Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When in doubt, adorn

I truly cannot count how many times this has happened: it's about two hours before wedding and the family starts arriving in a frenzy of excitement to take the family photos. I or an assistant walks around with a box of corsages and boutonnieres to pin them to lapels and dresses. The box gets emptied out with each flower going to their prospective owner.....but then I notice: grandma, or dad, or the groom's mom does not have one. I quickly review the floral contract to see who is listed to make sure that neither I nor the florist has made an error on the count. Nope. It was correct, but the bride miscounted or forgot said relative. I can understand how easy it is to overlook people, and in the big scheme of things, how important is that flower, really? To a parent or grandparent, the answer is: really friggin important. It's even worse when that person catches it before I do.

If the florist is still there, I run to them and beg them to make (for free) another corsage or boutonniere, but they are time consuming little buggers and it takes about 15 minutes to make. If the florist has already left the property, I go into the reception and snap off a flower from a centerpiece (sorry, florists!) in order to have something to quickly pin to dad's lapel. My brides never know about this, as it's a problem I immediately solve. But it's a stressful situation to be in, and to the family member that has lost the floral musical chairs, it is embarrassing and downright offensive. To them, it is so much more than just a boutonniere, it is badge of honor that says "I am an important person to the bride and groom".

Brides, when you're placing your floral order, count carefully, order an extra, or when in doubt: adorn.

photo by Next Exit Photography

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amber Events in Australia's Bride to Be Magazine

Remember Jeff and Erin of the "Epic Save the Date" fame? Well, their gorgeous wedding was featured in Australia's Bride to Be magazine this issue and online here. Beautiful!

The Team who made it happen:
Photographer: The Youngrens
Event Planner: Amber Gustafson of Amber Events
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Marvimon
Officiant: friend of groom
Invitation Designer: Graphic design done by bride and groom; watercolor artwork done by Louisa Martin (the bride’s mother), paper products ordered from
Catering: Thank Goodness It's Sofia Gourmet Catering
Florist: Peony & Plum Floral Design
Cake: A Sweet Design
Wedding dress: “Madame Butterfly” 2010 collection by Claire Pettibone
Bridal accessories: Christian Louboutin, hair accessory from Design Visage
Bridesmaid’s apparel and accessories: dress by “ABS” from Neiman Marcus
Groom and groomsmen apparel and accessories: design and tailoring by Wilson Mui (the Best Man)
Hair and make-up: Design Visage
DJ: Dash Entertainment
Transportation: Tact Event Management
Dance instruction: Arthur Murray
Favors: Koufeta (A Greek tradition, sugar-coated almonds, made by mother of the bride)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Post Wedding Survey: Joya and Emre

Joya and Emre took some time to fill out my questionnaire and not only gave some good advice and insight into how they feel looking back at their wedding day. Enjoy!
Q. What was the best part of your wedding day?
A. The best part of our day had to standing up during our ceremony and looking out at all our family and friends gathered there because of us. We had so may people travel so far to be with us (from all across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Sweden and Turkey!), and to have them all meet in one place to witness our marriage made us feel incredibly blessed.
Q. What do you feel was totally unnecessary?
A. All of the details we put into our wedding were made with love and inspiration, and looking back on how it all came together we wouldn’t have wanted to take anything away.
Q. What would you change, if anything?
A We would have worked on approving our wedding invitations much sooner. I had time over the Christmas holidays to get all the design details worked out, and I let it drag all the way through January. I didn’t know that the letterpress would take almost two weeks to print and, as a result, our invitations got sent out two weeks’ late.
Q. Who was your dress made by?
A. My dress was made by R-Mine Bridal Salon in Studio City, based on an Amsale design.

Q. What was unexpected that you loved?
A. We loved that during our ceremony, and especially when we had our first kiss, a flock of birds flew right over us! All of our guests couldn’t stop commenting on it all night - it was just a purely beautiful moment. Emre also loved that I surprised him by singing a special song to him at our reception, accompanied by a swing quintet!

What are your fondest memories of your wedding day?
Doing a “first look” before our ceremony took so much stress out of the day for us, and really let us relax that much more and spend time with our guests. We had a whole hour for the just the two of us, and that calmed us down and made the rest of the day so much easier and more enjoyable.

Saying vows that we had written ourselves ended up being a one of the most memorable moments for many of our guests. When our officiant first suggested we write our own vows, we were pretty nervous. It is so much easier to just “repeat after me.” But we each took the time to write them down in a small leatherbound book which we read from at our ceremony, and now, we have them to read years from now, and remember how we felt, and we cherish that so much.

Shooting a music video -- even though the mere thought of it seems stressful, i.e. adding a whole extra element of execution to our schedule -- actually kept us less stressed all day. We had these amazing little moments to sing, to get our groove on, and above all smile and laugh, which made the day so much more fun. Once everyone saw the completed video, it truly became the most talked-about highlight of our day! And the fact that we have this incredibly cool memento featuring so many of our family and friends, that is something we will never forget.

