Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Bustle a Wedding Dress

Imagine.... it's your wedding day: the ceremony was beautiful, emotional, and everything you hoped it could be. You're married! The photos with your new husband and bridal party were fun. Your first dance was bliss. Dinner (what little you ate because you were talking to people) was great. The toasts made you laugh and made you cry. Now it's 10:00 PM......time to boogie!!! Time to let down your hair and tear the dance floor up! Two minutes into getting your groove on, you feel a strong resistance then a snap of whiplash through your body. Somebody just stepped on your bustle and now it's dragging 6" behind you getting stepped on all over the place. You grab your Maid of Honor and rush to the bathroom and ask her to fix it ASAP as you want to keep dancing! She's a little boozy at that point and those cute little color coded ribbons underneath are one gnarly mess. But 10 minutes later you're back on the dance floor. And a few minutes later, that poor bustle has been stepped on again. Repeat the process as your wedding reception slips away or you just say forget it and toss your train over your arm.

Unless you've had a Bustle Preemptive Strike. By Preemptive Strike I mean we've attacked that mountain of satin before the dancing even begins. By using good old fashioned Diaper Pins. Yup, Diaper Pins. Those babies are made for piercing through layers of fabric and holding firm. Because I've seen too many of the above stories we now use Diaper Pins when we bustle your dress. Those hook & eye or color coded ribbons are great in theory, but I wonder if the dressmakers have ever actually tested out their gowns in a roomful of people bringing sexy back? Probably not. Otherwise they'd sell wedding dresses with Diaper Pins already rigged inside of them.

Photo of Katie doing the conga taken by the talented Lukas VanDyke

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The "B" word

Years ago when I was planning my wedding, I crossed that line. I turned into Bridezilla/Brat/B***h, whatever you want to call it. The conversation went something like this:

Jodi: "Hey, Amber, I know you asked us bridesmaids to wear our hair up for your wedding, but I feel so much prettier with it down. Can I wear my hair down, especially since it's so short that it's hard to put up?"

Me (in a syrupy passive aggressive voice) : "Weeeeell, NO. I really want all of you girls to look cohesive, and I think it will look better up."

Not long after my wedding I realized what a bratty thing that was to do. Why in the world did it matter? Why shouldn't I have let my friend do her hair the way she wanted to? The way that made her feel pretty?

Because it was "MY" day.  And honestly? I'll I'm still embarrassed for treating my friend like that.

As you go through this madhouse called wedding planning, whenever you are about to blow up about something, ask yourself if you are going to regret it later down the road?

And for an awesome real bride's post-wedding thoughts on self-proclaimed Bridezilla, read this post on Beth Helmstetter's blog.

Monday, June 21, 2010

From Intern to Assistant

I know I mention this every now and then, but I get emails every week from girls saying "weddings are my paaaaaassion! can I have a job?". And I have a scripted response for them and an annoying application process for them to deal with.  And then they work 10 weddings for me before I consider them an assistant. To date, I have had one intern complete 10 weddings with me: Sacha. 

Sacha, in the middle in this photo, is holding a soda bottle and a fork. Not because she's eating and drinking as we're taking a moment to watch Nicole & Rocco get married, but because she found them on the grass and she picked them up. Because she's awesome like that. Hardworking, intelligent, alert, fast, and fabulous. She's pretty much the president of every events club at Cal State Poly in Pomona, and when she graduates next year, I have not doubt that she'll be highly successful in life. She has that drive and determination and the work ethic to get it. She truly understands that you have to pay your dues to get trained in a particular field.

At the end of every wedding, I ask my interns what they've learned that day or what surprised them. I love hearing their answers. I asked Sacha to write something for my blog talking about what she's learned over the past year. Thank you, Sacha, for all of your hardwork!
From Amber's bio on her website: “Amber Gustafson is in love with texture, things that sparkle, vintage clothes, cheap beer, and expensive wine.” She had me at sparkle. I have been Amber’s intern for 10 weddings now and have learned so much. She was my first contact into the wedding industry and I am glad she was. She took me under her wing and taught me everything that I needed to know from the importance of padding the timeline to always having Hollywood fashion tape on hand. 

