Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How to have a pretty wedding

My talented friend and fellow wedding planner Beth Helmstetter said it best when she said "don't celebrate the ugly" when it comes to design and style for your wedding.  Meaning, every venue is going to have something that is not pretty, but you should NOT draw attention to it.

I once had a bride who was stressing out because the ballroom where her reception was being held had a stairwell with low wall around it close to the center of the room. She was really concerned about it and was thinking about piping and draping or decorating it somehow with candles and flowers. I tried to put her at ease during the planning by telling her that when she views the room when it is empty, of course all she is going to see is that stairwell, but when it is full with tables, beautiful linens, flowers, candles, and good lighting, she won't even notice the stairwell--unless she draws attention to it.

Thankfully, she decided not to mask the stairwell but to let it be. Her reception was beautiful and the guests raved about the towering and lavish flowers on the tables!

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Husband Freakin' ROCKS

So remember the other night when I blogged random things and talked about the fact that my husband was spending all week in the shop building something for me while all I was giving him was the Rosetta Stone for Spanish (and a used copy, to make things worse) and howling wolf jammy pants? THIS IS WHAT HE DESIGNED AND BUILT ME!

Walnut and copper pipe chest for the end of our bed. Un-freakin-believable. He so so soooo rocks. I'm so lame.

He does look really cute in the howling wolf jammy pants, though. Thanks, Target!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Crafty Christmas

Each year I try to make a little something for my mom, sisters, girlfriends, etc. and although I wouldn't do this again because it was soooo much more time than I anticipated, I'm pretty happy with how this year's gifts turned out. I sewed cotton napkins that matched their personalities/decor, wrapped them in the holiday Trader Joe's shopping bags, and made cute labels that said "made with LOVE by Amber". They were a hit!

Oh, and the gift that I talked about that my husband was making me? That deserves its own blog. Stay tuned..

Los Angeles Wedidng Planner

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I'm just finishing up wrapping presents. My sister, her husband, and their adopted son are coming over for dinner and we're going to exchange gifts. Tomorrow, on Christmas Day, my husband and I fly home to Arkansas and this Thomas Kinkade painting made me happy. It's called "I'll Be Home For Christmas". I'm looking forward to home.

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Weekly wine tasting Randomness

A few months ago I had a glass (or 2...possibly) of wine and wrote a blog post called "A Whole Lot O' Nonsense" and it kind of made me laugh to go back and read it, because while I consider myself a funny writer, I'm a whole lot funnier when I have a glass of wine....or three. I never, ever drink and work (my clients try to force drinks on me at weddings--total no-no) but this blog series going to be my sassy outlet where I talk about my life, my cats, and my opinions on things in general. I'm going to make sure that before and after these posts I have very grown-up post about planning weddings though, so anyone who happens on my blog as a first-timer doesn't think I'm full-on batty...or a total boozer.

Tonight's post is brought to you by Cloudy Bay, a lovely 2008 Sauvignon Blanc brought to me by my awesome clients Erin & Jeff (of the Epic Save the Date fame) all the way from New Zealand. Erin & Jeff live in Australia, but they spent 3 weeks camping in NZ before they came back to the US to have a week of wedding planning. Have I mentioned that they're awesome? They're awesome. This wine is light, crisp and extremely tart with lots of apple and pear flavors. It is yummy.