Q. Is there anything you wish you had spent more time or money on, or less time or money on?
A. No. All the decisions we made, whether it was to spend more in certain areas or to cut back in others, was made carefully and we were happy with how all our budget was allocated.

Q. Were there any unexpected surprises or issues?
A. We knew that the week of our wedding would be hit or miss weather-wise. Our ceremony was outdoors, and I was concerned with out guests being cold. Originally we had planned to have cucumber water on hand for our guests while they waited for the ceremony to start, and instead we opted for hot cider and chocolate which was much appreciated! It also sprinkled the morning of our wedding, and was overcast for most of the day. We decided to cross our fingers and keep our ceremony outdoors, and, while this definitely upped Amber’s stress level, we were so glad we kept our Plan A as the clouds began parting during our ceremony and ended up being just perfect (especially for our photographers who actually prefer it cloudy than awash in sunshine - who knew?)

Q. What's your number #1 tip for future engaged couples?
A. Hire a wedding planner! That decision set the tone for our entire year of planning. Having access to a superlative list of vendors and expert advice at your fingertips, not having to monitor your budget every second because someone was taking care of it for you, not having to coordinate all the minutiae of vendor requirements and day-of schedules, I could go on and on...but we were really able to take our time with all the planning and never felt that  pre-wedding stress you hear so much about. If you’re on a tight budget and think it’s an expense you can’t justify, I will say it is so worth it! We ended up saving so much precious time and money by letting Amber handle our wedding coordination, and could not have imagined having such a perfect day and overall wedding experience without her help!

Q. How did you feel after the wedding?
A. Tired! But truthfully, we felt so lucky to have had such a beautiful day surrounded by the people who mean the most to us. We felt that all the work we had put in -- on the vendor choices, on the details, and the last-minute DIY projects -- was so worth it. It’s so amazing to have this vision of your wedding day months before it all happens, and then see it actually come together before your eyes. It was a sight to see! We soaked it all in, spent as much time with our family as we could, and then jumped on a plane to our honeymoon, excited to start the next chapter of our lives :-)

Thank you, Joya and Emre, for being such amazing a gracious clients!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The making of "The Time (Dirty Bit)" wedding music video

When Joya and Emre told me 3 weeks before their wedding that they wanted to shoot a music video on their wedding day, I silently flipped out. I kept thinking: "they have no idea how crazy just a normal wedding day is"

But then we set a meeting with videographer David Robin, and we all got to work. I knew it'd be ok because we had a great team and both Joya & Emre are executives in the entertainment industry. For those of you that don't know what this means: it means they have what it takes to be successful in one of the most cut throat industries there is. You don't question if something can be done, you just DO IT. They just added this huge project onto their wedding day because they "thought it would be fun."

So they started story-boarding this song, emailing their friends and family who would enjoy being a part of it, learning their lines, and finishing up on all of the final wedding prep like creating their seating charts.

At our meeting with David, we were all incredibly concerned how we were going to get the footage we needed WITHOUT taking away from the wedding day unfolding organically. We didn't want this to feel like a huge music video shoot. So the Timeline was created to allow for photography & videography, with segments at the end for the music video being filmed.  For instance, the bridesmaids on the couch scene was at the end of the family portraits and it only took 3 takes. Less than 10 minutes.

Joya and Emre informed their guests in the program that they were doing this video and they'd love their guests to be involved. Guests were told that they would recess down the aisle 3 times: the first being their actual "we're married!!" walk, and the 2nd & 3rd filmed with the guests lip syncing the lyrics. The song was only played twice during the reception during the later part of the evening after dinner (and following Joya's surprise song to Emre!) when everyone was in the mood to boogie. Throughout the day and evening, friends were pulled aside to film their bits.

Even with perfect planning, things can go wrong. Not only were we concerned about having to implement the rain plan, but we got started almost an hour late due to some things that could not be controlled. We all pulled together as a team though! The Photographers, Callaway Gable, were fully on board with all of this filming and despite the time crunch, were still able to get amazing photos.
Even with 7 cameramen running around that day, nothing felt forced or too "Hollywood-y."
 We all love how it turned out and are loving the reactions of people online.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Terranea Wedding: Joya and Emre

Classy. That's the word I think of when I think of Joya and Emre.  Every moment of our year of planning together they were nothing but. Even when the bridal salon called Joya one month before her wedding to tell her that the dress designer did not make her dress** , she was nothing but classy. The two of them together are classy, gracious, and fun, with great senses of humor. My favorite type of people!

Joya and Emre chose Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes as they were having family from all over the world  attend and they wanted a local wedding that had a destination feel. Over and over again they stressed how much they wanted to make their guest feel comfortable and taken care of, and so much of the planning kept that in mind. 