What did I do as an intern? Well, what didn’t I do? Having worked in the service industry before, I knew that I had to expect to do anything and everything to create the wedding magic. I have done everything thing from being the bridal attendant to driving back to the groom’s house an hour before the start time to get his pants. Through all of my work with Amber I have grown so much. I have started to be more assertive and realized that wedding planning is a lot more than organization and design. Watching Amber on the day of is exciting to me, one of her best qualities is her ability to ease family situations and make everyone feel comfortable and happy on the most stressful day of a bride and groom’s life.

 I can appreciate that Amber has the largest emergency kit I have ever seen in my life and that I have used almost all of it. I see that she is truly passionate about her work and it shows in every single wedding. We have bonded over our love for Anthropologie and have noticed that most of her brides have bonded over this fact as well, but also as a mentor/boss I respect her. She is very concerned with what I have learned with my time with her, wants me to grow as a person, and is open to sharing all her trade secrets. Amber truly cares about the people she works with. That is why I am fortunate enough to have been her intern for 10 weddings and now officially an assistant.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

To the best and funniest Dad in the world! I love you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My 9th Wedding Anniversary

So Wednesday was our 9th wedding anniversary. We feel that for being married for this long we should be in our 40's, not our early 30's. Guess that's what happens when you marry young!

Since we weren't able to head out of town for the weekend due to weddings, Wednesday I turned all electronics off so I (we) could actually enjoy the day. Eric planned the early part of the day, and I planned the evening. It made for a fun filled and very "us" kind of day! Eric packed a picnic lunch and some beer and we went up to the San Bernadino Mountains and went gold panning. Yes, you read that right. Eric's been reading about gold panning, and apparently, with gold at an all time high, so are a lot of other people. The valley that we hiked into to pan has still active mines and people that live on the river panning for gold. How very 1849. We had a great time! I enjoyed the hike and soaking my feet in the cold river. I get bored easily though, so (the few) gold flakes were found by Eric, not me.

Anniversary 1

After coming home we showered, put on nice clothes, and were picked up in a towncar (thanks, Crown Limo!) and headed down to our dinner reservations at Church and State in downtown LA. Gooood French food! And good French wine. We were running a bit too close to our show time to get the strawberry crumble I was eying, but everything was fantastic.

Below is a picture of Eric's prison tat  wedding ring tattoo he got in Laos. After 8 years of my nagging him about not wearing his wedding ring, he finally appeased me! I had to take the cheesy ring shot.

Anniversary 2

After dinner we headed over to the insanely gorgeous Orpheum Theater for LA Conservancy's showing of American Graffiti. That theater was esquisite and thanks to the LA Conservancy we still get to enjoy it on special occasions. We'd both never seen American Graffiti, and thought that it was good, albeit long (or maybe that was all of the sun, rich food, and wine from the day?)

It was a lovely day! Looking forward to 9+ more years with my man!

Anniversary 3

Friday, June 11, 2010

Post wedding survey

Liz, because she is superwoman and awesome, took the time to fill out my post wedding survey. I LOVE it when clients do this for me!


Q. What was the best part of your wedding day?
A. Seeing everything come together, just like I had hoped it would, after 8 months of planning- it felt amazing!

Q. What do you feel was totally unnecessary?
A. I spent a lot of time dwelling on the things that I wasn’t doing.  I worried that the wedding would be incomplete without the things that didn’t fit in our budget like letterpress invitations, hand calligraphy, or an expensive designer dress (mine was J.Crew!).  I worried that I would later regret not doing the things that I had chosen to skip, like a guestbook, or making a playlist for our DJ.  In the end,  everything turned out wonderfully and nobody (even me) noticed any of the things we didn’t have- only the things we did have.

Q. What would you change, if anything?
A. I would have rented patio heaters!!  It got really cold during our cocktail hour, which was outdoors, and we had to cut it short by about 15 mins. to move inside.  Also, during the reception, it would have been nice for people to have someplace to go get away from the loud music on the dance floor so they could talk and visit.

Q. What was unexpected that you loved?
A. We had a string trio play for the ceremony and cocktail hour.  I had been on the fence about it but Ryan was really excited at the idea of having live music, so we went for it and it was a great decision.  The live music added such energy and emotion to the ceremony- I started to tear up as soon as they started playing our processional song, “La Vie en Rose.” 

Q. What are your fondest memories of your wedding day?
A. My walk down the aisle with my parents- my mom is notorious for crying at the drop of a hat, and my dad had been emotional all day, so I was sure one of them would be the first to tear up, but it was ME!  In the pictures the three of us are laughing through our tears as we walk down the aisle.

