Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Amber Events top planning blog posts of 2010

I read back over my planning posts from 2010 and chose the ones that I think are most beneficial for those of you planning weddings right now. Enjoy!

Hotel Room Blocks for weddings

Los Angeles Wedding Venues Part One, Part Two, and Part Three

Post Wedding Pictures

Master of Ceremonies

Bands vs. DJ's

If you're interested in 2009's best planning posts, click HERE 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Post Wedding Survey: Suzy and Dan

Q. What was the best part of your wedding day?
A. The feeling of love between us and all of our friends and family who gathered.  It’s the one time in our lives to see everyone we care about all gathered in one place.

Q. What do you feel was totally unnecessary?

A. We already cut a lot of the wedding traditions we didn’t like.  For example, we got our wedding cake from a local bakery in Sylmar that specializes in dulce-de-leche cakes.  It saved hundreds of dollars over a “fancy” wedding cake, and our guests loved the taste (no fondant!).   In the end, we actually snuck off to cut the cake without stopping the party because everyone was having so much fun.

Amber was great about accommodating our vision for the event, and was very flexible about what was important to us.  If we’d said the cake was the most important thing to us, she would have made it the most important.

Q. What would you change, if anything?

A. Very little!  Amber was great about keeping us on schedule in the weeks leading up to the wedding (we got her more comprehensive package, and we are really glad we did).  The day-of stuff was great.  We might have tried to pick our themes and colors earlier, but it all worked out in the end! 

Q. What was unexpected that you loved?

A. The flower girl reaching the end of the aisle, realizing that she still had flowers left, and starting to reverse course up the aisle to make sure that every single flower was in its proper place.  Adorable!

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

A. Dancing with all of our friends as DJ Nahchey spun remixes of our favorite tunes.

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent more time or money on?

A. Nope.  Everything came out just the way we wanted!

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent less time or money on?
A. We spent a very long time trying to pick wine, but it was a lot of fun to taste different wines with our friends.  In hindsight, we should have made sure that there was enough of our favorite champagne available before tasting it, but it turned out to be a great excuse to have another bubbly-tasting party.

Q. Were there any unexpected surprises or issues?

A. There is always a crunch of last-minute things if you have a mostly-DIY wedding (menus, table cards, etc), but they all worked out just fine.  Commit the last few days before the wedding to the last-minute things and you’ll be fine.

Q. What's your number #1 tip for future engaged couples?

A. Relax!  And have somebody take care of the day-of stuff so that you can focus on enjoying your friends and family.

Q. How did you feel after the wedding?

A. Tired!  But we got to sleep the whole flight to our honeymoon, so it all worked out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top 5 Survive Wedding Season Experts of 2010

The brilliant and lovely Elle Shapiro of Survive Wedding Season just informed me that I'm one of her top five experts of 2010! Wooo!

A million  years ago, I mean January of 2010, I wrote an article on affordable yet meaningful gifts to give to brides and grooms during the 2010 wedding season. Elle told me that she actually used some of my ideas at the (I believe) 8 weddings she attended this year.

Survive Wedding Season is a unique blog aimed at guests (and bridesmaid & groomsmen) and focuses on etiquette, culture, attire, and other useful tidbits of information for attending such monumental events.
You can read all of the Top 5 experts HERE

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Courthouse Wedding: Suzy and Dan

Suzy told me in her first email to me that she’d be following my blog and thought I was fabulous. Of course, I immediately thought that she was herself. THEN she told me their story and there was no question about it. She and Dan met three years ago when they were both law clerks at a courthouse here in SoCal. They fell in love that summer and were now being married at that same courthouse, by the two judges that they were clerking for then. Hello awesome story! And hello unique venue! The day that we did a walk-through at the courthouse with the caterer we temporarily got locked in the dungeon basement as we were looking for the load-in dock. All part of the glitzy gig sometimes.

Their ceremony was held in the beautiful rose garden out front of the courthouse, the cocktail hour held in the judges’ dining room, and the reception held upstairs in the conference room. That reception ROCKED that conference room and the guests partied hard to DJ Nahchey’s tunes. I bet that courthouse hadn’t seen that kind of activity since it was a hotel back in the early 1900’s. I’m sure the ghosts enjoyed it (more than 3 security guards told me ghost sighting stories that night) as well. It was such a perfect full circle for such an amazing couple.

Congratulations, Suzy and Dan!

The team that made it happen:
Wedding Planning: Amber Events
Photography: Callaway Gable
Catering: Huntington Catering
Floral: Peony and Plum
Reception Music: DJ Nahchey of Dash Entertainment
Ceremony & Cocktail hour music: Eric Brown of  Ceremony Tunes
Bridal Beauty: Susie Chhuor
A special thanks to my assistants that day: Michell, Sacha and Neusha!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Dramatic Entrance

So remember back in my recent Random Updates blog where I spoke about tumbling down the stairs while setting up for a wedding at the Park Plaza? This gives you some perspective as to how big those stairs were:

Photography by Lin and Jirsa

But aside from that story, how gorgeous are these photos???? When Rachel and Jimmy were planning their wedding, Jimmy told Rachel that he would love to see her come down the grand staircase alone and meet her parents at the bottom of the stairs.

The images are dramatic, but seeing it in real life gave me goosebumps. This is just a sneak peak of what is to come!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Post Wedding Survey: Bob & Meg

My Groom, Bob, took a moment to answer the questions that I ask clients after their wedding. His answers are short, sweet, and to the point, but his wife Meg also chimed in to say: "Amber – Bob wrote all this, but I completely agree. It was great, you were great. I can’t imagine how anyone does it without an Amber! Thank you so much – you made it so relaxed for us. I really didn’t have to worry at all. Any time you need references, feel free to give our names.  Meg"

Q. What was the best part of your wedding day?
A. Walking into the reception and having everyone in the room stand, applaud and show lots of love

Q. What do you feel was totally unnecessary? 
A. Nothing

Q. What would you change, if anything?
A. Ordered too much food.
Q. What was unexpected that you loved?
A. So many people danced.

Q. What are your fondest memories of your wedding day?
A. Looking into each others eyes and being alone  in a crowd during the ceremony.
Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent more time or money on?
A. No. I think we nailed it.

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent less time or money on?
A. Too many desserts.

Q. Were there any unexpected surprises or issues? 
A. No

Q. What's your number #1 tip for future engaged couples?
A. Plan, plan, and plan

Q. How did you feel after the wedding?
A. On cloud 9

Friday, December 10, 2010

Disney Concert Hall Wedding: Bob and Meg

Bob found me via The Knot and he really liked my blog. He said it made him laugh and that was the only wedding blog he’d found that made him do that. He then told me that he and his sweetheart, Meg, were 56 and 58 and getting married for the first time and needed some professional help through this wedding maze. Probably one of those most unique on-line dating stories I’ve had so far: Bob had been on for a while and had dated quite a few people, but Bob was the first person that Meg went on a date with when she signed up. They loved the Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA as Bob often spends his lunch breaks there, so they decided to get married in the Rose Garden and have their reception in the Founder’s Room inside the Disney Concert Hall. Not one for a traditional white dress, Meg wore a fabulous vintage silver beaded gown that she and Bob found one day as they were shopping at a flea market near their home in Santa Monica. That dress paired with her sassy red shoes fit the setting so well.

 Their Jewish ceremony was beautiful and symbolic, and it was so touching to see their tears as they recessed down the aisle as man and wife. The reception was incredibly intimate as many of their 100 guests toasted them and wished them happiness, before they danced and celebrated late into the night. It was truly an honor to walk with Bob and Meg on their journey to become man and wife.


The team that made it happen:

Venue - Walt Disney Concert Hall
Catering - Patina Catering
Wedding Planning - Amber Events
Officiant - Rabbi Robert Kirschner 
Photography - Next Exit Photography

Floral - Peony and Plum
Ceremony Musician - Mike Post
Reception Entertainment - Zuniga Entertainment
Cupcakes - Out of the Oven
Bridal Hair & Makeup  - Beauty by Grace

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Random updates

I was totally called out about my blog the other day. A friend told me I really needed to update it with some more personal stuff. She said it'd been almost 2 months since one of my infamous wine posts, but considering 3 weeks of that I went completely almost without wine for a cleanse, I was kind of in mourning and not feeling like blogging.