We had a great, great time planning everything for their March 26 wedding. You can read all about the planning and details over at Junebug Weddings, but below are some of my favorite photos, taken by the ever wonderful Callaway Gable Photography. Next blog, I'll talk about THE VIDEO


The Team who made the magic:

Photography: Callaway Gable Photography
Event Planning and Design: Amber Events  (special thanks to my assistants Nira, Michelle, and Neusha!)
Film Maker: David Robin Films
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Terranea Resort
Officiant: JP Reynolds 
Invitation Designer: Invitation Suite, Menus, Program - Hello & Co.
Save-the-Date Postcard - Bride
Catering: Terranea Resort
Florist: Holly Flora 
Wedding dress: R-Mine 
Bridal accessories: Shoes - Nina, Organza Hairpiece - Jennifer Behr 
Bridesmaid’s apparel: J.Crew
Groom and groomsmen apparel and accessories: Suits - Jos. A. Bank, Lego Cufflinks - Retro Classy Cufflinks on Etsy 
Hair and make-up: Bridal make-up - Jeannie Jones
Bridal Hair, Bridesmaid Hair and Make-up - Design Visage
DJ: DJ Nahchey 
Live music: Ceremony - Pat Maki Players, Reception - John Reynolds and Friends
Lighting: Aspect Lighting 
Dance instruction: Christina Haggerty
Favors: Party Booths 
Rings: Tiffany, Pinnacle Gems
Rustic Wedding Sign: GoJumpInTheLake on Etsy 
Vintage Wood Letters: sERINasCustomShop on Etsy 
Ringbearer Book Stack: thedaintywoods on Etsy 
Wedding Card Holder Birdbox: CleggFarmCreations on Etsy  

**Huge props to the R Mine bridal salon in Studio City for making her a brand new wedding dress in just a few weeks time due to the designers flub!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Joya and Emre's wedding music video

So, remember a few weeks ago when I blogged my weekend in photos and spoke about a production we were doing that day along with Joya & Emre's wedding? Well, here it is!!!!!!!! Joya and Emre's wedding day music video to The Black Eyed Peas "The Time (Dirty Bit)"

For the full scoop on the day, the inside info of producing this, and the gorgeous photos, head on over to Junebug Weddings

Directed, filmed and edited by david robin
Additional cameras by:
Aldo Valadez (stedicam)
Miles Dahl-Canon 60D
Jack Winch-Canon 7D
Yuda Hagwell-Sony Ex1 on jib
Callaway Gable-Photo Credit
Christina Haggerty-Choreography

The boys

Special thanks to Amber Events, Callaway Gable, DJ Nahchey, JP Reynolds and Leslie at Terranea.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pasadena Museum of California Art Bat Mitzvah

From September 2010 to January I had the honor planning Nicole's Bat Mitzvah. It was quite a fun deviation from the weddings that I'm normally working on! I got to play with neon colors and feather boas more than I usually do. Nicole loved the movie "Step Up 3D" and while she did not want to have a themed Mitzvah, she wanted that urban hip-hop feeling that the movie conveyed. Her parents wanted an elegant party that the adult guests could have just as much fun at. No pressure, right?!

The reception venue, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, was the perfect setting for this. When guests arrived for cocktail hour the outdoor terrace was lit with purple uplights and strands of Italian Bistro lights overhead. Along with the  lounges we had a photo booth, caricature artist, spray tattoo artist, and one of the bars. 

Inside for dinner and dancing, the dance floor, bar, and "wall of boomboxes" (an 8x12' vinyl printed step & repeat) behind the DJ separated the kid's section from the adults', with the kids eating from a kid friendly buffet and the adults served formally. The dancefloor was projected with the image of a boombox that Nicole drew.

The decor on either side of the room was different, yet cohesive. On the kids' side, fuchsia, teal, and purple linens on the tables had a gray metallic overlays, with the centerpieces consisting of submersed orchids in glass cylinders set upon lit coasters that slowly changed colors. Metal chargers and silver Chiavari chairs with fuchsia seat cushions looked great with the exposed ceiling ducts and intense lighting. 

On the adults' side of the room, the same metallic gray overlays were used, with gray underlays, brightly colored napkins, and contemporary floral centerpieces with the light for the table coming from difference sized candles. 

The evening was a hit! 60 kids and 50 adults celebrated and enjoyed all of the activities and the evening together. I was so proud of how we were able to create an environment that truly catered to and satisfied 13 year olds AND their parents!

The Team that made it happen:

Planning & Design - Amber Events (special thanks so my assistants that day, Nira, Anie, and Karen)
Photography - Leslie Barton  (fun fact: Leslie shot Nicole's parents wedding 15 years ago!)
Catering, rentals, lounges & lighting - Event Professionals 
DJ, MC, & hip hop dancers - Dash Entertainment
Prop rentals - Bob Gail Events
Photobooth - Ultrabooth 
Caricature Artist & Spray tattoos - Ron Rubin Events