I also loved the 15 minutes of privacy that Ryan and I took after the ceremony.  It really gave us a chance to soak in what we had just done, and it was one of the only times we had any time alone together the whole day.  We couldn’t stop smiling at each other and looking at our rings- we were in shock!  It was nice to have a little calm time before we got swept up in the reception.

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent more time or money on?
A. Breaking in my shoes!

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent less time or money on?
A. Honestly, budget-wise I felt like I did pretty well.  I got good deals from most of our vendors and shopped around for good prices on other things.  All in all, I felt like we got a lot of bang for our buck, as it were.  Of course, there were a few abandoned DIY projects and I now have 150 extra customized cocktail napkins, but those were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.

Q. Were there any unexpected surprises or issues?
A. A lot of the guests we invited weren’t able to make it, and that was really hard.  I had expected that to some extent, but I was really surprised by how many people couldn’t come.  Some of those were people who we had really hoped could make it, and it was very disappointing to hear that they wouldn’t be there.  It did take a little while to be OK with it and get back to being excited about the wedding and the people who would be there, but I got there eventually.  We’re also planning a second reception for our East Coast friends and family who couldn’t make the trip out to L.A., and the idea that we’ll get to celebrate with them too really helped with the disappointment.

Q. What's your number #1 tip for future engaged couples?
A. Be true to yourselves.  Know what you want out of your wedding experience, and always remember not just why you are getting married, but why you are having a wedding, because the two are not at all the same.

Oh- and hire a wedding coordinator!  Seriously, knowing that Amber was there let me really relax and enjoy the day without worrying.

Q. How did you feel after the wedding?
A. Relieved and happy and overwhelmed all at the same time! I kept thinking I should be working on my to-do list, then remembering the wedding was over and we were married.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Liz and Ryan's wedding at the Park Plaza in Los Angeles

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Gorgeous, yes?! Please head on over to The Little Black Book blog on Style Me Pretty (which I am proud to be a vendor with) to read all about it!

A special thanks to Liz & Ryan for allowing me to be a part of your day, and of course, the vendors who made it happen:

Venue - The Park Plaza
Photography- Kim Fox Photography
DJ – Nik Bordokoff
Cake- NancyKay’s Confections
Floral – Bride & Stepmom
Ceremony & Cocktail hour music – Strings by Reiko
Bride’s Dress - J Crew
Bride’s hair- Monique’s Salon
Bride’s makeup- Annette Reddington
And my wonderful assistants Krista and Sacha

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Random wine blog: cat allergies, the devil's cellar, Christmas, art deco, crafts, fundraisers, and Newsies!

It's been quite a while since I've had the time to enjoy a glass (or thr....two) of wine and my blog at the same time. But the dust of moving finally settled around us, and aside from random boxes that we throw into the garage, we're pretty much unpacked. And aside from the shots that we have to give our cat Milton from his anxiety induced allergy attacks. And my teenager-esque skin outbreak from the stress of moving during wedding season.  But it was woooorth it! Below is a sneak peek at my new office. Precious!


So tonight's blog is brought to you by a 2008 wine from Chile: Casillero del Diablo. This $10 gem from Trader Joe's is hands down one of our favorite affordable wines. It's rich, fruity, and a bit spicy.  And apparently, from the translation of the name, it's also from the devil's cellar, so that could be either a good thing or a bad thing...

On to the randomness!