Sans wine today, but updates about goings on in my world:

On the business front:

  • Last Saturday was my final wedding for 2010 and I am tuckered out and looking forward to a few months of wedding-free weekends. It was a GREAT year and I had the privilege of working with some great brides, grooms, and vendors. 2011 is shaping up nicely as well, although I won't be taking on as many weddings due to some personal financial goals my husband and I were able to hit this year making it so I don't have to take on as many weddings.
  • At last Saturday's wedding I totally tumbled down a flight of stairs during set up. This was same the flight of stairs that my bride was to walk down alone to meet her parents at the bottom before going up to the Chuppah, and understandably, she was freaked out about the steps. I lost my footing as I was headed down them and as I tumbled down and my shoes flew off I was thinking: "please, legs, don't break! We have a wedding to run!". I didn't tell my bride until AFTER the wedding that I took the fall for her. She was so grateful. Thankfully, nothing was injured but my ego.
  • I'm working on my annual holiday collage photo from weddings throughout the year and it's going to be fun to send out. Good memories from the year!
On the personal front:
  • My husband and I adopted a dog from a shelter about six weeks ago. Rita looks like a 6 month old German Shepherd puppy, but she is full grown. She is a DOLL and we adore her. Our cats are kind of in love with her too. How cute is this face?!?!
side note: she is standing on a bookshelf that my husband made. He thought it'd be cute to put her on it. I think he was right.
  • It's Christmas time!!! Christmas is my faaaaavorite time of year and I actually get a bit depressed in January when I have to take down the sparkles and lights. I love the food, the music, the parties, the gift giving, and of course, the sparkles. May I present, our trees:
  • I'm excited to see my family for Christmas AND Thanksgiving this year. That's pretty rare, but this year we're making it happen. We went to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with my mom's family, and we're going home to Arkansas for Christmas. Both are short trips, but it's always so wonderful going home. 
  • After skipping 2009 and feeling guilty about it for all of 2010, I just finished and sent out our Christmas letter to family. Yay, me!
  • Our India trip is booked! Most of February will be spent in India and I'm so excited about it!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Post Wedding Survey: Salina and Travis

  Photography by Viera Photographics

Q. What was the best part of your wedding day?
A. Our vows.  We picked the language out together, but something about saying them on a bluff overlooking the ocean, under an arch with beautiful yellow poms hanging, before all of our friends and family, in front of an officiant and to each other aloud made it so special, sweet and sentimental.  I started tearing up when he read his, and I’ll never forget how sincerely and lovingly Travis was looking at me when I read mine.

Q. What do you feel was totally unnecessary?
A. Parasols & heat lamps (but this was only because we lucked out with the weather).    

Q. What would you change, if anything?
A. I would have held my bouquet in more of my photos.  I left it upstairs after the ceremony and didn’t have it with me for a number of formal family photos and during our first dance.  Travis would have drank a little less.  He had so much fun at the wedding, but has a hard time remembering a lot of details towards the end of the evening ;). 

Q. What was unexpected that you loved?
A. The weather.  We were warned all year that it was going to be a very hot day, and during our rehearsal the day before it was really windy and a little chilly even.  Also, there was overcast the morning of, so we were so delighted to have perfect weather.  Not too hot and not chilly at all.  What a pleasant surprise!
Also, we didn’t expect our ceremony to be as special and sentimental as it was and to have as much fun as we did during our reception.  Seriously, it was the most fun we’ve ever had at a party.

Q. What are your fondest memories of your wedding day?
A. There are so many!  I’ll just list a few though:
See vows above.
The kids in our wedding party- the youngest of our flower girls was reluctant to walk out, the other flower gals and our ring bearer were tugging at her, and finally when the 2 realized they were late they ran our to their respective places (so cute!); and when our reverend asked for the rings, our ring bearer started walking up and when his dad pulled him back he whispered “but I have the ring pillow” (how adorable is that).

After cutting the cake and just as sunset I pulled Travis aside and said, lets take it all in.  We walked over the flat dirt bluff area, looked out at the view and look around at our guests having a great time and we kissed.  It was so special.  I think the 10 minutes immediately after the ceremony was still a little too early for us to realize that we were married and that this would be the best day of our lives.

Seeing all of our friends have a blast and hearing all about how much fun they had even days/weeks after the wedding.  There was a lot of drinking, a lot of dancing, a lot of heart to heart moments, a lot of hugging and a lot of loving.  Plus, all of our friends really got along and found new friends in each other.  Our wedding party and a couple of other close friends stayed with us for a couple of days after the wedding and we’re so glad they did.  We had so much fun rehashing good wedding party memories and they filled us in on a lot of hysterically awesome details we missed.

Our wedding guest book.  We had a mini Polaroid camera for people to include photos of themselves next to their wedding wishes.  It’s fun to see how presentable and polite everyone looks during the daytime, and to read the much more messy messages from the heart attached to those photos taken later in the evening (for example, one friend simply wrote “happy life forever!” and scribbled her name, it’s hysterical, at least to us it is).

Looking back and thinking, that wedding was sooooo “us”.  =)  

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent more time or money on?
A. Not really, but if I had to say… maybe a videographer (especially considering how surprisingly sentimental the vows were to us).  My uncle captured it on his flip-cam, so we have the footage, thank goodness.

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent less time or money on?
A. Just a couple of minor things: 
-Professional hair& makeup for my bridesmaids (this was pricey, and given the more fun than fancy nature of our wedding, I might have just had a friend help curl hair if I had to do it all over again).
-A cheaper cake (the cake was delicious and the flavors were exactly what we wanted, but I don’t think people (including us) would’ve noticed any difference had we gone with a less expensive bakery (for example, a cake that was included in our catering package).     

Q. Were there any unexpected surprises or issues?
A. We anticipated the traffic and set our invitation time 1 hour in advance of our actual ceremony start time, but did not anticipate the shuttles being delayed in picking up our guests from the hotel.

Q. What's your number #1 tip for future engaged couples?
A. Listen to Amber.  She’s got great insight into how weddings work, awesome vendor recommendations, and super creative suggestions.  Also, think about the things you really care about (for us it was the guest list, photographer and venue), prioritize, and don’t sweat the small stuff (which there is a lot of in planning any wedding).    

How did you feel after the wedding?
A. So lucky!  We felt lucky to have each other, lucky to have so many family and friends who love us and lucky to have had the wedding of our dreams.  

Thank you, Travis & Salina, for allowing me to be a part of your day! Love, Amber
And because I can't resist showing off how cute these two are, below are some of the photos of them that make me smile. Aren't they adorable?!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rancho del Cielo wedding: Salina and Travis

I think I ended the initial meeting with Travis and Salina by saying to them “we’re going to have fun together”. We laughed a LOT during that meeting, as they’re both fairly hilarious people. Salina, an attorney, and Travis, who works freelance in sports broadcasting, hired me to help them with their summer wedding at Rancho del Cielo in Malibu. Salina told me that their goal was to have a wedding that was “more fun than fancy” and so we kept that in mind as we planned. Rancho del Cielo is not a fancy place, but its beauty is breathtaking. When guests get off of the shuttle up from PCH they immediately pull out their cameras to take pictures of the 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean below. And that is before they’ve seen the rest of the gardens on the property. 

Salina and Travis were married on the overlook over the ocean in a touching non-denominational ceremony officiated by the wonderful Clint Hufft. Salina and Travis toasted their new marriage in some private time after the ceremony by opening the bottle of Johnny Walker Blue that they bought for their wedding day. At one point they were going to have the Johnny Blue in their Tiffany toasting flutes, but decided instead on a bottle of Dom Perignon. They danced and celebrated as late as the 10:00 PM Malibu curfew allowed, then continued their celebration at the Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey for their after party.



The Vendors who made it happen: 

Wedding Planning - Amber Events
Venue - Rancho del Cielo (with site manager Avesta Carrera) 
Photography - Viera Photographics
Officiant - Clint Hufft
Florist - Peony and Plum
DJ - Crash
Hair & Makeup - Chial Meng