  • My husband building me something special for Christmas and I feel like such a lame person because all I'm giving him is the Rosetta Stone (Espanol!) and some flannel jammy pants with wolves howling on them. The wolves cracked me up. He doesn't read my blog, so I'm not worried about him finding out what I'm giving him.
  • My older brother is, I kid you not, on a sailboat sailing down the Mississippi River with a stray dog named Mattie. He's heading towards the Gulf then the Caribbean. He calls my parents every few days or so and my dad takes short hand notes and then sends out a long email to the family updating on "The Chronicles of Nathan". It's fascinating, but of course we're all terrified that he's going to kill himself.
  • My younger brother lives in a commune-ish sort of farm in Arkansas (long story) and is a bass player in a punk/rockabilly/bluegrass band called, I kid you not,  Cletus Got Shot. He made his bass from an old gas can.
  • I think that my family is wildly entertaining. Myself included, naturally.
  • For those of you who don't know me personally, my husband, along with being a carpenter is the drummer for rock band Just Off Turner. He too, is wildly entertaining, and funnier than anything. Because he is a music snob, I can only listen to certain music while he is out of the house or I'll be tormented. Currently, I'm listening to Lady Gaga. And drinking wine. And blogging.
  • This week I've been wasting time by watching all of the clips on Hulu that I can find on Toddlers and Tiaras. This woman terrifies/horrifies me: http://tlc.discovery.com/videos/toddlers-tiaras-lindsays-mom.html
  •  I busted out my sewing machine to make Christmas presents for my girlfriends/moms/sisters/assistants/etc but can't show you what it is yet, because unlike my husband, all of these women mentioned DO read my blog. 
  • Husband and I fly on Friday to Arkansas for Christmas with the family and I CAN'T WAIT. I love going home! I fly back on January 1 for a wedding on January 2. It's going to be an awesome wedding.
  • It's time to go make dinner with my husband. He's a fabulous chef, along with being a drummer, carpenter, and funnier than me. I'm a decent sous chef, so I chop things for him.

Random Twitter Post From this Week

  • I just realized that I turned into the Aunt that gives socks for Christmas. God help me.
Random i-Phone Photo From this Week

Owen helping me sew. He's a good kitty. Kind of.


A little while ago I wrote a blog called On Getting Married about the emotions that are involved with getting married. It was a bit clinical and dry but informative none the less (in my opinion, at least). Below is a quote that kind of says the same thing I said, but with a lot more passion and recent experience. 

Written as the final post # 687 on the blog "a $10,000 wedding" it gives some great perspective on the emotional roller coaster ride that is planning a wedding:

"weddings, no matter how you slice it and dice it, will tug at your heart strings and push your buttons. you're emotional because you're thinking about your families and what this shabang will mean for them, you're emotional because you're excited about the new family you're about to build, you're emotional because all of your besties are there to support you, you're emotional because there's a lot to do and you're kind of like just stressed the eff out, you're emotional because you find yourself walking that fine line between keeping everyone happy and being true to yourself...

...you're emotional because you're committing to f.o.r.e.v.e.r with that one amazing person...and want the wedding to be that kind of perfect...

it's just one day. but it's significant, you know?

so amidst the flurry, should things ever get a little hairy or overwhelming, take a step back and remember what it's all about. (hint: it's not about cake flavors or wedding dresses.) "

Monday, December 21, 2009

Amber Events Top 2009 Blog posts

That title sounds like it should be a show on the E! Network since they love to do "The Top .... of 2009!" countdowns all the time. I guess they're on to something..

Since this year is coming to a close, I decided to link to the five most popular blogs I have written in 2009.

Eva & Brinton's Rancho del Cielo wedding featured on Style Me Pretty today!

This makes my day! To see the entire feature, click: Purple Wedding by Amber Events

Rancho Del Cielo Wedding

Friday, December 18, 2009

A look back at 2009

2009 has been an exciting year both personally and professionally! I had a great time putting this collage together!
2009 Holiday Card

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night....

...the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in Culver City that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Oh, snap. I'm getting carried away by the melodrama of this story already. Edward Bulwar-Lytton would be proud. 

Seriously, though, this is a fantastic story. I just have to share this story and the awesomeness that is Auntie Em’s Kitchen Catering and TACT Event Management. I wasn’t personally at this wedding, but I work with all of the vendors who were there and so I got to hear the different sides of this story from them all.

The Smog Shoppe in Culver City is an incredible place that is the perfect SoCal venue where you can have that indoor/outdoor feel at the same time. You know, unless it rains. And rain it did last Saturday. It poured cats and dogs. Thankfully, the bride and groom had contracted with the rental company to have the courtyard and kitchen of the Smog Shoppe covered with an awning, so guests could be kept dry.

