Friday, July 30, 2010

Smog Shoppe Wedding: Jen and Tim

So remember when I posted this photo below is my favorite photo ever? Yeah, well, it still is, but the other pictures? Hot damn, they're amazing too!

Jen is a girl after my own heart--she wears her emotions for all to see and I lost count how many times she jumped/cried/squeeled for joy throughout the day! She and Tim together were so lovey dovey and emotional during the ceremony that they kept passing the same hankie back and forth. Loved it.

This wedding was a delicious buffet of eye candy. In fact, you feast on it at Style Me Pretty as it was featured today!

The unbelievably talented photographer Natalie Moser posted tons of awesome pictures on her blog also. As much as I'm drawn to pictures of pretty flowers, I absolutely love the emotion and sheer joy captured at this wedding.

Some of my favorites

venue: Smog Shoppe
event coordinator: Amber Events
photography: Natalie Moser Photography
catering: Urban Palate
floral: Holly Flora
divine cake: Sweet & Saucy Shop
paper: Night Owl Paper Goods
paper: Unless Someone Like You
paper: Paper Source
ceremony entertainment: Reiko Nakano
dj: Hey Mister DJ
hair + makeup: Fiore Beauty
hair accessories: Untamed Petals
site management: TACT Event Management
honeymoon: Limitless Argentina

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shutters on the Beach Wedding: Brenda and Brandon

Something you may not know if you don't work in the wedding industry: many times us business owners still work for other companies if we have an open date that we'd like to fill. DJ's, photographers, florists, coordinators, you name it.  I did this more last year and the year before, but I did do a wedding this year for one of my first mentors Carol Rosen of Party Designs by Carol. Back when I was learning about wedding planing I assisted Carol at numerous weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. She's a 20 year veteran in this field, recent President of the International Special Events Society's LA chapter, a wealth of knowledge, and one of the kindest people I know. The fact that she trusted me enough to carry her business name for one of her clients is an enormous compliment.

Carol was already booked for a Bat Mitzvah when Brenda contacted her in January about her wedding in May at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. The venue was the only thing booked. I met with Brenda and Carol and we all felt that it was a good match, so I came on board as Brenda's wedding planner, under the company Party Designs by Carol.

To say that Brenda and Brandon are busy, high level execs is an understatement. One of our vendor meetings took place at 8:00 PM in the conference room at Brenda's office....where she was taking a break to meet with us! We got all of the planning and design done just in time though, and the wedding day was gorgeous, elegant, contemporary and clean, just as they wanted. 

Venue - Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica, CA
Photography - B&G Photography
Floral - Jackie Combs Floral Design
Ceremony & Reception Music - Dash Entertainment
Videography - Skyline Videography
Bridal Beauty - Mariah Nicole Hair & Makeup Artistry
Wedding Cake - Vanilla Bakeshop
Rabbi  - Jeffrey Leynor

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pitstop and refuel!

I just finished up 7 (successful!) weddings in 6 weekends. It was intense, to say the least. I have a one weekend break before I hit another stretch again, so I'm taking a long weekend out to Palm Springs.

This is my plan......

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Protect your guests

I've been hearing rumblings through the grapevine lately about brides not wanting to have umbrellas for their outdoor summertime ceremonies, because market umbrellas will look ugly interfere with their pictures and paper parasols are expensive.  For anyone thinking that that is reading this blog, haven't you ever been a guest at a wedding where you sat in the blistering heat and burned during the ceremony? You get sweaty, squinty, burned, and parched (if there is no water provided) and it is NOT FUN. Uncomfortable guests will have unhappy memories of your wedding day, you know.

Please consider your guests comfort when planning your wedding. Rented market umbrellas or paper parasols can go a long, loooong way to ensure that your guests enjoy your day too. And always, alway provide water for your guest before the ceremony.

photo by

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Post Wedding Survey: Anna & Daniel at Rancho del Cielo

Anna and Daniel got married last Saturday, as in 5 days ago! They are leaving today for their honeymoon so Anna graciously answered my post wedding survey in record time. I decided to post it today as yesterday's blog about shuttles/parking was inspired by Anna & Daniel's wedding. A bit of background: Rancho del Cielo is a tough, TOUGH venue for many reasons. A few being: 6 parking spots on a mountain top, all guests shuttled up from PCH (25 minute round trip without traffic), rentals brought up, and an off-site kitchen built out by the caterer. For a caterer that HAS worked this property, it's still a toughie. Anna and Daniel chose a caterer early on that wasn't very truthful about their experience with off-site catering. Needless to say, there was some stress for myself and my couple due to many issues that popped up around this vendor. Had it not been for my associate Krista, and my interns Nira and Kelsi jumping in to help take care of the guests, the day would have unfolded differently. Oh, and had my clients not been the nicest and most gracious people to work with, my day would have gone a bit differently as well....

Q. What was the best part of your wedding day?
A. The best part of the wedding day was by far the prep time leading up to the ceremony and the ceremony for us. We were both nervous and just to get to Rancho del Cielo early and hang out with the bridesmaids and groomsmen before hand and relax and take in the view was amazing.
Then when we did our first look it was an incredible experience and the best part was the actual ceremony. The view was breathtaking and it just meant so much for us to be surrounded by all of our family and friends from all around the world, in one place.

Q. What do you feel was totally unnecessary?
A. Worrying! After having some spats with our caterer we were both worried about how the day would unfold because we just wanted our guests to have a great time…afterall they were coming from all over the place to be there for us so the least we could do was make sure they had a goodtime. In the end, Amber Events took care of every little thing and we really would have had some major issues without them.

Q. What would you change, if anything?
A. We really had a great time and we wouldn’t change anything except for our caterer if we knew before hand how much anxiety they would give us.

Q. What was unexpected that you loved?
A. There was a small speech/toast that the bridesmaid’s date wanted to do for us and it ended up being a funny little piece of humor that everyone loved right after the toasts.

Q. What are your fondest memories of your wedding day?
A. Our first dance and also received words of wisdom from older couples on relationships. Reflecting back, we wished we had thought to set out a basket on each table and asked each guest to give us words of advice for a happy marriage.

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent more time or money on?
A. The programs had a typo so we wished we had proofread that a little more carefully.

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent less time or money on?
A. Just less time worrying and fighting over things that don’t really matter to make a wedding day special (like d├ęcor, or color, etc.). Everyone is there for the couple, not the decorations.

Q. Were there any unexpected surprises or issues?
A. We thought we ran out of alcohol at one point, but in the end the bartender had misplaced a few cases of wine and beer. However, it all worked out and Jill (the homeowner) even offered solutions to help us, the photographer even offered that she could chip in and we could pay her back and we just felt so blessed to have our vendors who’ve only known us for a short time try to make the day run smoothly. That was probably the most touching moment of the evening.

Q. What's your number #1 tip for future engaged couples?
A. We actually have 4!

Tip #1: Make sure your RSVP cards are numbered, we were lucky that we numbered all of ours with a white pen because we received a few back that said they were coming but they didn’t put their name on it.

Tip #2:  make sure your caterer has worked the venue before to avoid serious set backs along the way. In retrospect, the caterer is the one vendor that your guests will definitely notice if something goes wrong (along with the DJ).

Tip #3: make sure your bartender has experience and if you’re bringing your own alcohol make sure you tell them to open 1 bottle at a time and find out from the stores where your purchase your alcohol what their return policy is, some stores in CA will not let you return unopened bottles b/c of state law.

Tip #4: do all the planning ahead of time before your out-of-town guests come in so you can relax the week of and just enjoy yourself with your family and friends.
Q. How did you feel after the wedding?
A. Overjoyed, completely in love, happy beyond belief, relieved, ready for the next project (ha!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Valeting, Parking, Shuttling, and other icky logistics

On the PRO list of getting married in SoCal
  • Weather
  • Unique venues
  • Access to top vendors
On the CON list of getting married in SoCal
  • Parking
  • Parking
  • Oh, yeah, and the cost of everything (including renting a parking lot, shuttles, or providing valet)
If you have a beautiful venue that has a parking lot close enough for your guests to easily self park and jaunt over to your ceremony/reception site, thank your lucky stars. You are blessed, my friend. For all of the other brides and grooms out there, I feel your pain.

Many of the most beautiful sites out here don't have parking on site. Most sites do have access to a parking lot that you can rent, though. If you are having your wedding in your home or another home that has never hosted a large party before, you have to scout out a place to park your guests. Many times, churches/temples and schools are your best bet as they are closed on Saturdays/Sundays  and could really use the money that renting their lot out will get them.

Once you have the place that your guests will park, how will they get to your venue? Will they be shuttled over? Or will they valet at the venue with the valets parking the cars in the rented lot?

If they are shuttled over, how many people can the shuttles accommodate? How many minutes (with traffic) is the venue from the lot round-trip? What time will staff be arriving for set up? How many shuttles are you renting? Have you  put a generous time buffer from what time the invitation says for guests to arrive to the time that the ceremony will start? You need to estimate this travel time on the overall timeline of the day.  Make SURE that you have a shuttle running all evening as elderly guests, parents with children, or guests who are not feeling well will need to leave early. The later it gets in the evening there needs to be a designated person (usually the coordinator) to coordinate the timetable of the shuttles. If the wedding ends at 10:00 PM in Malibu and the parking lot is a 25 minute round trip, you cannot have shuttles with only 1 or 2 people after 9:00 PM leave. So early shuttles have to be filled to an extent to make the end of the wedding transfer efficient. The last thing you want at the end of the wedding are 60 guests on a mountain top and only 2 shuttles that fit 50 people. At that point, everyone wants to go home and a 25 minute wait time for those 10 people will feel like 10 years.

If the above doesn't sound tricky enough, the weddings that entail a parking lot shuttle for local guests AND out of town guests shuttling out from hotels up to 45 minutes away (read: Malibu weddings) are even harder. Throw Saturday beach traffic in that mix and you have the recipe for a disaster unless you have someone logistically strong at the helm. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm tickled pink

One of the benefits of working in the wedding industry is the fact that I become friends with a lot of the people I work with. So when I need/want pictures taken, it costs me a bottle of wine and dinner. In return, I get lovely images and a good company.

The lovely and talented Suthi Picotte of Picotte Photography took the following film images of my new office for me. The office isn't totally finished yet---I plan to fill the wall over the bench with know, because I'm a professional timekeeper. Professionally. In my personal life, I'm 15 minutes late to everything.

Amber Events

Since I'm meeting clients in my home, I added signeage in the hallway where my office is located. Custom made by the talented Darlene of The Back Porch Shoppe on, the signs make me smile every time I see them, especially the sign on our bedroom door. Darlene makes awesome signage for weddings and I love using her stuff.

Custom Signs

Suthi also snapped some pictures of me and my handsome husband. I think we have our Christmas card photo all set this year.

Amber and Eric

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sneak Peek

I am in love with this photo from Jen and Tim's June 12 wedding at The Smog Shoppe. I can't WAIT to see the rest of Natalie Moser's photos!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Athenaeum Pasadena Wedding: Nicole & Rocco

Nicole and Rocco are high school sweethearts that have been together for over 8 years. Everyone pause and go "awwwwww!"

Busy with their careers and both of their master's program, they contacted me at the beginning of their engagement and we went through the entire process together: venue scouts, budget snags, vendor decisions, decor, design, and details, details, details! Thankfully, not only are Rocco and Nicole warm and kind people, but both of their mothers are gracious and lovely women as well. We had a great time over a period of about 15 months.
Nicole & Rocco chose the gorgeous Athenaeum at Caltech for their Italian/Old World inspired wedding and reception to be held. They had a Catholic style ceremony officiated by Father Mike Javor, a Priest with the Good Shepherd Church. Nicole wore a Pronovias dress and was escorted down the aisle by both her mother and father.
Athenaeum Pasadena wedding 1

