the result of all those months of planning and hard work. It's not about dealing with snafus & questions & phone calls & directions & missing items & time lines. You should be luxuriating in every moment. I get super bummed when I see the couple get inundated with the technical aspects of their wedding day. It also makes my job harder - I mean, here the bride & groom have hired me to photograph them on their big day but then they are all stressed out and, well, who likes to have their photos taken when they are all tensed up? Seriously, it is worth the investment a thousand times over.

Q. What makes a coordinator good?
A. A good wedding coordinator is a master of all trades. They must be creative, flexible & yet super organized! Service orientate & yet able to give orders. They are the buffer between the bride & groom and the crazy world of wedding details. They are a best friend to all involved and we love them for delivering a smooth day.

Q. Do you have any funny wedding stories?
A. So, it's time for toasts and the best man, the groom's older brother, gets up and says "FORNICATION!" everyone has a good chuckle with a bit of, "did he really say that?". He then clears his throat and says "FOR AN OCCASION such as this..." The whole room exploded with laughs. He was the best man, but he was the groom's older brother first!! You could feel the "older brother love."