That didn’t prevent the coordinator from getting in a car wreck on her way there (thankfully, she was fine), the glasses from the rental company to be dirty, a few cases of beer to be forgotten, or the power on the entire block going out an hour and a half before guest arrival. The. Power. Went. OUT.

So it is freezing cold, pouring rain, and dark in the venue and Auntie Em’s and TACT spring into action. A server is sent out to the closest store to buy hundreds of candles. Jeff Fleming of TACT gets on the phone working on getting generators brought in for power. And the cooks in the (pitch black) kitchen start cooking a formal sit down dinner of Filet Mignon and Salmon. Know that this food should be made in an oven, but instead, these chefs were working on a grill with candles and flashlights being held over their heads. As the venue was dark, rainy, and silent (no power=no DJ), Jeff had the brilliant idea to ask of any of the staff sang? Not one, but TWO of the Auntie Em’s staff confessed that they were trained opera singers,  so the guests were welcomed inside to a delicious candlelight dinner by the chefs singing Opera.  OPERA!

Soak that in for a second.

This wedding would have been the biggest disaster had any other vendors been on board. As it was, Auntie Em’s and TACT Event Management  kept the flow going and improvised any way they could. Thankfully, when the generators showed up, the power came back on and the guests were able to boogie the night away. Good vendors are priceless, y’all.


Smog Shoppe Wedding
photos by Douglas Hill of www.doughill.com

Monday, December 14, 2009

How to Get Married

At some point during the planning process I tell my clients "it only costs $70 to get married in Los Angeles county, anything above actually getting married is a wedding and that's what costs $$$".

In order to be legally married, you not only have to obtain a marriage license, but it has to be signed by an officiant and two witnesses and filed with the county within 90 days of issuance. Whenever you have your own Rabbi or Minister perform your ceremony, or hire a professional officiant, that person assumes responsibility of filing your license with the state. If a friend or family member is performing the ceremony, I recommend you sending it in for filing to make sure it is done correctly. I've heard of couples who find out years down the road that they are actually not legally married as the license was forgotten or lost!
Also note that unless you send in a $14.00 check with your license when it is sent in for filing, you will not receive a copy of your Marriage Certificate. The Marriage Certificate is crucial for changing your name or showing proof that you are, indeed, married.

To obtain a marriage license in Los Angeles County, you must go to your local Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office (locations listed HERE). An online application can be found HERE.


  • Both the Bride and Groom are required to appear with either a valid driver's license or a passport.
  • The counties in California do NOT require blood tests to obtain a License.
  • Payments can be made in cash or by check or money order made payable to theRegistrar-Recorder/County Clerk or RRCC
  • Processing time is approximately 20 to 40 minutes.  Afternoons and Fridays are the busiest times and the processing time is likely to be longer.
  • There are two kinds of marriage licenses, Public and  Confidential. The Public marriage license can be purchased at any county clerk/registrar recorder's office in California and the couple can get married anywhere in California. The Confidential license must be purchased in the same county where the ceremony takes place

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This makes me happy

With almost 10 million youtube views chances are you've probably seen this, but I just can't get enough of it. I don't know who I love more, the chickens or Animal? Enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Destination Weddings in Mexico

These past 4 days I have been on a familiarization (FAM) trip in the Riviera Maya area outside of Cancun in Mexico. The trip was put together by Love Mexico , a company dedicated to getting the word out to the world about how incredible the destination wedding market is, the Mexican Tourism Board, the Association For Wedding Professionals International (AFWPI) , and the Barcelo Mayan Palace, the UNBELIEVABLE resort that hosted us. Wow, wow, wow, was this resort beyond spectacular.

Along with these companies listed, I was able to go on site visits of some of the other resorts and meet with local vendors and suppliers in Mexico. I now have the tools to plan a fabulous wedding in Mexico. Of course, it was not all work, two of my colleagues and friends from LA, Heather Ham of Events by Heather Ham and Lina Wallace of A Stunning Affair  traveled with me and we had a fun girl’s trip. I also got to reconnect with some of my internet buddies: Linnyette Richardson-Hall of Premier Event Management (and “Who’s Wedding Is it Anyway” fame) from Baltimore, MD and Shayna Weddle Walker of Williamsburg Wedding Design  in Williamsburg, VA

Because this blog post could be the length of a dictionary if I went in to everything, I’m just going to bullet point the things that I learned in the Riviera Maya
  • In order to be legally married, the bride, groom, AND their 4 witnesses must arrive in Mexico 3 days prior to the ceremony to fill out the proper paperwork and have blood tests.
    • In order to be legally married in Mexico by the Catholic Church, the bride and groom must do all of the above plus 60 days prior have the following filed with the Mexican priest: a letter from your home priest allowing you to marry, copy of your pre-cana certificate, copy of birth, baptismal, and confirmation certificates. For couples who want to be married in the eyes of the Catholic Church but also have an outdoor/open air wedding ceremony, Mexico is a great place.
    • The all-inclusive resorts are like cities and your guests would never tire of things to do. Unlike Hawaii, where there are no all-inclusive resorts, these resorts have thought of everything and you and your guests can stay and play together. Most of the resorts will provide your wedding free of charge if you have a high enough room block booked. Keep in mind that these weddings are basic, basic.
    • Direct flight into Cancun from LA = 4.5 hours and $350. Direct flight from LA to Hawaii = 6 hours and $650. Dear Hawaii, consider this our breakup letter.
    • These resorts all have guard gates and I am pretty certain that those guards are packing heat. I felt pretty darn safe.
    • If the mega resorts aren’t your speed, smaller towns close to historical sites with boutique hotels can pamper in a more intimate and natural setting. Even more intimate: Haciendas can be rented and private chefs brought in to provide an all-inclusive feel without the hoopla of the mega resort.
    • Chivari chairs cost the same to rent here as they do in Los Angles ($5-7 on average). If you don’t rent chairs, the resort gives you white chair covers with organza bows. In my opinion, white chair covers with organza on the beach is a sin.
    • Pina Coladas taste so much better when you swim, rather than walk, up to the bar to obtain them.
    • The all-inclusive resorts are not happy with you bringing in outside vendors such as photographers and videographers, so if you’re flying in your photographer, they need to be a “guest” who happens to have $15,000 worth of camera equipment with them.
    • Synthetic materials should not be brought to tropical and humid climates. This goes for wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and suits. Veils are not a good idea either as it will be stuck to your lipgloss in .02 seconds. Your call.
    • Women should work with their hair in tropical climates. If your hair curls up in the humidity, work it, girl! My hair falls limp like a rag doll, so I rock it with Heidi braids or buns. Do NOT fight your hair in a humid climate. Period.
    • S**t Happens. “Plan B” is so important and I felt the results of it. One night our gorgeous Mayan wedding reception on the beach was rained out. The decor was spectacular and it was destroyed immediately. Granted, there was no warning of rain, so even if there had been a Plan B the decor would not have made it in time. But had there been a Plan B we would have still been able to have dinner somewhere else. As it was, I ran across the resort barefoot in the rain (still clutching my wine glass!) and found a buffet to eat at.
    • I still can’t stomach the sight of men in speedos.
    • Since about half of the people on our trip were travel agents, I learned a lot about the travel industry and the value of a good travel agent. Booking your flight on Expedia and then calling yourself a travel agent is the equivalent of planning your own wedding then calling yourself a wedding planner. These people know the ins and outs of their industry.
    • If you are going to have a formal wedding of any sort (as in, you are having escort cards) I highly HIGHLY recommend an American wedding planner brought in to handle things for you and work with the on-site staff. With the language and cultural barriers, the process of getting a wedding done the way you want it will be challenging even with your American coordinator (but she’s the one that is dealing with it). If you’re ok with the chippings falling where they may, you can swing this without your own coordinator.

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    Catholic Chapel at The Grand Palladeum Resort. The whole venue was Fab but it got dark

    Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort & Spa

    Blue Tulum Resort and Spa

    WANTED: Brides who want to get married here:

    Amber Events office closed Dec 2-6

    I'm sitting on my patio at the Barcelo Maya Palace in the Riviera Maya
    area of Cancun attending a seminar on destination weddings in Mexico.
    It's gorgeous down here!