Ceremony and cocktail hour music was provided by Nicole's father's favorite Jazz band Elements Revolution. Elements played an instrumental version of "Ribbon in the Sky" by Stevie Wonder for the family and bridal party processional, "The Bridal Chorus" by Wagner for Nicole, and an incredible version of Etta James' "At Last" for their processional. The soloist nailed that song!
Elements Revolution entertained the almost 200 guests during the cocktail hour that was held inside in the lounge.
The reception was held out doors and guests sat at a mixture of round and long feasting tables covered with a plum colored taffeta linen from La Tavola Linen. The floral, done by the incredible Holly Flora, incorporated grapes, pears, plums, and crab apples into the mauve and sepia colored peonies, garden roses, herbs, geranium, lisianthus, ranunculus, and vines trailing out of the vintage silver and brass containers. The cake by A Sweet Design was decorated with similar flowers and sugared fruit to tie in with the fruit in the centerpieces.

Athenaeum Pasadena wedding 2

As the sun went down, the uplights against the columns and the lavender ironwork patterns projected onto the walls made everything glow beautifully. After Nicole danced to "Butterfly Kisses"  by Bob Carlisle with her dad,  Rocco's dad Tony sang " Portrait of my love" by Steve Lawrence as Rocco and his mom danced together. The rest of the evening was a full on dance party orchestrated by DJ Michael Antonia of The Flashdance.

Athenaeum Pasadena wedding 3
The gorgeous photos were captured by Carolyn Troadec of Troadec Photography and videography by Video Artistry.
Vendor Team
The Athenaeum at Cal Tech - Venue
Father Mike Javor - Church of the Good Shepherd
Carolyn Troadec - Troadec Photography
Michael Antonia - The Flashdance
Holly Flora - Florist
Video Artistry - Videography
Elements Revolution - Ceremony & cocktail music
A Sweet Design - Wedding Cake
Donna Flores - Candy Bouquet
Fiore Beauty  - Bridal Makeup
Jaclyn Gonzales - Bridal Hair
Aspect Lighting - Reception lighting
La Tavola - Linens  
The Langham - Wedding night accommodations

And a special thank you to my associate Krista and my interns Sacha, Neusha, and Nira. I could not have done it without you!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Random Wine Blog: player pianos, literal videos, Bump-its, Spies, Brothers, Pandora, and cats

This random wine blog is brought to you by a 2007 Saint-Emilion fancy pantsy French wine. It should have been brought to you by a Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon that was given to me by clients from last weekend's wedding, but I drank it already. So, in a roundabout way, this random wine blog is dedicated to my lovely clients from last weekend: Kelly & Brandon and Kelly's parents Patty and Dave. Can't wait to see the pictures from the wedding!

On to my random thoughts/musings/opinions

  • My husband has purchased the coolest thing ever: an upright player piano complete with a box of old ragtime tunes to play on it. The scrolls even have lyrics printed on them, so every now and then we have an old-fashioned sing-along. Sunday morning started off with "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" from Oklahoma! I think I might be able to convince him to love musicals as we are now starring in one of our own? Stay tuned (pun intended)      
  • Since this has been on YouTube for a year, which is like 10 years in human time, this literal music video has probably been seen by everyone and their grandma. but I just saw it for the first time and I can't stop laughing.
  • I bought, and wore, a Bump-it! In my hair yesterday. I think I did go "from flat to fabulous in 2 seconds!". My dentist told me I looked like a princess. I don't know if he was referring to the 2" of height on my head or the sparkly headband purchased at Forever 21. He tends to be a bit of a flirt, regardless. 
  • The other day I picked up from the drycleaners: a black suit and a black corset. If this wedding planning gig goes south I think I could always be a spy. But I better start practicing my Russian. 
  • I swear that since I've paid Pandora the $.99 a month I'm getting more commercials and a shorter play time. What gives, Pandora?
  • My little brother, the bass player for Fayetteville, AR bluegrass band Cletus Got Shot was interviewed for THIS article. The comments at the end of the article are so funny to me. I think I'll plan weddings for a tank of gas and some beer. 
  • My older brother, who is living on a sailboat somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, is thankfully still alive and kicking and headed to the keys in Florida (I think) 
  • I have a sick kitty on my lap right now and it makes me sad. He's allergic to life and so we're medicating him to death. 
  • Toddlers and Tiaras has started a new season, and for this I am morbidly thrilled.