  • Disclaimer for my wine blogs: for those of you just joining us, know that I never, evah drink at weddings or even with my clients. This series is just how I justify talk about my personal life on my blog. I drink wine and post things that amuse me.
  • I'm in love with our new house. Even though I don't want this year to go by faster than it already is, I'm already daydreaming about how I'm going to decorate it for Christmas. I think I need to start saving for those Christmas decorations. The garland across the picket fence with the wreath at each post is not going to be cheap.
  • My parents booked a last minute visit last weekend and thankfully I didn't have a wedding and was able to spend some quality time with them. Saturday was my day so I planned a walking trip of some of the art deco buildings in downtown LA and lunch at Cole's. My parents loved it, especially the Oviatt building as I arranged for a tour of the Oviatt Penthouse. Sunday was my sister's day and we attended the fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association that she threw at the fancy pantsy assisted living facility she is the marketing director for. I bought won some super cute crocheted purses in the auction. So I'm a wedding planner, sister works in assisted living, and mom works in hospice. At one point my mom said "we marry, carry, 'n bury em, girls!". There is no doubt where I get my humor from.
  • I know I've said this before, but below is proof. My husband is crazy talented. Check out the bookshelf he made for my office and the table he made for our patio---both from old doors.   
  •  While I'm talented, I'm not as talented as my husband, but I'm pleased as punch with the curtains I sewed for our kitchen out of three Anthropologie tea towls. Probably the most expensive kitchen curtains I've ever owned as those things are $20 each, but they're so damn cute I can't help myself.
  • Tomorrow is our 9 year wedding anniversary. It is CRAZY to think we've been married that long. Time flies when you're having fun! We have a whole day of activities planned and I'm going dark and turning off all electronics so I can focus on him and us the entire day. Will report back.
  • If you love the musical Newsies! and Lady Gaga as much as I do, you're gonna eat this up:
My husband is an awesome drummer, but this guy takes the cake. It's long, but worth it!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Simon & Vince's wedding at the Twentynine Palms Inn

One of the very first weddings that I did back when I was training to be a wedding planner was my sister Dana's wedding at the Twentynine Palms Inn in Twentynine Palms, CA. Dana's wedding was also featured on Style Me Pretty in early 2008.

Through the magic of google, my bride Simon found my blog as she was googling for images of Irene's Adobe at the Twentynine Palms Inn. Initially, Simon just wanted to meet with me for some ala carte consulting sessions on how to best plan her destination wedding. Simon is a song writer here in LA and her fiance Vince is the Creative Director for Absolute Radio in London. With an album to produce in Canada the month before her wedding and her fiance on the other side of the world, that consulting session turned into her hiring me as her wedding planner. Win/win for all of us--Simon and Vince were so cool!

Because 90% of the guests would be coming in from other parts of the world, Simon and Vince chose the high desert, 2 1/5 hours outside of Los Angeles as the place to wed. The funky Twentynine Palms Inn fit their artistic personalities perfectly and the inn gave their guests a few days to hang out and enjoy the beauty of Joshua Tree. 

Simon, Vince, and I planned the wedding in about six weeks via email. Friends of theirs were chipping in to make this a special day: one friend was providing the photography, another couple was performing the ceremony. The Inn was providing a delicious vegetarian reception in the courtyard of the 100 yr old Irene's Adobe. Simon took the shopping list I gave her (candles, mason jars, Italian Lights, white papel picado, champagne, wine, etc etc) and crossed things off one day at a time.

The weekend of their April 16 wedding approached. And on April 14 that damn Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in Iceland. Thankfully, Vince and many of his guests had flown out of the UK before the eruption, but a few of the key players (our photographer and one of our officiants) was stuck as the volcanic ash covered Europe.

Thankfully, neither Vince nor Simon panicked over this, we just kicked in to cover all bases. Another friend of theirs, Robin, would photograph the wedding, and Zena would officiate the wedding without her partner Geoff. 65 guests were still able to make it, thankfully!

Because I never do weddings solo, I enlisted my husband to come be my muscle and hang lights and string paper banners. He's never worked a wedding with me before, so it was slightly interesting. He did a great job though, and I was a good boss. I think.

Simon and her girlfriends had stayed the night before the wedding at a casino in Palm Springs. With the spa and salon on site, Simon was able to arrive with her hair done and ready for a friend to do her makeup. Set up began and the day was moving forward, Volcano or no Volcano.

Their friend and officiant, Zena asked all guests to arrive to the ceremony site (the lawn by the oasis) early in order to write a message on pieces of felt that were tied together to make a banner for Vince & Simon to run through to complete their ceremony. Simon walked down the aisle to "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles and Vince played the ukulele during the ceremony while all guests sang  "I'm Sticking with You" by The Velvet Underground. It was a touching and beautiful ceremony. Many of the guests took some great photos, so the majority of the day was able to be captured.
Twenty Nine Palms Inn wedding
The ceremony ended at sunset and all guests paraded over to Irene's Adobe for the reception. Round tables were covered with mason jars filled with candles, Italian lights and white papel picado was strung around the courtyard,  and the edges of the were lined with white lacy luminaries that my interns made. Music was provided by a couple that plays keyboard and jazz trumpet. The guests ate, drank, and toasted under the desert moon.

My favorite photo of my very awesome clients: